Archive for the ‘Fan Fawr’ Tag

Night Out in the Black Mountains   16 comments


I’ve been trying to get out more to wild camp this year and TJS was keen for a last trip before heading off to university. Forecast wasn’t too bad so we gave it a go on a Friday after work.


It was past 7 when we set off from the car, windy and cold. We had less than an hour of light left. We returned to the same point by Llyn y Fan Fawr where we camped earlier in the summer. The wind made it difficult to put both tents up at the same time so it took a while to get set up. Pitch dark by the time we’d done so a lazy evening drinking tea and chatting.

Next morning was much better. Brighter with wisps of blue sky


Breakfast in the tent (too windy and cold for an al fresco affair)


Its a cracking spot though


TBF readies herself for a day in the mountains


We left the tents pitched and went for the classic circuit of the Black Mountain range. Same circuit as in the summer but in reverse. I figured as the wind was so strong we’d want it behind us on the higher section



A view down over Llyn y Fan Fawr


TJS on the high level traverse under the cliffs


The old water leat that supplies Llyn y Fan Fach


One of my favourite south Wales views over Llyn y Fan Fach and Bannau Sir Gaer


As we walked along the edge we were engulfed in a heavy shower of rain. Luckily it didn’t last long and we had some nice wispy cloud effects



View from the highest point over Llyn Fan Fawr. Our campsite is in the top left hand corner of the lake



A view down the prominent gully that splits the crags above the lake



Time for lunch at the tent. We had to hide behind the tent for shelter such was the force of the wind


Forecast for the afternoon and next day was very poor so time to get the hell out of there. We packed up and headed down




The views across to Fforest Fawr were excellent


Fan Gyhirych looking dark and moody



There was a lot more water flowing than earlier in the summer


The sunshine on the small waterfalls was very fetching but the water looked cold. Those hot summer days of wild swimming seem a long time ago




Chances to sneak away for a wild camp will be limited as winter closes in although it is my intention to get out and do some winter summit overnights if we get some cold frosty weather.

Having been reading and enjoying Ken Browns new music inspired blog I thought I might add some tunes to my post to broaden the scope a little. I used to create a music tracked slideshow but I’ve lost interest in that of late so I’ll just add a tune that I like to each post. I just happened to be listening to this while I finished this post and as its a sublime and chilled track, one of my favourites I’ve discovered in the past 12 months I thought I’d share it. I like the lyric “Didn’t I take you to, higher places you can’t reach without me”

Deep and Crisp and Uneven   15 comments

A reference to my surprise on seeing a clear blue sky day with a helping of patchy snow after waking up at 6am the previous day to go to work and finding a temperature of 12C and a day filled with mild patchy rain.

Solo again while the family did other stuff and a revisit to a surprisingly quiet corner of the Brecon Beacons. Surprising as it overlooks the busy A470 and the parking chaos of the summit of the road at the Storey Arms. On a good day there must be 200 plus cars parked up there ready for the pilgrimage to the summit of Pen y Fan. I parked up for my walk a couple of miles down the road with one other car. Local knowledge is a handy thing


Craig Cerrig Gleisiad and Fan Fawr was my route. It was a wonderful crisp clear morning, icy puddles and frosty mud was underfoot. The path that traverses across the bottom of the corrie was delightful



The bare trees shorn of their leaves always attract my eye and lens


The views down the valley to Brecon and the Black Mountains was magnificent



The path emerges suddenly onto the shoulder below Fan Frynych. Expansive views open out over the mid-Wales countryside


Up on to the grassy moorland and the first few patches of snow underfoot


The sky was dramatically blue and clear and the light through the trees was still catching my attention



Up on the summit it was just magnificent. Such an exceptional clarity in the air contrasting with the pristine and untouched white snow



Traversing over the summit of Fan Frynych was majestic. You just eat up the miles on a day like this




Sticking close to the edge of the dark vegetated cliffs gives extensive panoramas


But then you have to cross the vast expanse of open moorland to reach Fan Fawr. Its wet here. Very wet. Especially after a couple of days of heavy rain. There was lots of icy coverings but not enough to walk over without plopping in from time to time


