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Pen y Fan from Cwm Llwch, above the clouds

PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 11:44 pm
by poppiesrara
Ever since I’ve been on this site, Pen y Fan has been sitting there on the right hand side, declared as my ‘favourite mountain’. And when I started, there were only about 10 or 12 to choose from and it definitely was. It was the first proper summit I climbed in adulthood, on a great summer’s evening with great company, and it was hard to imagine anything better. Hundreds of mountains later, I occasionally wondered whether this beautiful steep green hill still qualified as such, over all the rocky peaks elsewhere, but I went back a couple of years later, after everything else in Wales, and it still seemed just as good. A further two years on, having seen all the highest points of England too, this was another return and a confirmation that Pen y Fan might always be ‘the one’…

corn du.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

The northern approaches are the way to appreciate the central Brecons in solitude – even as far out of season as this, the ‘trade route’ up from Storey Arms looked very busy on a decent weekend day – which is probably just as well, since the muddy, twisting single-track farm roads up from Brecon aren’t ones you’d want to be meeting too much traffic on. Park on the marshy verges at the foot of Cwm Llwch, and you can head up through the valley on clear tracks past the eponymous Llyn and onto Corn Du’s north ridge, a pretty easy way to gain a lot of height with only the final few hundred yards, after joining the virtually-cobbled main route, at all steep or testing.
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Pen Milan

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Cloud over Pen y Fan

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Tommy Jones Memorial & Corn Du

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Cwm Llwch from the Memorial

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Llyn Cwm Llwch

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Pen y Fan & Corn Du

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Y Gyrn & Fforest Fawr inversion

All the way up, mist had been flickering on and off the main summits, offering hope of spectacular views from the tops. I tend to avoid the hills if the forecast is at all dodgy, and so – in years and hundreds of walks – I’d never seen anything even close to a decent cloud inversion: ‘hill fog’ forecast = go somewhere else… Just one of those things, I guess. But a couple of weeks ago, a friend – a ‘veteran’ of a grand total of 9 Hewitts in 4 years despite my repeated attempts to persuade her up more – swanned up Cadair Idris without me and came down with thrilling tales of a ‘circle rainbow’. Through slightly gritted teeth I explained that this was a ‘brocken spectre’ and how impossibly lucky she was to see one – I never had, and nor had many others. Her pictures were amazing, but I was – honestly – fuming that she’d got there before me!! However, I might have been a few days behind, but Pen y Fan didn’t let me down… finally a first inversion, finally a first spectre.
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Pen Y Fan brocken spectre

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Cefn Cul

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Corn Du spectre

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Pen Milan from Corn Du

Spending most of your time on outlying hills, it’s always rather an education when you turn up on Helvellyn, Snowdon or – today – Pen y Fan and meet the crowds of first-timers. Always happy to guide a newcomer (four separate groups on a very cloudy Corn Du understandably enough asked me if they’d reached Pen y Fan) – we all start off somewhere, and I’m grateful for the advice people offered us on these very hills four years ago even though we were obviously naifs - but somehow I’m even more delighted to pass people who are sure they know better already… Today’s hero boldly declared to his rapt companions that it was ‘Red Tarn down there’, pointing at Llyn Cwm Llwch, only 200+ miles away from the truth!!
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Pen y Fan north ridge

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Pen y Fan

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Cefn Crew from Corn Du

Out of the crowds, the Pen Milan descent is a lovely one (better than the way up, in truth); firm grass paths, until a short marshy finish, and gentle gradients. I’d expected to have to drop into the clouds but – almost as if by command – they chased away in front of me all the way to end a wonderful day.
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Cwm Llwch

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Craig Cerrig-Gleisiad

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Pen Milan

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Pen y Fan & Corn Du

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Twyn y Dyfnant

Re: Pen y Fan from Cwm Llwch, above the clouds

PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:46 am
by johnkaysleftleg
No wonder It's your favourite hill if it rewards you with conditions like that. Wonderful sights to behold, thanks for sharing.

Re: Pen y Fan from Cwm Llwch, above the clouds

PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:45 pm
by Broggy1
Great report and pics this Poppy.

I was out on Ingleborough (perhaps too early in the day) and while the cloud was fascinating it never quite got to full on inversion level - although I did get a very decent one on Birks Fell not so long ago.

Pen y Fan remains on my to do list as do many of the Beacons. My biggest problem being that I can get to the Southern Highlands in much the same amount of time as it takes to get there and I don't have to compete with the worst bits of the M6/M5 etc!

Still I've always admired the look of these hills and really need to plan a Beacons trip sooner rather than later.

Re: Pen y Fan from Cwm Llwch, above the clouds

PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:49 pm
by poppiesrara
Thanks both - couldn't stop smiling like an idiot all the way down!!

It's lovely walking in the Beacons, Broggy, and (perhaps only once you're past Birmingham) plain sailing on the motorways/dual carr'ways all the way there, almost never any traffic. Give it a go!

Re: Pen y Fan from Cwm Llwch, above the clouds

PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:48 pm
by litljortindan
Fantastic looking conditions. Guess you'll be chasing the misty forecasts now.

Re: Pen y Fan from Cwm Llwch, above the clouds

PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 8:27 pm
by nerabus7932
Superb pictures! :clap:

Re: Pen y Fan from Cwm Llwch, above the clouds

PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 8:09 pm
by martin.h
Lovely photo's and judging by the shots of the Brocken Spectre and the inversion it was well worth the wait, I hope you get many more. Thanks for sharing.

Re: Pen y Fan from Cwm Llwch, above the clouds

PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 8:21 pm
by larry groo
Great pics.... and an amazing area!