Fan Gyhirych Walks – 3 Routes To The Summit

Fan Gyhirych is a peak in the Brecon Beacons of South Wales. Standing at 725m high, this flat-topped peak is located in the Fforest Fawr section of the national park. This central mountain offers fabulous 360 degree views of Fan Brycheiniog and Llyn y Fan Fawr in the west, Cray Reservoir to the north, Pen y Fan to the east and the ocean to the south.

For hikers, Fan Gyhirych might be the hidden gem of the Brecon Beacons National National Park! Located smack bang between the more well known areas of the Central Beacons and the Black Mountain range, these are hikes to escape the crowds and get off the beaten path.

In this guide, I describe 3 hiking routes to the summit of this mostly deserted mountain.

Fan Gyhirch

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1. Fan Nedd and Fan Gyhirych

  • Distance: 10 km
  • Time: 3.5 – 4 hours
  • Elevation gain: 500m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Starting Point: Lay-by on Sam Helen, 500m north of Maen Llia standing stone
  • Map: OS Explorer OL12 Brecon Beacons National Park
  • Best for: Bagging two peaks

This walk claims two summits in the Fforrest Fawr region which are rarely visited but offer outstanding views. Fan Nedd is the first peak climbed and the shorter of the two mountains at 663m. The paths on this walk are easy to follow, though can be boggy in places.

Start this walk by climbing over the style to access a footpath that follows an old stone wall up towards Fan Nedd. After 1 km take the left fork to continue the gradual climb up the shoulder of the mountain. The trig point and true summit of the Fan Nedd is a little further on from the rock cairn.

Maen Llia standing stone

From the trig point return to the cairn and follow the path to the left in northwesterly direction. At the bottom of the valley, the path then continues straight ahead to begin climbing once again. Once you reach the ridge, cross over the two styles and continue along the path to the left, towards the main objective of Fan Gyhirych.

There is a gravel road which leads a third of the way up. As the road begins to flatten, branch off onto the footpath on the right. This footpath follows the edge of the ridge to the summit trig point.

The summit trig point is at the western end of this long peak, away from the steep escarpments. At the top, savour the fabulous views of Fan Brycheiniog to the west and Pen y Fan to the East.

For the return journey, retrace your steps back to the base of Fan Gyhirych and the saddle with Fan Bwlch Chwyth. Cross over the styles, descend into the valley and then pick up the trail that follows an old stone wall around the north face of Fan Nedd (thus avoiding the need to ascend Fan Nedd for a second time).

This is a section of the Cambrian Way hiking route and this stone walled path leads right back to the lay-by where the hike started.

2. Fan Gyhirych from Penwyllt

  • Distance: 10.5km
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Elevation gain: 390m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Starting Point: Car park at Penwyllt stone quarry (South Wales Caving Club)
  • Map: OS Explorer OL12 Brecon Beacons National Park
  • Best for: Walking a section of the Cambrian Way

This is the easiest of the 3 routes as it involves the least amount of up! The route is easy to follow, along well trodden paths and a gravel road and offers stunning views along the way.

From the car park start walking in the direction of the caving club but turn left before you get there, onto the footpath that heads east (The Beacons Way Path). Begin the gradual ascent and after 550m turn left to join the Cambrian Way. This trail follows an old tram road track with an entrance to Ogof Ffynnon Du (Cave of the Black Spring) on your right-hand side.

Follow the distinctive tram-road path as it gradually climbs the hillside in a northeasterly direction. Pass through the gate and an information board and enjoy views that begin to open up of the Carmarthen Fans in the west.

Just before the gate, views of Fan Hir begin to open up

The path flattens out and gradually begins to descend into the valley. After 1.7km, branch left off the tram-road to join a dirt road that crosses over the Nant Byfre. Follow the road around to the right as it begins to climb towards the summit of Fan Gyhirych.

Upon reaching the 660m contour, leave the dirt road and join a footpath heading directly up the grassy slope. This path leads directly to the summit trig point just 600m away. From the trig point you can enjoy distant views of Pen y Fan in the central Beacons. To the west you will see, Fan Hir, Fan Brycheiniog and the Carmarthen Fans. Walk to the northern edge of the escarpment to enjoy dramatic views over the valley and Cray Reservoir.

