Pen y Fan translates as top of the mountain. Rufus and I have been to the top many time over the years, but not for a while. In fact, the last time was at the end of January. (Compare the photo titled ‘Near the stream’ in that post with the one below – both take from the same view point). So it was time to go there again. An early night allowed us an early start and we set off from the Storey Arms car park around 8.10.
I hate the first part of that route – it takes us over ‘Y Gyrn’ which means a relatively steep climb followed by a drop down to a stream and then another, longer climb to Corn Du. But it is a good training route and once we cross the stream, it’s a better path than the tourist route from a little way up the road. Today, there were a lot of sheep on the lower slopes and Rufus stayed on the lead for longer than I would have liked. But soon we were through the sheep layer, and he was off. The trudge up Y Gyrn was soon over and ahead I could see Corn Du, swathed in cloud and with a sugar coating of frost. We slowly made our way up the side of the mountain, arriving at the edge of the ridge that signifies the steeper end section of the climb. To the left, a sharp drop opened up the view to Brecon and beyond. Ahead, we were engulfed in the low cloud that made Corn Du look like a major summit. The last five minutes felt like I was summiting something much higher, too. Of course, Rufus took it in his stride and waited patiently for me at the top.
The wind at the top was much more fierce and it was colder too. Both had been predicted by the weather forecast so I was well prepared. Rufus carries his own permanent fleece so he wasn’t bothered. We crossed the windswept top of Corn Du and dropped down into the saddle before climbing again to Pen y Fan. By now it was freezing on the top, so we only stayed briefly but it was long enough for my gloves to blow away while I was giving Rufus a well earned treat. I finally managed to find them just before they were blown over the edge.
Coming down was a simple affair and I decided to take a diversion over to Pen Milan to lengthen the walk. We passed thwe Tommy Jones memorial – in 1900, a 5 year old boy got lost travelling between farms and his body was found here 29 days later. The local people erected a memorial to him. It’s a terribly lonely spot, hard enough for a fit walker to get to. I have no idea how Tommy Jones found his way there.
We crossed the common on Pen Milan and swung around to head back to the the car park. We came across a fence which had a ladder stile and Rufus struggle to get up it. So I lifted him, allowing him to jump from the top himself. He landed with an ‘oof!’ but I checked him over and he was fine. He earned his treat for that stile. The rest of the going was easy and we reached the car around 3 hours after setting out. I had a quick coffee from the van in the car park and Rufus and I had a short play fight on the hill opposite the Storey Arms. Then we made a detour down the main road, following the route of the old road to Brecon, where I knew there were some waterfalls. While Rufus chased sticks and paddled, I took some photos of the water cascading over the rocks.
Heading home, two tired boys. Back home, two tired boys on the sofa. A good day for all.