The Beacons Way Day 7: Llanddeusant to Carreg Cennen Castle
Start point: Llanddeusant (SN 776245)
Finish point: Carreg Cennen Castle (SN 666193)
Distance: 20.5km / 12.5 miles
Ascent: 660m / 2170ft
Time: 6 hours
Day seven requires good navigational skills as the majority of the route is on unmarked, open moorland. The route is not particularly arduous but you do feel you are out in the wilds. You will pass two impressive Bronze Age cairns when you reach the summit of Garreg Las and you will be able to see the next summit of Foel Fraith.
You will be unlucky not to spot the iconic Red Kite along with a variety of other birds of prey. Wheatears breed here in the summer and can be seen scurrying across the ground or flying from perch to perch. Carreg Cennen Castle comes into view at the end of a long day. The castle ruin is perched on the top of a 100 metre limestone crag and is worth a visit. Take a torch to explore the cave.
This day passes through areas of wild, open and, in places, pathless country.
Only attempt this in good conditions unless you are skilled at navigation.
From Llanddeusant, follow the road south until just before the farm at Gellygron where you follow a track to the left. 200 metres on from the road, keep left at the junction and head uphill on the rocky floored green lane to the point where it meets the open hill.
The path heads south towards Carreg yr Ogof and is reasonably easy to follow. Once there is a clear view of the high ground, the route skirts to the left of the direct route to summit. As you approach Carreg yr Ogof, be careful not to be drawn left by the bridleway but, instead, head south-west towards the trig point.
From the trig point, head directly south to the summit of Garreg Las, initially picking your route through the limestone rocks of Carreg yr Ogof and then up the grassy slopes to the summit of Garreg Las and its twin Bronze Age burial cairns.
From here, the route continues along the top of the ridge and care must be taken to follow the paths between the gritstone boulders to reach the rocky pavements further south.
There is no safe way off to the west until you have cleared the gritstone boulders and pavements but, once past, you can head due west moving down into an area of scattered ponds. Now aim north of the summit of Foel Fraith towards a small quarry on the horizon, to the south of the steep ground which falls to Blaen y Cylchau. Head north of the summit but above the steep ground, aiming to pass over the shoulder of the hill to descend to the plateau below.
Please avoid the summits of Foel Fraith and Moel Gornach to prevent disturbance to the rare bird populations there.
Take a diagonal line and contour around Foel Fraith’s lower slopes, aiming for the tree in a shakehole at SN 752 187 and then pass to the south of that tree, avoiding the boggy area in the lower ground. Aim for the middle level of the Black Mountain Quarry complex in the distance and contour around the northern flanks of Moel Gornach to reach it at road level. Walk through the quarry, passing just above the car park, and cross the A4069. Pass north of the sand quarries and then head up onto the flanks of the hill, aiming to pass just below the crags and scree, again avoiding ecologically sensitive land to the south. Next, take a diagonal line trending gradually towards the minor road, picking your way through the small quarries, with the aim of meeting the road at its western end by Clogau Mawr. Where there are quarries below keep away from their edges. In poor visibility, it may be better to pick a route down to the minor road and follow it west but do not use the dangerous main road for this.
Join the road for a short distance, then take the bridleway west for 350m and north for 200m returning to the road. Soon, turn left onto the westerly path through Pentre Blaencennen for around 1km. This peters out just after passing the lower flanks of Carn Fawr. From this point, head west aiming for a saddle in the distance, and so up onto an old tramroad onto another minor road. Follow this road for 1.3km and then turn right at the T junction past Brondai Farm. Be aware that the path can be quite muddy past the farm during wet weather. Follow the path down through the woods, over the river, then turn back to the west to make the final climb up to Carreg Cennen Castle. Although there is a day time tea room here, there is no accommodation. Don’t forget to arrange for a taxi to pick up.