Pen y Fan – a circular walk revisited

Normally you will find me walking and camping throughout the Brecon Beacons but with a heavy bias towards the eastern section (Black Mountains) or the West (Black Mountain!). This weekend saw me doing the Central Brecon Beacons and Pen y Fan. I have to admit that I am not overly fussed about Pen y Fan as a mountain per se. Its not so much the area itself as the popularity of this mountain and the immediate surroundings. I have to admit I like my mountains all to myself if possible or at least only shared with a few people if possible. Most of the time I crave the lack of people that enables me to experience the solitude I seek.

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So, why the central beacons as a destination this weekend. Quite simply weather and time. I had squinted at the forecast for the Saturday and I was up for a day walk and not to camp so had originally thought to go to the Western Beacons. The forecast was for a very clear and sunny morning with increasing chances of rain in the afternoon. The plan was to get up really early to enjoy the morning sun in the empty westlands and then get back before the inevitable rain rolled in. Great plan until I woke up a hour later than I had originally planned. Ok, so it was still early (05.30) but the drive to the west would take an hour and a half and so I decided to reign in my objective for the day. I had done the eastern areas almost exclusively recently and so I thought to try the central beacons again.

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I managed with a fair wind to get parked up just after 06.30 at Blaen y Glyn car park. On the way I had passed Talybont reservoir with wisps of mist rising like tendrils from the water’s surface. Once parked up I started my way up to Craig y Fan Ddu. The weather was stunning, cold but with blue skies and bright sunshine as I then made my way along Graig Fan Las ridge.

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It felt good to be walking along less oft visited ridges and I knew the choice I had made was a good one. Following the ridgeline along to Bwlch y Ddwyallt, suddenly Pen y Fan and the central peaks hove into view. I stopped to enjoy the view and so did a small family of sheep.

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Continuing on, I made my way to Fan y Big and the drop down to the gap before making my way back up Cribyn. From Cribyn it was a short walk to the slopes of Pen y Fan and a short but brutal last climb up to the top. It was here on top of Pen y Fan that I met up with Ty Harrison holding the highest tea party in Wales if not the UK in aid of The Royal British Legions 90th birthday celebrations.

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Whilst chatting with Ty, I noticed that although the visibility was excellent the clouds forecast for later in the day were already rolling in at lunchtime. It was time to press on.

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My route now took me along the ridge of Gwaun Taf and towards the Neuadd Reservoir. Fine views from this ridge took in the western beacons and also some lesser explored regions to the south (mental note to self to wander that way another day).

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As I neared my drop off point down to the reservoir, the first spots of rain arrived followed by hail. The visibility started to drop and so did the temperature. As I slithered down the side of the ridge a clutch of people going the other way were cursing the steepness and the mud. I felt justified in my early rise and so an early finish with the weather closing in. I passed the lower reservoir at once noting the lower water level than usual but also a carcophany of colour in the form of Rhododendrons framing the area.

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The last leg of my walk saw the rain a steady drizzle as I picked my way along the Taf Fechan pathway and back to the car. All in all, a great walk with the best of the weather and really clear views justifying my early start. I have to admit that the Central Beacons dont always take my fancy but today was an exception. Next time I will get up that little bit earlier and go to the West though…

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About Saddlebags and Backpacks - a brewer's outdoor adventures

I am a keen hiker, camper, cyclist and general all round gear addict..... I also manage to be a professional brewer in my non-spare time :->
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2 Responses to Pen y Fan – a circular walk revisited

  1. Maz says:

    I’m heading out from Pencelli Castle and finishing in Glyntawe some time in early July – a couple of days, 40km, the major peaks in the Pen-y-Fan range and Fforest Fawr with a wild camp near the reservoir. That should be nice but next week I’ll be doing Fan Brycheiniog and wild camping near Afon Giedd. Nice report – gives me something to look forward to…!

    • backpackbrewer says:

      you should have fun, its such a diverse and varied landscape. Hope the weather holds out for next weekend as Fan Brycheiniog can be a horror bag in really poor weather

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