The Cambrian Way Poetry Stones
Otherwise known as the A470, the Cambrian Way is the spine which runs through the middle of Wales and which bisects the Brecon Beacons. This route enables people to travel from Brecon to Merthyr Tydfil and onwards to Cardiff and vice versa northwards from the capital. It also passes through some of the most dramatic and memorable scenery in the National Park.
Arguably nothing can beat sweeping along the long curves in the valley sides as you travel up or down Glyn Tarell. This valley, clothed in a patchwork of vegetation, is a reminder of the force of the glacier which carved it around 20,000 years ago. Today we can only stand and stare at its beauty, as we take in the length of the valley from the source of the river, Afon Tarell just north of Storey Arms to where the river flows into the River Usk at Brecon.
Equally stunning is to traverse the pass at Storey Arms in whichever direction, and swoop up or down Cwm Taf Fawr, between the flanks of Fan Fawr and Pen y Fan, past the three still reservoirs of Beacons, Cantref and Llwyn-onn. These reservoirs, which supply clean water to the residents of south-east Wales now take their place in what was once an open farmed landscape.
For some people this route is simply a journey but stopping and exploring, away from the honeypot site of Pont ar Daf car park and Pen y Fan can bring rewards.
The Poetry Stones
In 2020 four poetry stones were erected at locations along the Cambrian Way (A470) through the National Park. Poems, composed by Owen Sheers and Ifor ap Glyn celebrating the place where each stone resides, have been carved into chunks of Blue Pennant Sandstone. Why don’t you check them out the next time you’re journeying through the National Park.
- Blue Pennant is the name frequently given to the sandstone which tops the Coal Measures of South Wales, a thick sequence of rocks into which ‘The Valleys’ have been carved over millions of years. The sombre blue-grey appearance of a fresh surface of this stone will weather in time to a rusty brown.
- Owen Sheers is a novelist, poet and playwright and Professor of Creativity at Swansea University.
- Ifor ap Glyn is the National Poet of Wales
- These stones are part of the Wales Way initiative and have been part funded by Visit Wales
Craig y Fro layby
- Craig y Fro is the name given to the long escarpment which runs behind the large layby with its fine viewpoint. If you had stood here thousands of years ago, you would have been encased in ice as this spot harboured one of the last small glaciers in these hills. The rounded ridge below the road is a ‘cirque moraine’ – rock recycled by the glacier from the cliff above.
Blaen Taf/Storey Arms
- Cadair Arthur which means Arthur’s chair is the old name for Pen y Fan. Who Arthur was we can only guess.
- The ouzel refers to the Ring Ouzel, a scarce species of blackbird with a smart white bib which frequents stony mountain slopes.
- Through the peepholes you can view Craig y Fro – please see Craig y Fro poetry stone.
- We refer to the pass as Blaen Taf – the head of the Taff Valley – since this was the name of the turnpike gate which once stood here. Many people also refer to the pass as Storey Arms since this is the name of the Outdoor Education Centre which stands here.
- Glan Crew, Crew Isaf, Aber Crew and Blaen Taf are the names of farmsteads which used stand where the reservoir now lies.
- The priest is an echo of a nearby stream ‘Nant yr Offeiriad’ or stream of the priest.
- Cantref is the name of the parish which extended from the northern side over the Beacons to this area. It is said that the vicar of the parish was paid an extra allowance to keep a horse since he had to travel so far.
- Ynysfelin was the name of the village which disappeared under the water when Llwyn-on Reservoir was created.
- The bridge over the river, Afon Taf, which also disappeared from view was also known as Pont y Glecs, which means gossiping bridge, since this is where local people used to meet to exchange news.
- The reservoir is now home to much wildlife including otter.