The Beacons Way Day 5: Storey Arms to Craig-y-Nos
Start Point: Storey Arms
Finish point: Craig y nos
Distance: 23.5 km / 14.5 miles
Ascent: 610m / 2000ft
Time: 6 hours
Day five starts your journey into the western Brecon Beacons. You will notice the area is quieter and you may have the hills to yourself. The route initially follows high above the A40, crossing streams and waterfalls before you venture onto the open hill.
Buzzards and Peregrine Falcons soar above and ponies can be seen grazing. A fine example of heather moorland is traversed before entering Ogof Ffynnon-ddu National Nature Reserve. It has been designated to protect its limestone pavements, associated flora and caves beneath.
You are now leaving the well-trodden paths of the eastern National Park. From now on it is wilder, more isolated and there are fewer people around. Leave the Storey Arms layby at its western corner, following the path along the high edge of Craig y Fro and so to the wall above Craig Cerrig-gleisiad National Nature Reserve. Follow the wall left to a corner, then left a short distance before heading up an indistinct path to a pile of stones after which it drops to eroded ground and ascends the fine ridge of Fan Dringarth and Fan Llia.
If mist makes navigation difficult here, drop west to the Roman Road and follow the minor road south. The path diminishes as you head downhill from Fan Llia - pick your way through the rushes and streams to a stile. Then cross the footbridge by the forestry car park and head up to the road. Turn right 250m to reach a track cutting back sharply on the left. This is Sarn Helen, a Roman road that takes you past Maen Madoc, a superb standing stone marking an early Christian burial, into the next valley. Cross the footbridge over the Nedd Fechan and head up the track that leads you once more onto the open hill. Turn right here and follow the track across the moor for 500m before turning distinctly left. Pass some old buildings on the right, then cross the stile into the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu National Nature Reserve, famous for the major cave system beneath your feet and its rare limestone pavement.
Descend through the Reserve, past old quarries and tram-road routes, emerging north of the South Wales Caving Club.
Follow the track right and then left onto the tarmac road at the quarry entrance. After 200m take the path on the right, into Brecknock Wildlife Trust’s Nature Reserve and down to a track leading you into the back of Craig-y-nos Country Park. Accommodation and pubs are nearby but not all are within easy walking distance – you may need to use the bus or a taxi.