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Brecon Beacons round - in fair weather this time!

Brecon Beacons round - in fair weather this time!


Postby Alteknacker » Wed May 04, 2022 11:00 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Cribyn, Pen y Fan, Waun Rydd

Date walked: 27/04/2022

Time taken: 11

Distance: 27.9 km

Ascent: 1386m

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Following our walk on the Derbyshire moors in the Stanage Edge area, we'd been talking about arranging another, but hadn't got as far as fixing an area, or a route, or even a date. Then John got in touch to say that he'd be holidaying in Ross-on-Wye during the last week of April, and what about sneaking off for a day for a leg stretch in, say, the Brecon Beacons? After some to-ing and fro-ing around dates and other commitments, and some skillful diplomacy with our respective CEOs, we eventually managed to fix on 27th April.

John's first suggestion was the traditional Beacons Horseshoe, and coincidentally, in terms of its likely duration, this fitted in with the fact that he had another commitment that meant he had to be away by 16.30 - but then he was able to make alternative arrangements, and there was therefore no deadline for being back at the cars. I'm pretty unenthusiastic about walking on tarmac, but I do like rounds (as opposed to out-and-backs). Moreover, the traditional horseshoe misses out Fan-y-Big and Waun Rydd, and it seemed to me that now there would be time to fit these two in in a slightly longer round. And the last time I'd visited all these hills had been in heavy rain and dense clag - reason enough to visit them in fine weather. So I set about trying to minimise the amount of walking on metalled roads while still walking a round. And this is what I eventually came up with: still a fair bit of tarmac, but also a few stretches on paths and tracks.


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And it looked, too, as if the weather would play ball - it seemed like this day would see the best weather of the week.

Image

Note, however:
1. The moderate windspeed forecast; and
2. The forecast temperatures above 600m.

More on this later!

As it turned out, this definitely wasn't my finest hour in the article of route-finding. I'd opted for a start place deep in the narrow lanes that snake about below the Beacons, which the sat nav rather struggled to find. John had a similar issue: I was unknowingly a kilometre or so past the place I wanted to be when, just after crossing a tiny bridge, who should I end up bumper to bumper with but John, who told me that road he was now returning down was a dead end. On the positive side, there was space to park the cars just the other side of the bridge, so that's where we decided to start from. Note: not the place I'd originally planned, which, it transpires, is almost hard-wired into my head. And I omit to check on my OS software precisely where we are. Not clever!

After a quick breakfast, and check on the map, we set off. Only for me, a kilometre or so later, to realise that I don't have my map with me - GROAN :thumbdown:.
idiot.jpg

Returning to the cars, there is the map spread across the roof... :oops: :roll:
Not the best start... What standing I may have had as an experienced walker is rapidly disappearing into a muddle of mistakes.

Image20220427-084600. Still, viewed from below, the Beacons are looking pretty good at this time in the morning.

Unfortunately I am too busy yakking and miss the left turn off the road on to the path just before Pentwyn that leads to the footbridge across the Nant Manasgin; so once in the courtyard at Pentwyn, rather than backtracking, I head straight down the fields to cross the Nant Menasgin, which in turn leads us into a thick holly jungle on the steep side of the valley with no obvious path through it. By this time I'm sure John has lost all faith that I have any route-finding abilities whatever. But I think I recover a smidgin of trust when I tell him we'll intercept the track we'd originally been aiming for if we just continue 10 metres or so further through the holly jungle up the valleyside - and we do!
Sigh of Relief 2.jpg


The track leads quite straighforwardly up to the end of a metalled road, from where a path passes through a farm courtyard and out into fields. From here we just cut diagonally up the hillside in the rough direction of the first highpoint on the ridge - Bryn - at 562m.

Image20220427-101946. Looking towards the Beacons from where we get out of the fields and on to the hillside.

As we - slowly, slowly - get to the ridge, the views are superb.

Image20220427-105818. This is looking roughly north towards, ultimately, the Wye Valley.

Image20220427-110152. Ahead a clear path up towards Waun Rydd.

Waun Rydd summit itself is so unremarkable that I forget to take a pic of it, and it's over an hour before the spirit moves me to get out my camera again.

Image20220427-121327. First close view of the characteristic Beacons scarp slopes, this around Bwlch y Ddwyallt. What we do notice is that it's pretty nippy: not only are the forecast low temperatures being realised, but there's a really brisk breeze - most of the time in excess of 20 knots. We're both now well dressed up for the cold, having earlier stripped off a layer or two after the exertion of climbing to Waun Rydd.

