Pen y Fan (Almost)

Just a 40 minute drive from Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, is Pen y Fan, the highest peak in South Wales. Standing 886 metres (2,907 ft) above sea level, Pen y Fan and it’s neighbour Corn Ddu are also known as Cadair Arthur (‘Arthur’s Seat’). On Saturday, I found myself with a group of my colleagues, attempting to walk to the top of this stunning hill.

Later this year, one of our managers is climbing Ben Nevis to raise money for charity. As part of her training, she is aiming to climb one mountain a month, and asked for volunteers to join her in Brecon to attempt Pen y Fan.

We had been warned about the adverse weather conditions up there at the moment. Although we have had nowhere near as much snow as our neighbours in North Wales, there is still snow on our hills left behind from January. We decided to push on though, and we couldn’t have picked a better day to do it. The sun was shining, it was not cold (I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was actually warm) and it wasn’t raining.

Looking down the valley, towards Cardiff

As we started to see the first signs of the snow, it dawned on us just how bad the conditions might be nearer the top.

Looking towards the border into England


Corn Ddu in the distance (Pen y Fan is behind Corn Ddu)

Quite a few people were using crampons and ice picks to reach the top of Corn Ddu. Most, like us, scrambled bambi-style and tried to stay in previous hikers’ footprints to avoid sliding all the way back down to the bottom again.

The view of Pen y Fan from Corn Ddu

Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the top of Pen y Fan on this occasion. As you can see from the above photo, there was quite a lot of snow. It wasn’t fresh snow, either, so was very hard-packed and like an ice-rink in places. We considered carrying on to Pen y Fan, but figured that, although we’d probably get to the top, we’d struggle to get back down again. I’ll definitely be going back in the summer to give it another go.

2 Replies to “Pen y Fan (Almost)”

    1. Thanks, I can’t wait to go back in the summer when I can just enjoy the walk and not have to concentrate on not slipping over 🙂

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