Heart of the Park and Waterfall Country Tour on 23rd August 2016

Today we had excellent weather in the Brecon Beacons National Park, and I took a family of four on the Heart of the Park and Waterfall Country tour.

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A view of the Beacons near Brecon just before the start of the tour.

DSC_3760Our first stop was Mynydd Illtud  with spectacular views over all four mountain ranges in the National Park, a Roman road, and iron age fort, glacial moraine, and scientifically important wetland.DSC_3763DSC_3766DSC_3769We then journeyed on past the Crai reservoir with wonderful views on the Black Mountain to the Upper Swansea Valley.DSC_3772DSC_3775We then visited the Allt Rhongyr Nature Reserve and Penwyllt for dramatic views of the Upper Swansea Valley.DSC_3776DSC_3777DSC_3778Next we went to Henrhyd waterfall which was gushing with water from all the recent rain. This is the highest waterfall in South Wales and flows over the famous ‘Farewell Rock’ the bottom layer of the South Wales Coalfield. When early geologists first described it fossil tree trunks were found at its base. This fall has also featured in the Batman films

DSC_3781DSC_3783DSC_3785It was the on to Bwa Maen. Bwa Maen Fold – The ‘Stone Bow’ this is a spectacular fold in the Carboniferous limestone.

DSC_3787Sychryd Falls/ Sgydau Sychryd –  This is a cascade of water that flows between Dinas Rock and Bwa Maen.

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Sgwd Isaf Clun-gwyn

The ‘lower fall of the white meadow’ is the middle of three falls.

DSC_3790DSC_3792Clun Gwyn Waterfall / Sgwd Clun Gwyn –  The ‘fall of the white meadow’ is the uppermost of the three celebrated falls on the Mellte. It is formed where a north-northwest to south-southeast trending fault brings hard sandstone up against softer mudstone.

DSC_3793DSC_3795DSC_3807Then we walked on to Sgwd yr Eira. Famous for being the falls behind which you can walk, the ‘falls of snow’ plunge over a hard band of sandstone whose overhang protects the walker from the full force of the water.

DSC_3816DSC_3819DSC_3822Then we visited Porth Ogrof – The largest cave opening in Wales.DSC_3824DSC_3826The day finished with a visit to Craig Cerrig-gleisiad and Fan Frynych National Nature Reserve –  Craig Cerrig-gleisiad means ‘cliff of the salmon(-coloured) rocks’ and is a cwm (cirque) formed by a glacier which deposited moraine and created a sheltered environment where rare Arctic and Alpine plants live.

All together it was a mammoth yet excellent day in wonderful weather. I you feel like joining the tour yourself please join me here

http://breconbeaconstours.com/heart-of-the-park-and-waterfall-country.php.

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WILDLIFE AND NATURE TOURS

WILDLIFE AND NATURE TOURS

Your guide James Cresswell is a trained geologist, but he also knows a lot about wildlife having previously worked as a safari guide in Kenya and Botswana. He also has 8 years of experience telling people about wildlife in the Arctic and Antarctic, and is a wildlife photographer. On these two tours James will take you to his favourite wildlife spots in the Brecon Beacons and in Mid Wales.

TOUR DATES

2015 Dates: June 27th – August 25th

Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays only

Start point: Your accommodation in the Brecon Beacons N.P. area, or Abergavenny train station, or Brecon bus interchange or Hay-on-Wye bus stop

PRICES

£35 per person (Group size 4-7)

Minimum spend £140

WILDLIFE AND NATURE IN THE BRECON BEACONS

Tour route map

Brechfa Pool

Pwll-y-Wrach Nature Reserve

Llangorse Lake

Brechfa Pool – This is Brecknock Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve. Here it is possible to see the rare aquatic fern called pillwort, and several species of wading birds.

Pwll-y-Wrach Nature Reserve – this is 17.5 hectares of beautiful ancient woodland and hosts the Witches Pool waterfall. Dormice live in the reserve but are very hard to see.

