Geology Guides

A selection of general guides to the rocks and geology of Fforest Fawr UNESCO Global Geopark.

A number of guides have been published over the years to the rocks and landscape of this area.  Some are written for the general reader, others assume a certain level of knowledge on the part of the reader.

Copies of most of these are available for purchase at the National Park Visitor Centre at Libanus.

Although some others may now be out of print, they are often available in libraries and school and college collections so have been included here.


A series of leaflets aimed at the ordinary visitor introduces the diverse geological heritage of the Geopark. Find out more…


Geological Memoirs

The British Geological Survey (BGS) has produced a series of ‘Geological Memoirs’ and ‘sheet explanations’ to accompany many of the 1:50,000 scale maps which it publishes.  Those available for the Geopark area are:

  • Geology of the Llandovery District – a brief explanation of the geological map sheet 212 Llandovery (published in July 2009)
  • Geology of the Brecon District – a brief explanation of the geological map sheet 213 Brecon (38pp, published in 2005)
  • Geology of the South Wales Coalfield, part V; the country around Merthyr Tydfil, 3rd edition. memoir of the BGS sheet 231 (52pp, published in 1988)

Though the map is available, no modern memoir or ‘sheet explanation’ is available for the Ammanford area (sheet 230) covering the south-western part of the Geopark. However, copies of the 1907 memoir can be obtained directly from BGS.

The brief ‘sheet explanations’ and 50K maps of the Brecon and Llandovery districts can be purchased from BGS as packs for £18.00 – follow link above to BGS.

British Regional Geology Series

The 1st edition of the Wales title in this series by the British Geological Survey was published in 2007.  It replaces the two former guides to North and South Wales. It gives a good grounding in the geology of the region. (230pp including 1:625,000 scale bedrock geology map of Wales)

Other sources

The Rocks of Wales: their story is a handsomely illustrated 160 page book in the ‘Compact Cymru’ series from Gwasg Carreg Gwalch. Author Dyfed Elis-Gruffydd knows his Welsh geology and puts it across engagingly to the general reader with a healthy sprinkling of historical and cultural detail. Chapter 6 is devoted to ‘Old Red Sandstone Country’. Newly published in 2019 and selling for £8 from National Park centres and elsewhere. ISBN 978-1-84524-295-4

RockTrails: South Wales is a clearly written guide aimed at the hillwalker interested in the geology and scenery of South Wales. Of the 16 featured walks, 6 are in the Geopark and a further couple in the east of the National Park. Its 284 pages are packed with colourful photographs and clear maps and diagrams. Written by Paul Gannon and published by Pesda Press in 2016. ISBN 9781906095529

‘The Geology of South Wales: a field guide’ is a colourfully illustrated 282 page guide to the rocks of the region which includes a chapter detailing four itineraries around the headwaters of the River Neath and River Tawe as well as a general introduction to South Wales geology. Originally written and published in 2008 by Gareth T. George, a second expanded edition was published in late 2015 and is available for £18.75 from National Park centres.
ISBN no: 978-0-9559371-2-5

Limestone and Caves

A 254 page hardback book was published by Cambridge University Press in 1989 titled ‘Limestones and Caves of Wales’.  The editor, T D Ford has enlisted experts to describe the geology and geomorphology of the Carboniferous Limestone areas of Wales and summarize the state of knowledge of the main cave systems, setting out to assess the morphological evolution of the systems and associated landscape features.  It also covers cave fauna, archaeology and hydrology.

Also look out for a 32 page booklet written by Mike Simms and published in 1998 by the British Cave Research Association (BCRA) titled ‘Caves & Karst of the Brecon Beacons National Park’ describes three walks in the Geopark focussing on i) Carreg Cennen and the Black Mountain, ii) the Dan yr Ogof cave system and iii) the caves of the Mellte and Nedd Fechan valleys.
(No 7 in BCRA’s ‘Cave Studies’ series) ISBN 0-900265-20-5

Geological Excursions

There are three titles worth looking out for. Each includes material relevant to a section of the Geopark.

‘Geological Excursions in Powys, Central Wales’ (edited by N.H.Woodock & M.G.Bassett 1993,  366pp: ISBN 0-7083-1217-9) lists 15 separate excursions from the Berwyn Hills in the north to the S Wales Coalfield in the south.  Chapters 14 & 15 relate to the ‘Old Red Sandstone of the Brecon Beacons to Black Mountain area’ and to the ‘Carboniferous Limestone of the North Crop of the South Wales Coalfield’ – a large part of which is situated within Fforest Fawr Geopark.

‘Geological Excursions in Dyfed, South West Wales’ (published by National Museums & Galleries of Wales, edited by M.G.Bassett 1982,  327pp) lists 19 separate excursions from Pembrokeshire to Aberystwyth and east to the Geopark. Chapter 15 relates to ‘Ordovician & Silurian sections in the Llangadog-Llandeilo area’.

‘Silurian Field Excursion: a geotraverse across Wales and the Welsh Borderland’ (published by National Museum of Wales (Geological series), D.J.Siveter, R.M.Owens & A.T.Thomas 1989, 133pp). Chapter 5 relates to ‘the Llandovery-Llandeilo area: shelf edge environments on the southern margin of the Welsh Basin’.

Also available is a field guide to the ‘Geology of Powys in Outcrop’ published by Powys County Council in the late 1970’s. No longer in print, copies are available through the local library service. It describes around 10 locations within the Powys part of the Geopark.

Quaternary Geology

Richard Shakesby’s slim but information-packed book of 2002 titled ‘Classic Landforms of the Brecon Beacons’ (no 13 in the Geographical Association’sLandform Guides series) describes the geomorphology of glacial landforms in The Black Mountain, Fforest Fawr & the central Beacons. (48pp for £9.95)

The Quaternary Research Association (QRA) published a 275 page guide in Spring 2007 to accompany their four day field excursion looking largely at the legacy of the last ice age in Fforest Fawr Geopark and Brecon Beacons National Park. ‘Quaternary of the Brecon Beacons: Field Guide’ will appeal to those with an academic interest in the subject and is available for £20 from QRA.

SWGA leaflets

You can download a set of leaflets from the Geologists’ Association South Wales Group’s website.  They include a handful of walks with a geological theme within the Geopark.


For 2012 the RCAHMW have published a new version of their excellent book on ‘The Western Beacons: the archaeology of Mynydd Du and Fforest Fawr’. This paperback is packed with colourful maps and photos of Bronze and Iron Age sites, Roman, Mediaeval sites and the legacies of the industrial revolution. It costs £14.99 and runs to 180 pages. Available through national park centres. ISBN 9781871184433

Another excellent publication is Above Brecknock: an historic county from the air. Its 128 pages are packed with high quality aerial photographs, a considerable number of which are of the eastern part of the Geopark.  Written by Chris Musson and Toby Driver, it was published in 2015 by the Brecknock Society and Museum Friends together with Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust in collaboration with the RCAHMW. Though focussed primarily on archaeology, the natural landforms are beautifully portrayed here too. ISBN 9781869900021