Getting to the top of Pen Y Fan

It was a lovely day, little white clouds on the blue sky over Wales. Our car was winding its way along the small countryside road. After what seemed like ages, mostly thanks to the small horse-drawn carriage we couldn’t overtake anywhere, we finally reached a rather full parking lot. The backpacks were unloaded quickly and we got started on the hike in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales. The ascend was a steady slope upwards with no bend or turn. We could see all the way up to the 873m high peak of Corn Du. That didn’t make it any easier, seeing the peak in the distance and knowing it would be a long way up there, but we pushed on.

Somewhere along the way, I lost my two friends behind me. Having started with no wind and some sunshine here and there, the weather changed while I was carrying on upwards. The cover of clouds, full of holes initially, quickly closed as the wind freshened up. It got rather cold on this beautiful day in August. I climbed the last few metres over rocks to reach the top of Corn Du and enjoyed the even ground below my feet. The cold wind had driven away the other hikers that had been populating the slope all the way up.

View from the top of Corn Du.
View from the top of Corn Du.

The view was breathtaking. You could see for miles over smaller hills and villages. Everything seemed far away and within reach at the same time. I soaked in the fresh air and enjoyed how the wind cleared my thoughts. Eventually, I remembered my two friends I had left somewhere behind. They should have been up there by now. I looked around and saw them in the dip between Corn Du and Pen Y Fan. Apparently they hadn’t bothered to climb over the rocks, but taken a path around the peak. I headed a few metres down to meet them, before we ascended the peak of Pen Y Fan.

While we were strolling around, taking pictures, we didn’t notice how a wall of low hanging clouds rapidly came drifting towards the peak. Before we knew what was going on, we were in the middle of the cloud. The view was down to only a few metres and the humidity of the cloud soaked our clothes. Not being able to see very far, we decided to wait until the view cleared up at least a little before heading back down again. It didn’t feel like a warm summer day anymore, it was more like a cold and rainy November day.

Horse on the slopes of Pen Y Fan.
Horse on the slopes of Pen Y Fan.

On the way down we took the path around Corn Du to be sheltered from the wind at least for a little while. When we had just passed around this peak, the sun broke through the dense blanket of clouds, bathing everything in a warm orange light and creating a magical sunset. After the harsh wind and fog up on Pen Y Fan, this scenario was unrealistically peaceful. A white horse was grazing on the rich green slopes of Corn Du. This moment could not have been any more perfect.

Sunset over Pen Y Fan
Sunset over Pen Y Fan.

Just when the very last rays of sunshine vanished behind the hilltops, we reached the now empty parking lot again. We were cold and exhausted, but happy. It had been a great adventure.

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