Image20220427-121337. Same view in pano. The path now runs along the edge of the scarp slope ...

Image20220427-124749. ...bearing off right to ...

Image20220427-124812. ...Fan-y-Big (just right of centre)

Reaching Fan-y-Big, the little boys have to play...
Image20220427-131216.

Image (Looking back to Fan-y-Big later, it's reassuring to see how many other "adults" can't resist doing the same thing.... :roll: )

Image20220427-131932. The path ahead to Cribyn.

Image20220427-134111. And looking back from the ascent of Cribyn towards Fan-y-Big.

Image20220427-135113. To the south, Pentwyn or Pontsticill Reservoir (not sure which) just visible in the distance.

Image20220427-142012. From the summit of Cribyn, looking back along the ridge to Fan-y-Big.

Image20220427-142035. Ahead the 220m ascent of Pen y Fan.

Which is quite a slog at this juncture. But as we approach the summit, we notice that there's very little wind - the path is in the lee of the hill - so we pause for an extended lunch, over which we admire the singular geology and geomorphology of this remarkable area. As John remarks, we could have done with having our geologist friend Phil with us to provide a bit of explanation (quite apart, of course, from the benefit of his excellent company :wink: ).
Professor.jpg


The wind is fairly howling on the summit, when some kind folk take this pic of us two old fogies.
Image

The light is all over the place, as this pic taken facing in the opposite direction illustrates.
Image20220427-155243. In the background is the final hill of the day, Corn Du - the climb to which is a mere 30 metres or so.

Image20220427-155806. Pano with Corn Du on the LHS, and Llyn Cwm Llwch nestled down in the cwm.

Image20220427-161257. And looking back towards Pen y Fan from Corn Du.

Image20220427-161404. Ahead the descent down Craig Cwm Llwch, which is pretty straightforward.

Image

Tommy Jones Obelisk.jpg
On the way down we pass the Tommy Jones Obelisk, truly a tragic memorial - one just can't imagine what his parents went through.

Image20220427-164753. Superb views on the descent - this looking across Llyn Cwm Llwch back up to Craig Cwm Llwch, Corn Du and Pen y Fan.

Once down below the Llyn level ...
Image20220427-170258. ... it's easy downhill walking, first on a path, then, after Cwm-llwch, on a lane which after a kilometre or so joins a single track metalled road. The roads zig zag around as we walk generally east in the direction of our cars, and it's a bit of a maze; but I'm confidently checking the map, and am sure where we are.
Unfortunately, I'm also confident I know where the cars are - and, remember, I think I know where we'd parked them... ...at Pen-twyn bridge. So you can imagine my consternation when we arrive at the bridge, and there are neither cars nor even a parking place. We pore over the map for a while, and eventually realise that the only other wee bridge over a fair sized watercourse in the area is Pont y Caniedydd - about a kilometre back the way we've just come, and which we passed within 50 metres of on our way to the wrong bridge ...
crying.jpg

Being the seriously guilty party, I jog back to get the car, and we finally complete our round at 18.45 - a bit late to stop by an establishment of cultural, historical and architectural distinction in order to replenish insensible liquid and mineral loss over the course of the day. But there'll be a next time - if John will ever trust me again :roll:

3D view of Route
Image
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Alteknacker
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Re: Brecon Beacons round - in fair weather this time!

Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Thu May 05, 2022 9:48 am

Great pictures and a hilarious report. It's thanks to earlier honest oops-reports of yours that I now never get my car key out until I'm right at the car :lol: and when I'm in trees I keep an eye out for arboreally snatched ice axes.
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Re: Brecon Beacons round - in fair weather this time!

Postby JADMULHOLLAND » Thu May 05, 2022 10:44 am

Well Allan, it was a pleasure to join you in your mad antics even if I was in the dog house on my return 15 hours later. I have been lost in the mountains a few times but I have never lost my car before! So thanks for the experience. Your report write up and photos are excellent and a good reflection on a memorable day. :D
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Re: Brecon Beacons round - in fair weather this time!

Postby Mal Grey » Fri May 06, 2022 9:48 am

Great report of an excellent round, which we used to do variations on fairly regularly 30 years ago. To be fair, the little roads and lanes are rather confusing, all look very similar, and I've also previously ended up losing track of which valley I'm in there...

The story of little Tommy Jones is indeed tragic. He was only supposed to be going a few hundred yards between farms, but somehow ended up on the summits.
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Re: Brecon Beacons round - in fair weather this time!

