About A470 Soaring

This is the blog for a few guys who spend their time flying radio controlled gliders, or slope soarer's, from the many and varied slopes around SE Wales.

This usually begins at the northern end of Cardiff, driving north up the A470 up to the Heads of the Valley's and the southern fringe of the Brecon Beacons. But the A470 road continues its windy way all the way to N Wales.

There are many slopes available for most wind directions, the most famous being the area between Nant-y-Moel and Treorchi known as The Bwlch, which has some of the best slopes and flying in Europe with many F3F competitions being held there each year and visited by many fliers from Europe and around the world. At 1500 feet (450m) above sea level, there is usually more wind than not, and certainly more than at sea level.

If you require any further information, are new to slope soaring or are visiting the area, please contact Steve at steve.houghton59@gmail.com . I look forward to hearing from you.

Take a look at Page 2 (look below and to the left here) for Google maps of our most popular Flying Sites.

Flying Sites

The Bwlch

What words describe the Bwlch? Awesome, immense, inspiring, phenomenal! 

There are seven slopes in all, The Crest, The Wrecker, Back of Wrecker, VR98, Ice Cream Slope, Mickey's SW & Mickey's W

All are 1000ft high monster slopes generating amazing lift when other slopes in the region are struggling. The air is smooth, the lift phenomenal

Ice Cream Slope

This is a NW facing slope. Park in the car park at the lay-by with the ice cream van in it then walk through the green forestry gate to the right. Almost immediately you will see a narrow track bearing off to the left.

Take this track and walk until the slope to your right flattens off, this then becomes your landing zone. No rotor, no rocks, just long, lush grass and great lift.


For me, the two Mickey's slopes are the best of all the slopes. Huge, deep grassy slopes, no rotor, no rocks, just amazing lift and flying.

Start at the same place as for the Ice Cream Slope but instead of bearing left, you follow the gravel track to the right and continue walking for about 15 minutes to get to the SW slope, which is a couple of hundred metres after you cross the cattle grid. Anywhere along there is fine, just ensuring the forest below is to your right.

For the west slope, continue on past where the gravel track ends and the track becomes just a couple of wheel ruts. After a few minutes you will cross a gully. Walk on about 100 metres then head right through the grass to the ridge. Again this is long, lush grass and no nasty vices but more amazing flying.

The Crest, Wrecker, Back of Wrecker & VR98

The Crest - Someone once told me that 6 mph of wind on the Crest will generate 100 ft of lift! And that is probably about right. The lift is HUGE and very smooth, like flying a sea cliff. However, this slope has a nasty vice. Rotor!

This is a mainly easterly facing bowl with a mostly vertical cliff. You don't want to land out here because you may never retrieve your model. The walk to the base is long, hard and can be very boggy.

For me, the best way to land is to gain as much height as possible before heading down wind and begin walking away from the slope. You may have to walk 100 meters before the wind stops blowing on the back of your head as you look towards the ridge line. You can then circle down before lining up for a landing but, just be aware that anything can happen. The Crest has eaten many a model upon landing.

However, despite this, the Crest has to be experienced to be believed, and I would recommend any visitor flying it when an easterly wind blows in.

To get there, take the Port Talbot turning by the ice cream van lay-by. You will pass another lay-by on your right about half a mile further on. You then pull in and park at the side of the road about a 1/4 mile on from there. There is a picture below.

The Wrecker - This is the Crest's baby sister, a NE facing bowl with the same qualities as the Crest. Again, the rotor is notorious and landing is achieved by walking across the road and about 100 metres up the slope behind. If you try to land on the grass behind the ridge line, the Wrecker will wreck your model.

The Wrecker & Crest together

Back of Wrecker - This is a south or SE slope which is probably our least favourite as it does get some turbulence. Also, landing out isn't an option here as the vertical cliff is rocky and it has a road at its base. It does also suffer from some rotor so, land with caution.

Park in the Wrecker car park and walk over the brow of the hill on the other side of the road until you reach the ridge.

VR98 - This slope gets it name from the Viking Race F3F competition that was held on it back in 1998.

It is north facing and a continuation of the Wrecker but without the Wreckers nasty attributes.

Landing can be a bit tricky due to the close proximity of the road to the slope. If you have a model with good crow braking, you can fly along the slope side of the road, then turn in, applying crow in the turn. If you have little or no braking, you are best coming in very low and from the right, along the slope and as close to the road as you dare before plonking it down in the long grass.

Wrecker parking & flying area

Bwlch main car park area

Meio Common, SW, NW & NE Slopes

Meio is probably only a little over 100 metres high from the road, however, the SW facing side does generate some fantastic lift and all of us who fly it, love it. In fact out of all the slopes we fly, this is probably our favourite which we fly the most. The lift is usually smooth and the landing zone is great with no rotor. This is just an enjoyable slope to fly.

The Meio also has slopes facing NW and NE and although they aren't as good as the SW slope, they are perfectly flyable.

The only problem with Meio, if you can call it a problem, are the mountain ponies, which can be a nuisance, coming very close to models sitting on the ground or, indeed your car at the bottom of the slope.

