Cribarth Geotrail

Quarries and crags, folds and fractures


 
A 5.25km / 3.25 mile walking trail exploring the rocky slopes of a spectacular hill rising above Craig-y-nos Country Park in the upper Swansea Valley (Cwm Tawe). This landscape has been carved by water and ice from folded layers of sandstone and limestone.
A legacy of quarrying adds detail and drama to the scene.


 
Start Craig-y-nos Country Park (OS grid reference SN 839155) (postcode SA9 1GL)

Ascent About 250m / 800ft

Time Allow about 3.5 hours to fully enjoy the walk

Map Use OS Explorer map OL12 ‘BBNP western area’

Route The initial ascent (and later descent) through woodland is steep. Several sections follow abandoned or
unfinished sections of 19th century industrial tramroads which offer relatively easy walking.

Warning There are numerous cliffs and areas of very steep ground and loose rock on Cribarth. Other than a couple of
short rocky sections this trail picks a way between these difficulties. Some sections of path are wet. Both rocks and
grass slopes can be slippery particularly after rain – beware! Unless you’re an expert, navigating Cribarth’s
complex terrain in mist or low cloud can be difficult – save this walk for a good day!


Getting there
From Brecon - Turn off the A40 at Sennybridge and take
the A4067 towards Swansea to reach Craig-y-nos Country Park after 19 miles/26 mins.
From junction 45, M4 nr Swansea
Take the A4067 up the Swansea Valley to reach Craig-y-nos Country Park after 16 miles/26mins.

Pay and display parking.

 

MAP ABOVE stops along the line of the trail are shown on this simplified geological map of the area – blue for limestone, brown for sandstone, yellow for sand and gravel left by water and ice in the valley of the Tawe. Lines and areas shown in purple indicate locations of former rottenstone workings.


START
Leave the car park and turn left along the main road, crossing the road where and when it is safe to do so.
Opposite the far end of a large lay-by on the left hand (eastern) side of the road is a gate leading to a broad
track (permitted path).
 
 
1. Follow the concessionary route as it runs up through privately owned woods for 90m. Do NOT
continue ahead to the old quarries with their hazardous cliff faces; instead, turn sharp right up a narrower
footpath with steps in places.
Continue up more steeply beside a fence, then cross a ladder-stile.

2. Turn right to follow an often rough path beside the wall/fence for over 400m. As you descend a couple of
rocky sections, notice that the beds of limestone dip steeply to the northwest. Approaching a field gate on your right, venture about 50m up the grassy slopes on your left to take a closer l ook at the rocks. Chert-filled burrows in limestone

3. Return to the fence/wall and follow it to the left for 100m as it starts to climb a
short bank. Halfway up the bank you cross what looks like a rough ditch running at right angles to the fence.

4.  Start by following the outcrop of this rock directly away from the wall/fence, then continue walking southwest along the crest of the broad ridge, passing a shallow pool on your left after 270m as the ridge broadens.
Meet a rough track after a further 70m – the remains of a half-finished tramroad.

5. Turn right, following the twisting track for 100m as it drops down into a gully which cuts across its route.
Continue for another 100m beyond the gully to a stile and gate in the fence/wall ahead.

6. Retracing your steps, go back across the gully to the point at which you joined the tramroad (point 5 on map). Continue along it as it curves uphill to the right and then back left.

7. Retrace your steps for 50m and take the right fork where the tramroads split, continuing along this narrow bench cut into the hillside for 400m to a small quarry set a few metres back on the right.

8. Climb up behind the quarry and, with a larger quarry to your left, drop down to another tramroad. Cross this to another tramroad ahead. Don’t go beyond it – the grounds gets much steeper! 

9. Turn left along this second tramroad, following it NE for about 500m before it ends in another quarry.

10. Continue beyond the quarry in the same direction and, as you head down a grassy slope, the wall/fence which you followed earlier, comes into view. Head for the ladder-stile you crossed much earlier.
Retrace your steps carefully down the steep hillside to the road. Beware if wet, it is more slippery going downhill! Return to the Country Park, mindful of traffic on the road.

Download leaflet


Please follow the Countryside Code
This land is grazed by sheep and horses – please keep dogs on a short lead on the hill.
More information on this and other routes in Fforest Fawr UNESCO Global Geopark
can be found at www.fforestfawrgeopark.org.uk