The Brecon Beacons contains two stunning areas, which can often be confused due to the similarity of their names. The westerly one is Black Mountain or Y Mynydd Du, and it is on the Border between Carmarthenshire and Powys, above Upper Brynamman. The Black Mountains are over towards Crickhowell and Talgarth, to the east of the Brecon Beacons, and they form a border separating Wales from Herefordshire.
While either area is well worth a visit, the Black Mountain is much closer to Ystradgynlais and with limestone outcrops and tremendous views, it is a place to explore the rugged hills and try to spot the rare alkali loving plants found in the area.
There are a couple of car parks along the A4069 one with spectacular views and picnic benches and sometimes a burger or ice cream van! The other allows for exploration of old Limestone Quarry Known as Herberts Quarry, good for climbing and boldering. There are several caves in this area so be cautious with younger children.
From Ystradgynlais Follow the road to Cymllynfell at the junction with the A474 at the north of Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, and travels through Lower Brynamman and Brynamman. The route then crosses over the Black Mountain range of the Brecon Beacons and emerges near Felindre near Llangadog. It then crosses through Llangadog and continues northeast until the junction with the A40 at Llandovery. It reaches a height of 493 m (1,617 ft) above sea level.
Guarding the entrance to a picturesque and mysterious valley, called Penwyllt, full of caves, quarries, ancient monuments, cosy pubs and stunning scenery lies the Sleeping Giant. This hill called the Cribarth looks like a huge sleeping giant. Legends have it that the giant will awaken to help his people in a time of need.
Overlooking the village of Abercrave, the Cribarth hill according to Nigel Phillips on the Brecon Beacons park society website:
“Cribarth must be one of the most intensively quarried mountains in Wales, but this actually adds to its appeal. The hey-day for this activity was between the opening of the Swansea Canal in 1794 and the 1890s. Limestone, silica rock and rottenstone were extracted in huge quantities for the iron, copper and tin industries further south around the Swansea Valley.
There were thirty-three large quarries and innumerable smaller ones, served by 10.5 miles of tramroads and railways and by eighteen inclined planes, four of which ran steeply down to the canal at Abercrave.”
This has created a beautiful and rugged landscape full of mystery due to the presence of two cairns and the presence of the valley with Craig y nos Castle, a hotel and Craig y nos Country Park, which contains 40 acres of Scenic Park Land.
The valley also contains the National Showcaves Centre a major tourist attraction as well as the Caving Club at Pewyllt.