Brecon Beacons Walks
Pen y Fan & Cribyn
Date: 22nd October 2005
Distance: 8.5 miles
Ascent: 2550 feet
Time: 4 hours 35 minutes
Start Grid Ref: SO036171
A fantastic first walk in the Brecon Beacons visiting Pen y Fan, the highest mountain in the range.
Route Summary: Taf Fechan Forest - Lower Neuadd Reservoir - Graig Ffan Du - Corn Du - Pen y Fan - Cribyn - Fan y Big - Lower Neuadd Reservoir - Taf Fechan Forest
1. Lower Neuadd Reservoir and Graig Fan Ddu
2. Looking along the slopes of Twyn Mwyalchod to Taf Fechan Forest
3. Upper Neuadd Reservoir and Fan y Big
4. Another view of Taf Fechan Forest
5. The path leading to Corn Du
6. The cloud clears below Corn Du
7. Looking down on Cefn Cwm Llwch from Pen y Fan
8. Upper Neuadd Reservoir from Pen y Fan
9. On the top of Pen y Fan
10. Cribyn from Pen y Fan
11. Pen y Fan from Cribyn
12. Alex on Cribyn
13. Fan y Big
14. On Fan y Big
Walk Detail: While visiting friends in Caerphilly I suggested to one of them, Alex, that we head out for a walk in the Brecon Beacons. Happily for me he thought it a good idea and I was even more pleased when he suggested we climb Pen y Fan the highest of the Brecon Beacons.
When we drove out in the morning there was a lot of mist in the valley and upon arrival at Lower Neuadd Reservoir there was still some low cloud clinging to the higher tops. The initial climb up to the trig point on Twyn Mwyalchod was possibly the toughest part of the walk because the path was so wet with slippery mud and rocks.
However from then on we commenced a fine walk along the ridges of Graig Fan Ddu, Rhiw yr Ysgyfarnog and Craig Gwaun Taf which was enlivened by a few boggy patches. On Rhiw yr Ysgyfarnog the ridge narrows so much that one can look down into Cefn Crew while across the Neuadd Valley the shape of Cribyn dominated the whole length of the ridge.
Just after we descended from the minor top of Duwynt the cloud cleared briefly to reveal a cone like aspect of the southern face of Corn Du's summit. After a brief but stiff climb we reached the top where we were rewarded with several dramatic changes in the cloud cover to give fine atmospheric views looking north with Llŷn Cwm Llwch the stand out.
As we headed down and then up to Pen y Fan the weather continued to clear and shortly after reaching the latter top the cloud cleared giving some fine views all the way to Black Mountain and Sugar Loaf to the east.
One disappointment with the summit was the sheer volume of people especially when many of them were sat on the sprawling ancient cairns. Furthermore the trig point on Pen y Fan had also been removed. However these were only minor niggles and in fact each of the four summits we visited were magnificent viewpoints especially to the north where the summits are so close to almost precipitous drops. From Pen y Fan there was also an absolutely superb view of Cribyn which, although of much lesser height, is so beautifully shaped.
The climb up Cribyn was quite stiff but thankfully the top was much less crowded than the previous two. The cairn was also bereft of people lounging about on it. Although tired Alex kindly declined the offer to head back along the Roman road so we next climbed the amusingly named Fan y Big to find an unmarked top on an even more precipitous summit than the others.
From Fan y Big we cut diagonally down to the Roman road and finally back to the car. It had been an excellent walk with stunning views, the way the cloud cleared to reveal the Brecon valley is one of my favourite walking memories. Cribyn was also mightily impressive and I definitely want to visit this region again.