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
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
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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
This was an autumn repeat of a longer walk I did last summer. The darker nights and colder days were fast approaching so I wanted to get the family out as much as possible before the winter arrives and the TV and Wii become a more attractive option for the kids.
Craig Cerrig Gleisiad
I was after a short walk but the weather looked promising enough for a day on some loftier heights. This walk combines a high start with a relatively short walk into a wonderful corrie and around its edge with expansive views. Just the ticket.
Pen-y-Fan, Corn Du
It was lunchtime by the time we set off from the car park on the A470 and headed up the broad path towards the dramatic cliffs of Craig Cerrig Gleisiad. This area to the west of the main Brecon Beacons range is known as Fforest Fawr (The Great Forest), named for its status as a hunting ground rather than an expanse of trees. The area is a National Nature Reserve and within 5 minutes you are up into the heart of this wonderful and relatively little known cwm. On both occasions I’ve visited I’ve seen few people compared to the massed ranks slogging up the grinding bore of a path up Pen-y-Fan from the Storey Arms a mile or so up the road.
L climbs the stile into the cwm
D walks in Craig Cerrig Gleisiad
The path crosses a wall to a wonderful spot beside a tinkling stream where the full grandeur of the corrie is revealed. Sculpted by ice, it’s a home to several rare arctic-alpine plants such as Purple and Mossy Saxifrage. This is as far south as they are found in the UK and they don’t re-appear again until the high alps. The cliffs, rather than rocky are cloaked in heather and trees with hawthorn, rowan, mountain ash and whitebeams clinging to the steep slopes. Peregrine falcons nest on the cliffs joined by merlins and red kites. In the summer ring ouzels, skylarks and chaffinches fill the slopes with song and colour is provided with an array of butterflies that seem at odds with the higher altitude.
D in Craig Cerrig Gleisiad
On this day of cold air and bright skies we didn’t see much of this flora and fauna but the views were awesome. There were some dark brooding clouds mixed with bright clear sunshine and an exceptional clarity to the light and the walking was a pleasure. There are a couple of paths that head straight up to the ridge but like my last visit I chose to follow the path that runs across the bottom edge (a little soggy but passable) to the far end of the ridge coming down from Fan Frynych.
South towards the Storey Arms
This gives great views up into the dark recesses of the crags, back across to Pen-y-Fan and Corn Du and down over the Usk valley to Brecon and the Black Mountains beyond. Once on the ridge it’s a broad easy path up onto the broad plateau of Fan Frynych. We took advantage of a spell of sunshine to have lunch and a cuppa amongst the hollows created when stone was quarried from up here.
Lunch on Fan Frynych
North towards Brecon from Fan Frynych
From there it’s an easy stroll along the edge of the cwm towards what passes for the summit. The views across the Fforest Fawr and the Brecons were amazing, the dark clouds adding a sense of moody magnificence to the scene.
Craig Cerrig Gleisiad from Fan Frynych
Fan Frynych from Craig Cerrig Gleisiad
I looked across to the much higher bulk of Fan Fawr that I’d climbed the previous visit and wished I was carrying on – it’s a pleasant high-level grassy stroll.
Fforest Fawr and Black Mountain
As you start to head down the path hugs tight to the cliff edges giving some eagle eye views into the dark corrie below. We kept looking for the Peregrines or other birds of prey swooping and hunting amongst the cliffs but with no luck.
Pen-y-Fan & Corn Du from Craig Cerrig Gleisiad
D on the edge
The path descends back towards the main access path in a startlingly steep manner, causing some amusement for the kids at sliding around on their bottoms to avoid a more calamitous tumble. All too soon the we were back by the stream and onto the car, a great short walk over. As the weather chills it gets harder to entice the kids out onto the hills – have to leave them with TBF I suppose 🙂