Llangorse Lake – Otters and water voles live here but are very hard to see. However there are very many bird species here that vary depending on the time of year.

The River Usk and Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal at Llangynidr – We take a 2 mile walk along the beautiful River Usk and return along the canal. There are otters living here but they are hard to see in the day. We may also see Kingfishers, wild ducks and even a jumping salmon.

Talybont Reservoir – This is a great place for bird watching.

A4059 Penderyn Mountain – Along the side of this road are many Welsh Mountain Ponies.

Craig Cerrig-Gleisiad and Fan Frynach National Nature Reserve – this wild mountain region is home to peregrine falcons, ring ouzels, ravens and butterflies.

Welsh mountain ponies

WILDLIFE IN MID WALES

The Elan Valley

Red kite

Pwll-y-Wrach Nature Reserve

Gilfach Nature Reserve – this is the Radnorshire Wildlife Trust’s flagship Nature Reserve. We spend the morning walking around around the reserve.  The reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The meadows contain a range of ancient grassland species. The Gilfach nature reserve is particularly rich in lower plants, with 413 species of lichen found to date. The species list for birds is currently 73 of which 55 species breed. Insects abound; along the river. The old railway cuttings are a great place to spot butterflies. Larger mammals on the reserve include Otter, Polecat, Stoat, Weasel, Badger, Fox, Hare, and Hedgehog. In 2009 water voles were recorded on the river for the first time, spreading out from a local colony. Bats hibernating in the railway tunnel include Daubentons, Natterers and Brown long-eared among the six species recorded on the reserve.

The Elan Valley – We then tour around the Elan Valley admiring the scenery and Victorian Dams.

Red Kite Feeding Station & Rehabilitation Centre – Gigrin Farm –  At 3pm we watch the feeding of the Red Kites. The number of kites using the feeding station can vary anything from a few score to 600 or more depending on weather and time of year.

Pwll-y-Wrach Nature Reserve – the day ends with a visit to Pwll-y-Wrach Nature Reserve which is the Brecknock Wildlife Trust’s most popular nature  reserve and is only a few miles away from Tara B&B.

INCLUDED IN THESE TOURS

Guiding and interpretation from Mountain Leader and MSc. geo-scientist.

A luxury homemade picnic lunch from Beeton For Time catering.

NOT INCLUDED IN THESE TOURS

*Transportation

*Due to insurance regulations transportation cannot be part of these tours. However I am insured to give you a lift from site to site in exchange for the standard mileage costs, this will be just a few pounds each. My vehicle can take up to 4 passengers alternatively I am happy to travel with you in your vehicle.

STAR GAZING IN THE BRECON BEACONS

STAR GAZING IN THE BRECON BEACONS INTERNATIONAL DARK SKIES RESERVE

£10 EACH FOR A 2 HOUR GUIDED TOUR ONLY AVAILABLE IF STAYING AT TARA B&B

Minimum spend £20

SELF GUIDED TOUR IS FREE BUT TELESCOPE HIRE IS £10

The night sky at Tara B&B in the Brecon Beacons International Dark Skies Reserve

The night sky at Tara B&B

Promotional video of Brecon Beacons International Dark Skies Reserve.

Telescope for Star Gazing at Scenery Explained Wales

Teloscope provided.

 This is an evening tour and has to be done in conjunction with a stay at Tara B&B. The tour will take place in the garden of Tara B&B and at the ‘Roundabout’ above Glasbury which has 360 degree views.

This tour is led my James Cresswell who is an accredited ambassador to the Brecon Beacons International Dark Skies Reserve

The Milkyway above the Brecon Beacons

The Milkyway photographed from the Brecon Beacons

Star above Tara B&B in the Brecon Beacons International Dark Skies Reserve

The night sky at Tara B&B

SELF DRIVE TOURS IN THE TWIZY ELECTRIC CAR

Places where you can charge your Twizy while out on a Self Guided tour

Twizy slef drive, Scenery Explained Wales day tours

James Cresswell driving a Twizy electric car

Do you want to learn out the wonderful Scenery, Wildlife and Heritage of the Brecon Beacons in an environmentally friendly way?

