I went for a walk today in the Brecon Beacons National Park. I started at Pencelli and quickly found a sign marked “To the hill” which sounded promising. The footpath was not marked on my map, but it was clearly signposted as a permitted route. I climbed up a steep incline surrounded by sheep and lambs. Soon I was out of the farm and carried on up a steep track which wound up into some forestry. I emerged in rough pastureland which was hot and dry underfoot. I checked the compass to get my bearings as there were limited land marks visible and its very easy to disorient yourself in tree cover. I started up towards a little lump in the ground know as “Bryn” (or hill in Welsh). I have walked a lot in the Beacons, but not had never tried this route. I had heard that it was a hard slog up but it didn’t look so bad on the map…

Langorse Lake seen from the foot of the Bryn
The approach to the Bryn (560m) and Pen-y-Fan in the back ground (886m)

After a little while I arrived at the foot of the Bryn and started ascending. I paused to look at the view – there were plenty of land marks now! Llangorse Lake, Sugarloaf, Brecon town were all spread out in a wide panorama. Part of the plan was to visit the geocache on the Bryn, so after ascending further I checked the GPS for its location. This proved an easy find with the main challenge being keeping the content in one place on the windy top. I set out dressed in a wicking tee-shirt and quickly pulled out a wind shirt while I was on the exposed top.After signing the log book, I continued on up the path known as Gist Wen. 

Pen-y-Fan and Cribyn viewed from Gist Wen

The main ascent to the Bwlch stretch out before me. I could see the ascending path spiralling up in the distance. Around three-quarters of the way up I came across a youth group having lunch. I stopped to have a quick chat with them before continuing on. I had visited the bwlch area a few times in the past. It’s like a cross roads between the tracks that wun from from Pencelli in the North to Craig y Fan Ddu in the south and from from the main central beacons ridge to the West, over the formidable Carn Pica to Aber Village in the East.

I decided to visit a WW2 crash site on Waun Rhydd. The wreckage of the Canadian Wellington Bomber is clearly visible in two piles. There is a cairn, memorial and an arch built from stones in the area. I ate some lunch nearby.

Retracing my steps to the bwlch, I followed the path around towards Fan y Big. I met several other youth groups all doing Duke of Edinburgh practise expeditions or training. The weather was glorious and there were exceptional views of the surrounding area.

Unfortunately, due to other commitments, I had started late (at about 11:30) and needed to finish earlier than the fantastic daylight would let me stop out, so at about 16:15, I decided to head back to my start point. I made excellent time even though I often find downhill walks more of a strain on my legs then up-hill. I was a little concerned about finding the entry point to the forestry from the open hill. I had logged the point on the GPS and was soon heading down the forest tracks. Near the end of the walk, a group of about 20 emerged from a public right of way to my right. Another outward bound youth group.

I reached the start point and reflected on my walk. There is much to gain with an “Alpine Start”. Can’t wait until the next opportunity!

  1. […] week, I wrote about my hike up into the Brecon Beacons from Pencilli. On the descent, I noticed a sharp pain in my left hip. I mentioned this to the therapist today, […]

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