Pen y Fan – D’s second proper mountain   12 comments

My eldest is really getting the hiking bug these days but as you’d expect he’s keen to climb the higher and more famous mountains rather than my current quest for the lesser known corners. The weather looked good a couple of weeks ago so I asked if he wanted to come out for the day and he asked if we could climb Pen y Fan, south Wales highest summit. I’ve been promising to take him up for years so I thought it was about time to keep that promise.

Whilst the walking in the Brecons is top-notch the summit of Pen y Fan can be a little busy, almost crowded on a good day so I tend to find alternative quieter routes. However that’s not to detract from the approach walks which are largely excellent. The easiest way to the top is from the Storey Arms on the A470 but it’s a grinding bore of a route on badly eroded paths with way too many people. We chose to approach from the north starting at the Cwm Gwdi car park.

7 Miles, 2,200 feet of ascent

The temperature was saying 11 degrees C when we set off and it was warm clear and sunny as we headed into the broad open valley under Allt Ddu.


D in Cwm Gwdi

I’ve been waiting for several years for the point at which D starts to climb hills faster than me and this seemed to be that day! He had to wait for me a few times to catch up but it was great to see him really enjoying himself and excited about climbing another “proper” well-known mountain.


Young waits for old

We reached the ridge of Cefn Cwn Llwch with a sharp reminder that even though the air was warm it was still winter, as a cold wind forced the warmer layers on. The views were superb however with the long north facing escarpment picked out cleanly in the bright sunlight and Cribyn looking particularly special.


D with Cribyn behind

The long walk along the ridge was excellent.


D on Cefn Cwn Llwch

As we approached the final climb we decided that it would be too cold and windy on the summit to stop for lunch so we headed off to the east to get out of the wind, have some lunch and for me to have brew with my new stove.


Lunch and a brew

I think D got a little cold and frustrated waiting for his lazy dad to finish his cuppa and he was pacing around waiting for me to finish. I need some more work to persuade him of the delights of a long stop over lunch especially in a spot as good as this one. His little legs were bursting to get to the top so we pressed on up the final steep slopes to the top. There were thin clouds skimming the summit when we got there but it was surprisingly quiet for Pen y Fan. I’ve been up here in summer when there were 100+ people on the summit but today it was just a handful. After the obligatory summit photo we headed east towards Cribyn


D bags another summit

The cloud lifted again and the views were simply stunning.




D and the Nuadd Reservoirs

I gave D the choice of another summit by ascending Cribyn or taking the rather exciting path that traverses the north face. He chose the latter although with it being such a sunny day I’d have probably gone over the summit. Still I never tire of the traverse path and D loved the sense of adventure of this route.


D on the Cribyn traverse path

It was a lot nicer than the last time I walked it in November and as I said then it looks a lot harder than it is in reality. Despite the fact that it’s a fairly obvious and well-known route I don’t think I’ve ever encountered anyone else on it and this was true today. I suppose it’s the natural tendency to stick to ridges and summits but I can stress enough that if you’re down this way you should really give this path a try. If you are traversing the summits you can still climb Cribyn at the end.

I did make a half-hearted attempt to persuade D we could climb to the top but he took one look at the VERY steep climb and said a firm NO. We started to head down the easy angled sunny ridge of Bryn Teg where the views across towards the eastern tops and Fan y Big (that truly is a great name for a mountain) were great.


Fan y Big


Cribyn and Pen y Fan


D looks out towards the Black Mountains


Spring colours

At the bottom the there is a bit of road stretch before picking up a few paths to traverse across the fields and lower slopes to return to the car. It was turning into quite a long walk but despite that and the fact that we’d only really stopped once D was in fine form and didn’t seem to be struggling at all.

We’d completed the whole walk in just over 4 hours which is pretty impressive for a 12-year-old and I’m now really confident that he can handle pretty much any reasonable day walk that I can do. He’s now officially a mountain-man like his dad.

Enjoy the show if you like a little music with your pictures

Posted March 10, 2012 by surfnslide in Brecon Beacons, Wales, Walking

Tagged with , , ,

12 responses to “Pen y Fan – D’s second proper mountain

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  1. Looked like a super day out with great views. I take it that Pen y Fan is usually about as busy as Kinder then!

    Music-wise, have you discovered ‘The Civil Wars’ yet?


    • It was a cracking day out. We were quite late on the top hence it was a bit quiet but normally its a magnet for people. You step away from the top and the Brecons are always relatively quiet, often deserted.

      Not come across ” The Civil Wars”, they have one album on the Nokia Music site (Barton Hollow) which I’ve downloaded on your recommendation


  2. I think that might be their only album so far. I suppose they’re fairly ‘gentle’ really, but I like them, and the actual track ‘Barton Hollow’ I can put on repeat and listen to over and over and over……(just like I do with ‘Wagon Wheel’ on the OCMS album.)


    • My musical taste is a bit eclectic – everything from the mellow stuff I use on my slide-shows to noisy guitar stuff and 70’s/80’s punk. Perhaps I should start reviweing music on here as well


  3. You’re at it again – South Wales, where apparently the sky is always blue and the sun always shines! Looks like a cracking day out.


  4. Easy to see why he has caught the hiking bug with such a great walk!


  5. I looks like a lovely day with the lad. I well remember getting to the stage with each of my guys when they became fitter and/or faster at going up hill than me.

    We walked that Pen y Fan, starting from the north like you, one late autumn day a few years ago, when on a round about trip to London. I was in ‘recovery’ mode after being bitten by a bloomin’ sheep dog the previous day!


    • It’s my hope that he’ll carry this passion with him into adult life. Respect for and enjoyment of the outdoors is a mighty fine thing to have. So long as he treats his old man kindly.


  6. That was a splendid day, but Pen y Fan is very crowded (by our standards) even on a bad day. I remember one visit on a weekday in December with biting wind and clag and there must have been over 50 on the summit.
    I see the paved stepped paths have appeared down there.


    • I’ve been up there in full winter conditions and a white-out and still seen dozens of people up there – mostly ill-equipped to deal with the conditions as well.

      I think paved steps are a necessary evil on a mountain as popular as Pen y Fan. Hopefully now my boy has “bagged” the highest point I can introduce him to some of the quieter and less well trodden bits


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