Bannau Sir Gaer

Map: OS (1:25K) Explorer 12 Brecon Beacons West and Central (1:50K) Landranger 160 Brecon Beacons

Both linear and circular walks are possible (approximately same duration)

Start Point (Circular): Church Car Park at SN847169

Distance: 18.1km / 11.2 miles (approx 6 hours) Ascent: 939m Descent: 939m (Circular hike)

Start Point (Linear) : Car Park at SN732188

Distance: 17.7km / 11 miles (approx 6 hours) Ascent: 721m Descent: 991m (Linear hike)

Walking Directions (Circular)

This walk does require some skills in navigation. Opposite Tafarn-y-Garreg is a footpath leading to a bridge over the River Tawe. After crossing the bridge, turn right and follow the river for about 500m. You will be directed around the righthandside (northern) of farm. Once clear of the farm, it is now possible to head up onto the ridge. The path may not be marked on the map, simply follow the obvious ridge towards Allt Fach and onto Fan Hir. Although it is relatively steep, this is the majority of the ascent, with the rest being less noticable.

Fan Hir can be followed easily, keeping the steep drop on your right! After Fan Brycheiniog (802m), continue along the high ground, dropping down slightly (to 660m) before back up onto Picws Du (742m). Beyond Picws Du lies the end of Bannau Sir Gaer. When the lake (Llyn y Fan Fach) is now on your righthand side (approximately SN801213), head southwards. This is directly away from the lake. You want to follow a series of linear stone outcroppings marked on the map, and visible on the terrain. If unsure, take a compass bearing. This line of stones will bring you to a marked bridleway and river (SN802198). You will need to jump across the river.

Once across the river, continue along the path. It will split after less than a kilometer (SN806190), take the left fork. This path is to be followed for 4-5km.

When you get to a fence/wall boundary (SN838164), turn left and walk along the track for about a kilometer until SN842167. There is a path down to the river at this point. If you encounter a style/gate then you have gone too far.

Down at the river, there are plenty of natural stepping stones to use to cross the Afon Taffees. It is best to head across and to the right as this will bring you directly to the path through the wall/fence. Once through, turn right and head down to the road, via a track alongside a house. This will bring you out about a kilometer from Tafarn-y-Garreg (SN845165). Turn left and follow the road back to the start.

Hike Profile

Hike Gradient

Walking Directions (Linear)

If you really want to strike out for the middle of nowhere in the Brecon Beacons, then this is the option for you. The linear walk starts at the car park near Foel Fawr on the A4069 (SN732188). There is no path to follow for the initial stages, so navigation skills are key. For the first stretch, the route links elevated terrain (to ease navigation). So from the start, head south easterly to the cairn (and Trig point) at SN740179, then almost due east to Foel Fraith (SN757183). Keep heading eastwards, past the bridle way and the start of Nant y Llyn, till about the shake hole marked on the map at SN772183. You will now be on a ridge which heads north easterly (overlooking the River/Afon Twrch).

From this point, you need to follow the ridge, contouring to avoid unnecessary height gain. Cross the largish stream (Twrch Fechan) at about SN784198 and continue north easterly till you arrive at Bannau Sir Gaer. From here on, the route navigation is straightforward, and follows that of the circular route in reverse, going to Picws Du, then Fan Brycheiniog and Fan Hir before getting to the road and ending at Tafarn-y-Garreg.

Hike Profile

Hike Gradient

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Notable Features and Highlights

Fan Hir

Fan Hir is Welsh for "long peak". This long ridge gives lovely views all the way across to Pen y Fan (highest mountain in Southern Wales and England). There are quite a few flat rocks protruding out into the gulf if you're feeling particularily adventurous and brave. They can make for good posing points!

Twyn Tal y Ddraenen

From SN806190 onwards, the landscape is covered in sinkholes and swallow holes. Twyn Tal y Ddraenen is merely the first of many. This is unsurprising considering that Dan yr Ogof, the National Showcaves of Wales are underneath.

© Rhodri L T Bevan