Down a long, single track dirt road lies our favorite secret location in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Llyn y Fan Fach. Formed over 11,500 years ago, this glacial lake sits below the stunning Carmarthen Fans mountains, also known as Bannau Sir Gaer.
The darkness of Llyn y Fan Fach lake contrasts perfectly with the bright greens of the scenery. From above, the mountains provide stunning views of the Welsh countryside. On a clear day, you can see the surrounding villages, and as far as the Bristol channel.
This walk makes a fantastic day trip destination from Cardiff (1.5 hours) or Bristol (2 hours).
Finding Llyn y Fan Fach
On the western side of the Brecon Beacons, the tiny town of Llanddeusant (postcode SA19 9UL) hides the way to Llyn y Fan Fach. Though we must warn, the road is a very narrow and bumpy. It’s not suitable for caravans or cars with low ground clearance.
Google maps shows you can drive straight up to the lake, but you cannot. At the end of the road is a small, but free car park. It fits less than a dozen cars, so can fill up easily, especially on holiday weekends.
From the car park, it is a pleasant 30 – 40 minute (1.5 mile) walk on a dirt trail to Llyn y Fan Fach.
The walk follows the pretty little Afon Sawdde river. As you get closer to Llyn y Fan Fach, you’ll get glimpses of Picws Du, the second highest peak in the mountain range.
One thing you will notice in the Brecon Beacons are all the sheep. These cuties are everywhere, so please keep dogs on leads. In late spring, early summer there are lots of little lambs around.
Llyn y Fan Hatchery
About halfway along the path is the Llyn y Fan Trout and Salmon Hatchery, established in 1994.
Llyn y Fan Fach And The Lady Of The Lake
As you arrive at the lake, it’s impossible not to notice the stillness and reflective dark color of the water.
Surrounded by the dark green landscape, the lake feels magical.
It’s no surprise this special location spawned the Welsh legend of The Lady of the Lake. However, this folklore is different than the famous lady from the tales of King Arthur.
In this legend, a beautiful woman appears from the lake to a local sheep herder. She promises him riches upon their marriage. Though, the sheep herder must agree to two conditions.
- He must not tell anyone where she came from and of her magical powers.
- He must never strike her three times.
Of course, they get married and the riches come. His livestock gets fatter, healthier and breeds more valuable offspring. In time, the man becomes very successful and they have three sons together.
There are different versions, some more innocent than others, on how he comes to strike her three times. When he does, she walks out and into the lake, calling all the animals with her.
View From Carmarthen Fans
The view from the lake is gorgeous, but the view from the top of the Carmarthen Fans is breathtaking. The path is steep at a few places, but well defined. Once you are at the top, you can follow the path along the ridge for varying views.
Though the weather may be pleasant at the lake, we always find it very windy at the top of the mountain. Not to mention, weather is drastically changeable anywhere in the Brecon Beacons. Be prepared for windy, cold, or even rainy weather.
If you keep following the trail, you will come down off the mountain at Llyn y Fan Fawr. Just a heads up, there are a few other steep sections along the trail. Once at Llyn y Fan Fawr, follow the trail around this larger lake and back towards Llyn y Fan Fach.
To complete the full roundtrip trail, starting at the parking lot, takes about 5 – 6 hours (about 9 miles).
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