When you’re ready to leave the summit behind, simply retrace your footsteps back to starting point in Penwyllt.

Enjoy these nearby hikes next!

3. Fan Gyhirych and Fan Bwlch Chwyth

  • Distance: 13km (8 miles)
  • Time: 5-6 hours
  • Elevation gain: 470m (1550 ft)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Starting Point: Heol Senni, LD38YY. Grid reference SN896222
  • Map: OS Explorer OL12 Brecon Beacons National Park
  • Best for: An adventurous circular walk

This Fan Gyhirych walking route takes in two summits and requires some navigational skills for the return leg. This walk provides a gradual ascent of Fan Gyhirych along a gravel road and a steady ascent of Fan Bwlch Chwyth along a boggy path.

The starting location for this route is the forestry road off Heol Senni, near the north end of Cray Reservoir. You can park at the entrance to the road, just be sure not to block the gate. Begin walking along this gravel road which will lead you most of the way to the summit of Fan Gyhirych.

After 3km, upon reaching the saddle, follow the road around to the right as it continues to climb. As soon as the road begins to descend, branch off onto the footpath to the right and continue climbing along the edge of the ridge. This path leads to the summit trig point on the western edge of the summit plateau.

The north face of Fan Gyhirych
Walk along the ridge to the summit of Fan Gyhirych

After enjoying the 360 degree views from the summit, retrace your steps back down to the saddle. Here take the path to the right that leads to a gateway overlooking Fan Nedd. Don’t cross over the styles, but instead follow the grassy path that ascends the hill to the northeast.

The grassy path towards Fan Bwlch Chwyth

The path follows alongside the fence and stone wall for most of the journey to the summit. As soon as the wall makes a sharp right-hand turn, continue straight ahead along the boggy path. You will see the summit trig of Fan Bwlch Chwyth directly ahead.

From the summit there are two options. The easier but longer option is to continue straight-ahead, along the well trodden footpath which descends the northern end of the mountain. This is followed by a 1.4km walk along the road, back to the starting point.

A shorter but more adventurous route is to leave the footpaths behind and navigate off the summit in a westerly direction. There are a few sheep tracks to follow to begin with but these soon fade away.

To navigate, walk in the direction of Fan Brycheiniog, then the northern end of the reservoir and then the southern edge of the forestry as they each come into sight. The goal is to rejoin the gravel road as it branches away from the edge of the forestry.

The only tricky section is crossing over the steep sided gulley and stream, around a third of the way down, although the only real challenge is avoiding the very boggy areas. Enjoy this break off the beaten path and before long you will be back on the dirt road and at the start of the walk.

Hiking Fan Gyhirych – What do you need?

For a complete mountain day packing list, take a look at this article.

Accomodations Options After a Fan Gyhirych Hike

As a central location, you can’t go far wrong with the town of Brecon. The beautiful Camden Lodge B&B offers exceptional service, with large, clean rooms that have delightful views over the hills. To experience the charm of a cosy, local pub try the Usk and Railway Inn at Sennybridge.

Final Thoughts on Fan Gyhirych Walking Trails

Fan Gyhirych is a mountain in the Fforest Fawr region of the Brecon Beacons. As the 13th highest peak in the Brecon Beacons, Fan Gyhirych offers a moderate challenge to hill walkers and a true opportunity to escape the crowds of the more well-known peaks. This broad peak offers amazing 360 degree views which makes the climb well worth the effort.

In this guide I have described 3 walking routes to the summit of Fan Gyhirych. I have enjoyed walking these routes in all seasons and, although the sections the trails can get boggy at times, for the most part they are easy follow and provide a great day in the hills.

Louise

Louise is a tour leader from South Wales who runs adventure tours in Africa, Asia and the Americas. She lives in her converted campervan & is currently based in the UK. Louise is trained in mountain leadership and is a published photographer.

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