Friday 4 September 2015. I had a shorter drive of just 15 miles to the start of today’s walk in bright conditions but there was still a nagging chill northerly breeze. I had planned to ascend all 4 of the major Beacons peaks today. I’d done them before on different walks but thought that it might be good to bag them all in one go. There is an old expression about one’s eyes being to big for one’s stomach and this was certainly the case today as I had bitten off far more than I could chew, or should I say walk.
The first part of the walk was easy following a road downhill and then the level Taf Trail as far as the filter house just below Upper Neuadd Reservoir. It was shortly after that the going became decidedly more difficult with a 600ft climb up to the Craig Fan Ddu ridge. This afforded great views of what lay ahead and it was at about this point that I decided to change my route to contour around Corn Du, Cribyn & Fan Y Big, leaving Pen Y Fan (2,906ft) as my only major peak for the day.
The Craig Fan Ddu ridge went on for about 2 miles climbing steadily for another 600ft before arriving at the foot of Corn Du. This along with Pen y Fan was the sight of two recent deaths due to lightning strikes. As I said a little earlier, I changed my route to contour around Corn Du and then to ascend Pen y Fan. I’m not really familiar with the hills around here but could see Hay Bluff some 17 miles away at the northern end of the Black Mountains. The 950ft descent from Pen Y Fan to Bwlch y Fan was a pain and I’d much rather go up than down.
Had I been brave then I could have tackled the zig-zagging 400ft ascent of Fan y Big but opted for the side path which reached the same altitude but a more sensible gradient. I overshot my turning for the Bracons Way by about 100yds but soon realised my mistake and then headed on the right path. The 700ft descent from Craig y Fan Ddu and the Beacons Way was another pain and I was glad to be back at the car.
My walk which was 11 miles with 2,900ft of ascent took me 6hrs 30mins to complete. Had I taken in all 4 peaks then the distance would have been much the same but with an extra 500-600ft of ascent. I can safely say that this was on of the hardest walks that I’ve done for quite some time but it was good practice for Sca Fell Pike next month.