Then why self guide yourself on one of our tours with a Twizy electric car.

Book into Tara B&B, hire a Twizy through us and I can give you some more information about your chosen self guided tour.

SCENERY EXPLAINED GEO-TOURS

SCENERY EXPLAINED GEO-TOURS

Understanding geology is a form of time travel, know how to read the rocks and you can understand what happened in the past. These landscape and geology tours are led by geoscientist James Cresswell, but they are as technical as you want them to be. Whether you are looking for a basic gist of the reasons why the landscape looks like it does, or you want an in depth deep understanding of the earth processes at work,then these are the tours for you.

TOUR DATES

2015 Dates: June 27th – August 25th

Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays only

Start point: Your accommodation in the Brecon Beacons N.P. area, or Abergavenny train station, or Brecon bus interchange or Hay-on-Wye bus stop

PRICES

£35 per person (Group size 4-7)

Minimum spend £140

TOURS IN THE FFOREST FAWR GEOPARK

(WESTERN BRECON BEACONS NATIONAL PARK)

FFOREST FAWR GEOPARK EXPLAINED…

Bwa Maen fold, Scenery Explained Wales day tours

Bwa Maen fold

Carreg Cennen Castle, Scenery Explained Wales day tours

Carreg Cennen Castle

Henrhyd waterfall, Scenery Explained Wales day tours

Henrhyd waterfall

 Mountain Centre – for the glaciated peaks of the Brecon Beacons

Maen Lia – a standing stone that is an upturned glacial erratic

Porth Ogrof – the largest cave opening in Wales

Dinas Rock – a large out crop of limestone

Bwa Maen Fold – an impressive fold

The Farewell Rock – Below this there is no more coal it also contains fossil trees.

Henrhyd waterfall – This the highest waterfall in South Wales. It flows over the Farewell Rock and was used in the Batman films.

Carreg Cennen Castle – This impressive ruin sits on an inlier of limestone that has been produced by faulting.

Sawdde Gorge – This gorge cuts through Silurain and Ordovician rocks and has in the past yielded imporat fossils.

Llandovery – For geologists this name is famous the world over because it is the name of an epoch in the SIlurian period and was named after this geopark town.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

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WHAT IS THE FFOREST FAWR GEOPARK?

The Fforest Fawr Geopark was established in 2005 and was Wales’ first Geopark. It occupies the western two thirds of the Brecon Beacons National Park and was established due to its special geology and human stories.

Read more: fforestfawrgeopark.org.uk

The European Network of Geoparks website.

The Global Network of Geoparks website.

LLANDOVERY AND THE GOLDEN SPIKES

To read a scientific paper about these stratotypes please click here

The town of Llandovery lends its name to the  Llandovery Epoch of the Silurian Period. This is a globally used term describe the time period from 443.4 million to 433.4 million years ago.

On this tour we complete a Llandovery Town walk where we examine the different building stones.

The second part of the tour is more obscure!! We seek out 2 otherwise unremarkable outcrops of rock that form the Global Stratotype Section Points that define the Telychianand Aeronian Stages.

These stages are globally used subdivisions of the Llandovery epoch. The Telychian Age lasted from 438.5 million to 433.4 million years ago, and is named after Pen-lan-Telych Farm near Llandovery. This outcrop is in a disused quarry near the road side.

The Aeronian Age lasted from 440.8 million to 438.5 million years ago, and is named after Cemcoed-Aeron Farm near Llandovery. This outcrop is remote on a forestry track that may have to be walked to.

BRYNAMAN, GARNANT AND HENLLYS VALE

This is a walking tour based on 3 of the Fforest Fawr Geopark’s published Geotrails. The location of this tour is about 1 hour away from Tara B&B.

1. Henllys Vale 2 miles (3.5km) Learn about the coal measures and industrial heritage.

2. Rocky Ravines 2.5 miles (4km) Learn how the village of Brynaman owes its very existence to the geology on which it sits.

