Waun Rydd And The Wellington Bomber Crash Site Hike, Brecon Beacons

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

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

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Blaen-y-Glyn Wellington Bomber Crash Site 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
  • Pronounced: Wine Rheeth
  • Meaning: Free or red moor
  • 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.

Pen y Fan is the highest mountain in South Wales. If you want a good view of this iconic flat-topped peak, 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
View from the Bwlch – Pen y Fan in the distance, hiding in the clouds.

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 site, Brecon Beacons
The Wellington Bomber crash site 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
Nick 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!

Where to Stay in the Brecon Beacons

The Brecon Beacons has several cute market towns and villages to use as a base for exploring the national park. There aren’t many large chain hotels but instead, you will find a selection of bed and breakfasts, pubs/Inns, glamping and camping opportunities.

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. This is a fabulous location for mountain bikers looking to get out in the hills.

If you’d prefer to be based near the Black Mountains in the east, opt for the Ty Croeso Boutique B&B which is an exquisitely renovated Victorian building located near the small town of Crickhowell. In the west, Cwtch Bach is a gorgeous stone bricked holiday home perfect for exploring The Black Mountain region.

For a luxury glamping experience try the Cuddfan, whose bell tent located along the banks of the river Grwyne offers a real escape back into nature. For more luxury glamping ideas take a look at this guide to glamping in the Brecon Beacons.

Hiking the Blaen-y-Glyn Wellington Bomber – What do you need?

These are just some of the essentials, but for a complete list of things to take on a day hike, take a look at this guide!

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Bannau Brycheiniog Hiking Routes

Hiking routes include the ever popular Pen y Fan, Llyn y Fan Fach, Sugar Loaf and the Four Falls.

Enjoy 35 beautiful hikes in Bannau Brycheiniog (the Brecon Beacons) with the help of my pre-planned hiking routes. I have 35 beautiful hiking trails marked out on the free, offline app Maps.me. Simply download my pins into the app and choose which one of these epic hikes you’d like to enjoy!

Prefer not to walk alone? If you’re looking for a Mountain Leader to guide you on a mountain adventure, please contact me here to discuss rates and availability.

Blaen-y-Glyn Wellington Bomber Crash Site Hiking 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 (Bannau Brycheiniog), which provides beautiful views on offer throughout.

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Louise is a Mountain Leader and Snowboard Instructor from South Wales. As a former Adventure Tour Leader she has spent the last 15 years travelling Asia, Africa and the Americas. Louise is a published photographer and is currently based in the UK.

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