The Brecon Beacons, Corn Du, Pen-Y-Fan, Cribyn and Fan-Y-Big. The idea of climbing the Beacons, on a Saturday, with a good weather forecast would usually have you confined to a dark room, with soothing music for a while. If however you launch your bid from the South you will find some peace and tranquility while enjoying the imposing views of these little giants. Not until you hit the main ridge do you have to deal with the crowds, and once you pass Cribyn most people have headed down again so you can stay on the ridge and have the place to yourself again.
This day was a to be a test of how well my shoulder and body are getting on, after an operation in January and being out of action for quite a while it was time to get out and stretch my legs. A long walk with some climbing and time to appreciate the views. The pleasure of spring/summer days is the amount of daylight available to allow more time for stops and to have picnics at the side of the road.
The route starts with a steady climb, following the West side of the valley. It’s open access land, meaning you can find your own way. Although with the heavy bogs and leg-break grass tumps, this also means watching your step and minding the terrain, stop to look at things. It’s a wide bleak kind of place, I think when the grasses come through it will hold more charm, it does let you get down and take in the approaching hills, the views around, and the ideas that swish around as you walk. Half way up there is a trig point, set as a memorial to an SAS soldier, Tony Swierzy, who lost his life in an attempt on Everest in 1984.
All the while as you meander along you are treated to glimpses of the hills and cliffs of the Beacons. It’s why so many people visit, for a little effort you get some great space around you. Rhiw yr Ysgyfarnog narrows nicely, but by now you are fixated on Corn Du ahead. A fine triangle summit full of dogs, children and adults, all enjoying the day out.
If you look carefully in the previous picture you can see the crowd gathering at the top of one of the shortcut climbs to the ridge, from here on you are never alone. Most walkers are friendly, with a smile and a hello. And it is always good to see youngsters encouraged out into the outdoors. The joy of this walk location is the ability to drop back down into the valley at points along the way if the going is difficult.
The pair of Corn Du and Pen Y Fan match each other well, if you have never come up here before, the drop off is impressive, especially on the North side, which is probably the most popular way up. I don’t know why but I am drawn to these steep edges, I cannot help but look over. To feel the wind rising and the face dropping away below me, It never ceases to thrill me.
The real surprise was the snow still laying in pockets around the summits. A testament to the late spring, and another sign of the changes that are happening in the weather systems.
There’s been plenty of work over the main tops, stone paths put in to help with erosion. Another sign of the popularity of the area. It seems to have been done in a quiet way, not too obvious, and only on the main routes, better that way I think.
After dropping from Pen Y Fan, and climbing Cribyn it was time to decide whether to continue up to Fan Y Big, or take the low road. After hot food and a rest to watch the passing families, runners, and lost souls wondering why they came, I felt strong enough to finish the full set. So Fan Y Big beckoned me on, and from there the turn towards home. South, back towards the car across some more wild grass, grabbing and clutching at me as I went. I took a small detour to see a waterfall marked on the map, a happy choice given by the extra sunlight. As the day warmed in the afternoon I clambered down alongside the stream happily snapping, and found the final road back to the car. A fine day ending well.
The Waterfall Collection.
We are drawn to water, to journeys along rivers, across the sea. It is a meeting point, at fords and bridges. A border or barrier. Life, we cannot survive long without water. The sound of it running through channels in the open spaces. When I see the words on a map, it is always a good place to head for.