I consoled myself with the wonderful peace, quiet and isolation of this patch of wild land so close to a major road. I had it completely to myself


I climbed to the summit without pause hoping for a sunny spot out of the wind. The views were still grand but the wind was keen. I was hungry and so headed down towards the main road madness




I spotted a sunny patch that looked like it might be sheltered. It was perfect. Calm and sunny enough to deliver some warmth for a well earned lunch break and hot cuppa


You can get a sense of just how many cars there are down by road in the photo below. As I’d I only seen a few people on Fan Fawr I assume all the occupants were on Pen y Fan. I had reminder of what kind of people frequent “the highest mountain in South Wales” on a sunny day. As I crossed the road there was a large group of brash noisy and spectacularly under-equipped people heading off to climb Pen y Fan (jeans, trainers and the like) – it was already after 2pm and its at least a 3 hour round trip to the top. One particularly irritating individual – lets call him Dick – seemed to love the sound of his own voice and humour and repeated the same line – loudly – over and over again to emphasis how side splittingly funny it was (something about how unforgiving the mountain was). I could still hear him from several hundred yards away. His companions all seemed deeply unenthusiastic about being “dragged out” but they started up the hill anyway. A complete contrast to the few pleasant and chatty people I’d met on the “other side” who were all entranced by a such a stunning morning. I think this little rant makes me a mountain snob but I don’t care


I headed down the Taff trail to head back to car. Once Dick, and his friends were out of earshot all was peaceful again. Its a rather nice walk with good views down the valley and across to the crags where I’d been in the morning. A nice change of scene from wild moors and mountains to something more pastoral


The little sting in the tail, a very steep few hundred feet back up to the road, made me work for my supper



A short day – I was done by 3pm – but it was more than enough to enjoy a spectacular morning and some wild untamed land no more than 20 minutes walk from the road

Black Mountain Blast   6 comments

TJF was off at a sleepover with a friend so the Mountain triumvirate of me TJS and TBF planned a proper day out. Alas the forecast wasn’t great and we were in the midst of some seriously stormy weather. So stormy in fact that it ripped up most of my back garden fence and picked up our trampoline and threw it over a 8 foot fence and several hundred yards into the field next door.

So, ideal conditions for a walk in the Black Mountain.

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

It was a bitterly cold, windy and grey day. There was a semblance of brightness but the forecast was for a rapid deterioration so there was no time to hang about

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

A blistering pace was needed to avoid the next battering and to keep warm. The plod up to Llyn y Fan Fawr is an extremely wet one, TBF regretting not having bought new boots to replace the one’s with holes in. The lake is a wonderful spot and the last time I was up here it was in warm March sunshine.

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

No stopping today. Onwards and upwards. When we hit the edge of Fan Brycheiniog we hit the wind. It was ferocious. A real battle to stay upright. It’s hard work and a little disconcerting – the edge is quite sharp and the drop quite significant – but I love walking in a gale. Blows the working weeks dust out from the brain and makes you feel properly alive. A battle with the elements is good for the soul.

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

Again despite hunger we just pressed on, staying away from the edge for fear of being blown off. At Fan Foel we made the decision to abort the rest of the route to Bannau Sir Gaer and head down. The clouds were darkening and we’d have been walking into the teeth of the gale for an hour. It meant an earlier finish but we had enough fun in the wind for now.

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

The small pools of water on the top had been blown and then frozen – a capture of small waves in action.

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

We dropped down to the exceedingly fine unmarked path that traverses under the cliffs we’d just walked along. Almost immediately that we turned under the cliffs we were in calm conditions. Lunchtime under the brooding cliffs and stormy skies was well-earned

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

As soon as we reached the lake we were blasted by the wind again.

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

The trouble with still images is they don’t really capture how windy it is. Except this shot. As the gusts of wind roared across the lake they whipped some mightily impressive tornadoes of spray with a deafening growl.

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

Back down through the bogs to the car. Almost a relief to sit in the car in silence without the constant drone of the wind.

