Monday, 16 July 2012

Taf Fechan & Beacons Circular Walk

Looking back on the days walk, for me it was dived into 3 sections, the beginning and end sections where really peaceful and enjoyable but the middle section was, well just manic.

So where was this middle section you ask? As I already mentioned I was in the Brecon Beacons so you've probably guessed it was across the honey pot peaks of Pen y Fan and Corn Du although serving a purpose in my days route plan they were basically so busy I may as well have been walking up the town high street…….. Oh shut up Phil put your soap box away and get on with the trip report!!

Brecon Beacons
With the weather finally playing ball, I made a last minute decision to head over to the Brecon Beacons as from Oxfordshire it is an area I can get to and from in a day. I wanted to do a longish walk as preparation for my forthcoming Oggie 8 challenge. I had 2 routes in mind a 27k walk in the Black Mountains or 20k walk in the Brecon Beacons. I decided to go for the Beacons one as I had not visited them for a while. Also I had done the 27k route in the Black Mountains last year the report for that trip can be found here.

I had my dog Megan as company and we left the car park in the Taf Fechan forest at 9:45am and headed straight up towards Craig y Fan Du, passing a waterfall with plenty of Fox Gloves in bloom in the surrounding area. The route up onto Craig y Fan Du is short yet fairly steep and it does not take long before you are on top and rounding the corner to be confronted with the view along Graig Fan Las. Continuing onto this ridge we eventually cut off and headed over to pick up the Beacons Way this was where the view across to Pen y Fan opened up. It looked a long way off from here.


Looking back to Craig y Fan Ddu
On Graig Fan Las
The distinctive peaks of Pen y Fan & Corn Du

So with the route ahead plain to see we followed the Beacons Way which hugs the ridge line eventually coming to Fan y Big. I went over to the famous diving board but did not linger as the Fan y Big fell race was taking place and race marshal’s where busy ensuring the runners continued on the right track. We quickly descended down and crossed the gap path then headed up onto Cribyn, My plan was to stop for lunch on the summit, but looking ahead I could see hoards of people up there so I decided to have some peace and quiet while enjoying my refreshments. I timed it perfectly and ended up having Cribyn summit to myself.
Craig Cwareli
On Fan y Big
Fan y Big Fell race.
A Mucky Megan
Lunch away from the madding crowds on Cribyn
On Cribyn looking at Pen y Fan

The same can not be said for Pen y Fan and Corn Du, in truth I didn’t expect these to be free of people as they are so popular and more importantly very accessible. Nevertheless as I took the final few steps onto the Pen y Fan summit plateau I was confronted by what seemed like hundreds of people milling around, I looked over to Corn du and that looked the same, I said out loud “Jesus Christ, it’s like Piccadilly Circus”. Not knowing how loud I said it a few people in my earshot smiled and laughed. I then took a couple of pictures and set off for Corn Du. Again the summit plateau crowded with people so I just continued on heading for the calm of Craig Gwaun Taf ridge.

Now I have not been up on the above mentioned peaks for a while and after this visit I don’t think I will be back for a while either. Sounds harsh I know, but I go walking in the hills and mountains to experience freedom, adventure & solitude. If I wanted to hang around with hundreds of people I could go to the local Tesco’s instead. As I said I realise this sounds harsh and I’m all for people enjoying the outdoors and with these two peaks being so accessible and with the break in the weather they were always going to be busy. At the end of the day I suppose I also took advantage of the weather and was one of those hundreds of people up there!! So can’t complain too much really therefore my soapbox has now been put away.
On Pen y Fan looking at Cribyn
The "high street" between Pen y Fan and Corn Du

The Craig Gwaun Taf ridge is a really enjoyable walk with some great photo opportunities, looking along the ridge, back to the Beacon peaks & down to Neuadd Reservoir. Passing just a handful of people we eventually got to the trig point at height 642m which lies just off the path down towards the Lower Neuadd Reservoir. This path down was very boggy and slippy in places. While crossing the reservoir the view back to the peaks with the clouds now dispersing and patches of blue sky above was fantastic, especially with the lush greenery surrounding the reservoir. I found a solitary thistle and took some photos with the hills as a backdrop. All that remained now was a walk back to the car park along the road and the Taf Trail; I got back to the car at 3:40pm, 5 minutes short of 6 hours.
Next section - Back to peace and quiet
Megan posing
Looking back along the ridge
Megan happy with her find
I think this was a hint.... Throw it please!!!!
Upper Neuadd Reservoir
My usual trig photo
Trig Point with Cribyn in the background
Crossing Lower Neuadd reservoir


  1. Your photographs are superb Phil. As for Megan -well, speaking as a lover of Border Collies (my wife and I have been owned by two) she is simply adorable.

    1. Thank you very much, very kind of you.
      Regarding Megan I do like having her with me on my walks she is great company. I just wish I could go up hill as easy as she can. She does feel the cold though so I tend to leave her at home when it is wet, I got into a tricky situation with her (Hypothermia) when in the Black Mountains last Dec. Thankfully it worked out well in the end but it was touch and go.
      Thanks for the comment.

  2. Those are some epic pictures, makes me a bit dizzy just looking!

  3. The honey pot of Pen y Fan, you should see it on a snowy day lol. amazing how people go up there.

    nice photies and a cracking route as well.

    1. LOL! I can imagine. Thanks I really enjoyed this walk even the busy bit, some lovely views walking along the escarpments, but I'm sure you already know that.
      Thanks for the comment.