Friday, 2 August 2013

Fan Nedd, Fan Fraith & Fan Gyhirych

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 02 August 2013
Walkers - Steve Smith
Accommodation - Brecon Youth Hostel
Start Point - Car park on A4067 on old Pont Gihirich (SN88700 21129)
Start Time - 11:04
Finish Point - Car park on A4067 on old Pont Gihirich (SN88700 21129)
Finish Time - 17:25
Duration - 6hrs 21mins
Average pace - 1.30mph
Distance Walked - 8.24miles
Height Ascended - 822.74metres

Peaks visited
Nuttalls (190W - 444E&W)
Fan Gyhirych (17W - 270E,W&S)
Fan Fraith (18W - 271E,W&S)
Fan Nedd (19W - 272E,W&S)
Hewitts (138W - 317E&W)
Fan Gyhirych (11W - 190E,W&S)
Fan Nedd (12W - 191E,W&S)
Marilyns (158W - 1550E,W&S)
Fan Gyhirych (7W - 68E,W&S)
Fan Nedd (8W - 69E,W&S)
Deweys (241W - 427EW&S)
Yr Allt (7W - 52E,W&S)
HuMPs (364W - 2977EW&S)
Fan Gyhirych (8W - 113E,W&S)
Fan Nedd (9W - 114E,W&S)
W: Wales. 
E,W&S:England,Wales & Scotland

Other walks on this trip
02nd Fan Nedd, Fan Fraith & Fan Gyhirych
01st The Black Mountains (South)

