Brecon Beacons National Park
The Tor y Foel walk leads you along the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, then on to the summit of Tor y Foel offering beautiful, wide-ranging views across Talybont Reservoir, the Usk Valley and numerous peaks of the Brecon Beacons National Park
Tor y Foel Circular Walk From Llangynidr
Over the years, we have enjoyed many great walks in the Black Mountains but somehow I had managed to miss Tor y Foel, a hill rising steeply from the eastern shore of Talybont Reservoir.
Located in a particularly beautiful part of the national park and offering a whole new perspective on some of our previous hiking conquests, the circular Tor y Foel walk appeared to be an ideal day out.
Where is Tor y Foel?
Tor y Foel is located immediately to the east of Talybont Reservoir and a short distance west of Llangynidr, in the Brecon Beacons National Park. It is marked with an orange mountain symbol on this map.
Where to Park for the Tor y Foel Circular Walk?
There is a small free Tor y Foel parking area for approximately 4 cars, located alongside the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal in Llangynidr. The location is highlighted by the orange ‘P’ on this map (Grid Reference SO146200).
If you don’t manage to grab one of the spaces at this location, there is a much larger private car park belonging to the Horse & Coaches Inn, situated on the B4558, also in Llangynidr. As of 2021, there was a £5 charge for non-patrons to park here.
Tor y Foel Walk Description
Following the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal
Whichever parking location you manage to secure a spot in, rest assured that either one sits right alongside the canal, so your starting point is no more than a short stroll away.
Head in a westerly direction along the canal footpath, passing under a number of traditional stone bridges, as you make your way along this picturesque and serene section of the Tor y Foel walk.
In just over 2 km, you will reach another of these bridges (Parsons Bridge), number 138. At this point, leave the footpath, cross the bridge and follow the trail to the right.
Gentle Climb Through Farmland
Head through the gate into a small wooded area before shortly breaking out on to open farmland. This section of the Tor y Foel walk traverses the contours of the hill, gently ascending as it does so.
The trail is not always obvious as it passes across open fields in first a north westerly and then westerly direction as it leads you towards the northern edge of Tor y Foel. This is where a good map, GPS or hiking app will come in very handy indeed!
I simply stuck to the trail guidelines on my Outdoor Active app and it guided me without issue along the route.
Upon reaching the northern edge of the hill’s base, a small country road will appear to your right. It is at this point that the trail heads south in the direction of the Tor y Foel summit.
At first, the ascent is relatively gentle but as soon as you pass beyond the ferns that carpet the lower lower section of the hill, the gradient steepens considerably.
This southerly climb to the summit of Tor y Foel is approximately 1 km in length and it’s along this section that you will grab your first glimpse of Talybont Reservoir to the west.
Following the pretty tough summit ascent, it’s almost a little disappointing to find just a pile of stones marking the 551 metre summit.
However, you will be mightily relieved to take a break and get some air back in your lungs and of course, admire the wonderful views that surround you (weather dependent!).
Views on Offer
When I reached the summit, there was nothing but fog to greet me and as a result not a view to be had! However, I decided to stick around in the hope that the moderate breeze would blow the fog through and so it proved.
The views all around are unquestionably beautiful but I would say that it is those to the west & east/northeast that deserve the most attention.
Drop down from the summit in a westerly direction for a few minutes to enjoy the best of the westerly views. Now, the full length of Talybont Reservoir comes into sight with the flat-topped peak of Waun Rydd sitting proudly to its west.
To the east/northeast across the lush Usk Valley sit the numerous peaks of the Black Mountains, many of which we have climbed over the years. These include Mynydd Llangorse, Waun Fach, Pen Cerrig Calch and the distinctive Sugarloaf.
Tor y Foel Walk – Descent
From the summit, follow the easterly trail and begin the long gentle descent. With the tough section now behind you, it is time to focus on the magical views on this wonderful section of the Tor y Foel walk.
As you progress, the hill’s ridge begins to taper, affording you even better views along the Usk Valley to the north and the Afon Crawnon valley to the south.
After walking for approximately 2 km from the summit, you will reach a small country road. Cross this road and head down the driveway directly ahead of you, to Pen-y-beili farm.
It may feel that you are walking on private land and you would be right but this is a public footpath and is in fact part of the Brecons Way, a long distance footpath crossing the Brecon Beacons National Park from East to West.
Once past the farm house, keep straight ahead and rejoin farmland via the gate directly in front of you. Follow the trail as it hugs the hedge to your left, eventually reaching a small road.
Cross the road and pass through the left hand gate and now follow the path that sticks to the hedge on your right, crossing the wooden stile after approximately 170 metres and maintaining the same direction across the field ahead of you.
Once the path meets the hedge on your left, the trail veers left passing into yet another field. Upon reaching the otherside, you will enter a small woodland. Within minutes, the track leads you out alongside the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal once more.
Cross the bridge at the canal lock, turn right and follow the trail back to the starting point.
Tor y Foel Walk – Our Thoughts
I thoroughly enjoyed this walk, setting out from the idyllic village of Llangynidr on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. It also offers some great contrasts with the gentle saunter along the canal to the fairly energetic climb to the summit of Tor y Foel.
The views are pretty special in every direction too. Select a decent day and you will be in for a real treat! The long, gradual easterly descent gives you ample opportunity to truly soak in some of the best vistas on the walk, across the Usk Valley towards the Black Mountains.
This is another example of one of the many great walks in the Brecon Beacons National Park that slips under hikers’ radars. Give it a go because I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Tor y Foel Walk – Q & As
How long does the walk take?
It took me 3 hours 45 minutes to complete but I was in no hurry and this did include about 20 minutes at the summit of Tor y Foel waiting for the fog to clear.
How far is the walk?
5.28 miles (8.5 km)
How difficult is the walk?
I would label this Tor y Foel circular walk as moderately difficult.
Have you experienced the Tor y Foel walk?
If so, please share your experience with us and our readers. What’s more, should you have any questions that we have not answered here, please let us know and we will get back to you just as quickly as we can.
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