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Thursday, 5 February 2015

Blowy Brecon Beacons

An odd day off kicking my heels in Brecon could really only end one way: a trip up into the hills. With poor weather forecast for the morning though I left it a while and took on a short route up Pen y Fan, the high point of the Brecon Beacons.

The unspeakable 
…in pursuit of the inedible in the famous words of Oscar Wilde, were out in force, with a hunting party dispersing from the car park, horns blaring, as I arrived. Chasing small animals on horseback with a pack of dogs isn’t my idea of fun, but then each to their own. By the time I reached the small plateau at Twyn Cil-rhew the sound of barking and antique bugles had faded into the distance and I was left to enjoy the setting in peace. The wind had picked up by now and I staggered against gale force gusts that stung my uncovered face. In the midst of the climb the sun appeared briefly, casting a yellow-green glow on the hills beneath me and illuminating Brecon at the foot of the range.

Snowy ridge 
Thick patches of snow remained on the Cefn Cwm Llwych ridge, but a combination of wind and a warm couple of days had done away with most of the recent fall that I had enjoyed on the Cat’s Back. The wind grew stronger as I climbed on, and I decided against taking the hidden track on the nose of Pen y Fan. Contouring round instead, I climbed the final steep grassy slope, emerging onto the worn-smooth top of Pen y Fan in the strongest winds yet. I had been alone for most of my walk, but on reaching the top I found a few other walkers with more to be seen further around the Neuadd Horseshoe.

A crisp topping of frost and ice decorated the ground, seeming to declare that winter is here and has no intention of leaving any time soon. The distant hills all had their own white glaze, lending an eerie aspect to the entire scene.

The track down from Pen y Fan towards Cribyn was icy and precarious, but at least the wind had dropped now that I was in the lee of Pen Y Fan. With more wind threatening as I neared the foot of Cribyn though, I opted to bypass the top and head down the track above Cwm Cynwyn instead, where the sun finally made an extended appearance. If it weren’t for the bitter chill, the scene appeared the same as a summer’s day in the Beacons. After dropping down from the hills I made my way back through a boggy morass of fields to the warmth of the car and the warm glow of a fine winter walk.

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