Eighteen members of Footprints assembled at Llangasty Retreat House for the August bank holiday weekend, while three others stayed locally at B&Bs and hotels.
Llangasty Retreat House lies on the shore of Llangores lake in the small hamlet of Llangasty, named after the 5th C. Breton saint, St. Gastyn, who brought Christianity to this part of Wales. There has been a church there ever since, although the current parish church was largely rebuilt in 1848. Although the bedrooms were generally small and not ensuite, the public rooms were elegant and spacious. The dining room had a splendid view of the lake, church and nearby hills. We enjoyed warm and sunny weather over the entire weekend.
On Friday the A-party drove to the bottom of Fan Llia and walked up the route of the Roman road Sarn Helen, climbed up to Fan Frynych, then above Craig Cerrig, on to Fan Dringarth and Fan Llia and down broad grass ridge to the cars. 11.5 miles 2330’ ascent.
On Saturday A-party drove to Stone Circle car park in the Black Mountains, northeast of Llangasty. The first part of the walk headed southwest contouring below the ridge. We then had a very steep climb up to Rhos Dirion for a well-deserved lunch. The remainder of the walk was a wonderful ridge walk to Twmpa, a small descent to Gospel Pass and then an ascent to Hay Bluff. Owing to the good visibility, we had superb views of the Brecon Beacons to the west, Offa’s Dyke to the east, and the Shropshire hills (including the Wrekin) to the north. There was a steep final descent to the car park. 12 miles and 2260’ ascent.
Sunday was the “Four Tops of the Brecon Beacons” walk for the A-party. After parking at a camp site at the bottom of Cwm Llwch, we ascended the valley, past a glacial lake to the obelisk memorial to the shepherd boy. Then on to Corn Du, a short descent and a climb up to Pen y Fan, where we were met by a large number of people queuing for photos at the National Trust sign (we also had ours taken there; see the album). There was another down and up to Cribyn, where we lunched, then along the ridge, and down and up to Fan y Big. We then retraced our steps a short way then down Cwm Cynwyn and back along roads to the cars. Again, the visibility was excellent, affording superb views of the area. 11 miles and 3575’ ascent.
Monday was A-party’s day of the many waterfalls. From Cwm Porth we walked down along the Avon Mellte, to Sgwd Pannwr (where some had a paddle), to Sgwd yr Eira (which we walked behind). We then had a very pleasant walk, with superb views of the Neath valley in the distance, to Pontneddfechan for a welcome tea and cake. This was the half-way point. We then returned on the other side of the valley along the Neddfechan via Sgwd Gwladus and couple of minor waterfalls, and finally to the cars. 11.4 miles and 1830’ ascent. The drive back from this walk was very long, because we were diverted along narrow and windy roads, so we arrived back at the retreat rather late for our dinner.
During the evenings we were entertained (and educated) by quizzes provided by Julian, Ian, Gaynor and William. Some also engaged in playing board games and cards, and star and planet gazing.
Many thanks to Ian for organizing an excellent and enjoyable trip, and to Ian and Julian for leading the walks.