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

Bannau Sir Gaer, Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, llyn y fan fach, llyn y fan fawr, mynyd du, fan fawr

Not a blue sky Wales day, this one was for the connoisseur (re: mad)

Fan Fawr with TJS   6 comments

Still in February in blog-time. Short post of a walk I did with TJS over the Fforest Fawr hills to the west of Brecon Beacons

The forecast looked promising for the morning with rain spreading in for the afternoon. An early start was called for and things, whilst cold, looked promising when we set off. Lots of blue sky and sunshine but with dark clouds which I assumed would clear as per the forecast

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

Wrong! What the forecast had failed to predict were short and very heavy rain and hail-storms and the first one hit us within 15 minutes as we traversed under Craig Cerrig Gleisiad. TJS has never been out in hail before and I don’t think he was all that enamoured! What they lack in duration they more than make up for in pain and wetness!

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

We moved at a brisk pace in the cold wind, following the edge of the cliffs up on to the top (bypassing the trig point at Fan Frynych – Trig points in the middle of bogs are an acquired taste). There was someone camping and it looks a good spot with plenty of soft grass and moss and a fine view over the Beacons.

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

The next section is a trudge across an expanse of grass and bog of to the base of Fan Fawr. Not a place to be caught in a hail-storm. Needless to say we got caught in a hailstorm and a pretty lengthy and nasty one at that. We were soaked in readiness for the steep climb up to the summit.

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

No path so a tough climb up steep grass. TJS needs experience of off-piste terrain to build his fitness so this was good challenge he coped well with although I think he prefers a good path!

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

The summit was cold, windy and dark with the threat of more sky-fall. We headed down the obscenely steep slopes of grass to find a spot for lunch.

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

TJS seemed a little slower than usual and heading down the Taff Trail section he seemed distinctly unhappy. When I pressed him, he told me his boots were too small and had been giving him grief for several weeks! Quite why he hadn’t told me before is anyone’s guess but they were almost 2.5 sizes too small. Doesn’t always occur to me that he’s still growing and his feet are now as big as mine

The walk back was enlivened by the sight of a car that appeared to have slid down the long bank below the road with rescue operations underway. You can just see the red car in the bottom left hand corner of the photo below

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

So the long trudge back down the trail was a slightly dispiriting one for him and all in all a bit of a disappointing day considering the weather had been less than expected and we’d made an early start to enjoy it.

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

Still as always its good to get out in the fresh air is it does disprove the theory that we only ever go out in the sunshine 🙂

You can see a slightly sunnier version of this walk from a couple of years back here

Father & Son Backpacking – Black Mountain July 2013   21 comments

Normal service resumed here at Surfnslide after the family holiday to France – normal service meaning me trying to catch up on trips from a couple of months back – will I ever catch up? Why am I asking you?

Where was I? Ah, trip reports from July. TJF was with the Grandparents in Wales and TBF was performing one of her plays so me and TJS took off for some backpacking. After much pondering of maps and a somewhat uncertain forecast, the Black Mountain and the Limestone area on its southern edge caught my eye. I’ve walked the main ridge a number of times including a great day out with TJS last year but I’d never ventured to the South so this was a great opportunity to see what it was like. The map makes it look interesting

By 10am we were parked up at Dan yr Ogof caves and ready to set off. The cloudy start had been replaced with some fine sunshine and things looked good. Our route would take in the length of the Black Mountain escarpment before heading off over the limestone hills to west to wild camp. We’d then return over the limestone crags above Dan yr Ogof

Black Mountain Part 1

Day 1: 9.8 Miles

Cribarth, Dan yr Ogof

Cribarth from Dan yr Ogof

We headed off to follow the Haffes valley into the hills. I was using a Cicerone guide “Backpackers Britain – Wales” by Graham Uney that i’d seen on Amazon and looked promising for some route and wild camp site ideas. I’m normally a fan of Cicerone guides but let me just say that this one is a massive disappointment. For a start the majority of routes involve overnights at campsites, pubs and guest houses, not exactly backpacking in the proper sense. Only a few have wild camp sites as their overnight. There are a few that use bothies but they are not well researched. A few routes use the Grwyne Fawr bothy in the Black Mountains which is fine but it’s tiny, near the road end and very well-known. on weekends it is very likely to be full and there is very little alternative if you happen not to have a tent. None of this is mentioned in the book which I think is a little remiss.

