Hotspots in Fforest Fawr Geopark
- Pontneddfechan with: the Waterfall Centre, the Farewell Rock, the walk through ‘Waterfall Country’, the faulted anticline of Bwa Maen, the Neath Disturbance, silica mines, an abandoned gunpowder works, and the Cwm Gwrelych Geo Heritage trail (two miles away).
- The Upper Swansea Valley with: the Geology Trail from Craig-y-nos Country Park to the summit of Cribarth which includes fossils, a Variscan anticline and the Swansea Valley Disturbance; Penwyllt with Britain’s deepest cave, limestone quarries and abandoned village and train station. It is also possible to visit The National Show cave Centre for Wales, which is not affiliated with the Geopark.
- The Black Mountain near Llanddeusant which includes the Geopark’s wildest scenery (Fig 10), best glacial features and excellent outcrops of the Devonian Brownstones, Plateau Beds, Grey Grits and Carboniferous Limestone, as well as the legend of ‘The Lady of the Lake.’
- Carreg Cennen Castle near Llandeilo (Fig 9) with the spectacular castle on top of a limestone cliff, the Carreg Cennen Fault which creates the limestone inlier on which the castle sits.
- Pen y Fan and the ridge of the Brecon Beacons. This is the classic Brecon Beacons walk summiting the highest peaks in southern Britain.
6. Brynaman with the Black Mountain Centre, and the nearby Black Mountain quarries (‘Herbert’s Quarry), ‘Rocky Ravines’ and ‘From Cwm to Cwm’ circular walks and the Henllys Vale Geotrail.
The Night’s Sky
In addition to being within the Brecon Beacons National Park, the Fforest Fawr Geopark is also situated within the Brecon Beacons International Dark Skies Reserve. This reserve established in 2013 is one of only five in the world and has a light quality good enough to conduct astronomical research.
During the Ice Ages most of Wales and northern Britain was covered by Ice. These glaciers have sculpted and shaped the beautiful mountains of the Geopark. In the Geopark there are around 30 different cirques cut into the north facing escarpments of the Black Mountain, Fforest Fawr and Brecon Beacons. In these cirques that have been cut out by glacial erosion there are also moraines. Evidence shows that they did not only form at the last glacial maximum about 20,000 years ago but some of them formed in Younger Dryas stadial of just 12,000 years ago.
The best place to see glacial erosion features and moraines is base of the Black Mountain ridge near to Llanddeusant. Here under the peaks of Bannau Sir Gaer, Picws Du, Fan Brycheiniog and Fan Hir are classic cirques but also depositional features that have been a source of confusion for many geologists. There are moraines that lie in front of headlands rather than cirque mouths (Fig 8), but they could have been formed as medial moraines when the cirque glaciers were joining the larger ice sheet that covered all of Wales. Another less remote place to look at glacial features is Craig Cerrig-gleisiad off the main A470 near to Storey Arms and Pen-y-Fan. The Fforest Fawr Geopark produces a Geotrail for this area titled ‘Glyn Tarell’.