So this bank holiday myself and Nick wanted to go on a new adventure. We haven’t done much hiking in our time, generally just small local trails and hills (and a failed attempt at the Fjallraven classic), so for us this would be a reasonable challenge.
Pen-y-fan is located in the Brecon Beacons and is the highest peak in South Wales and seemed like the best place to go to try out something that is challenging to us (I know that many may find it a breeze, but everyone has their own challenges). So below are some bits you need to know when hiking Pen-y-fan.
Pen-y-fan does have a car park, which is free, but it gets busy! So if you are planning to go it is probably for the best to get there early or later in the evening. Cars also ended up parking on the verge just outside of the car park which is next to a main road. Luckily after waiting for a few minutes we found a spot in the car park.
The car park does have toilets but at the time these were closed so portaloos were provided next door. They were a bit hit and miss as always.
There are regularly classic food vans at the car park, (tea, coffee, burgers, welsh cakes etc) so make sure to bring some cash for a post climb snack.
There are various trails up and around Pen-y-fan. The most popular and classed as the beginner trail is the Pont ar daf trail. The weather was pretty rainy and windy the day we chose to hike, but it was still busy. Thankfully the clouds did begin to part on the way back down.
There were a mixture of ages, a few tourists, people with dogs, ultra runners and people in Star Wars storm trooper outfits who climbed it for charity. Some people were wearing trainers and jeans (wet jeans – gross!) and some were fully prepared with walking poles and top of the range outdoor gear.
The surrounding landscape on the hike up consists of stunning rolling hills, rivers and lots of sheep! A mixture of grasses and ferns dotted the landscape. The stone pathway was red, due to the red sandstone geology.
The walk was relatively steep with only a few flat sections along the way. You need to take it at a steady pace that feels right for your fitness level, especially in the rain and heavy cloud that surrounded us. It took a little longer than ‘average’ to climb it due to this wether. We opted to use our walking poles for much of the hike (both up and down) as it just helped have a bit of extra stability on a slippery stuff.
Being outdoor people and knowing that the weather is ever changing we came prepared with the below items
- Good pair of waterproof hiking shoes/boots with walking socks
- Walking poles – lightweight
- Backpack with drinks and high energy snack bars
- Poncho (to wear instead of a raincoat and it can also cover over your bag!)
- A warm puffer jacket (high winds at the top make it quite cold)
- Small first aid kit (mainly incase of need of blister plasters)
- Spare clothing/shoes in the car
- Black bin liner (for if your clothing gets really wet)
- Money (for if you want to get a tea or coffee)
- Hand sanitiser (for after the toilets)
What we didn’t have that we will take next time
- Rain cover for bag
- Warm beanie and gloves
- Extra toilet paper – for portaloos (luckily paper was provided but you never know!)
Hiking up Pen-y-fan was a first for us and getting to the top, after a few struggles, especially with the rain and high wind, felt great! The summit people are coming up to every 5 minutes and everyone is super nice and offer to take photos for you.
There is a sense of supportiveness on the way up and people are super friendly. At times it can be really quiet and you should take a moment to take in the landscape and fresh air. This is one we would definitely try again and maybe even try and hike up one of the different trails or circle routes. This is hopefully the start of more hiking adventures and we will post more along the way!
For more information on pen-y-fan please visit the National Trust website