GeoFest 2017

The Fforest Fawr Geopark Festival took place over the course of 16 days from Saturday 20th May to Sunday 4th June 2017.  The weather was (largely) kind as hundreds of people enjoyed walks and more! What did people say about it?

  • ‘very well organised’
  • ‘knowledge & enthusiasm was enthralling’
  • ‘well-informed, knowledgeable guides’
  • ‘a really excellent walk’
  • ‘excellent, thoughtful leaders’
  • ‘very educational’

Now we’re looking forward to next year – the provisional dates for your diary are Saturday 19 May to Sunday 3 June 2018. Here’s the 2017 programme to give a flavour of what’s likely to be on offer again:

For all walks, don’t forget to pack these essentials:

  • a picnic lunch for any of the all-day walks
  • something hot/cold to drink
  • emergency rations (chocolate bars etc)
  • appropriate weatherproof gear – you often need to pack not just sun-cream and a sun-hat but also a rainproof jacket and over-trousers for a day in these hills!
  • spare warm clothing – multiple layers work well.  Avoid jeans!
  • camera, binoculars, walking poles etc as required
  • appropriate footwear – generally that means walking boots

Dogs – or rather their owners! – should note that well-behaved dogs are welcome on some walks. However they are restricted from others since the festival takes place during the nesting season and many walks cross open moorland and/or nature reserves where the presence of a dog can disturb birds, and indeed livestock. By law, any dog on access land must be on a short lead between 1st March and 31st July.

Grades – each of the walks is given a grade:

  • Access for all – short, flat or gentle slopes – no barriers, suitable for wheelchairs & pushchairs
  • Easy – short(-ish), no steep slopes or difficult ground
  • Moderate – good exercise, may be long(-ish), some ascents involved
  • Energetic – long, may be one or two steep climbs,
  • Strenuous – long, with steep climbs and perhaps difficult ground

Maps – if you wish to follow any of these routes on a map then (unless otherwise indicated)  all walks will be found on OS 1:25,000 scale Explorer sheet OL12. Geology is covered by the 1:50,000 scale geological map of Fforest Fawr. These and other publications are available from the National Park on-line shop.

Language – all walks will be conducted in English except where otherwise indicated.

Further information: phone Alan Bowring on 01874 620415

Cost: usually up to £4 for a half-day and up to £6 for a full-day walk.

Disclaimer: the organisers reserve the right to change the route, length and time of walks both before and on the day according to circumstances (eg weather, adverse path conditions etc). Any participants already booked on a walk will be informed.

 

THE PROGRAMME:

Saturday 20 May 2017   1.30pm – 5pm

Up and down the Nedd Fechan

An exploration of the natural history of this thickly wooded gorge with botanist Charles Hipkin and zoologist Michael Isaac. This special area of conservation (SAC) is noted for its bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) which thrive in the damp shady conditions.

  • Start: Pont Melin-fach car park (SN 908105)
  • Distance/time: 3.5km / 2miles     3.5 hours
  • Ascent/grade: 70m / 220ft               moderate
  • Cost: £4
  • Dogs: sorry – no dogs on this wildlife walk

Book your place on this walk now through Eventbrite.

Keywords: Carboniferous, karst, biodiversity, Waterfall Country

 

Sunday 21 May 2017       1.30pm – 5.00pm

Lines in the Landscape

A walk from Coelbren Miners Welfare Hall exploring a section of the Roman Road, Sarn Helen and a length of the Brecon Forest Tramroad. And alongside the archaeology and industrial archaeology, a chance to take a close look with Michael Isaac at the insect and wildflower interest in the nature reserve at Gors Llwyn.

  • Start: Miners Welfare Hall, Coelbren  (OS grid ref SN 851116)  SA10 9PN
  • Distance/time: 6.5km / 4 miles        3.5 hours
  • Ascent/grade: 90m / 300ft                Moderate
  • Cost: £4
  • Dogs: Sorry – no dogs on this wildlife walk

Book your place on this walk now through Eventbrite.

