Adventures

Pen Y Fan and the Horseshoe Ridge

It’s no secret among my friends how much I adore Wales, I mean I tell them every chance I get. For a couple of years, I lived just outside of Cardiff with the Brecon Beacons practically on my doorstep and I frequently disappeared in a campervan to explore.

Seven years on I decided to go back, to walk a route I’d done, in parts, before but never by myself. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it alone. So I did.

The Premier Inn in Merthyr Tydfil (not the most exotic place in the world) was my pre-walk stopover and I enjoyed it! Any place that has a bath tub now I live in a flat with none… BLISS. I set my alarm for 6am, sat and ate croissants and drank coffee before I set off just after 7:30am to reach the Pont ar Daf car park later than planned but this is me we are talking about. The only time I’m on time is if there’s food involved.

There weren’t many cars there, it was a Monday after all, but there were still a fair few people trail running and as I reached half way up the first incline the thought crossed my mind that I might like to turn around, go back the the car, book back into the hotel and sit in a bath for the rest of time. But I didn’t. I took a picture of the cloud I was walking through, sent it to a friend so she could see that I could barely see a few metres ahead of me and hoped that maybe she’d demand that I go back to the car… I didn’t. I walked through the cloud, up the hill that I was cursing while others were running up it and reached the top. It’s amazing what the promise of a good view can push you to do.

Heading up the Beacons Way through cloud
Obligatory “WTF have I done” selfie
Finally at the top of the Beacons Way… on to Corn Du! (That looks like the top. It’s not.)
A clear moment through the cloud on the way to Corn Du.

When I reached Corn Du I was thrilled. I’d purposefully put the three peaks at the head of the walk thinking it’d be easy from there… and it was for a while. From Corn Du it was pretty simple to get up to Pen Y Fan and there was no one up there when I first arrived! I’ve seen pictures of people queuing to get a picture taken at the top. I sat looking out at the view for a bit, had a chat with some fellow hikers, and considered eating lunch way too early…

Through the cloud and bam! Corn Du.
Always at least a metre away from the edge because I’m funny like that 🙂
Pen Y Fan was a breeze! I clearly went the easy way. Ha.
Looking down from Pen Y Fan. Under that cloud is Cribyn
Wait! There’s Cribyn!

I thought that I would enjoy Pen Y Fan the most, but my favourite was Cribyn. Probably because I felt like I had to climb further to get there! I sat at the top of Cribyn for a while with some other hikers and then ate my lunch… at 11:30am. What can I say…

Looking back at Pen Y Fan…
Looking up at Cribyn
Could have stayed on Cribyn all day! Lunch at 11:30am….

Coming down from Cribyn was bittersweet and lovely. I thought the hardest and most important part of the walk was complete. Then I came across a herd of Welsh mountain ponies who followed me part the way down. They kind of formed a little semi-circle around me and wandered with me for a little while. The mama was pure (but muddy) white and the babies were this mix of chestnut and white with brilliant blue eyes.

And then… and then came the part where I got lost. And as I got lost I remembered that the last time I was here I got lost on the same part. So I squiggled around until I figured out how to access the path across the resovoir to what shall now be known as THE PATH OF DEATH.

The path of death, as I have so badly named it, nearly killed me. A steady incline until the last part when I, in all my fear of heights, had to tell myself not to look down. I’m sure most people will think I’m being ridiculous. But I got as low as I could and scrambled up to the top of the ridge whether it required it or not. I’m sure anyone watching would have found it highly amusing.

Once I reached the top I considered not stopping for a photo at the trig point but I had just climbed THE PATH OF DEATH. I would stop and perhaps slowly die there. I quickly realised I was firmly still alive and continued.

At this point I thought the hard part was behind me… Ha
See that path up to the ridge line. It KILLED me.

The ridge line was really something, I just wish I could have enjoyed it more. By this point I was tired and dreaming of the largest burger ever created. I started tripping over myself and stubbing my toes so I walked slower and took the time to enjoy the views.

Along the the ridge. Tired and tripping over my own feet…
Stubbed my toes so many times I thought I’d be bruised!

As I reached my last point before descending back to the car my knees were seriously giving me some gip. The descent took forever because they hurt so much and my stubbed toes, I was certain, would be bruised.

But how beautiful it all was. Before I began that long walk back down to the car I had stopped, looked back at the mountains, told them I would return and thank you, thank you so much for keeping me safe. I love this place.

Final look back from the ridge before heading back down the Beacons Way to the car park.

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