Walk Summary
After yesterdays 16½ miles making nearly 50 miles for the week I really did not feel like a walk today. Well it is an old saying but a true one "When the body says No - the mind says Yes". 
The mood did not improve with the steep climb up Fan Gihirych but as the top was reached my aches and pains were forgotten and after summit photos it was off with a spring in my step to the next top Fan Fraith.
By now I was really pleased I had made the effort, however half way up Fann Nedd the weeks exertions were starting to show, resulting in a very slow and labored ascent, the mind kept saying "Yes" but the body was saying "No". Time to get a grip "Keep going for as long as you possibly can, then when you get to that point” – “Go On Some More”, was the mantra I kept repeating to myself.
It took just under an hour to get from the valley bottom to Fan Nedd trig point, an ascent of 240m and it is amazing how you forget the effort it has taken to get there when you stop, look around and take in the magnificent views all round. 
Photos complete, it was on to the next and final summit of the week Yr Allt, and after reaching there and rebuilding the cairn with the only five stones nearby it was time for the final leg and back to the car around the Nant Gihirych plantation. Sounds easy but although it was on the boundary of open access land there was no worn path through the thick knee deep grass resulting in it taking 1½ hours to cover the 1½ miles. I make that a pace of 1mph, pretty slow - not helped by an aching left knee which hurt every time I brought it forward bent. Easily sorted keep the leg straight and get a nomination for the ministry of silly walks. I did have one Nuttall walk left to visit the lone summit of Cefn yr Ystrad but the knee problem put paid to that idea to avoid any further damage. As it is some rest and recuperation followed by sports massage and strengthening work in the gym. 
Thank goodness for trek poles without them my pace would have been a lot slower than 1mph. I really do recommend there use even without injury they are an amazing aid for safe descent down any slope taking stresses off hips, knees and ankles. This applies even on level ground and the extra exertion you take from your legs is shared with shoulders, chest and arms giving a good over all bodily work out.
Not sure what route I would take if I did this walk again, but I certainly would not recommend this route unless you had fresh legs and even then in dry summer conditions, judging by the amount of dry sphagnum moss on the descent down Fan Fraith.
  • In my opinion, Trek Poles are an essential piece of kit, not just for steep descents, emergencies or support for an injury. I never set off on a walk of any distance without them knowing that any wear and tear on the old legs is being reduced enabling me to walk further and longer sharing the load across the whole body.
  • At the planning stage I had discounted the easier but longer 2.37mile return to the car via the track. But with hindsight and an injured knee this would have been the best option rather than struggling over the rough ground around Nant Gihirych plantation on the boundary of open access land.
Walk Description
 1.) From the car park cross over the old Pont Gihirych and go though (climb over) gate immediately on the left.
 2.) With Fan Gyhirych in front follow meandering path towards the prominent peak, at the time I was not sure weather the approach would be the left or the right hand side ridge.
Reasonably distinctive footpath visible to Fan Gyhirych
 3.) As you get closer to the peak, with the left ridge at best a rocky scramble - at worst stop you in your tracks, it becomes obvious the right hand ridge is the easiest approach.
 4.) Follow path then stream to summit area up 2nd gully from right.
 5.) Fairly easy ascent up gully, but tough with tired legs
Fairly easy approach up gully to summit area
 6.) Keep to the right and as you clear the gully you should see a cairn further to your right.
 7.) Head for the cairn. It is not the summit but when you reach the cairn head for the cairn, ignoring trig point on the left.
 8.) From the cairn head for the trig point and somewhere between the two you will traverse the high point of Fan Gyhirych.
 9.) Walk west from trig point along ridge with Fan Nedd straight in front of you.
10.) Looking straight ahead to Fan Nedd, the next summit Fan Fraith will be on your right.
Before turning right to Fan Fraith you can see Fan Nedd ahead
11a.) I actually waited until Fan Fraith was due south then turned right downhill, crossed the path then continued uphill due south across moorland again to Fan Fraith summit.
11b.) But you can stay on the ridge until you reach a track, turn right then head left across moorland up hill towards Fan Fraith summit.
12a.) You have a choice of route from Fan Fraith to Fan Nedd. I chose the route due west from Fan Fraith downhill over open ground. I had a job to find a suitable crossing point over the fence and wall on west flank of Fan Fraith. There was also a lot of dry sphagnum moss suggesting conditions are much wetter when conditions are not so dry.
12b.) The other option is to follow the wall to the west of Fan Fraith. North the west to the valley floor, however I cannot vouch for the ground or crossing places following this route.
Looking towards Fan Nedd infant Nant Fechan meandering through valley between Fan Fraith and Fan Nedd
13.) After crossing Nedd Fechan make your way up the east flank of Fan Nedd. There was not a marked path but straight up on the lower part was my approach and when the ascent became too tough to walk I tended to take a diagonal route zig-zagging back and forth. There was not a path all the way but there were some that disappeared and reappeared making progress slightly easier.
14.) As you reach the col between the trig point and 643m spot height to the south, turn left and north up hill to the summit area and trig point of Fan Nedd.
15.) Head north and slightly downhill from Fan Nedd trig-point along the path to the distinctive cairn at the end of the ridge.
Soon after leaving trig point heading north
distinctive cairn comes in to view
16.) And from the trig point start descent proper down fairly steep path at times eventually staying paralell with the fence line to Bwlch y Duwynt.
17.) At the gate turn north, go through the next gate, over the next stile and follow the path to the summit of Yr Allt.
18.) Descend Yr Allt over open grassy ground to the track on the west side of Nant Gihirych plantation.
19a.) At this point I chose the shorter route around the northern edge of Nant Gihirych plantation and return to the car via the old dismantled tramways. Very hard on my sore knees and I am sure that other than during the dry summer we have had in 2013, very wet at other times.
Alternate route back to car from Nant Gihirych plantation

19b.) With hindsight I recommend staying on the track north to Nant Cnewr-Fawr plantation to the B road then follow that south to the car at old Pont Gihirych car park. At 2.37 miles rather than the 1.49 miles around the plantation it is a mile further but probably just as quick and certainly easier on the knees than literally stumbling and probably wading around Nant Gihirych plantation.

More Photographs
Afon Senni valley towards Blean-Senni from cairn at northern end of Fann Nedd ridge
Click on photograph to view slide-show