The Brecon Beacons in South Wales allows for easy access to remote beautiful and wild, hill walks.
One of my favourite areas is Bwlch (it means “pass” in Welsh), a small village on the Brecon to Abergavenny road. There are so many walks leading from this area, all offering stunning, panoramic views across the Beacons and nearby Black Mountains.
This walk is a circular one taking in Llangorse lake, the largest natural lake in Wales and the surrounding hills of Mynnyd Llangorse and Allt Yr Esgai. The lake, as well as being home to large pike, is also home to the famed lake monster, Gorsey, who is celebrated in local poems and stories.
Now the name Llangorse can be spelt one of two ways. Here I have used the common spelling with an ‘e’ at the end. In Wales and especially locally it is spelt as Llangors without the ‘e’. So keep an eye on signage as it may be one or the other.
This walk starts at the Welsh Venison Centre, Middlewood Farm, LD3 7HQ. Why start here? Because they do a great breakfast in the deli/café and, even better, fantastic Welsh cakes when you have finished the walk!
This is a longish circular walk of ca 12 miles. There are some sharp ascents/descents and although you will reach an altitude of 500m the ascents are never long as the starting elevation is 200m. So, I would grade this walk as “moderate” but that depends on your fitness levels of course. Please be aware that the walk is on exposed hills, the ground can be boggy, and the weather can change dramatically, so be prepared with correct clothing, map, and compass.
The walk is mostly “off-road” but there is some road walking required – but the roads are small, country ones.
This walk can also be broken down into smaller circular walks, which I have summarised at the end of this piece.
So, after a hearty breakfast, walk down the farm track to the minor road at Glanpant. Here you have a choice – turn right and take the Roman Road towards Allt Yr Esgai or follow the road to your left past the remains of Castell Blaenllynfi. I prefer to walk this way as I get some of the road walking out of the way early.
Walk for about 800 metres until you meet the B4560 – Bwlch to Llangorse road. Turn left towards Llangorse and walk for 200mtres or so until you see a footpath and sign for Heaol-Las farm. Take this path and start the walk up the hill. Follow the path round to the right, passing some long-abandoned quarries.
It is now you start to get the first of the impressive views – looking across the Usk valley and, on a good day, towards Pen-Y-Fan.
Traverse the wall ladder and turn left on the well-defined footpath. This is part of the Beacons way and you are walking towards Cefn Moel.
Keep on the Beacons Way and enjoy the expansive views all around you, the Black Mountains to your right, views across to Llangorse lake and valley to your left.
After a 1.7km or ca 1 mile you will come to a double Cairn and a crossroad, just keep going forward. After ca 700mtres you will see a path to your left climbing up the hill. Take this path and follow it to the top of the hill. You are now on Mynnydd Llangorse, the highest point on our walk. If the weather gods are kind you will now have a stunning panoramic view across the Beacons, with the peak of Waun Fach bearing ominously down on you on your right shoulder across the Rhiangoll valley. At 811 metres, this is the highest peak in the Black Mountains.
Continue along the top of the hill, ignoring the paths to your left and right. You are now on the descent. At first the slope is gentle but as you approach Cockit hill, the descent steepens past an old fort with a steep scree slope on the right-hand side, so stick to the path and it widens onto a broad grassy slope.
Make your way down Cockit Hill to the minor road. You now follow the road for 1.6km or a mile, into the pretty village of Llangorse itself. The road is narrow and not very busy but do be aware that large vehicles use this road, so take care.
Llangorse is a good place to stop for lunch with a couple of pubs and a tearoom to choose from.
Now comes the fun bit of the walk. This should be straightforward to pass through Llangorse to reach the lake and follow the shore line to the right. In practice you need to be alert as signage is missing and there are several paths across the fields. It took me a good 30 mins of back tracking to get the right “combination” of paths and styles. Also (and it should go without saying as we are in Wales) this area can be extremely boggy especially after rain!
The footpath to take is through the car park at Llangorse Youth and Community centre. The route is marked with green ringed posts. Walk past the common and turn right by the footpath sign. Walk across the common and round the lake until you arrive at a bird hide. Follow the path past Tymar Farm, cross the minor road and take the path by the Hall.
This path ascends Allt Yr Esgai and follows an old Roman Road. As you reach the summit – just under 400m – there is the remains of an old Hill Fort. This is a good place to spend time admiring the views around you – Usk valley below, Pen Y Fan in the distance, down the valley you can see Crickhowell, you can also trace your walk and see the hills above Llangorse lake that you walked earlier.
It is now a simple walk down the well-defined path to the start point at the Welsh Venison Centre and a well-earned treat from the Deli.
Distance: 12-mile Circular work – moderate to hard
Time: Allow 4-5 hours.
Parking – Free at the Welsh Venison Centre, Middlewood Farm
Parking postcode – LD3 7HQ
If time is short you can try the following variations:
Just walk up the Roman road from the Welsh Venison Centre to the top of Allt Yr Esgai. Return on same path. Ca 4 miles
Park in Llangorse and walk the common and the lake. Parking is at the Community Centre. Ca 2miles
Walk from Llangors and up Mynnyd Llangors from Cockit Hill. At the top follow one of the paths heading west and down to the Adventure Centre. Please note the descents are very steep. Ca 6 miles