So, you want to climb Pen Y Fan, Wales’ second highest mountain? You, young traveller, have come to the right place!
In this guide I’ll walk you through the easiest (and cheapest!) way to climb the ominous mountain, and what to do to best prepare for the trek up 886 metres.
Stuff to bring
Before you make your way to Pen Y Fan, make sure to pack the following in your backpack:
— Snacks and food (Make sure to read the “Calories” section)
— Blister Plasters (Unless you use boots you’re used to)
— Boots (Do not wear normal shoes, you will slip on the way back down)
— Waterproof coat (Not for the climb itself – you’ll sweat enough from that!)
— Plenty of water / Drinks
— A phone (Not 100% necessary, but useful for the trek and knowing where you parked)
As mentioned in the “Stuff to bring” section, calories should be a big consideration for you when trekking up Pen Y Fan. To show you why, take a look at my calorific burning in the 4.12km it takes to get to Pen Y Fan:
As you can see, my heart rate was almost consistently 176bpm, with my total calories almost totalling 1000.
I know for some it may not be much, but after 6 months of lockdown, that increase in elevation certain takes its toll, and you may find the same, regardless of how healthy and fit you are.
Driving from Brecon (Due to a lockdown in the region of Caerphilly, meaning driving further north to come back down), I first saw the mighty mountains to my west, thinking they were the Pen Y Fan that I would be climbing. Alas, I was wrong, as Pen Y fan was 200 metres taller, with the reason I couldn’t see it being because the clouds were constantly covering the top of the mountain.
From Brecon, you’ll wanna use the following postcode:
To find the free carpark available:
Be warned! the car park is on the right side of the road (West), which, from Brecon you’ll be driving on the left. Note this as I accidentally almost drove into the country arms, which is not a public parking spot.
N.B. This car park may expand and require payment in the next few years.
Once parked, you can make use of the food van if you want, but from here you should be able to see the entrance to the hike you’re about to make, along with some useful information on the mountains before you:
From here, just follow the track. If you’re lucky, and it’s not too cloudy, you’ll see brilliant views looking back behind you at times like the following:
Once you happen upon a little stream, you’re about a quarter/ one third of your way up the mountain, so keep up with it!
Past this, you’ll see nothing but grass grass and more grass (and of course loads of sheep!).
After another 45 minutes of walking you’ll reach the top of the mountain you’ve been climbing. Unfortunately, if you have a cloudy day like I did, you’ll think this is Pen Y Fan, until you note that there is no statue to say it’s Pen Y Fan!
Go past this hill, and continue onwards, opposite to where you climbed, and whilst you’ll notice it’s going downhill, it won’t for long.
Whilst this hill will look like it never ends, you’ll have to trust me, you don’t have much longer to go!
Once at top, you’ll be greeted with the following:
Which, be warned! Your milage may vary on what you can see! It took me half an hour and a huge amount of luck to get any pictures without clouds, so just be warned, your milage may vary!
If, like me, you happen to come up on a day where the clouds are constantly bombarding you, this is why you’ll need the water proof coat – every single item of clothing, and every single thing you have out, will get soaked.
On the walk back down, please be careful – the rocks are a great way to get up, but on the way down they can be really slippy. I saw so many people in trainers on their way back down slip and trip.
Another note on the climb back down – do note that there’s a point where the paths diverge – one way stays close to the edge of the mountain, the other appears to go “in land”. You’ll need to take the latter if you parked where I said at the start of this guide. I note all of this as it was so cloudy I could barely see a few meters ahead of myself, so was unsure which route to take. Hopefully this helps a few of you!
For a first time hike, you really cannot go wrong with Pen Y Fan.
In total, the whole walk takes around 3 hours, depending on how long you spend on top of the mountain. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but be warned, don’t wear new shoes! To say blisters were an issue after the walk is an understatement!
I hope this guide has helped, and go enjoy yourself!