Waun Rydd And The Wellington Bomber Memorial Hike, Brecon Beacons

Waun Rydd is a peak in the central Brecon Beacons. On its western flank there is a memorial dedicated to the Canadian crew of a Wellington Bomber which tragically crashed into the mountainside during World War II.

In this guide I describe a scenic walking route to reach the Wellington Bomber crash site and memorial. 

Waun Rydd and the Canadian War Memorial Walk

This walk isn’t about bagging summits, rather it’s about enjoying a scenic ridge walk and paying respect to those who gave their lives to protect our freedoms during WWII.

This loop walk starts out with a steep uphill but once up on the ridge the going is fairly easy. The route contours around a glacial cwm to reach the memorial, after which it descends down into the valley and back to the start.

Route Description

  • Starting location: Blaen y Glyn – Upper car park
  • Distance: 8km
  • Time: 4 hours
  • Elevation gain: 330m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Map: Brecon Beacons OS Explorer 12

From the car park walk back towards the cattle grid at the entrance. Cross over the cattle grid and on the right hand side you will see a stone path heading up the hill. Before you begin the long uphill walk, take a moment to appreciate the waterfall flowing down the Nant Bwrefwr river.

With the warm up over with, you can now you can begin the steep climb up to ridge! The path is well maintained with stone steps for most of the climb. This uphill section is just under 1km long and will take 40-60 minutes.

At the top of the hill, keep following the path around to the right. Once on the ridge you can rest easy knowing that most of the hard work is done for the day.

The path now contours around the eastern side of the mountain (Craig Cwareli peak), with steep drop offs on your right hand side. There are fine views on offer as you walk along this ridge. To the right you can appreciate the glacially carved valley and, in good weather, you can see can see Fan y Big and Pen y Fan to the left. You can often see Welsh ponies in this area too.

Around 2km into the walk, the path hits a T-junction. Turn right here and cross over a stream which later becomes the mighty Blaen Caerfanell river. There are some fabulous waterfalls on this river which can be enjoyed on a waterfall walk from Blaen y Glyn car parks. You could extend this ridge walk to include the waterfall walk or save it for another day.

Read more about the Blaen y Glyn waterfall walk in this guide.

After crossing the stream, continue along the ridge for a further 1.5km to reach Bwlch y Ddwyallt. At this point you will reach a cross roads. To the right you will see two paths – a higher more established path and a lower fainter path. Take the lower path as this leads directly to the Wellington Bomber crash site.

If you want a good view of Pen y Fan, before you branch off to the right, continue along the path for a further 100m to reach the Bwlch proper. Good weather permitting, you will now see Pen y Fan, Corn Du and Cribyn off to the left.

Views of the Central Beacons on a Waun Rydd walk
Pen y Fan in the distance, hiding in the clouds. View from the Bwlch.

After admiring Southern Britains highest peak, continue on with the walk by taking the lower path towards to Canadian bomber memorial, which you will reach in around 700m. At the site you will see a dedicated memorial cairn which is often adorned in poppies. You will also see two distinct piles of wreckage which staggeringly still remain, even after 80 years.

The Wellington Bomber war memorial
The Canadian War Memorial

The memorial is dedicated to the five Canadian crew who sadly lost their lives here. On the 6th July 1942, Wellington Bomber R-1465 was flying over the Brecon Beacons on a training flight. Experiencing bad weather, the pilot descended to pinpoint his position and tragically crashed into the side of Waun Rydd.

Wellington bomber crash, Brecon Beacons
The Wellington Bomber crash wreckage and memorial

From the memorial there are two options to complete the walk. The first option follows indistinct sheep tracks whereas the second option continues along maintained paths.

For option one, walk past the memorial in a southerly direction and begin descending down into the valley, towards the river. There is no designated route, rather you will have to pick out a route amongst the various sheep tracks. In good weather you will be able to see the forestry plantation which you are aiming to reach.

The ground in the valley can often be quite boggy so choose your route wisely! Once at the river find a suitable place to cross over and continue you journey downstream. You will soon pick up a more established path which leads to a gate at the start of the forestry.

Views on the Canadian war memorial walk
Finding a route on the sheep tracks down into the valley

For option two, turn left before the memorial cairn and take the short steep climb up onto the ridge. Once on the ridge, turn right and walk for around 1 km until the path forks into two. Take the fork to the right which descends down the southern shoulder of Waun Rydd.

Once at the bottom of the valley cross over the Blaen Caerfanell river (remember the stream you hopped over on the ridge?), turn left and continue onto the path towards the forestry.

At the forestry, cross through the gate and continue along the path. After 500m this path meets a larger forestry road. Turn right here and in a few hundred meters more, you will be back at the Upper Blaen y Glyn car park.

Walk complete!

Related Reading

Summary

Waun Rydd is a peak in the Central Brecon Beacons. On the western edge of this flat peak there is a war memorial dedicated to the Canadian crew of a Wellington Bomber which crashed there in WWII.

Starting from the upper Blaen y Glyn car park, there is a loop walk which follows the ridges of Craig Cwareli and Waun Rydd to reach the memorial site. This 8km route is a moderate half day walk in the Brecon Beacons, which provides beautiful views on offer throughout.

Hiking the Canadian Bomber Memorial – What do you need?

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

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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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