The weather forecast settled about 5 days out and just got better as Sunday drew closer. So there it was, a trip to the Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, Corn Du and Cribyn, clear skies and settled snow. The road was a little icy but easily passable with care. Someone had trouble on a slope but made it and cleared off the road in the end, I seemed to be the only one with a shovel despite the predicted -1 temperature. Heading in from the South is my favourite approach, glimpses of the hills through the trees of the Taf Fechan forest, exiting into the steep-sided valley near the Neuadd reservoir the white peaks are unmistakable.
After the lead in walk, you turn conclusively uphill, with the edge of the cliffs hiding the main event, if you look across the valley, the Roman road is easily spotted heading back to the start.
The weather stayed cold all day, as predicted. Which with the breeze made for a chilly start to the walk along the ridge. But with warm clothes, a beautiful clear blue sky and the sun making everything bright you couldn’t ask for a better day in Wales. I’ve been here in much worse. And this end is the quieter route in. Although I was passing and being passed, by a friendly bunch all like me, enjoying the chance to see the and around repainted white. It is when you clamber out of the cold wet gully you get to see the hills ahead. Glorious, shapely peaks.
As you get approach the main summit area, the ants resolve into people, lots of people who come from the North, this is a popular and easily accessible area. Luckily they tend to stay in quite a small area, so are easy to escape.
Walking in the snow, in this cold weather, changes everything around you. The sound is different, the way you walk, wading through a flattened landscape full of hidden pits. Dropping thigh deep from time to time adds a bit to a normal stroll. Crunching through the harder patches, or scuffing across shallow windblown areas bare and dark in comparison. Unfortunately, as we approached Corn Du, the cloud fell over us and visibility was reduced to twenty or so metres. With intermittent breaks to show snatches of what you are missing. Such is the way of high places, some days the cloud gives you a big hug. This is nice in some ways, privacy, quiet, thoughtful walking, just no wide open panoramas of South Wales from one of the best viewpoints in the country. The Brecons are a fantastic range, with drama that far exceeds their 880m summit.
After lunch on Corn Du, we fought the crowds at Pen y Fan, to get the picture. With me is a lad called Tom. We met in the car park, walked mostly together, chatting and strolling along. Always good to bump into people and see the who, why and where of someone you meet. Made for a change not to be travelling alone today.
The descent from Pen y Fan, proved interesting. Many people, not having any sort of grip on their trainers (yes) or wearing boots with shallow lugs, decided to slide down the tracks. This resulted in the snow compacting and getting icier. The good side to this was the chance to buckle on my crampons and stroll with ease down slopes others were precariously dancing down. Bum slides, all fun and games until someone finds a rock, or a cliff. But there you go, each to his own. There’s a drop between Pen y Fan and Cribyn, and the cloud was staying close to make sure we didn’t get lost. Makes for some drama as you hear things and people pass by heard and unseen.
It was a good day out. Well worth the trip from home. plenty to see along the way, and plenty of snow, everyone we met was happy and friendly and many stopped for a brief chat about the hills, places to visit in the future and where they had travelled from today. The car park was emptying quickly when we arrived back, people trying to head out before the road froze over as night fell in the valley.
Driving home, listening to music and letting the world flow past. I picked up a coffee and as the snow was left behind I crossed the bridge back to England ready for another day. Have fun with your day and keep going forward, it will be worth it in the end.