Beacon View, Wye Valley, near Monmouth
Woodland walks with views to the Brecon Beacons
A wild and craggy place that’s home to some arctic survivors
Craig Cerrig Gleisiad a Fan Frynych National Nature Reserve is situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Just a few hundred metres from the busy A470, you will find yourself enclosed within a shady, atmospheric amphitheatre created by the soaring, craggy cliffs of Craig Cerrig Gleisiad.
The lofty, exposed moorlands of Fan Frynych separate this area from a second, equally spectacular curtain of cliffs at Craig Cwm Du.
There is a picnic site near the reserve entrance.
Toilets and a café are a short drive away at the Brecon Beacon’s National Park Visitor Centre in Libanus and in the car park opposite the Storey Arms outdoor education centre.
A glacier carved out this valley during the last ice age.
As it melted, about 18,000 years ago, it exposed the steep rock walls of Craig Cerrig Gleisiad.
Some time later, a catastrophic landslide cascaded millions of tonnes of rock from these crags down the slopes.
Archaeological remains found on the reserve show that the area has been inhabited for many thousands of years.
Apart from Iron Age huts there are also the remains of a Roman road and later farm settlements.
The steep rocky slopes, sharp escarpments and crags are home to rare arctic-alpine plants. These are at their southernmost location in the UK and are not found again until the Alps.
Arctic-alpine wildflowers grow on the north-facing rocky cliffs. They include purple saxifrage, mossy saxifrage, serrated wintergreen and green spleenwort.
The cliffs are, in effect, a vertical woodland with trees and shrubs of hawthorn, rowan, ash and rare whitebeams.
There is a also rich variety of wildflowers and many different mosses and liverworts.
Early spring to mid-summer is a great time to see the reserve’s spectacular range of wildflowers and also its birdlife including peregrines, kestrels, red grouse and rare ring ouzels.
In August and September the hillsides come alive with the glow of heather.
Craig Cerrig Gleisiad a Fan Frynych is a National Nature Reserve.
National Nature Reserves are places with some of the very finest examples of wildlife habitats and geological features.
There are over 70 National Nature Reserves in Wales.
1½ miles, 2.5 kilometres, moderate
Try this linear walk to the base of the rocky slopes of Craig Cerrig Gleisiad and back to experience the majesty of this landscape. The walk includes a climb of 400 feet (120 metres).
2¼ miles, 3.5 kilometres, difficult
You get a great feel for the craggy heights of Craig Cerrig Gleisiad from both near and far on this circular route which has a climb of 860 feet (260 metres). An optional spur west joins with paths north towards Fan Frynych’s trig point or south to the cliffs and the Beacons Way (a 95 mile long-distance walk).
If you have a map with you and fancy a longer walk, there are paths that lead upwards to the plateau of Fan Frynych and across to Craig Cwm Du.
Craig Cerrig Gleisiad a Fan Frynych National Nature Reserve is approximately seven miles south of Brecon.
The best starting point for a visit is a large lay-by adjacent to the A470.
If you travel from Brecon, the lay-by is on the right, about seven miles south of Brecon.
If you travel from Merthyr Tydfil, the lay-by is on the left, two miles north of the Storey Arms outdoor activity centre.
The OS grid reference is SN 971 222.
There is a large lay-by adjacent to the entrance to the reserve.
Buses on the Merthyr Tydfil to Brecon route stop on the A470, near the reserve entrance.
For details of public transport visit www.traveline.cymru
Tel: 0300 065 3000
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