Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Climbing Pen Y Fan


Pen Y Fan, for those who don't know, is the highest mountain peak in South Britain. At 886m above sea level, it is part of the Brecon Beacon mountain range. Fun facts over, story time begins. My travel buddy and I decided, summer really wasn't over just yet. With Cardiff currently hit with the final wave of an Indian summer, we decided to make the most of the weather and climb the summit. It was a rather flippant decision and as per, we were under prepared. A quick stop at the supermarket prior to our commute, we had snacks and liquids to fuel us ahead.

A short 1 hour drive from the city, we arrive in the Beacons, killed off the unnecessary dead weight from our back packs and embraced the scenery. As we scoped out the competition, which were mostly sheep, we secured ourselves into our heavy duty boots and began. "Surely this isn't right? The website describes it as a fairly well known route, with a clear, worn in path?"  Evidently, there's no change between Wales and Europe. Once again we'd wondered off in the wrong direction, like two lost lambs, joining the heard. We turned around and sure enough, there was this well beaten track just behind us. "Stupido!" 

Okay, take two. We got this. Play it cool. Totally meant to do that little warm up.

The circular route can be taken from two starting points from the Pont ar daf car park. Looking at Pen Y fan, walking from the right will be leisurely stroll, from the left a death trap of valleys and peaks. No need to keep you guessing, unknowingly we just took a gamble. We choose the left. No questions. It's done. Oops. 5 minutes into this, regret and fear begin to seep into our minds. 20 minutes down the line, our legs begin to buckle and our bodies soaked in sweat. Sexy devils. There was no option but to cease conversation, part ways and power through. As painful as it was, the rewards were well worth the climb. Stopping along the way, to snap the view and enjoy the serenity of the Brecon Beacons. After spending my whole summer traipsing around Europe, I came to resent Wales. But when you leave the grey, mind dulling, concrete jungle that is the city, you can really appreciate the Welsh landscape. Hidden in the valleys, were gorgeous shimmering lakes I remembered from my childhood. Oh, yesteryear. 

90 minutes later, we're faced with a brick wall. Or path, call it what you will. We used the last of our energy and mowed on up this 90 degree ascent, with the thought of the spectacular views we would see! Did the tourist thing and got the victory photos with the stone. Woo Achievement unlocked! Soaked in the views and found our favorite spot to dine. We must have looked insane trying to eat chorizo and bread while flailing our arms in the air. So many bugs, so many attracted to body warmth... which we had an abundance of. Sitting on top of the mountain, over looking a mini lake outlined with trees, picking at food. It's a hard life of a student eh? We sat and absorbed this moment until our patience for these frigging flies broke. Trying to keep our balance we fumbled our way down the side of the mountain, passing many cute free runners along the way. Bring a book, going down really isn't as fun as going up. Just keep thinking of how sexy our butts will be after this. 

All in all, a great day to be had up Pen Y Fan. If you get a chance before the weather changes, get ya boots on.
Click here to read my travel buddies side to our trip around Europe.


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