Waun Fach & The Dragons Back Walking Route, Wales

Waun Fach (Little Moor) is a peat bog summit in the eastern part of the Brecon Beacons in South Wales. At 811m high it is the tallest peak in the Black Mountains. The most scenic walking route to the summit of Waun Fach is a circular loop from Pengenffordd which incorporates Y Grib, a ridge commonly known as the Dragons Back.

The Black Mountains refer to an area of hills in the eastern part of the Brecon Beacons National Park, which form a natural hilly border between Wales and England.

This area is often confused with the western most region in the park called the Black Mountain. To confound matters even more, there is a mountain in the Black Mountains called the Black Mountain (Twyn Llech)!

There are many great walks in the Black Mountains but my personal favourite is the Waun Fach loop via the Dragons Back. This walking route provides a brilliant combination of history, ridge walking and long stretching views, which make for an excellent mountain day in the Brecon Beacons.

Castell Dinas and the Dragons Back

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Waun Fach Walking Route Summary

This Black Mountains walk has no amenities and is quite exposed for most of the route. There are several boggy sections so it can be quite wet and slippery after heavy rain. Whilst this is a relatively short walk there is quite a lot of ascent through the first half of the route and it therefore shouldn’t be underestimated. 

Waun Fach and The Dragons Back Loop Trail Description

The walk begins near the village of Pengenffordd, at the Dragons Back Pub car park on the A479. At the north east end of the car park there is a small lane which signifies the start of the route. Follow this lane down to the right and almost immediately you will see a stile on your left. Cross the stile to access the field.

There’s not much time to get warmed up on this walk as the climbing starts right from the off! The path here is faint but keep heading directly uphill through the fields, looking for the stiles to keep you on track.

The climbing eases off at around 450m, once you reach the ruined site of  Castell Dinas. This Iron Age hillfort and Norman Castle is the highest castle in England and Wales. Catch your breath here and take a little time to explore the old ramparts and earth covered walls. Weather permitting, at this point you can see your entire walking route in front of you.

After a brief descent from Castell Dinas, the walk now starts climbing up the Dragons Back, so named because the ridge resembles that of a sleeping dragon. Follow the peaks and trough of this ridge admiring views in both directions as you ascend.

The path along the ridge is obvious to follow. Easier side spurs pass around the lumps and bumps, but the views from atop the crest are rewarding enough to stick with it. 

The Dragons Back, Wales
The Dragons Back

There is a rock cairn to mark the end of the ridge. From here the route gets a little boggy as you cross the plateau, but with a few hops and jumps the biggest puddles of mud can be avoided.

Take the fork to the right to ascend Pen Y Manllwyn. There is another, shorter cairn here and the path becomes more maintained. Heading in a southerly direction now, the path crosses a flat section before beginning the final climb of the day to attain Waun Fach.

The summit of Waun Fach is a flat, featureless affair with just the base of an old trig point remaining. However the best views on this loop are provided along the ascent and decent rather than from the peak itself.

From the trig point, take the path to the right to descend in a westerly direction. This will be clear to see in good weather but might require some map reading and compass work in poor visibility.

Waun Fach trig point
Waun Fach trig point

Follow the well maintained path on a gentle decent enjoying views of Sugar Loaf and Table Mountain to the south, Pen y Fan to the west and Y Grib to the north. The trail then becomes a little vague so keep to the left of the ridge to avoid heading off course. 

The path descends very steeply into the saddle between Pen Trumau and Mynydd Llysiau to reach a crossroads. At the crossroads take a sharp right onto the path that skirts back around the hillside. This well defined rocky path descends the mountain, passing through several farmers gates before reaching a tarmac road.

Turn right onto the road, then take the left fork to follow the lane downhill past the riding stables, before a steep climb back up. At the corner there is a bridleway on the right which leads through the forest, back to the car park.

Finish your walk with a drink or a bite to eat in the appropriately named Dragons Back Pub which is also the highest pub in the Brecon Beacons. They offer accommodation if you need a place to stay for the night or you could make your way to the pretty town of Crickhowell, where there are multiple options.

Alternatively, why not try one of these unique glamping spots. The Fairy House is a hobbit style house situated right in Pengenffordd or alternatively there is a Mongolian style yurt complete with a hot tub in nearby Llanthony.

For more unique Brecon Beacons Glamping properties take a look at this post.

Packing List for Waun Fach Circular Walk

Make sure you have everything you need for a day in the mountains with this day hiking packing list.

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Walking Waun Fach and the Dragons Back in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

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