Keywords: Carboniferous, biodiversity, industrial archaeology

 

Monday 22nd May 2017       7pm – 8.30pm

Prehistoric Rock Art on our Doorstep (talk)

If you visit Northumberland National Park, you will find yourself in one of Britain’s rock art hot-spots.  Until recently, the Brecon Beacons had nothing remotely comparable, but recent finds have changed all that.  Dr Edith Evans of Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust will take you through the evidence for cup-marked stones in South-East Wales and show how the new discoveries fit in.

  • Venue: Pontsticill Memorial Hall, Pontsticill CF48 2TY
  • Time: 7pm
  • Cost: £3 (teas/coffees available)

Book your place at this talk now through Eventbrite (or pay on the door)

Keywords: archaeology

 

Tuesday 23rd May 2017       10.30am – 1pm

Rocky Ravines

A walk from the Black Mountain Centre in Brynaman exploring the rocky foundations of the village as revealed in the gorges cut by streams flowing down from the Black Mountain.

  • Start:  Black Mountain Centre  (OS grid ref SN 714143)  SA18 1AD
  • Distance/time: 4km / 2.5 miles        2.5 hours
  • Ascent/grade: 110m / 350ft               Moderate
  • Cost: £3
  • Dogs: well-behaved dogs on short leads welcome

Book your place on this walk now through Eventbrite.

Keywords: Carboniferous, industrial archaeology

 

Wednesday 24th May 2017   10am – 4pm

Penderyn: a Sgwd yr Eira Circuit

A full-day exploration with Alan Bowring, Geopark officer and Dilys Harlow of Brecon Beacons Park Society of the triangular route from Penderyn Community Centre to the falls and Dinas Rock and returning via Moel Penderyn looking at geology and industrial archaeology.

  • Start: Penderyn Community Centre  (OS grid ref SN 950079)  CF44 9UX
  • Distance/time: 10km / 6 miles         6 hours
  • Ascent/grade: 400m / 1300ft           Moderate
  • Cost: £6 for non-BBPS members
  • Dogs: well-behaved dogs on short leads welcome

Book your place on this walk now through Eventbrite.

Keywords: Carboniferous, karst, Waterfall Country, industrial archaeology, faults & folds

 

Thursday 25 May 2017       10.30am – 3pm

River and Ridge Revisited

A walk following old tramroads and inclines from the heart of Abercrave to the top of Cribarth and returning through a secretive gorge. Explore the area’s geology and industrial archaeology – assets which it has in super-abundance. Bring a packed lunch – and enjoy tea and cake at the Hub afterwards!

  • Start: The Hub/PO, Abercrave  (OS grid ref SN 816126)  SA9 1XP
  • Distance/time: 7.5km / 4.5 miles       4.5 hours
  • Ascent/grade: 300m / 1000ft             Moderate
  • Cost: £6
  • Dogs: well-behaved dogs on short leads welcome

Book your place on this walk now through Eventbrite.

Keywords: Carboniferous, karst, industrial archaeology, faults & folds

 

Friday 26th May 2017      10.30am-4.30pm

Cadlan’s Cairns

An archaeological  study walk in partnership with the Brecon Beacons Park Society (BBPS) and Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust (Edith Evans) tracing the legacy of the Geopark’s early inhabitants around the upper reaches of Nant Cadlan –  Cefn Sychbant and Pant Sychbant. Touching on the area’s geology (Alan Bowring), botany and zoology too (Michael Isaac), the walk will seek out the many Bronze Age cairns which decorate these hillsides. Don’t forget a picnic lunch. May be rough or wet underfoot in parts.

  • Start: temporary parking area off minor road in forest  (OS grid ref SN 992115)
  • Distance/time: 10km / 6miles      6 hours
  • Ascent/grade:  200m / 650ft         Moderate
  • Cost: £6 for non-BBPS members
  • Dogs: well-behaved dogs on short leads welcome

Book your place on this walk now through Eventbrite.

Keywords: archaeology, Carboniferous, karst, biodiversity

 

Tuesday 30 May 2017   10am – 4.00pm

Carreg Cennen to Garreg Las

An exploration with botanist Charles Hipkin and zoologist Michael Isaac of the wildlife and landscape near Carreg Cennen Castle via the Beacons Way, through limestone and sandstone territory visiting the best example in the park of geology influencing vegetation.

