The Pen-y-Fan Horseshoe

Posted: March 13, 2012 in Activities, Diary, Geocaching, Hill Walking
Tags: , , , , , ,
“Someone told me there’s a grace that leads you straight from place to place; And you always leave the road behind you; You don’t need your horses shod, just a dowser and his rod”, The Journeyman’s Grace, TraditionalI called up a friend of mine and asked if he wanted to go for a walk. We hadn’t been out for a walk together in about 10 years but had originally done our expedition leadership training together. He said he was up for it and suggested the route. We met up for a pint, discussed it and set the date. The weekend before he said we would have a couple of others along for the walk too, which was fine by me.

On the morning of the allotted day, he picked me up as arranged and we drove to the start point at the Upper Neuadd Reservoir which is south of the Brecon Beacons central ridge. I checked the weather before we left and the forecast was “patches of dense hill fog below 600m with clear summits and a temperature of 5 degrees above 600m”. I prepared and for this by wearing a long wicking shirt and a Buffalo insulated Pertex top.

We were then joined by our two companions for the walk, who were experienced and fit so we set off. The day was outstanding in terms of clarity and weather, despite the weather warning that was in place for hill fog.  The mountains around us were reflected wonderfully in the still waters of the reservoir.

The central ridge viewed from Upper Neuadd Reservoir
Craig Gwaun Taf and Pen-y-Fan viewed from Upper Neuadd Reservoir

We started the first ascent from about 450m to the western ridge crest called Graig Fan Ddu (640m). This got everybody warmed up, and included the obligatory false summit with a scramble at the end before we made the top. Once at the top, we stopped for a couple of minutes to admire the view out over the eastern ridge (Tor Glass) and could see a thick bank of the afore mentioned hill fog almost obscuring Sugar Loaf in the distance.

View from Grag Fan Ddu over to Tor Glas and Sugar Loaf in the distance peaking through the fog

I had planned to bag a couple of Geocaches on route and explained this to my companions. They showed polite interest, but I could tell they were not too bothered! On a couple of occasions I announced “Just going to take a look over here…”. bagging “BBC6 Fire and Ice”, SWMCC 3 and Tommy Jones before we reached Corn Ddu (at 873m). We didn;t follow the route to Y Garn and Tommy Jones’ Obelisk, but headed to the main event – Pen-y-Fan (866m). Picked up another cache (SWMCC4) before heading off to Cribyn (795m). Descending from Cribyn towards the Bwlch ar y Fan (599m) we came across two identically dressed people coming the other way at high speed. One carried a large antenna and the other an array of radio equipment. The “squelched” their way past us with a nod before ascending Cribyn and proceeding to set up their kit. On arriving at the Bwlch, we faced a choice of heading up to the diving board on Fan-y-Big (719m), or heading back to the start point via the drovers track along Tor Glas. Looking to the North, there was a huge cloud covering Brecon.

Looking North towards Brecon from the Bwlch ar y fan

The team decided that discretion was the better part of valour and headed down of the hill. I then started kicking myself that I had missed a few “Virtual Caches” that required measurement, picture taking, etc. Still, that’s another excuse to return…

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