Walk 55A (#4) [16¼ miles] - Brecon Beacons (the Black Mountain)

Pasted Graphic Pasted Graphic garmin

Mike Starr and I thought it would be a jolly good idea to check out the Black Mountain on the Brecon Beacons. We set out from Bucknell and arrived at the start point at about 9.45am - a car park at about 1575 feet.

A very fresh walker setting up his GPS

The route we chose was described as HARD, but Mike said "I don't think it'll be hard - after all our maximum climb is to just under 2100 feet." Words that were to haunt us later.

Anyway we set off in good spirits and climbed up to our 1st peak at Garreg Lwyd 2013 feet.

Panoramic view of Brecon Beacons
use + or - key to zoom

We then headed east towards the next peak Foel Fraith - a mere 1978 feet, and stopped for coffee. By now it was getting quite warm and so I took the unprecedented step of 'converting' my trousers to shorts.

We then turned south to Carn Fadog (1650 feet) being treated to a pair of RAF Hawk trainers scorching acroos the sky followed shortly afterwards by 5 Tornados. It was then that things started to get decidedly tricky. We descended - seemingly for ever - down the steep sides of the gorge of Afon Twrch

The gorge of Afon Twrch

the guide said (helpfully) "The aim is to cross the river at the point where the footpath on the map is supposed to be. Unfortunately there is no trace of this path on the ground, and it is best to ford wherever you can." We should have known it wouldn't be easy, and eventually we resorted to removing boots and socks and clambering across a relatively narrow part of the river.

Not the best of poses - but I got across!
photo courtesy Mike Starr

The cold water certainly revived our feet and we set off up the other side of the river bank turning north at the top and, after a couple of miles, stopped for lunch.

After lunch we continued north towards the confluence of the Afon Twrch with the Twrch Fechan....

Looking south along the Afon Twrch

...where we crossed over and headed towards our afternoon comfort stop. Soon our next objective Carreg Yr Ogof was in sight (1914 feet)

Mike approaching the trig point at Carreg Yr Ogof

....and the view

before turning south to yet another peak and our highest Garreg Las at 2075 feet. At this point the terrain was mostly limestone pavement and lumps of limestone rock which made every step a bit of a mini-adventure. Suddenly a cramp in one leg caused me to trip and I fell over "in slow motion" as Mike described it - turning my ankle and slowing us down for the remainder of the journey.

Graham severely lagging behind with cramp and twisted ankle
Garreg Las in the background

My final tumble came when trying to negotiate an area of bog which proved too difficult and the last 2 miles of the walk was completed with a left boot full of water - cool but squelchy!

Walk profile

My relief at arriving back at the car knew no bounds - we had taken about 7 hours 40 minutes to complete 16¼ miles. Then the 2 hour return journey to Bucknell.

The highlights? Lots of Skylarks and Wheatears were to be seen on the walk - and as we descended towards the Afon Twrch we heard Stonechats. The Lowlights? Very rocky paths and marshy bogs - apart from that I'd do it again (only joking).

And the walk itself? Yes it was HARD - VERY HARD!


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