Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Beacons Way - Walk 2

Walk 2: Carreg Cennen Castle

[map] [photos]

Sunday, 23rd April 2017

I arrived at the Car Park at Carreg Cennen Castle at 9:50am. My first objective was to walk back along the route towards Bethlehem to find my journey-stone. This took me about 30 minutes, but the stone was still there. And so The Beacons Way continues...

The route passes through fields towards the farm of Cilmaenllwyd, and detours around to the west of the farm by a well marked route on a well made track that doesn't appear on the official route mapping, or on my OS maps. Either way you end up at Castle View Farm, from where you follow the road to the car park at Carreg Cennen Castle, with the castle itself looming on the skyline perched atop a green hill.

Just beyond the car park there is a café/shop and you can pay to visit the castle ruins (dogs allowed on leads), but that wasn't my reason for being here today (although apparently there is an interesting cave that provides the castle with access to a well, which can be explored with a torch). Instead the path skirts below the castle mound and then descends through Coed y Castell wood to a footbridge over the Afon Cennen.

The route crosses another footbridge and then uphill on a stony track to join a farm track which cuts diagonally across the slope. Here you see why the castle was positioned where it is. From the north it appears to be at the top of small green hill, but from the south you can see that it is perched on the edge of a 300ft limestone cliff.

We exit the farmland at the entrance to Brondai farm and emerge onto a tiny road (with grass growing in the middle) that runs through the open hillside of The Black Mountain. As we have entered Open Access Land the waymarks disappear and we're on our own when it comes to route finding.

The little road winds through a landscape of pillow mounds (marked on the map as Beddau'r Derwyddon, which means Druid's Graves, but they are the remains of medieval warrens used for rabbit farming). Just beyond a cattle grid, we leave the road by the remains of ancient enclosures. There is a faint path which contours it's way across the hillside, avoiding shake holes. In the middle section it's easy to lose the path, but it becomes better defined as it crosses a stony stream-bed below a pronounced gully on the hillside. The path becomes a track which joins the minor road.

Although you are only navigating by yourself for half an hour, it is probably best to tackle this section where there is good visibility (and if you can manage it, after a prolonged dry spell).

I left my journey-stone in a disused quarry by the road, then retraced the path to Carreg Cennen Castle (where the car park had filled up).

Walk Distance: 17.8 km (11.0 miles), 4.4 hours.
Total: 2 walks, 36.2 km (22.5 miles), 9.3 hours.
Beacons Way completed: 17.9 km (11.1 miles), 11.4%.

The next walk will start from the Mountain Road Car Park on the A4069 by Herbert's Quarry.

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