Saturday, 14 January 2012

Grwyne Fawr..or is it Grywne Fawr?!

I love it when you plan a walk and the weather just happens to play ball on the day. Today was one of those occasions. Cold, crisp, clear. Perfect for a 9 mile loop around the Grwyne Fawr Valley, deep in the Black Mountains.

Jasper, Chopper and I did the usual early start (Chopper was even ready on time when I pulled up at his place?!) and we were parked in the layby in the Grwyne Fawr Valley by 8am. Easily confused, Jasper was dressed for ballet lessons and I had my concerns that he might be a bit cold in the conditions, but he assured me he would be fine. I gave him my spare insulated jacket as soon as we got out of the car!

First stop, the old Grwyne Fawr Reservoir dam. Years ago I'd abseiled from this dam a few times with a friend. He actually went down naked, but that's a different story. There were never any signs telling you it was prohibited back then - there are now. That's abseiling down the dam in general that's banned, and not specifically abseiling down naked! No ropes today so no abseiling.

The water was like a millpond and the sky was clear.

It was only 9am and felt great being out in the fresh air rather than being slouched on a sofa or still in bed.
Next destination was the Grywne Fawr Bothy at the Northern end of the reservoir. I wanted to see if it was in better shape inside than it was a few years back when it looked like some w*nkers had trashed the place.

As we approached we saw smoke coming from the chimney.

When I knocked the door it opened to reveal 3 lads from somewhere over the bridge (judging by the accents) cooking 8 rashers of bacon on a small gas stove. Jealousy overcame us! All we had were malt loaves and macaroons, plus a few cereal bars. The Bothy did look pretty tidy inside which is nice to see. I opted not to ask if I could take a picture of them cooking brekky!

We headed up to the top of the valley to pick up the path up and over Waun Fach and Pen Y Gadair Fawr. At the head of the valley we were greeted by a fairly impressive inversion hanging over Talgarth and the surrounding countryside! Although I managed to take some fairly unimpressive shots of it.

The wind picked up as we headed up onto Waun Fach past the Dragons Back. What an impressive looking ridge this is from certain angles, with an equally impressive name. I must remember to walk it sometime this year from Pengenfford.

The main advantage of the subzero temps up on Waun Fach's 800m summit plateau, is the frozen ground. It means that the usually boggy chocolate cake underfoot, is like a nice crispy cereal bar, and your feet don't get wet! It was cold though, and the wind had picked up a lot. Macaroon and Malt Loaf time (main reason for bringing Chopper on these walks). The Summit Team shot was a disaster! :( I checked the test shot I did from atop my rucksack, but it must have sagged slightly when I pushed the auto-timer button for the team shot. My ugly mug was then chopped off just like poor old Louis 14th, or one of those other handlebar moustached French monarchs. Not a bad thing I suppose. I guess it pays to be short at times, eh Chops?

A trundle over to Pen Y Gadair Fawr next. Blah  blah always looks higher than Waun Fach blah etc.

Then it was a mile or so downhill alongside the forestry back to the valley and the carpark. 9 miles in under 4 hours was satisfying, especially as Mr Japanese tourist (moi) slows us down by taking a photo, on average, every 8 metres.

Really enjoyable morning's walk, even if some of my friend's oudoor fashion sense leaves something to be desired.


  1. Nice report and Photos, Always best to do Waun Fach when it's frosty, saves getting covered in mud. I was there a few weeks ago in totally different conditions!!

  2. Thanks Phil. Agreed. It was 'just' cold enough on saturday to freeze the surface to hold our weight. A few degrees milder and we would have been bogtrotting!