Manmoel, Abertysswg & Fochriw

Manmoel - ENE

Not a bad slope at all. Park anywhere you can along the bumpy, pot holed road and walk over to the ridge about 300 metres to the east. There is a small bowl to the right if the wind swings slightly south. The slope has no nasty vices and the landing zone is good with no rotor.

Manmoel is also an excellent venue for flying thermal soaring gliders, either electric powered or off a high start bungee system as the area is a vast, open area with no trees. In between the rough, moorland type vegetation are long tracks of smooth grass which make excellent, natural landing runways.

Abertysswg - NW

A very good NW facing park & fly slope with good lift. Landing is best done on the ridge side of the road. Landing on the slope behind can be tricky as the plane doesn't want to lose height there, even with crow braking.

Fochriw - NE

Unfortunately, for the time being anyway, this slope is unavailable to drive up to as Caerphilly Borough Council have erected locked gates at either end of the road, blocking driving access to this slope. The Fochriw community and the S Wales Paragliding & Hang glider Club are fighting this decision which was done to stop fly tipping in the area, instead of policing and catching the culprits. We are still able to walk to our flying area, which would probably take around 15 minutes and be no worse than the walk to Mickey's slope at the Bwlch.

This is an excellent NE facing slope. No rotor, great landing zone and superb lift. However it is frequented by para gliders during light wind conditions

Rhigos Mountain (Hirwaun Common)

Rhigos mountain is 1,690 feet high and overlooks the old and now derelict Tower colliery, but it still has an active surface mining operation. It has magnificent views across the Heads Of The Valley's road of the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains and has slopes facing north west, north and north east. I had previously flown the NW and N facing slopes, but never the NE slope.

I decided the easiest, and probably the quickest route for me to take to get there from Cardiff was probably by driving straight up the A470 to Merthyr Tydfil, then hang a left onto the A465 Heads of the Valley's road, following the signs for Hirwaun. At the roundabout with the entrance to Hirwaun Industrial Estate, I took a left to follow the sign for Treherbert, which takes you past the old Tower colliery on your right before the road begins to climb up the windy mountain road.

As the road takes a long right hand bend towards the top, there is a small entrance, marked by two wooden posts, to a small area where you can park a few cars. Or, if you don't fancy that, you can continue further along the road where there is a lay by with parking. This just means you have a longer walk.

From there you turn left out of the car park, walking down the hill towards the left hand bend, and then you bear right off the road before the banking on the right becomes higher.

You then follow a vague track made by a vehicle towards a gate, then just continue through the gate and on up the hill following the track.

At this point, you can fly anywhere along the ridge on your left which is facing NW once the ground has leveled off.

 Then, 20 minutes after leaving the car, the ridge changes direction and faces north where, a curious steel post, about 30 cms across and 1 metre high sticks out of the ground. This marks the spot for flying in a northerly wind. The landing zone is perfect! It is flat and grassy with no rocks anywhere.

The surface mining operation in the picture below. When the sun shines, this area gives off some cracking thermals.

To reach the NE slope, you continue walking along the track for another 6 minutes until you reach a fence. Follow the fence until you find a piece with the barbed wire missing and sneakily climb over the top and walk down to the ridge line.

As you can see from the picture above, you could continue your walk along to the higher ridge. But this ridge is vertical at the top with a sharp leveling out at the top, and although it does produce great lift, (I know because I flew my model towards and along it), I suspect that there would be a great deal of rotor in the landing zone.


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  2. Hi all I have just moved from Essex to Brynmarw I would love to find a localish site to fly nothing to difficult as I have not done much soaring for a few years been flying quadcopters any suggestions welcome. Regards Ashley

  3. Hi Steve, I stumbled on to your A470soaring site by chance some months ago and was amazed to discover how many fantastic slopes were within a relatively short drive from my home in Neath! How many times have i driven past Hirwaun and wondered what it would be like to fly from there? My interest in slope soaring that had taken a back seat to powered flight in the last few years has been rekindled and I've even ventured out to try some of the slopes you describe on your site. The Hirwaun Common slope in a 10mph NW breeze was great fun. Mickey's Slope and the Crest were quite frankly out of this world! Just driving up through Treorci and coming face to face with the slopes of the Bwlch set my spine tingling! Thank you for taking the effort to document how to access these awesome slopes. Best regards, Richard

  4. Used to be quite a bit of sloping going on behind rockwool in bridgend anybody know if that's still the case and where on a map it is.

    1. Yes, its still possible with a wind from the south. Pass Rockwool on your left, follow the road to a T-junction and turn right. Take the next left up a steep road, and park where it flattens off and there is a make-shift lay-by. The ridge runs left-right of the road. The best lift is about 250 metres to the left (west) of the road. On a good day you can admire England, from a distance.
      The police helicopter takes a short-cut across the top, but you can hear it coming. The sheep will move away. The Red-kites will visit, as a pair, but are benign. The farmers are bemused, but their homes are below the ridge, so try not to make them nervous.
      Further on, about 1km, there is a north-west facing slope with a car-park. Its got a nice back-slope for easy landings.
      In both cases, the use of a motor should help you.

  5. It's well worth mentioning Garth Hill opposite Meio. It's a long climb, but the list is towering in a E or Se wind. The ridge also faces S, for more sedate flying. Gone are the days when I could Range Rover to the top via the track at the western end of the ridge.

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