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Having done the Grwyne Fawr valley back in the August issue, now it’s time to move next door to the Grwyne Fechan.

Grwyne Fechan Walk Map

Click on the map for a higher resolution version.

There’s some fascinating and somewhat colourful local history associated with some of this walk, (see box-out  ‘Macnamara’s Road & Hermitage’) and includes a very pleasant spot for a picnic halfway around. The walk is moderate to easy, but at 6.7 miles its quite lengthy for little legs.  You should expect uneven ground, nettles and almost certainly mud!

To Get There

From Abergavenny, drive to Crickhowell on the Brecon Road. In Crickhowell, turn right up Llanbedr Road. After about 1.5 miles, at the right-hand turning for Llanbedr, continue straight on.  After about another mile, the road splits 3 ways at a white cottage; take the middle road straight on. At a sharp crook in the road there is a small stone bridge. Parking is immediately after the bridge.

Google Map centred on the car park

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Macnamara’s Road & Hermitage

Local legend has it that John Macnamara was a member of the infamous ‘Hellfire Club’ of the late 1700’s who won the Llangoed Estate in a high stakes card game. Contrary to the previous owner’s expectations, Macnamara and his wife upped sticks and moved from London to Llangeod Castle, (now a hotel) and settled there for the rest of their lives. The estate included the Grwyne Fawr and the Grwyne Fechan valleys, the latter of which Macnamara found a novel use for; he built a large Georgian residence, unusually situated near the head of the valley with no vehicular access. Here he installed his mistress and had a road built that travelled up and out of the valley, allowing him carriage access from Llangoed. Presumably this arrangement kept his affairs strictly private! The ruined building is known today as ‘The Hermitage,’ and when you pass it on this walk, one can’t help but wonder whether or not, as far as Macnamara’s mistress was concerned, the lavish property made up for what must have been a rather lonely existence in a such remote location.

Point 1: Leaving the layby1

From the lay-by, walk towards the bridge and cross the stile which is almost immediately on the right. There is a footpath sign pointing up hill marked ‘Pen Twyn Glas’. Follow this, but almost straight away, bear right, steeply up hill (there is a second sign pointing up the hill, but it had fallen down when I passed it.)

Point 2: Stile at the corner of the field


At the top corner of the field, cross a stile and join a stony track. Continue up the track following signs ‘To the Hill’.

Point 3: Stone wall on the right3

Eventually the track passes into a field. At this point, leave the main track and continue ahead keeping to the stone wall on your right. The path here is not well marked.

Point 4: Park Wood4

Cross a stile into Park Wood; a plantation of fir trees. Follow the path through the wood.

Point 5: Path crosses logging track5

Where a logging track crosses the path diagonally, cross it and rejoin the path on the other side. This is helpfully signposted as ‘Right of way’. Soon, you will leave the woods via a gate and pass the ruined Tyle-du-fawr farmstead on your right. Cross a stile, pass another ruin and over another stile. The path becomes unclear in places and the ground may be uneven, so be careful. Follow the line of the wall/fence on your right.

Point 6: No more fence6

After just over a kilometre, the wall/fence stops and the path continues through the bracken. Continue along the path.

Point 7: Macnamara's Road7

After just under a kilometre, an obvious pathway comes up from the right. This is ‘Macnamara’s Road’ (see box out). Turn right onto it, and travel downhill towards the valley bottom.

Point 8: Grass covered bridge - Picnic spot8

There is a delightful grass-covered stone bridge crossing the Afon Grwyne Fechan and some nice spots to put out a rug and eat sandwiches. When you’re finished here, go through the gate and follow the track uphill and to the right. Follow the track through fields back down the valley.

Point 9: Conifer plantation and gate9

When you reach the conifer plantation on the left, go through a gate and join the tarmac road as it heads down the hill and into some woods.

Point 10: Macnamara's Hermitage10

Pass a logging track on the left and cross another stone bridge. If you want a closer look at the Hermitage, there is a fjord on the left, immediately after the bridge. The hermitage is fenced off, but you can get quite close and see some interior details such as fire places. Don’t be tempted to follow the track leading from the hermitage. I did and I got my feet wet crossing the stream when the track ran out later on. Return to the lane using the fjord. Continue along the lane.

Point 11: The Old Chapel11

After 1 mile, you will arrive at a junction with the entrance to Cwm Farm. If you are flagging at this point, you have the option of taking a short cut by continuing straight on and following the road all the way back to the car. Otherwise, take the left hand fork down the hill. Almost straight away the road splits 3 ways. Take the middle lane with the metal fence on the left. The lane follows the river and passes an old chapel (now an outdoor education centre).

Point 12: Mill at Pony-y-felin12

Cross the river again at Pont-y-Felin where you’ll pass a disused mill, (now part of a private residence). Follow the road as it bears right.

Point 13: Bridge over the Cwm Banw and Grwyne Fechan13

After about half a mile, you will reach another stone bridge and cottages. This where the Gywne Fechan and the Cwm Banw rivers meet. Cross the bridge and continue up the hill.

Point 14: Returning to the layby


When you reach a junction, you may well recognise the white cottage you passed on the drive in. Turn right and follow the road back to your car.


Have you done the walk? Let us know what you thought!

Article by Pete Hill

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