The Brecon Beacons
Walking in the sky.
The Brecon Beacons is the title range of the national park, containing the tallest peaks in South Wales. They have
far more obvious glacial formation than other parts of the park. The peaks are formed as glacial horns on the arêtes between corries to the north, and (for most of them) a single glacial valley to the south.
- The head of the Talybont valley, where we should have had a great view. Unfortunately, Waun Rydd (769 metres) was capped in cloud, which was not the best start for a day spent on mountains much taller than that. The route begins up Craig y Fan Ddu (683 metres), on the left of the picture, following the Beacons Way, which has finally reached puberty.
- Waterfalls in the upper part of Nant Bwrefwr, which also contains more waterfalls downstream before it joins Blaen-Y-Glyn, which itself is best known for its waterfalls.
- Second waterfall set.
- Third waterfall set.
- Torpantau, the pass that separates the Talybont forest from the Taff Fechan forest, and the main Brecon Beacons from the southeast Beacons. It also has what was the highest main line station and tunnel in the UK, though these are no longer in use.
- The slopes of Craig y Fan Ddu.
- Waun Rydd seen from Craig y Fan Ddu.
- The northern scarp of Craig y Fan Ddu.
- Rather than follow the ridge all the way to the 754 metre top of Gwaun Cerrig Llwydion, the Beacons Way takes a shortcut via the cairn seen here.
- Vultures getting ready to pick our bones. No, sorry, this one's a buzzard.
- In many parts of the park, human intervention (reservoirs, farming, etc.) means that surface water is not always safe to drink. We were using purification tablets in our regular drinking water, and had inadvertently put tablets in all our bottles, meaning we could not drink for two hours. Thankfully, the streams up here are generally clean enough, so drink we did.
- The view back to Pontsticill.
- The stunning view of the Beacons from the front of the ridge, at Cwm Oergwm. From left to right on the left side of Cwm Oergwm; Corn Du (873 metres), Pen y Fan (886 metres), Cribyn (795 metres), Fan y Bîg (719 metres), then on the right of Cwm Oergwm is Gwaun Cerrig Llwydion with Waun Rydd behind it. The cloud has finally cleared.
- The east face of Cribyn. A stunning mountain from any angle - certainly one of the best peaks in the range.
- The Brecon Beacons from the Fan y Bîg ridge.
- Upper Neuadd Reservoir, with Graig Fan Ddu behind it.
- Cribyn from Fan y Bîg.
- On the summit of Fan y Bîg, proof that I was there, on the edge of that 250 metre dropoff.
- The impressive view down Cwm Cynwyn from Bwlch ar y Fan, the pass between Cribyn and Fan y Bîg. The end of the valley gives a good view of just how featureless Mid Wales is. From here, the Beacons Way bypasses Cribyn. Why? Why? We shall not wuss out.
- Fan y Bîg, with Gwaun Cerrig Llwydion and Waun Rydd behind it. Fan y Bîg looks disturbingly like Fanny Big, which is much more funny to a Brit than it is to an American.
- Lightning conductor on the summit of Cribyn.
- Pen y Fan's superb east face, with over 300 metres of scarp.
- The train of humans on Pen y Fan. This is by far the most popular peak in the national park - the price of being the tallest - and is overrun with walkers who are just walking to the top and back without even looking at the other mountains. Not all are well equipped, or even aware that the weather can change in a heartbeat, so this mountain keeps the rescue team entertained.
- Cribyn's steep north face, 200 metres above the head of the valley below.
- "TO THE TOP", it says. On the other side is an arrow pointing up, and the word "DOWN". That one was much more confusing.
- View across the Beacons from Pen y Fan.
- The crazy summit of Pen y Fan. This was a Wednesday, not in a holiday, in April. Imagine how it would be on the weekend during summer holidays. The damer seem to be there only in an attempt to get attention from the squaddies who are on a training exercise (the SAS also perform their selection activities here). Not all damer have coats, and some have no idea how to walk downhill without screaming. Yes, that was entertaining. Wonder what would happen if a big cloud rolled past, and the summit disappeared in fog and hail. Oh well, the squaddies can lend them their coats, eh?
- The scarp of Corn Du, dropping 300 metres into Cwm Llwch.
- The ridge of Cefn Cwm Llwch, running from Pen y Fan to Brecon, the largest town in the national park.
- The northwest face of Pen y Fan, from Corn Du.
- The view from Corn Du over Fforest Fawr, the next mountain range in the park. From left to right, starting above the reservoir, are Fan Fawr (734 metres), Fan Llia (632 metres), Fan Nedd (663 metres), Fan Gyhirych (725 metres), then the long black ridge of the Black Mountain, the next mountain range. On the left side of the Fforest Fawr mountains is Waterfall Country, where we will head next. The Beacons Way trundles to the right of the mountains, squeezes between them, and then ends up on the other side, without summiting any mountains, without visiting anywhere remotely interesting after the first kilometre, and it manages to avoid Waterfall Country altogether. Stupid route.
- The stunning panorama from Bwlch Duwynt; Corn Du, Pen y Fan, Cribyn, Fan y Bîg, Gwaun Cerrig Llwydion, Waun Rydd, then the ridge of Rhiw yr Ysgyfarnog.
- Rhiw yr Ysgyfarnog passes over Craig Gwaun Taf then Graig Fan Ddu (which translates to the same thing as Craig y Fan Ddu at the other end of the range). The Craig Gwaun Taf part is 824 metres, but without enough prominence to be its own mountain.
- Someone didn't agree though, and built a tiny cairn on the "summit".
- Welsh mountain pony herd on the flanks of Corn Du.
- SunStreamers over Fan Fawr. Nearly down.
- Remembrance crosses at the picnic site at the Storey Arms carpark. Perhaps one of them is dedicated to my poor feet.
From here, we used a car to cross from the Storey Arms car park to the forests by Ystradfellte. If you prefer to walk, head down the Taff Fawr to the Cantref Reservoir, then cross the A4059 over to the Afon Hepste. Once at the road to Ystradfellte, head towards Ystradfellte to join the route at the forests. It will take about a day.