The Beast from the East meets the Brecon Beacons   16 comments

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Nicking a blog title from the cold weather media frenzy is cheap and lazy I know but its 9pm and I can’t be bothered with trying to come up with anything original.

Another classic route. The round of the Brecon Beacons Four Peaks (Corn Du, Pen y Fan, Cribyn, Fan y Big) from the south, a circuit of the Neuadd Valley and its reservoirs. It was cold when we set off but we had no idea how cold it was going to get

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The sky was a sensational deep blue and the few clouds hugging the eastern slopes were soon burnt off. The approach road was glacial

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The walk across the dam of the lower reservoir is always a pleasure

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The path up to the western edges is steep and I found it surprisingly hard work after my bout of flu. When we hit the ridge we felt the full blast of the beast

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The wind was ferocious and staggeringly cold. Its rare on a dry day, even in winter, that I don full fleeces and jacket with the hood up but it was essential. Even then my face was burning with cold

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Luckily the views were spectacular and at least the wind was kind of behind us

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We’d made an early start and I was anxious where we would stop for lunch. I figured we could get out of the wind behind Corn Du as I thought the lower cols would be windier, funnelling the wind

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I was wrong. Even directly behind the summit the wind was just blowing, over and around the summit. We hid behind a couple of rock outcrops, stuffed our faces quickly and moved on

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The walk between Corn Du and Pen y Fan was straight into the wind. The cold was almost unbearable, one of the coldest 10 minutes I can remember in the mountains. I was starting to think that carrying on with this for the next few hours wasn’t all that sensible but as we reached the summit of Pen y Fan the wind abated quite significantly. For the rest of the day the wind only blew in gusts and at times it was relatively pleasant, almost warm. There was of course the usual crowd of seriously under-equipped people on the summit. Some people just have no idea how much difference there is between a sunny sheltered car park and a 3,000 foot summit exposed to an easterly winter wind. Trainers, jeans, exposed ankles, people carrying babies, they were all there. I walked away shaking my head

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90% of people climb Pen y Fan from the Storey Arms. Head off the summit in the other direction and calm and quiet is restored. The view back to Pen y Fan and over to Cribyn’s pointed summit and dark shadowed northern face were majestic

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I took the path along the edge of the cliffs to the summit of Cribyn. This flat grassy spot halfway up has been earmarked for a wild camp some day – just on a less windy and cold day

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A brief rest on the summit and the off along the edge towards the col ahead of Fan y Big

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Another of my favourite sections of the Beacons edges

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The col rather than being wild and windy as I thought was calm and benign so we stopped for a cuppa and second lunch. I was feeling pretty tired but I was convinced that Fan y Big needed an ascent and the views from its summit are exceedingly fine so the convincing wasn’t that hard

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In addition, the walk back from its summit above the reservoirs is far more pleasant than the long drag down the bumpy path to the car park

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The view back to the Four Peaks

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Back to the car to warm up (heated seats were very welcome) and back for a very one-sided cup final to finish off a damned fine day. The beast was tamed for now.

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I’m off to Scotland at the weekend to take it on again – if I can get there!

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16 responses to “The Beast from the East meets the Brecon Beacons

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  1. Me thinks, even from this distance, you have scant chance of making Scotland! I hope I am wrong. I was expecting far more snow in this post, after seeing images of London on the news.
    The clarity of your vistas is stunning. I can’t begin to imagine the depth of cold.
    Re unprepared hikers, we often make the same comment here.
    Happy hiking somewhere!

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    • We made it to Scotland, no problem. A great weekend (cold though!), posts coming later in the week.
      In a few spots it was as cold as I can remember on this day – blue skies helped 🙂

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  2. Wow, what views! And such a clear, sunny day. Yep, I run into unprepared hikers all the time, especially in the Gorge. I can’t believe people can be so clueless.

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    • This mountain is the highest in my part of the country so it attracts a lot of people and it also has a high start and an easy walk – sometimes people just don’t appreciate how the weather and conditions can change between sunny car park and windy summit

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  3. What a cracking day. Great to see you out and about. Scotland? Well, currently the A1 is closed with 8 foot snow drifts. Here on the coast we are being pounded with gales, blizzards and sub zero temperatures. Mind, i hope to get out for a wee walk in the morning.

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    Brenda-Dawn Linney
  4. That’s dedication! The light looks great for your photos, I have to say. 👍
    I’ve not been out for a proper walk for ages and dying to get out into the hills – but with the current weather it will have to wait a bit longer. I’m sysying snug indoors. Bearly any snow round here mind. Just a few flurries with little sticking. Must be the least affected part of the country. Ofteen the case in the north west.

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    • Superb day, even managed to sit in the warm sun in one sheltered spot!
      The West seems to have escaped the snow although we had another dump over the weekend while I was away in Scotland. The drive North was one of the easiest I can remember. No snow on the M6/M74 run and with the dire warnings of armageddon the roads were deserted

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  5. Great scenery on that trip even though it was cold. We can give you some snow if you want it. Ten foot drifts over our mountains yet again- foot foot drifts in my garden and against my front door- no buses or trains running and most roads here under a foot of powder snow, even the main ones. Shovelled a path out to the street this morning only to find myself buried in again 3 hours later due to spindrift and further heavy falls. Real arctic conditions- totally brilliant.
    Driving into the Highlands this weekend may require a shovel in the car.. or a snowplough to get parked in a layby..

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    Blue Sky Scotland
    • We drove up on Thursday and had the easiest drive to Scotland ever!. Deserted roads and hardly any snow except for a short stretch from the Erskine Bridge to Loch Lomond where there was a ton of the stuff. Highlands also had hardly any fresh snow although we never went higher than 800m as the winds were so wild

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  6. This looks a great walk in any weather, but those blue skies are almost the same as those on your Canary Island holiday. Amazing

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  7. Extraordinary landscapes. Thanks for taking me along.

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  8. Great photos – well worth you braving the cold for our benefit!

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    beatingthebounds

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