Reason for mentioning the guide at this point is that is the route is a 2 day route over a total of 37km described as a “short backpacking route” – now I’m reasonably fit but I wouldn’t describe 37km over 2 days with a backpack as “short”. As it turned out even at a relatively brisk pace we had no way to reach the suggested wild camp spot at a reasonable hour and had to cut several miles off the suggested route. The first time we needed to get the guide out was to find our way onto the open hillside. The description “follow the stream for a short way up into Cwm Haffes” neglects to mention that there is no path or even a trace of one. In fact the whole valley floor is completely overgrown and we spent an unhappy half hour scrambling through the undergrowth, clinging to trees and wandering about looking for a way through before we eventually broke through to a point where we could escape upwards. None of this is mentioned either. The book went back in the pack and hasn’t been seen since. Lesson learned stick to my own instincts and the vast array of knowledge and reports on the web. Rant over 🙂

Haffes Valley

D above the Haffes Valley

The Haffes valley is actually rather pleasant once you emerge from its jungle-like confines and after a short and very steep climb up its banks we took a pause to take in the view

Haffes Valley

Haffes Valley

Haffes Valley

Haffes Valley

Haffes Valley

TJS takes a break

We filled up with fresh water at a small side stream (last chance until later in the day) and then headed off across the vast expanse of soggy tussocks to the slopes of Fan Hir

Haffes Valley

Lone tree

TJS has done most of his walking on well-known hills with broad paths. This was the first time I’d taken him “off-piste” and he didn’t seem to appreciate the subtle charms of tussocks and bog without a path (neither do I but that’s not the point). He was mightily relieved when we finally reached the path.

Fan Hir

TJS admires the view after tussock bashing

Fan Gyhirych, Fan Hir

Fan Gyhirych from Fan Hir

It had turned into a very fine day with clear skies and expansive views. Withe renewed enthusiasm we romped along the extremely grand Fan Hir escarpment. I’ve walked the Black Mountain many times but never along this section and its top-notch. It stretches for a good couple of miles with sheer drops to east and wild moors to the west

Fan Hir

D on Fan Hir

Fan Hir

Fan Hir

Fan Hir

Fan Hir

We managed to find a sheltered spot on the summit for lunch. Time to experiment with a new backpacking lunch. Sandwiches that have been squashed into a pack never look very appealing (especially after a few days) so I was going for some Heinz “Squeeze and Stir” soup and some bread. The Herb and Mushroom flavour when squeezed looked suspiciously like – well I’ll leave that to your imagination. And the taste? Well here was lesson 2 for the day – read the instructions. Don’t assume that one sachet will be fine for a very large mug. It looked like dirty dish water and didn’t taste much better. Still, it was hot and filling (and the tomato flavour with the proper amount of water to soup ratio is actually pretty nice) so it was voted a success 🙂

Fan Hir

Lunch on Fan Hir

We pressed on to take in the next set of tops along the escarpment, Fan Brycheiniog and Fan Fawr. This is one of my favourite walks with the deep blue Lyn y Fan Fawr below.

Brecon Beacons

East to the Brecon Beacons

Fan Brycheiniog

Fan Brycheiniog

Fan Brycheiniog, Lyn y Fan Fawr

Fan Brycheiniog & Lyn y Fan Fawr

I was struggling a bit on the steep sections as I was carrying the majority of the weight but TJS was romping along and enjoying every minute. After the early struggles the terrain is very easy-going and perfect for backpacking.