3. From Cwm to Cwm 5 miles (8km) We explore the geology of Cwm Pedol and Cwm Berach on the slopes of Drysgol near the village of Garnant.

OTHER TOURS WE OFFER IN THE FFOREST FAWR GEOPARK

The Best of the Beacons West

The Heritage of the Fforest Fawr Geopark

TOURS IN THE EAST OF THE  BRECON BEACONS NATIONAL PARK

THE BLACK MOUNTAINS EXPLAINED…

Coomin Bychan, Scenery Explained Wales day tours

The Black Mountains behind Felindre

Pwll y Wrach, Scenery Explained Wales day tours

Pwll y Wrach waterfall

This tour takes place very near to our base Tara B&B and explains the Old Red Sandstone that makes up the Black Mountains and the glacial processes that have carved out the present landscape.

Commin Bychan – For glacial features, and an overview of Old Red Sandstone strata.

Pwll y Wrach Nature Reserve –  Where important fish fossil have been found and learn about fossil soil horizons.

Cockitt Hill – We have a short climb to find fossilised worm burrows and an explanation of the formation of nearbyLlangorse Lake.

Bwlch – We visit an old quarry and observe fossilised river channels.

Llangorse Lake, Scenery Explained Wales day tours

Llangorse Lake was formed in the last Ice Age

IRON STONES, COAL AND A WORLD HERITAGE SITE

Baenavon Ironworks, Scenery Explained Wales day tours

The Blaenavon Ironworks

Big Pit, Scenery Explained Wales day tours

The Big Pit

Llangyndir Mountain – we admire the glaciated features of the Black Mountains and learn about dolines, which are a type of sink hole.

Clydach Gorge  – here we do a 2 miles (3km) walk observing iron stones and coal deposits as well as a beautiful waterfall that flow over the Farewell Rock.

Big Pit – this is part of the Blaenavon World Heritage Site. Here we go on an underground tour led by former miners.

Blaenavon Ironworks – also part of the World Heritage Site. Here we learn the iron making processes of Blaenavon revolutionised the world, and additionally learn that the great great grandfather of your very own guide James Cresswell used to be the General Manager here.

This tour is also listed in our Heritage Tour section because it is equally geological and a heritage tour.

TOURS OUTSIDE THE BRECON BEACONS NATIONAL PARK BOUNDARY

DINOSAUR FOOTPRINTS AND MORE – GLAMORGAN HERITAGE COAST

Lavernock Point, Scenery Explained Wales day tours

Lavernock Point for ammonites

Dinosaur footprints, Scenery Explained Wales day tours

Dinosaur footprints

This is a trip down to the South Wales coast about 1.5 hours from the Brecon Becons National Park.

Lavernock Point – which is the most southerly location in Wales. Here the Triassic and Jurassic boundary can be seen as well as ammonites in the wave-cut platform.

Dinosaur footprints – then we visit a location near to Sully where the best preserved Triassic dinosaur trackway in Europe can be seen.

Barry Island -we then head to Barry island and observe fossil corals in Carboniferous limestone and a site where Triassic rock over lie the Carboniferous rocks.

The order of locations visited on this tour will depend on tide times.

THE ELAN VALLEY AND THE MID WALES ORE FIELD

Elan Valley, Scenery Explained Wales day tours

Pen-y-garreg dam in the Elan Valley

Cwmystwyth Scenery Explained Wales day tours

The mine-scape of Cwmystwyth

This tour takes us a short distance north of Tara B&B (about 45 minutes) to the beautiful scenery of Mid Wales.

Elan Valley – here we see fossilised remains of great submarine landslides called turbidites. We also admire the glaciated scenery and learn the story of the Victorian dams built to provide Birmingham with water.

Cwmystwyth – here we visit the remains of Mid Wales’ largest former metal mine. In the spoil heaps it is possible to find your own beautiful specimens of galena and chalcopyrite.

