Sunday, March 31, 2013

deep and crisp and even

All I've ever wanted out of life was for people to say: that Dave, he's a pretty straight guy. You know, when he says a thing, you can be pretty sure that that thing really is an actual thing. No referring to things as things when those things aren't actually things for him, no sirree. So it's a bit galling to have my complaints about not getting up Pen Y Fan much any more instantly rendered superfluous, not to mention ridiculous, by finding myself and my two NCT chums Huw and Alex all simultaneously available on Easter Saturday, and moreover for it to be a reasonably nice day. Plus, Alex had bought himself some new boots, so we needed to go and try them out.

So what we did was drive up to the car park by the waterfalls just round the corner from the site of the old Torpantau railway station - it's marked as Blaen-y-glyn on my OS Explorer map - walk up onto the Craig y Fan Ddu ridge and follow the ridge round to the big peaks, most notably Pen y Fan. All of which would have been pretty straightforward had it not been for the couple of feet of snow up there, and the layer of ice of variable thickness sitting on top of it in places, which made progress slow, unpredictable and somewhat trying at times. Once we got round to Fan y Big and onto more regularly-frequented paths things got a little easier, but the final steep climb up onto the Pen y Fan summit plateau was very icy and requiring of a bit of care and some decent boots. Which is not to say that there weren't some people up there in jeans and trainers, because there were, but I wouldn't have fancied it much. 

From the top of Pen y Fan we then skirted round the bottom of Corn Du (which we skipped going up to save time, just as we'd skipped Cribyn earlier) and along the Graig Fan Ddu ridge almost as far as the trig point; we then variously clambered and arse-tobogganed down the steep slope to the earth dam in front of the lower Neuadd reservoir, and from there back via forestry track and road to the car. A round trip of about 12 miles - that it took us over 7 hours is largely down to the conditions rather than any dawdling or other undue hanging about on our part. A good day out all round, though. Here is the route map and altitude profile combo; note that I forgot to turn on the GPS until we were halfway up the first ridge, so you need to imagine an upward line from the finishing altitude (a smidge over 400 metres) to the starting altitude as captured here, if that makes sense at all. A larger route map can be found here

The route we took overlaps (the second half in particular) with the shorter route we took on this walk in January 2009 in icy but much less snowy conditions. The first half overlaps somewhat with this walk we did in considerably warmer conditions in October of the same year. A couple of assaults on Pen y Fan from the Brecon side (i.e. the north) can be found here and here; note that the second one has a recipe for outdoor paella at the end.

Photos from yesterday can be found here.

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