Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Fan y Big

Another icy cold late December morning.  

Plans were laid to drive further up into the Brecon Beacons near Merthyr Tydfil, park the car at the foot of the peaks, and hike the "horseshoe"- a trip up a mountain and across the ridge lines of the next 3 or 4 peaks before heading back to the carpark, a trip of 14-17 miles, 

First, we had the young bulls to contend with.  They scrambled and fought and pushed each other all over the trail, pausing to catch their breaths, smoke rising from their faces.

The day started clear, but as we started the incredibly steep climb up Fan y Big, our first obstacle, and the clouds set in.

Once the trail evened out for the ridge walk,  I longed for the steep staircase again as I was unhappily ice skating on the trail.  I'm not exactly the most nimble of hikers, and the entire trail was nothing but a glare of ice.

Then the wind picked up.  The fact that we were walking on an icy cliff-side trail was comforting to me since I couldn't see the sheer drop into the abyss.

I had a full-on scarf covering everything but my eyes, hat and hood and layers of heavy woolens and a wind-proof jacket and mittens and I was not exactly cold, but not comfortable at all in that wind.  I kept hiking on the moorland instead of the trail- the going was slower, but less icy.

It cleared enough for me to see that we were quite near the edge of the world.

Coming down Fan y Big, we got low enough for visibility to happen again.

In front of us, the peaks of Cribyn, Pen y fen and Corn Du.  We had already done the majority of the climbing, so going up the next few peaks would be relatively easy.

We hit the crossroads and I just decided that I wasn't having fun.  I'm not a complainer at all, but the ice and wind and lack of views meant I just wasn't enjoying myself the way I usually do on these hikes.

It was a hard choice- turning our backs on three big peaks in walking distance?  argh!- but I decided that I had enough.  Walking head-on into the wind was just exhausting, and when we stopped in between peaks, I realized how shaky tired and cold I was.

We headed back down the valley to the car park, mercifully tucked away from the wind.

I was told that Corn Du was quite a scramble to get up, and the original plan would have been to walk back along that ridge line.

Once we hit the car park, we had a tiny bit of daylight left.  After wolfing down our sandwiches in the car (it was cold enough so that getting a sandwich up to my face on the trail seemed impossible)  we tried to do another walk since we had only done 8 miles for the day, but after a couple hundred yards I headed back to the warmth of the car.

The area was really stunning.  Summertime here is a new to-do for me.    

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