With the dubious title of “the highest summit” in the Black Mountains Waun Fach (Small Moor) stands at 811 m (2,661 ft) with a prominence of 622 m (2,041 ft) and for all that grandeur the summit is a very unassuming flat and very damp piece of moorland but don’t let that put you off as it is in fact a SSSI and a very unique environment with Golden Plover, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits (Corhedydd y waun ) perhaps another origin of the name, all using the open relatively flat moor as a nesting site. The unique flora`s crowning glory is the cotton grass Eriophorum more info where and when can be found here cotton road. This wet patch of the hill gives birth to two of the six rivers of the Black Mountains and feeds another significant body of water albeit a man made one.
Following the Grwyne Fecahn river up from the Hermitage and the accompanying Mc Namara`s road, this wonderfully uninhabited valley leads you to the moody Waun Fach. Slowly being eroded by the ravages of peak baggers boots. Waun Fach is rather unpleasant to walk across but a journey one must take in exploring the Gader Ridge ( *2014 )
The Rhiangoll valley with its accompanying road is littered with farms, houses and a pub not to mention Castle Dinas,well the remains of Castle Dinas with its battle ravaged slopes it is said the Rhiangoll ran red when Owain Glyndwr`s tribe arrived to evict the Norman lord. A good walk up and along the Dragons Back at Pengenford where you will find the Dragons Back pub with a well sizes car park. The climb up the dragons is a fine place to enjoy a sunset.
Waun Fach from the Ffwddog ridge above Grwyne Fawr is not that impressive, as its here that one wonders if in fact its truly the highest summit in the Black Mountains as the neighbouring Pen Y Gader Fawr looks the more impressive peak. The weather can be very different than below in the valley and care must be taken when walking especially in the winter months as you might have to make a quick retreat off the slopes into a sheltered valley. Examples of the tasty weather can be found in the following blog posts ( low cloud and in a blizzard )
I cannot leave the summit of Waun Fach hidden from you any longer as if you are planning to conquer this hill I don’t want you be to disappointed upon arrival at the trigpoint. It is very much a case of the journey to get there is by far the most important part as you do get to walk through the heart of the Black Mountains in the Brecon Beacons ( *2014)
* Since the publishing of the article the summit of Waun Fach has undergone some work by the BBNP and a path has been installed across the open moor leading to Gader Fawr. The erosions has also been tackled with jute matting and moorland grass bales in the hope that it will reseed its self and thankfully the old and much hated concrete trig point has been buried and talk has it that one day a new dry stone cairn will be constructed. I was commission by the BBNP to provide documentary images and aerial video of the works being carried out.
Description with the video reads,
” An airlift operation to carry hundreds of tonnes of heather brash and crushed stone to the top of Waun Fach – the highest hill in the Black Mountains – to repair to a damaged peat bog and a popular walking route is almost finished. The airlift kick started the first phase of a unique collaboration between Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, Natural Resources Wales, the Glanusk Estate and the Black Mountains Graziers Association to improve the biodiversity on the Black Mountains made possible with £200,000 from the Welsh Government’s Nature Fund.
Earlier this year, Brecon Beacons National Park Authority was successfully awarded just over £200,000 from the Welsh Government’s Nature Fund to develop a continuous improvement programme to restore heathland, peat bogs and other habitats in the Black Mountains. Glanusk Estate, which owns a large area of the Black Mountains as well as Waun Fach, was also awarded nearly £20,000 from the Nature Fund to improve the state of nature in the area. The grants represent a significant portion of the Welsh Government’s Nature Fund – which is investing in innovative and collaborative projects across Wales to support practical action to improve areas of biodiversity while providing benefits to communities and local economies.
This month the first phase of the funding has been rolled out to fund the use of helicopters to deliver hundreds of tonnes of stone and heather brash to the affected areas on Waun Fach. For the next two weeks it is anticipated that the helicopters will make numerous airlifts to complete the work – which is being delivered with the co-operation of the Glanusk Estate and Black Mountains Graziers Association.
At 2660 feet above sea level, Waun Fach is an area where there is no vehicle access and is viewed as one of the most remote landscapes in the National Park. Over time, cumulative impact from walkers, as well as other factors, has contributed to the erosion of the walking route, with regular damage to the surrounding areas of peat bog. A specialist team made up of local contractors, National Park Authority wardens, graziers and volunteers will work in sub-zero temperatures to carefully create a footpath with a stable walking surface, which will lessen the impact of trampling in the unique SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and carefully preserve the peat bog. The eroding and exposed areas of peat will be blanketed in heather brash and the gullies will be blocked to stop further erosive damage. The aggregate has been specially selected on advice from Natural Resources Wales because of its durability and compatibility with the existing stone. “