  • Start: Carreg Cennen Castle car park  (OS grid ref SN 666193)  SA19 6UA
  • Distance/time: 8km / 5 miles            6 hours
  • Ascent/grade: 290m / 950ft              Moderate
  • Cost: £6
  • Dogs: sorry – no dogs on this wildlife walk

Book your place on this walk now through Eventbrite.

Keywords: Carboniferous, Devonian, biodiversity

 

Wednesday 31st May 2017        10am – 4pm

Family activity day at Craig-y-nos Country Park

A firm favourite in the calendar each year. As in previous years, we expect to have the usual range of stalls and activities for all the family. Craft stalls, zip wire and much more including hands-on geology, wildlife and archaeology activities.

No booking needed. Pay-and-display car parking but free entry to event.

Keywords: geology, archaeology, crafts, activities

 

Wednesday 31st May 2017            12noon – 3pm

Three Summits, Seven Stones

An exploration of Cribarth’s natural and cultural heritage with Dilys Harlow of the Brecon Beacons Park Society – the title refers to the three summits of the mountain and Saith Maen, an outstanding archaeological feature.  Up Cribarth via NE shoulder, along to all 3 summits then out to rottenstone workings and the stone row, returning via Pwll yr Cawr and footpath to the country park.

  • Start: Craig-y-nos Country Park  (OS grid ref SN 840155)  SA9 1GL
  • Distance/time: 5km / 3 miles        3 hours
  • Ascent/grade: 230m /  750ft          Moderate
  • Cost: £3 for non-BBPS members
  • Dogs: well-behaved dogs on short leads welcome

Book your place on this walk now through Eventbrite.

Keywords: Carboniferous, karst, archaeology, faults & folds

 

Thursday 1st June 2017       1.30pm – 5pm

Wildlife with a View

A walk with Chris Jones of Brecknock Wildlife Trust exploring the natural history of Craig y Rhiwarth and the Allt Rhongyr nature reserve.

  • Start: Craig-y-nos Country Park  (OS grid ref SO 840155)  SA9 1GL
  • Distance/time: 5.5km / 3.5 miles         3.5 hours
  • Ascent/grade: 225m / 700ft                  Moderate
  • Cost: £4
  • Dogs: sorry – no dogs on this wildlife walk

Book your place on this walk now through Eventbrite.

Keywords: Carboniferous, karst, biodiversity

 

Friday 2nd June 2017       10am – 4pm

A Walk with the National Trust in the Central Beacons

A walk in partnership with the Brecon Beacons Park Society (BBPS) and the National Trust via Cefn Cwm Llwch, Pen y Fan, Corn Du and visiting Llyn Cwm Llwch before returning around Twyn y Dyfnant. Join Rob Reith, the Trust’s lead ranger, to explore the landscape, history, management and conservation of this special place.

  • Start: National Trust’s Cwm Gwdi car park  (OS grid ref SO 024247)
  • Distance/time: 13km / 8miles        6 hours
  • Ascent/grade:  600m / 2000ft        Energetic
  • Cost: £6 for non-BBPS members
  • Dogs: well-behaved dogs on short leads welcome

Book your place on this walk now through Eventbrite.

Keywords: Devonian, Old Red Sandstone, biodiversity, archaeology

 

Saturday 3rd June 2017       10.30am – 3.30pm

A Circuit of Circles

An exploration with geologist Geraint Owen and zoologist Michael Isaac of a newly aligned section of the Beacons Way in a fascinating but  lesser visited part of the Black Mountain, visiting Cefn Truman, Cefn y Cylchau and Blaenclydach. Plenty of circular depressions along the way – a.k.a. shakeholes – to peer into!

  • Start: top car park, Black Mountain quarries  (OS grid ref SN 732187)
  • Distance/time: 8km / 5 miles         5 hours
  • Ascent/grade: 260m / 850ft            Moderate
  • Cost: £6
  • Dogs: well-behaved dogs on short leads welcome

Book your place on this walk now through Eventbrite.

Keywords: Carboniferous, Devonian, karst, biodiversity, industrial archaeology