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Brecon Beacons

Our second day in Wales' Brecon Beacons National Park [Parc Cenedlaethol Bannau Brycheiniog] was a breezy one, but gale-force wasn't being forecast, so we felt we could climb in the Beacons without being blown off of them. The weather made for a cold excursion but the scenery was fantastic, unlike any environment we've ever hiked in before, well worth a few shivers. You can read about our first impressions in this blog post. The photos on this page, and many, many more, are in this Flickr set.

Using the handy map of the Beacons Circuit [Cylchdaith y Bannau] that we picked up at the very helpful Mountain Centre, we realized that a complete circuit was more than we had time for, since we had to return to London that afternoon/evening. But we could take a short jaunt from the lay-by at Pont ar Daf (Bridge over the Daf/Taf) and summit the two big boys of the Beacons: Pen y Fan (at 886 meters the highest point in the southern U.K.; Google translates its name as "End Point") and Corn Du (whose elevation is given in Wikipedia as 873 meters and whose name means "Black Horn").

Here are some scenes near the beginning of the trail. I'm on the "Pont" over Taf Fawr (or Greater Taf; there must be a little Taf somewhere) in two of these shots, and reading up, with some other tourists, on information provided at the trailhead, in the other.

me on bridge over Taf Fawr
[spacer] Beacons Circuit trailhead
trailhead and car park

The trail was very well-maintained, if a bit muddy in spots. The dampness wasn't too surprising to us. For one thing, we'd heard about the wet summer Wales had had the day before on our waterfalls hike. Plus the fog that lay on the hills while we were walking made everything damp.

trail to the Beacons [spacer] higher up the trail
trail cut into the hillsides

In the center photo below, you can see that some of the higher portions of the trails were really wet. On the right are some permanent Beacons residents: picturesque sheep posing for the camera!

Brecon Beacons sign
fog and dampness on the trail
some Beacons residents

The trail up Pen y Fan was a bit strenuous, but there was plenty of oxygen and with judicious rest stops it wasn't too hard. And the views from the top were very rewarding, especially when the fog lifted, just after we reached the summit! There were a lot of other hikers there, and one of them offered to take our picture at the tippy-top. There we are! Two Americans on the highest point in southern Wales!

foggy view from Pen y Fan [spacer] sun in the valley from Pen y Fan
[spacer] [spacer]
view from Pen y Fan
American hikers on Pen y Fan summit

Our hike took us to Pen y Fan first. Here is a look back at it, while we were on our way to Corn Du:

looking back at Pen y Fan from Corn Du

And here are some views of Corn Du from Pen y Fan. The "Black Horn" has a more distinctive profile, and it even looked a bit forbidding to climb, perhaps resulting in far fewer hikers atop it with us. However, we found that it wasn't nearly as difficult a climb as it looked.

trail to Corn Du   looking over at Corn Du from Pen y Fan

Here I am negotiating the slate blocks that form Corn Du's shoulders. Henry is resting against some of them in the middle photo, and I'm up on top on the right.

climbing up Corn Du [spacer] Henry on trail up Corn Du [spacer] me on top of Corn Du

On the left is a great view of the slate that makes the top of Corn Du, and gives it its name. At the right is a view down into the valley from its summit.

shoulder of Corn Du [spacer] view from Corn Du

We really wished we could have spent more time hiking in this starkly beautiful area. Perhaps on a future trip?

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