Monday, 17 June 2013

Brecon Beacons: A wet weekend in wales

Welcome to Wales!
I never thought the weekend would be a particularly arduous walking one. A three night stay in Talybont on Usk, in the Brecon Beacons, for a beer festival coupled with some miserable weather would dampen any enthusiasm for a lengthy hike.


Jack, Jim and I arrived on Thursday evening at Talybont Farm, set up camp and headed straight to the pub. 

A few pints were a respectable start, but sense soon deserted when a bottle of gin appeared back at the tents. As a result, heads were fragile Friday morning, and it was all we could muster to drive into the town of Brecon to join its ageing population in Morrisons for breakfast. We did a quick tour of the outdoor shops before returning for a lazy afternoon back at the campsite. Sheltering from the intermittent showers and with hopes raised by the glimpse of sunshine, we waited for the arrival of Marcus, and contemplated what would be a respectable time to head to the festival at the Star Inn.

Talybont Farm Campsite
That evening I played safe and managed to avoid a large session, whilst still managing to sample half a dozen of the beers on offer; no hurry, there was another day.

My mind was fixed on some sort of a hike on Saturday morning. With the rain still lingering, it took a while for us all to get organised. By about 11am, we had managed to fashion a semblance of a plan to check out Pen y Fan, as it was Marcus' first visit to the area.

We drove out along the Talybont Reservoir, and parked up below Craig y Fan Ddu, but rather than hit the hills from the start, we took the easy route along the Taff Trail to the Upper Neuadd Reservoir. From there, a Roman built road climbs up to Bwlch ar y Fan, a pass between Fan-y-Big and Cribyn.

Off to Cribyn!
The weather had held off when we started to ascend Cribyn but one look to the south-west had us in no doubt that a severe soaking was imminent. Jim, in no mood for ups, took the Beacons Way around the mountain to meet us at the foot of Pen y Fan. We made our way up Craig Cwm Cynwyn, an eye on the weather approaching and soon enough, as we reached the summit of Cribyn, at 795 metres, the wind drove in the rain.

The summit of Cribyn, with Pen y Fan in the background, honest!

Our stay at the cairn was brief, and we headed down towards the pass between us and the ascent to Pen y Fan. The rain stung our faces as we carefully made our way down the steep stepped path.

First order was to spot Jim, and it took a while to see him hunkered down, waiting for us, at the start of the path up to Pen y Fan. Luckily, he hadn't decided to make his way up, because by now, it was obvious there was little point. We waved to Jim to retrace his steps to the bridleway and we would retreat for the day.

All in all, nearly ten miles. My main aim had been to gauge my fitness on a hill I have done a few times now. It hadn't gone as planned, but even with a hangover, it had proved far easier than in the past, so I'll tick that as a positive. Another plus; my waterproofs of choice for the Bibbulmun; the Berghaus Paclite jacket and over trousers, performed admirably in the deluge and I found my clothes bone dry underneath.

On arrival back at the campsite, the weather had changed again, and the sun was out! In the distance I could hear the muffled sound of a band playing at the pub, and the thoughts turned to the beer festival again. All in all, a welcome weekend, catching up with friends and a little over indulgence on the food and drink, but I know the next weekends away need to be far more focused on the business of hiking.