(A is SO 055184; B is SO 066193)

One of the area's best XC sites on light wind days with mainly Southerly components (SW to SE). Can be rough in an Easterly. Iím told. Suitable for all levels of pilot but lift can get strong at times.


Getting There

Turn left from the A 40 North from Crickhowell and Bwlch, on the way to Brecon. Drive to Talybont village. At the T junction, turn right past 2 pubs (The White Hart is better, and has a bunkhouse, though some like the Star), and a small shop on the right (food here). If itís a good day itís a good idea to preplace a car here and share a lift to the top car park, as its often desperate to get back there after an XC. Turn left up and over the canal swing bridge and follow the road around for approx 8k past the reservoir (Tal y Bont) till the road turns left over a bridge and steepens dramatically. Follow it to the top, where there's a big car park on the right. Park here.

The Options

There should be little or no wind in the car park, or it will be blown out. The SW ridge above the car park (A) is OK at times and can also be used to hop across to B or, in a SE, soar with the option of flying round to C. To get there, go back out of the car park entrance and turn immediately right on a clear trail to the top of the hill. This walk-up shouldn't take much more than half an hour and can be done in less. There's a nice stream to stop and drink from two-thirds of the way up.

By far the best slope in a SW is the one at B but this is a much longer walk-up (generally about an hour). Go out of the back of the car park, up a driveable track and take a clear path off to the left, through to open country and a stile. Head along a track into the bowl, and drop down on a small track to the stream. Cross this and head steeply up to the top of the hill - a hard climb. As elsewhere, the top is clear and easily top-landable anywhere. In a SE wind, C provides a very obvious bowl, which flies well. There is also a smaller bowl to the E of B, which can be the only thing working when it's very, very light. C can be approached via A along a clear walkers path, which continues round to B. If you prefer your short, sharp shock at the beginning of the walk, this can actually be the quickest way to B, particularly if the large combe is very wet (I've had to wade the river a couple of times and the surrounding ground can be very marshy in Winter and Spring).

There's even a very nice NW face and N bowl over the back of C, which we've flown a few times on light and variable days. It's possible (but not by any means guaranteed) to fly all the way back to Talybont village from either this ridge or by hopping over the back of the tight bowl behind B (easier). You can land in the football field by the canal.

Steep Faces Cause Rotor

Practically all of the faces at Talybont are very steep. This presents two problems: curl over on launch and rotor on landing - in both cases, you either need to be right on the front or 50+ yards back.

Specific Dangers

In light wind conditions, it is possible to arrive at the long walk take off (B) to find a gentle breeze intermittently blowing up the slope. This can happen even in an South Easterly wind. The result of this can be very turbulent soaring conditions. In the bowl to the East of take off B, and in other bowls, it is possible to be 'flushed down' when the ambient wind regains supremacy. This has led to injuries with experienced pilots.

It is also possible for the wind to take on an unexpected direction change during flight. This is difficult to discern at height but can mean that a slope that once had a gentle breeze blowing up is now in the lee. It is strongly recommended that a GPS be used, so that ground speed can be monitored.

XC Potential

In a SW wind you need to be aware that the Beacons drop off very sharply, so make sure you know where your second climb is or you'll end up in or around Brecon for 10km. In SE or ESE winds, you can track over the highest point of the Beacons, Pen-Y-Fan (there's a couple of ridges running up to it that are easily soarable and a house thermal directly above the flat top), and on towards Heol Senni and Fan Gyhirych, from where you can cross to The Black Mountain. Several flights have also been made in the last couple of years, many by Avon pilots, back in the direction of Crickhowell and Abergavenny. If you're going this way, the conical hill on the E of the reservoir (Tor-Y-Foel) triggers nicely, particularly the top of the treeline above the reservoir.

Getting Back

There's a bus from Brecon, even on Sundays in the Summer. A taxi from Brecon to the car park will cost you about 18 quid.

Ken W, March 2005, Editorialised and appended by Rich H. Updated April 2010.

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