Brecon Beacons National Park
The Llyn y Fan Fach and Llyn y Fan Fawr Circular Walk is a challenging 9 mile adventure encompassing two picturesque glacial lakes. The mountain ridge path exposes you to the magnificence of this incredibly remote section of the Brecon Beacons National Park
I spend a great deal of time looking for new and exciting hiking adventures and have certain criteria that I like our hikes to fulfil. I seek hiking trails that offer a physical challenge, include an abundance of stunning scenery and are preferably circular in nature.
The Llyn y Fan Fach and Llyn y Fan Fawr circular walk appeared to tick each of these boxes and offer a whole lot more aside. So, with Didem not available I called upon my trusty hiking standby companion – my nephew, William.
Llyn y Fan Fach Car Park – How to Get There
From undertaking my research ahead of time, I realised that this location was remote but even I was surprised at just how remote!
The Llyn y Fan Fach car park is situated in the depths of the stunning and sparse western Brecon Beacons National Park. If you are looking to get away from it all, this is the location for you.
However, one of the downsides of venturing into the back of beyond is that Sat Nav reliability can begin to waver as we experienced not long after leaving the A40 in Trecastle.
It would, therefore, be wise to print out a copy of the actual directions just in case your Sat Nav begins playing tricks on you. The Llyn y Fan Fach car park postcode is SA19 9UN.
The last ten or so miles before arriving at the car park are on narrow single track roads which are winding and uneven in places. You will realise that the journey is all worth it as you arrive at the small valley car park in Llanddeusant alongside the picturesque Afon Sawdde river.
Llyn y Fan Fach and Llyn y Fan Fawr Circular Walk – Route Guide
Llyn y Fan Fach Walk Map
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Llyn y Fan Fach and Llyn y Fan Fawr Circular Walk – Q & As
How long is the Llyn y Fan Fach and Llyn y Fan Fawr Circular Walk?
This combined Llyn y Fan Fach walk and Llyn y Fan Fawr walk described here is approximately 9 miles (15 km) in total.
How long does the hike take?
We completed the hike in just over 6 hours which included a number of short breaks along the way.
How difficult is the hike?
I would label this as a challenging hike, owing to its length and the nature of the ascents and descents involved. The snow and ice that we experienced certainly ramped up the difficulty level.
Llyn y Fan Fach and Llyn y Fan Fawr Circular Walk – Our Thoughts
This is truly a fantastic hike! I love to get away from the crowds and this is certainly a great place to do it. It is remoteness at its very best. Once you have climbed to the top of the ridge you are spoilt with incredible views every step of the way.
I literally waited for the perfect weather day for this hike and I strongly suggest that you do the same. The views are breathtaking and to have those stolen by poor visibility would be a great shame.
Owing to the location’s remoteness, you are never going to get the numbers visiting when compared to the likes of Pen y Fan. That said, the car park is only big enough for around 20 cars, so you still need to arrive early to grab your space.
If you are looking for a challenging hike in a beautiful part of the Brecon Beacons National Park, the Llyn y Fan Fach and Llyn y Fan Fawr Circular Walk is a must!
If you are planning to take on this hike why not find out what others have said about it on TripAdvisor. Have you already experienced this adventure? If so, we would love to hear your thoughts. Please share in the comment box below…
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