Devil’s Bridge – here we walk down to see breathtaking waterfalls that cut through the Llandovery aged rocks.

Llywernog Silver Lead Mine – here we go on an underground tour and learn how hard the life was for these metal miners.

WOOLHOPE DOME – HEREFORDSHIRE

Woolhope Dome, Scenery Explained Wales day tours

This tour occurs 45 minutes east of Tara B&B in Herefordshire. This fascinating geological structure cuts off Woolhope making it one of the most tranquil areas of Herefordshire.

The first stop is  Swardon Quarry on the western outer side of the dome. Here some fossils can be seen and there are views over Hereford towards the Black Mountains. AtPark Coppice  a view of the two parallel ridges that form the eastern edge of the dome can be seen.

At Marcle Ridge Quarry we have a closer look at the Aymestry Limestone that forms the outer ridge of the dome and then walk 1.5 miles to Woolhope village  finding a few fossils on the way. After our visit to the village we climb back up the inner ridge, about 1 mile, to a site with fossils and an old lime kiln. Here we eat our picnic lunch. We then find oursleves in the gap between the two ridges. We climb to top of the outside ridge and walk back to the vehicle with wonderful views of the Malvern Hills and distant Cotswolds. We then visit Wonder landslip and Woolhope Cockshootwhere faults can be seen. The day ends with a visit to Rudge End Quarry which is in the Woolhope Limestone that forms the centre of the dome. This site is also a SSSI for Botany.

INCLUDED IN THESE TOURS

Guiding and interpretation from Mountain Leader and MSc. geo-scientist.

A luxury homemade picnic lunch from Beeton For Time catering.

NOT INCLUDED IN THESE TOURS

*Transportation

*Due to insurance regulations transportation cannot be part of these tours. However I am insured to give you a lift from site to site in exchange for the standard mileage costs, this will be just a few pounds each. My vehicle can take up to 4 passengers alternatively I am happy to travel with you in your vehicle.

PHOTOGRAPHY DAY COURSE

PHOTOGRAPHY DAY COURSE

£35 per person (Group size 4 – 7)

Minimum spend £140

James working as the official photgrapher on a trip in the Russian Arctic.

James was highly commended in the Travel Photographer of the Year Competition 2010http://www.tpoty.com/winners/2010

Photography tuition from Polar Photographer James Cresswell. This course is held at Tara B&B.

We start with 45 minute lesson on how to take better photos. This is a powerpoint presentation.

This is followed by a day out in the Brecon Beacons National Park taking pictures.

The day ends with a session showing you how to make the most of your photos using Photoshop.

This tour is ideal to combine with staying at Tara B&B.

HERITAGE TOURS

HERITAGE TOURS

With Roman camps, medieval castles, Iron Age Hill forts and a World Heritage Site, there is a huge amount of heritage to learn about in the Brecon Beacons National park. Some of these tours led by James Cresswell, have a significant personal element, because they also feature his own family history.

TOUR DATES

2015 Dates: June 27th – August 25th

Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays only

Start point: Your accommodation in the Brecon Beacons N.P. area, or Abergavenny train station, or Brecon bus interchange or Hay-on-Wye bus stop

PRICES

Full Day: £35 per person (Group size 4-7) Minimum spend £140

Mini 2 hour tour:  £10 per person (Group size 4 -7)Minimum spend £40

THE BIRTH OF THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

My great great grandfather Edward Pritchard Martin who was the general manager of the Blaenavon Ironworks

Llangynidr Mountain – we admire the glaciated features of the Black Mountains and learn about dolines, which are a type of sink hole.

Clydach Gorge  – here we do a 2 miles (3km) walk observing iron stones and coal deposits as well as a beautiful waterfall that flow over the Farewell Rock.

Big Pit – this is part of the Blaenavon World Heritage Site. Here we go on an underground tour led by former miners.

Blaenavon Ironworks – also part of the World Heritage Site. Here we learn how the iron making processes of Blaenavon revolutionised the world, and additionally learn howmy great great grandfather used to be the General Manager here.

