I’ve long driven past Pen y Fan on the A470 and seen the queue of people snaking up the side of the mountain on sunny days, but I’d never attempted the climb myself. I decided it was about time to give it a go.
Standing at 886m tall in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Pen y Fan is the highest mountain in south Wales, but despite this I was unprepared for quite how steep the mountain would be. I’d climbed Helvellyn in the Lake District before, and (possibly mis-) remembered that as a long, fairly leisurely climb, but Pen y Fan was an unexpected short, sharp shock to the system and I had to stop a few times on the way up to catch my breath. But the hard climb was worth it, the views from the top are spectacular.
My friends and I didn’t quite make it to the summit as there was a very long queue of people waiting to pose for photos at the summit. So instead, we stood right next to it, took photos in all directions, then headed to Corn Du, the peak next to Pen y Fan, where we reached the summit and watched a group of men hang gliding from the top of Pen y Fan towards the lake below, much to the delight of the crowds.
We then climbed down a steep track to an obelisk that commemorates a five-year-old boy Tommy, who died after getting lost on the mountain while trying to reach a neighbouring farm in 1900, and headed cross-country down the mountain to the Storey Arms centre.
Pen y Fan was a much harder climb than I’d anticipated – the crowds of people that can be seen making their way up the side of the mountain make it look deceptively like a leisurely stroll, which it isn’t. But the views from the top are definitely worth the effort and I’m already looking forward to my next trip to the top.