Fan Fawr

TJS on Fan fawr

As we reached the high point of Bannau Sir Gaer, eating up the miles, the weather suddenly turned gloomy and the sunshine disappeared spectacularly quickly. We didn’t linger on the summit and pressed on to leave behind the dark sandstone of the Black Mountain following a succession of very handy sheep tracks across the grassland and bog to the limestone summit of Carreg yr Ogof

Carreg yr Ogof

Carreg yr Ogof

It’s a fine summit, littered with small limestone pavements and outcrops. We took time out for a second lunch but didn’t linger too long as it was pretty gloomy and quite chilly. We pressed on to the summit of Garreg Las with its two massive stone cairns. I assume that these are some sort of ancient burial cairn or shelter such is their size

Garreg Las

A very tired TJS on Garreg Las

TJS suddenly hit “the wall” and his pace dropped markedly. He’s not to used to carrying a heavy sack and he was struggling. This unfortunately coincided with the cloud starting to close in and the summit is not a place to practice navigation amongst its chaotic collection of pavements and rocks. The “guide-book” route urged us to take in Foel Fraith, Garreg Lwyd and Cefn Carn Fadog but it was already 5pm and we were both tired and the mist was upon us. I took a line straight down towards the Afon Twrch through a tangle of boulders and small crags. It would have been an entertaining route had the mist not been following us down. I was keen to try to least see the river to pick out a camp spot so had to encourage TJS to keep going. As we emerged from the mist we could see the river with several green patches on it’s banks that looked promising. We just had to cross the last patch of tussocks to reach the bank. In time honoured Welsh mountain tradition this proved to be a cruel deception. It was in fact a small lake with tussocks floating in it. My trail-shoed feet, dry up to this point were wet within a few strides as were TJS in his boots.

The site was a fine one albeit not the flattest. It was my first test of my new Voyager Superlite tent and I have to say I’m well impressed. It’s rather compact (rucksacks outside) and lacking the cavernous space of my Quasar or Lightwave GT3 but then it weighs less than half of them and it’s quick and easy to put up. I may put a review up at some point if I can be bothered

Afon Twrch

Wild Camp by the Afon Twrch

It drizzled while I pitched it, and that combined with a minor midge invasion forced me to cook tea in the tent. By the time we’d eaten the skies cleared a little and we got some shafts of late evening sunshine.

Afon Twrch

Evening Sunshine

It’s a lovely wild and lonely spot and I only wish we could have seen more of it while we were camped there. Finding your own little private corner of the mountains is the joy of backpacking and I’d looked forward to a late evening exploratory stroll to really get to know the local suburbs

Afon Twrch

Post meal enjoyment

Afon Twrch

Afon Twrch

As quickly as the sun had appeared, it vanished again and the gloom descended. Tired yet satisfied after a long day we turned in.

When we woke the next day, I was hopeful that the skies would have cleared and we’d be treated to breakfast in the sunshine. What we got was breakfast in a steam room. It was mild muggy and we were in the cloud. Every single surface, plant and blade of grass had a pint of water clinging to it. Still breakfast in steam room in the wilds is better than breakfast in…… lets not follow that line of thought. We did enjoy our bacon sandwiches though and by the time we’d eaten and packed up the cloud had lifted a little. Our route back to the car was to take us along the Afon Twrch and then over the limestone hills to Dan yr Ogof and Glyn Tawe

Black Mountain Part 2

Day 2: 5.7 Miles

The going was rough with no path and the grass absolutely soaking. My trail shoes were squelching again within a few hundred yards. Still we had the valley to ourselves and it retained an air of austere wilderness which is surprising when you consider it’s not actually very remote

Afon Twrch

On our way into the gloom

It’s hard to judge an area when your first visit is under a blanket of leaden grey cloud but I saw enough to make we certain I need to come back and see it again.

Afon Twrch

Afon Twrch

Afon Twrch

Wild and untamed

We met the path at the ford which looked like a good place to camp with a few rocks to sit on and slightly flatter. The path east was actually well-defined and easy to follow and takes you across the wild moors to Pwll y Cig. It’s a fascinating area of sink holes, some filled with water and blind valleys. It looked like a great place to camp and explore and I made a note to come back here next year. Despite the gloomy weather I was really enjoying this section of the walk with the terrain providing a lot more interest than anything the map would have you believe



We had planned to traverse Disgwylfa and Carreg Goch but as they were dipping in and out of the cloud there seemed little point. We were enjoying the ease of following the well made path past the succession of intriguing features. The hills could wait for a better day