This tour is also listed in our Scenery Explained Tour section because it is equally a geological and a heritage tour.

The Big Pit

The Blaenavon Ironworks

CASTLES OF THE BLACK MOUNTAINS

Llanthony Priory

Hay-on-Wye Castle

With more than 300 castles Wales is one of the best places in the world to visit castles. Join us on a tour of our local castles, accompanied with detailed historical information.

Bronllys Castle – founded soon after 1144 and lies just outside Talgarth

Castell Dinas, Pengenffordd – at 450 m this is the highest castle in England and Wales. It is positioned to defend the Rhiangoll pass between Talgarth and Crickhowell.

Llangorse Lake Crannog – The only Crannog in England and Wales built by the King of Brycheiniog in 916

Tretower Castle and Court – A 12th century motte and bailey castle that had residential buildings added in the 14th century.

Crickhowell Castle – built in 1121 by a family of Norman Lords.

Llanthony Priory – one of the great medieval buildings of Wales, a former Augustinian priory that dates back to the year 1100

The two Castles of Hay-on-Wye  – The main fortress is  possibly the oldest Norman tower in Wales dating back to 1070

BRECON AND THE ZULU WAR MINI TOUR

Additional Museum entrance fee £5 each on top of tour cost

Join me for a personal tour of Brecon’s and my family’s connection to the South Wales Borderers and the Zulu War.

The Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh

Brecon Cathedral

Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh – The regiment who defended Rorke’s Drift were based at Brecon and later became the South Wales Borderers. At this battle 11 Victoria Crosses were awarded more than in any other British military engagement as 150 men held out against 3,000 to 4,000 Zulus. Join me for a tour of the museum which as well as having an exhibit on the Zulu War has an exhibit on the Second World War which features my grandfather who commanded the 6th Battalion South Wales Borderers in Burma.

Havard Chapel in Brecon Cathedral – Brecon Cathedral started life as the Benedictine Priory of St John the Evangelist in 1093 and was built by the Normans soon after they conquered Brychieniog.  It became a Cathedral in 1923 when the Diocese of Brecon and Swansea was created. Inside the Cathedral is the Havard Chapel where the Colours that were rescued from the battle ofIsandlwana in the Zulu War. My grandfather was the last man to parade these Colours through Brecon before they were permanently hung up on display. My grandfather also has a plaque on a pew in the chapel.

HERITAGE OF THE FFOREST FAWR GEOPARK

Llandovery from the castle mound © Alan Bowring

Carrig Cennen Castle

Pen-y-crug  – a 2 mile walk to this Roman Fort above Brecon

Llandovery Castle – constructed in 1116 but left in ruins by Owain Glynder in 1403

Garn Goch – We take a 2 mile walk this prehistoric hill fort which is the largest in South Wales.

Carreg Cennen Castle – we explore the castle and visit the cave beneath the castle.

Henllys Vale – We take a 2 mile walk around this former colliery and learn about the indutrail revolution

Route Map

INCLUDED IN THESE TOURS

Guiding and interpretation from local man and Brecon Beacons Ambassador James Cresswell

A luxury homemade picnic lunch from Beeton For Time catering.

NOT INCLUDED IN THESE TOURS

*Transportation

*Due to insurance regulations transportation cannot be part of these tours. However I am insured to give you a lift from site to site in exchange for the standard mileage costs, this will be just a few pounds each. My vehicle can take up to 4 passengers alternatively I am happy to travel with you in your vehicle.

DAY TOURS

DAY TRIPS

We offer a series of day tours in the Brecon Beacons National Park, the Fforest Fawr Geopark, the Brecon Beacons International Dark Skies Reserve, the Blaenavon World Heritage Site, the Elan Valley, the Glamorgan Heritage Coast and Herefordshire.

These tours either start from your accommodation in the Brecon Beacons N.P. area, or Abergavenny train station, Brecon bus interchange or Hay-on-Wye bus stop

Please click on each box  below for full details and prices.