Llyn y Fan Fach and Llyn y Fan Fawr Circular Walk
87 views · Feb 16, 2022
Route Details: 

The first part of the walk takes you along a gravel road flanked by the fast-flowing Afon Sawdde and its multitude of small waterfalls.

The track rises gradually over the 1.3 miles that you must cover before reaching Llyn y Fan Fach, the beautiful glacial lake nestled at the base of the dramatic escarpment that forms its backdrop.

Here you leave the gravel road and follow the path that heads off to your right and gradually sweeps up and around the ridge of the escarpment. With each step, the views across Llyn y Fan Fach become ever more majestic. 

The climb is fairly steep at first but flattens out as the path reaches the south side of the lake. Here the path hugs the edge of the steep escarpment ridge where you now get to really enjoy the magnificent views on offer.

If you are fortunate enough to be enjoying this walk on a clear day, you will now really get a true sense of this location’s remoteness.

To the north, you will see a vast patchwork of fields with the Cambrian mountain range of central Wales in the distance.

To the south, savour the undulating expanse of these westerly reaches of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Picws Du    

As you progress, the trail leads you to a point along the ridge that literally juts out from the mountain ridge like an arrowhead.

The northerly tip is marked by a rocky cairn indicating the summit of Picws Du, standing at 749 m (2,457 ft), the 2nd highest peak in the county of Carmarthenshire. 

This is a great spot to have a break, grab some lunch and just enjoy the splendour that surrounds you.

From Picws Du, the trail descends into a valley where you cross the Afon Twrch, a river which rises in this very location.

The trail then ascends steeply, meandering its way towards the end of the next northerly peninsula, where you will encounter another small stone cairn marking the summit of Fan Foel.

Fan Foel

Fan Foel is the highest point in the county of Carmarthenshire, standing at 781m / 2562ft. 

From here, the trail swings to the south and soon joins the steep eastern ridge of the Black Mountain range.

Now, for the first time, you will catch sight of Llyn y Fan Fawr, the second of the large glacial lakes on this circular walk.

Fan Brycheiniog

Continuing along the ridge, you will reach a stone trig point indicating the summit of Fan Brycheiniog. This is the highest point in Black Mountain massif, standing at 802.5 m (2,633 ft) and forms the westernmost range within the Brecon Beacons National Park. 

There is a circular stone storm shelter to offer protection from the elements should you find yourself experiencing inclement weather conditions during the walk.

The views from this easterly mountain ridge are, in my opinion, even more impressive than the ones to the north experienced earlier in the walk. You now get to take in far-reaching westerly views across the Brecon Beacons, with the distinctive summit peaks of Pen y Fan and Corn Du as the centrepiece.     

From the summit, the path now drops down the ridge in a southeasterly direction, passing very close to a steep gully that funnels down to the lake below.

This offers a spectacular framed view of Llyn y Fan Fawr, a photo opportunity not to be missed. Shortly after, the trail breaks off to the left and leads you down a steep rocky path towards the shore of the lake.

This is a particularly dangerous section of the hike, as it is steep, rocky and there are patches of loose scree. We also had snow and ice to contend with, which made our descent even more treacherous! 

Llyn y Fan Fawr 

The trail leads to the right-hand side of Llyn y Fan Fawr which takes you on to marshland and can be particularly boggy in places. Treading carefully, make your way to the far side far of the lake and follow the lake’s shoreline in a northerly direction.

This is a great spot to appreciate the beauty of the lake’s crystal clear waters with the towering slopes of Fan Brycheiniog forming its backdrop. 
When you reach the northern end of the lake, follow the path to the left along its northern shoreline, taking the trail that breaks away from the lake in the direction of the escarpment base. 

Homeward Bound

Leaving Llyn y Fan Fawr behind you, the trail rises slightly and then winds its way along the base of the escarpment.

It is now a simple case of following this path along the bottom of the dramatic mountain slopes all the way back to Llyn y Fan Fach. 

At this point, your tired limbs can rejoin the road for the final stint that leads you back to your car.
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