Craig Cerrig Gleisiad and Fan Frynych National Nature Reserve walks
Craig Cerrig Gleisiad and Fan Frynych National Nature Reserve is situated in the central part of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Experience a craggy mountain landscape just a few hundred metres from the A470 in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Here you will find yourself enclosed within an atmospheric amphitheatre created by the soaring cliffs of Craig Cerrig Gleisiad.
Try our waymarked walks to get a flavour of the reserve or, for map-readers wanting a longer walk, footpaths lead upwards to the lofty, exposed moorlands of Fan Frynych and across to the spectacular cliffs at Craig Cwm-du.
There is a small picnic site next to the reserve entrance.
Toilets and a café are a short drive away at the Brecon Beacon’s National Park Visitor Centre in Libanus and in the car park opposite the Storey Arms outdoor education centre.
The walking trails are waymarked from start to finish.
Look out for the information panel at the start of the trails..
Under the Cliff Walk
- Grade: Moderate
- Distance: 1 mile/1.8 kilometres (there and back)
- Time: 1 hour
- Trail information: The trail follows an uneven and increasingly steep narrow path and returns along the same route. The reserve is grazed by cattle, sheep and mountain ponies – please keep dogs under close control.
Experience the majestic landscape on this walk along the river to the base of the rocky slopes of Craig Cerrig Gleisiad. Find the route details here.
- Grade: Strenuous
- Distance: 2 miles/3.4 kilometres
- Time: 1½ hours
- Trail information: The trail follows an uneven and increasingly steep narrow path over uneven ground with loose stones. It returns down a steep, grassy slope and has stepping stones to cross a stream. The reserve is grazed by cattle, sheep and mountain ponies – please keep dogs under close control.
You get a great feel for the craggy heights of Craig Cerrig Gleisiad from both near and far on this circular route.
It sets off alongside the river and climbs steeply through heather and bilberry to a cairn.
There are great views towards Pen y Fan on the return. Find the route details here.
What to see at the National Nature Reserve
Dramatic landscape created by glaciers
A glacier carved out this valley during the last ice age. As it melted, about 18,000 years ago, it exposed the steep rock walls of Craig Cerrig Gleisiad. Some time later, a catastrophic landslide cascaded millions of tonnes of rock from these crags down the slopes. Archaeological remains found on the reserve show that the area has been inhabited for many thousands of years. Apart from Iron Age huts there are also the remains of a Roman road and later farm settlements.
Rich variety of plantlife
The steep rocky slopes, sharp escarpments and crags are home to rare arctic-alpine plants. These are at their southernmost location in the UK and are not found again until the Alps. Arctic-alpine wildflowers grow on the north-facing rocky cliffs. They include purple saxifrage, mossy saxifrage, serrated wintergreen and green spleenwort. The cliffs are, in effect, a vertical woodland with trees and shrubs of hawthorn, rowan, ash and rare whitebeams. There is a also rich variety of wildflowers and many different mosses and liverworts.
Early spring to mid-summer is a great time to see the reserve’s spectacular range of wildflowers and also its birdlife including peregrines, kestrels, red grouse and rare ring ouzels.
In August and September the hillsides come alive with the glow of heather.
How to get here
Craig Cerrig Gleisiad a Fan Frynych National Nature Reserve is approximately seven miles south of Brecon.
It is in the county of Powys.
Ordnance Survey map
Craig Cerrig Gleisiad a Fan Frynych National Nature Reserve is on Ordnance Survey (OS) map OL 12.
The OS grid reference is SN 971 222.
The best starting point to visit the reserve is a large lay-by adjacent to the A470, approximately seven miles south of Brecon – look out for the information panel just beyond the gate at the reserve entrance.
From Brecon: Follow the A470 towards Merthyr Tydfil. Go past the entrance to a youth hostel on the left and turn into the second lay-by on the right, 500 metres after the entrance to the youth hostel.
From Merthyr Tydfil: Follow the A470 towards Brecon and the lay-by is on the left, two miles north of the Storey Arms outdoor activity centre.