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Cwm Gwdi might look like just a car park, but it's the place to start some of the most spectacular and toughest walking in the Brecon Beacons, South Wales, and is full of history.
Cwm Gwdi was once a military training camp dating back to the late Victorian era. Soldiers used to sleep in tents here until the 1960s when a canteen, wash rooms and Nissan huts were constructed. These buildings were used until the late 1980s, and the concrete bases of these can still be seen amongst the trees.
From the army to the National Trust
The army used the hill Allt Ddu, on the east side of the valley, for mortar practice. You can still spot several firing abutments in the field below, which are built up half-circles. Firing mortars ceased in 1981, but the army continued to use the camp as a base for 'aggressive' hill walking until 1996 when it was taken on by the National Trust.
There are two main routes to the summit of Pen y Fan from the car park.
- Route 1: From the main car park follow the bridleway down to the river Nant Gwdi, cross the river and head out onto the open hillside for a steep climb up to bridleway path that crosses Allt Ddu. From here you follow the footpath that continues up Cefn Cwm Llwch to the summit of Pen y Fan. You can download this walk for a detailed guide.
- Route 2: From the main car park walk up the tarmac track to the gate, continue along the track that runs along the right hand side of the field until you reach a second gate. From here you follow an old quarry track that heads up the valley until you reach the footpath that leads up Cefn Cwm Llwch to the summit of Pen y Fan.