Swallow Hole, Pwll y Cig

Swallow Hole, Pwll y Cig

It was a very easy, uneventful and enjoyable stroll back to the car with some decent views across the Tawe valley and over to the interesting little hill of Cribarth as we emerged from the confines of the wild limestone land



Tawe Valley

Tawe Valley

We were back at the car in mid afternoon after an excellent couple of days. More progress in TJS backpacking career with a much longer and tougher outing than his first trip to the Moelwyns last year. He’s still spent all of his wild camping time looking at grey clouds and rain and he asked me if it was always like that. I regaled him with stories of days spent lazing by the tent in warm sunshine and how life doesn’t get much better. Perhaps his next trip would provide some of that 🙂

Alternative Brecon Beacons   1 comment

This is a walk I’ve had my eye on for a while so with a forecast of warm sunshine and the rest of the family otherwise engaged I headed out early to make the most of the day. The route is over some lesser known hills in the Brecon Beacons. It’s part of the Fforest Fawr (Great Forest) named after its old status as a Royal Hunting ground rather than any trees. The walk starts a couple of miles down from the Storey Arms (where the masses park for the trek up to Pen-y-Fan) and sets out for the national nature reserve of Craig Cerrig-gleisiad (Blue Stone Rock).

It’s a stunning setting with dark heathery earthy cliffs dropping to a grassy bowl with a number of bubbling streams.

Taking a path that skirts the edge of the lower pastures to reach the ridge and then the path heads up towards the grassy plateau that crowns the cliffs.

The views were a little hazier than I had hoped and there was a surprisingly strong, cool breeze but it was still a lovely morning.

The main summits of the Beacons as well visited and on sunny summer days I’ve seen as many as 150 people on the summit of Pen-y-Fan. On this lesser known route I saw only about 10 people for the duration of the walk. The “summit” Trig Pillar (Fan Frynych) is set back from the edge and I’d hoped for a brief rest on the top but it was far too windy and cold so I pressed on. There are numerous smalll bodies of water all of which were full of frogspawn but no frogs or even tadpoles yet. I guess spring is still in its very earliest stages at this height.

You can take the path that runs right along the edge of the cliffs for some sensational views and the main summits of Pen-y-Fan and Corn Du were becoming clearer as the sun rose higher.

At the highest point of the cliffs I managed to find a sheltered spot out of the wind for a leisurely lunch and to sit and soak up the spring weather and views.

After a brief detour along the edge to peer down the vegetated cliffs I hopped over the Fence and headed towards Fan Fawr, the highest point. It’s quite a long trek and I guess pretty boggy after a wet spell. It would be a long and tiresome trudge on a grey damp day but on this sunny morning the springy grass and moss was just perfect for strolling. The views West out to the Black Mountain were excellent and some of the hills between also looked worthy of a day out in future. I suspect they are rarely climbed so I’d like to think I’d have them to myself.

It’s a pretty steep climb to the top but the views in all directions were top notch albeit still hazy. When I reached the top the wind was strong enough to blow me off my walking stride which really caught me by surprise for what looked like a day that should be warm and calm. I headed down towards the Storey Arms and managed to find another sheltered stop for second lunch and watch the traffic streaming along the A470 and the people streaming up and down Pen-y-Fan.

On the way down I passed a group of students dressed in DJs and carrying chairs and food for a picnic. If they planning on partying on the summit they were in for a nasty shock when the wind hit them!

I passed a group of wild welsh ponies on my down and then quickly passed by the mess, noise and cars at Storey Arms and headed down the Taff Trail – the old road between Merthyr and Brecon. Despite the noise of the traffic on the A470 it’s a really pleasant stroll with great views across to the high ground I’d been across earlier in the day.

A drop down to the stream (a lovely picnic spot with swimming hole for future reference) and a steep climb back up to the road and I was back at the car.

My GPS software said 8.3 miles and 514m of ascent. Apart from feeling a little cautious on the steep sections my knee seemed to cope pretty well and sitting at home now it feels fine so I’m really hopeful that the Op has been a success and that I can continue building up the strength over the next few weeks. Probably about time I started with my daily exercise routine again!

As always I’ve posted all the photos from the day on Flickr here

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