Waun Fach (Little Moor) is a peat bog summit in the eastern part of the Brecon Beacons in South Wales. At 811m high, it is the tallest peak in the Black Mountains. The most scenic walking route to the summit of Waun Fach is a circular loop from Pengenffordd which incorporates Y Grib, a ridge commonly known as the Dragons Back.
The Black Mountains refer to an area of hills in the eastern part of the Brecon Beacons National Park, which form a natural hilly border between Wales and England.
This area is often confused with the western most region in the park called the Black Mountain. To confound matters even more, there is a mountain in the Black Mountains called the Black Mountain (Twyn Llech)!
There are many great walks in the Black Mountains but my personal favourite is the Waun Fach loop via the Dragons Back. This walking route provides a brilliant combination of history, ridge walking and long reaching views, all of which makes for an excellent mountain day in the Brecon Beacons.
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Waun Fach Walking Route Summary
This Black Mountains walk has no amenities and is quite exposed for most of the route. There are several boggy sections so it can be quite wet and slippery after heavy rain. Whilst this is a relatively short walk, there is quite a lot of ascent through the first half of the route and it therefore shouldn’t be underestimated.
- Distance: 12 km/ 7 miles
- Time: 4 hours
- Elevation gain: 650m
- Starting Point: The Dragons Back Pub car park near Pengenffordd (A479). Parking fee: £2.
- Map: OS Explorer OL13 Brecon Beacons National Park
Waun Fach and The Dragons Back Loop Trail Description
This Waun Fach walk begins near the village of Pengenffordd, at the Dragons Back Pub car park on the A479. At the north east end of the car park there is a small lane which signifies the start of the route. Follow this lane down to the right and almost immediately you will see a stile on your left. Cross the stile to access the field.
There’s not much time to get warmed up on this walk as the climbing starts right from the off! The path here is faint but keep heading directly uphill through the fields, looking for the stiles to keep you on track.
The climbing eases off at around 450m, once you reach the ruined site of Castell Dinas. This Iron Age hillfort and Norman Castle is the highest castle in England and Wales. Catch your breath here and take a little time to explore the old ramparts and earth covered walls. Weather permitting, at this point you can see your entire walking route in front of you.
After a brief descent from Castell Dinas, the walk now begins climbing up the Dragons Back, so named because the ridge resembles that of a sleeping dragon. Follow the peaks and troughs of this ridge, admiring views in both directions as you ascend.
The path along the ridge is obvious to follow. Easier side-spurs pass around the lumps and bumps, but the views from atop the crest are rewarding enough to stick with it.
There is a rock cairn to mark the end of the ridge. From here the route gets a little boggy as you cross the plateau, but with a few hops and jumps the biggest puddles of mud can be avoided.
Take the fork to the right to ascend Pen Y Manllwyn. There is another, shorter cairn here and the path becomes more maintained. Heading in a southerly direction now, the path crosses a flat section before beginning the final climb of the day to attain Waun Fach.
Follow the well maintained path on a gentle decent enjoying views of Sugar Loaf and Table Mountain to the south, Pen y Fan to the west and Y Grib to the north. The trail then becomes a little vague so keep to the left of the ridge to avoid heading off course.
The path descends very steeply into the saddle between Pen Trumau and Mynydd Llysiau to reach a crossroads. At the crossroads take a sharp right onto the path that skirts back around the hillside. This well-defined, rocky path descends the mountain passing through several farmers gates, before reaching a tarmac road.
Struggling with all these Welsh words? Check out this guide where I explain how to get your tongue around the Welsh language and pronounce Welsh place names with ease!
Turn right onto the road, then take the left fork to follow the lane downhill past the riding stables, before a steep climb back up. At the corner there is a bridleway on the right which leads through the forest, back to the car park.
Finish your walk with a drink or a bite to eat in the appropriately named Dragons Back Pub, which is also the highest pub in the Brecon Beacons. They offer accommodation if you need a place to stay for the night or you could make your way to the pretty town of Crickhowell, where there are multiple options.
Alternatively, why not try something a bit special and stay in a gorgeous woodland lodge. Coed y Marchog woodland retreat is a short drive away in Glasbury on Wye.
Packing List for a Waun Fach Circular Walk
- Waterproofs – the weather can change quickly in the mountains so always be prepared for wet weather
- Water – bottles with filters are very handy for safely refilling in streams and rivers. Discover which filtered water bottle is the best for hiking 2020 in this comprehensive review.
- A hat and warm layers for exposed sections
- Good hiking shoes/boots – waterproof footwear is a must for this walk as some areas are boggy and wet
- The relevant Brecon Beacons map and compass
- These paths are marked on maps.me so download the map before you go
Make sure you have everything you need for a day in the mountains with this day hiking packing list.
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