And lo did the clouds part! Wild Trails Wales walks Nant Ddu to Brecon


A group led by Wild Trails Wales verified Slow Way Nantbre one, which passes over the summit of Pen-y-Fan, as part of our summer led walks programme

Nia Lloyd Knott is a cheery sort, and she has good reason to be: as a guide and founder of Wild Trails Wales, Nia walks for a living. On the 24th June, she led a group of walkers along Nantbre one from Nant Ddu to Brecon. This is unusual among Slow Ways routes, which are usually as direct as possible, as it passes over the summit of south Wales’ highest peak, Pen-y-Fan. It isn’t the biggest mountain in the world, but it can pose a challenge for the unprepared.

It is cliché at this point to summit Pen-y-Fan: thousands of walkers of all ages and backgrounds head up every year from the easily accessible car parks at its base. Which is why, when you ask a local if they fancy walking up Pen-y-Fan, you’ve got to provide a twist. In this case, starting a lot further from the mountain. We met in Brecon where, I’ll concede, everyone arrived in cars (the railway closed in 1964). Then, we got the bus further down the valley to the village of Nant Ddu. After crossing the A470 we began our walk back to Brecon, on the road’s west side heading north.

This first section past the reservoirs was through a peat bog. I was dismayed to find my walking boots were no longer waterproof, but as ever there is always someone who is worse off. One walker in our group of eight had come in trainers, so had no protection from the bog’s damp at all. Still, she accepted it and remained upbeat.

After six miles of the bog, we had a long wait to cross the A470, now busy with Saturday lunchtime traffic. The walk up Pen-y-Fan was damp, with seemingly no chance of the mist clearing, but the sun blew the clouds away just as we arrived at the summit, giving us an incredible view across the Bannau Brycheiniog. We ate our lunch watching a red kite float on an updraft.

The six mile descent into Brecon town was steep and hot enough to get a little sunburn. Some of the party asked Nia for her wild-swimming spot recommendations: from a wish for waterproofs to a wish for a cold dip in only a few hours. Only in Wales!

All in all, a great Slow Way for leisure purposes. We want our National Walking Network to be a practical transport solution, but there is always room for fun destination routes like Nantbre one.

Waterproof boots are highly recommended

Nia’s review

There are still many led walks due to take place this year. See which led walks you might be able to attend here:

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Thomas Morris
Irish-Welshman. Passionate about active travel.