Postby dav2930 » Sat May 07, 2022 10:30 pm

Great report AK, loved reading it. Looks a superb round and, despite the shenanigans, sounds like you both had a great day. I've been wanting to get down to the Beacons for years and your walk is just the sort of round I'd be after doing. Great photos btw. :)
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Re: Brecon Beacons round - in fair weather this time!

Postby Alteknacker » Sun May 08, 2022 11:44 pm

EmmaKTunskeen wrote:Great pictures and a hilarious report. It's thanks to earlier honest oops-reports of yours that I now never get my car key out until I'm right at the car :lol: and when I'm in trees I keep an eye out for arboreally snatched ice axes.

Thanks Emma.
If the relating of my screw-ups helps folk in even a small way to avoid similar, I'm happy. I just wish I could learn that lesson!!
Let me know when you're next exploring Beinn a' Bheithir, and I'll try to pin point where those rapacious conifers snatched my ice axe :D

Mal Grey wrote:Great report of an excellent round, which we used to do variations on fairly regularly 30 years ago. To be fair, the little roads and lanes are rather confusing, all look very similar, and I've also previously ended up losing track of which valley I'm in there...

The story of little Tommy Jones is indeed tragic. He was only supposed to be going a few hundred yards between farms, but somehow ended up on the summits.


dav2930 wrote:Great report AK, loved reading it. Looks a superb round and, despite the shenanigans, sounds like you both had a great day. I've been wanting to get down to the Beacons for years and your walk is just the sort of round I'd be after doing. Great photos btw. :)


Thanks for the kind words, Mal and Dav.

The original route I'd planned reduced the amount of tarmac walking quite a bit more by following the uppermost field boundaries roughly parallel to the roads - but we were running a bit short of time, so we missed out some of these. Were I to do it again, I'd follow the route as originally planned - but I guess not everyone is as allergic to tarmac as I :roll: !!

JADMULHOLLAND wrote:Well Allan, it was a pleasure to join you in your mad antics even if I was in the dog house on my return 15 hours later. I have been lost in the mountains a few times but I have never lost my car before! So thanks for the experience. Your report write up and photos are excellent and a good reflection on a memorable day. :D

Likewise a pleasure for me (except on the multiple occasions where it went wrong). You can tell your CEO that I was fairly and squarely to blame!
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Re: Brecon Beacons round - in fair weather this time!

Postby The English Alpinist » Tue May 10, 2022 2:18 pm

Congratulations on getting these done, possibly my best walking memory ever came from the Brecons. I had a spectacular cloud inversion all day, after having to ascend through it and thinking I was going to be walking in clag all day. I had similar fun to you trying to find the best parking place, but I see I was a couple of miles west of you. I don't 'ridiculous' little mishaps make us any less the experienced walker! My best example is thinking I had dropped my glasses out there (in Munro territory) and spending half an hour tramping about trying to find them, wasting time I could ill-afford, only two hours later into the walk realising they were in a different pocket all the time (which I had checked, but not carefully enough obviously). My 2nd best is simply losing my map near the top of Lingmell, planning to do both Scafells. The know on the cover had come undone. I spend 20 minutes looking for it in the snow. Thankfully I had perfect visibility and could complete the route anyway. One feels inept, but the logistical challenges are numerous. My car keys always remain in the bottom of my rucksack, btw, and that system at least has not failed me yet.
For any interested to see what inversion spectacle the Brecons can throw up
https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=68165
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Re: Brecon Beacons round - in fair weather this time!

Postby Alteknacker » Thu May 19, 2022 9:48 pm

The English Alpinist wrote:....For any interested to see what inversion spectacle the Brecons can throw up
https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=68165


Yes, I remember this, because I'd had to put off a planned walk of the Beacons earlier in the year because of a forecast of inclement weather. It's just so brilliant emerging from a cloud inversion - never fails to thrill me!
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Re: Brecon Beacons round - in fair weather this time!

Postby skullhead » Sat Jun 25, 2022 12:57 pm

Great report as usual AK. I’m heading down in this direction in a few weeks and your report is a big help. :clap:
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Re: Brecon Beacons round - in fair weather this time!

Postby Alteknacker » Sat Jun 25, 2022 8:59 pm

skullhead wrote:Great report as usual AK. I’m heading down in this direction in a few weeks and your report is a big help. :clap:


Thanks SH. It's a fine area with its own charm - I'm sure you'll enjoy it :thumbup:
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