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Pen y Fan – Brecon Beacons and Taff Trail Walk from Brecon

By Dave Roberts   

on March 1, 2015    No ratings yet.

Pen y Fan – Brecon Beacons and Taff Trail Walk from Brecon

Further Details

Route Summary:

Extra long circuit of the Brecon Beacons.

Route Start Location: Brecon

38.72 km 1342 m 12 - 14 hours

Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.

Activivity Type: Epic Walk

Summits and Places on this Route


All facilities in Brecon, plenty of pubs on Taff Trail and the Monmouth and Brecon Canal



Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Mountain Safety , Navigation and what equipment you’ll need.

Parking :

Locally in Brecon.

Public Transport:

Buses available in Brecon.

Traveline for UK Public Transport

Recommended Maps


Pen y Fan – Brecon Beacons and Taff Trail Walk from Brecon Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download

Download file for GPS

Pen y Fan – Brecon Beacons and Taff Trail Walk from Brecon

This is a long two day route, or a challenging one dayer, over all the Brecon Beacons. That’s not ALL the hills the park by the way, just the peaks that comprise the range of the Brecon Beacons.

The Route

1 Set off from Ship Street, near the Boar’s Head pub and follow the road for 700m. When you reach the Drover’s Arms, take the residential road left. Views of the Beacons are immediate!

2 Follow this lane as it passes out of Brecon for 4 kms and up past a parking area and campsite next to the Nant Cwm Llwch and towards  Login farmhouse as the tarmac finally gives way to dirt


3 Follow the path into the valley, with Pen y Fan dominating the view ahead, along a tree lined green track, and keep right when the path splits in order to climb to the ridge. You can also go left in order to reach Llyn Cwm Llwch, and take an alternative path up.


4 Once on the ridge, head uphill past Tommy Jones’ Obelisk:

The obelisk is a monument to the tragic tale of a small boy called Tommy Jones who got lost and perished on the Brecon Beacons in 1900. A search by locals and soldiers carried on for 29 days before his body was found near the spot where the obelisk now stands. – NT Website


5 The final section up to Corn Du is steep, where you’ll find many people milling about, mostly as they erroneously believe they’re on the summit of Pen y Fan. They soon bimble off sheepishly once they realise their mistake.


6 A little loss of height and an easy climb finds you on the roof of South Wales. On a fine day, it will be exceptionally busy, as it was today. The views are still fine, even if you do have to share them.


7 The route now  rollercoasts over Cribyn, and then up to Fan y Big , but the paths are very good, and easy to follow, if steep in places. It’s was unfortunate that many walkers were avoiding the paths, further adding to the erosion problem.


8 On Fan y Big, hilariously mis-pronounced by some (you know who you are!), you’ll need to take a tourist picture on the Diving Board – with this soul below not confident enough to step out onto it! To be fair, he probably didn’t’ want to take his pack off – which I had to do before venturing onto it!

Err. I’ll pass. I’ll tell everyone that I walked to the edge, no one will know any different..


It looks worse than it is, but there’s more than enough exposure for non-climbers. See – not too scary.


9 After Fan y Big, the nature of the mountains change from steep, green slopes to a flatter and boggier Gwaun Cerrig Llwydion. In fact, it’s as if you’ve just been transported into the Peak District, with sandstone rather than gritstone under your feet. You can follow the clifftops, but I wanted to camp out at the stream at Blaen Caerfanell, which meant crossing the moorland to the opposite side of the hill.


10 This is worth doing as you now get some views to the south of the hills and you continue high along Graig Fan Las and over the highest point of this hill, which is no more than a shoulder of Waun Rydd.


11 You descend into a bwlch, with the views towards the Beacons being particularly impressive from here and left me wishing I’d have camped here overnight. The final summit of Waun Rydd isn’t easy to find in mist, you’d need a good bearing as there’s no path. We took a rather odd route to it, but it did mean we didn’t end up having to cross anything too tricky.


YOU COULD descend directly north to Pencelli from here – that’ll cut a few kilometres from the route.

12 Finally descended towards the obvious Carn Pica, a huge rounded cairn, which marks the top of a steep and grassy path, in contrast to the eroded paths started off on. Once you reach the lower fields, keep left towards the forest, which you can follow down to the bridleway. This is signposted to Talybont Reservoir, with the final section overgrown with bracken. You’d get a soaking in this after some rain!


13 Turn left on the road (I initially went right, looking for the picnic area marked on the map – not there) and continue through Aber Village. Just past the village at Aber Farm, take a footpath right and veer left to footbridge over river and head uphill to the obvious track. Take this left and you’ll be in Talybont-on-Usk in no time.


14 The Taff Trail to Brecon is very easy to follow from here. It’s pleasant, rather than exciting walking, and interesting enough if you make the most of it! It’s an excellent canal side cyclepath all the way which you just can’t go wrong on (if you have to swim, you’ve veered a bit too far), so you can get a decent pace between the pubs. I could imagine walking this on a Sunday with friends, stopping for lunch, and continuing languidly for the remaining distance, making good use of the pubs on the way.


Today I had to pass the Star and White Hart in Talybont, which were both closed (it was early on a Sunday!) but thankfully the Talybont Stores were open, as I’d not had a drink all morning!

Don't try picking these mushrooms.... Don't ask how I know, I just do..
Don’t try picking these mushrooms…. Don’t ask how I know, I just do..

The Royal Oak in Pencelli was open by the time I got there and served some excellent local ales. The Taff Trail then continues easily on and into Brecon, with views towards Pen y Fan and the ridge you’ve just traversed as you get nearer.


Dave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader. Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.
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