There are many ways to climb the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons. Here we describe the quiet route to Pen y Fan. Avoid the crowds and enjoy some spectacular views on both the ascent and descent, as well as the summits of Pen y Fan and Corn Du. This is a loop walk so every step provides a different experience.
The tour took us just over 3 ½ hours of walking time to cover the 7.2 miles (11.6 km). In the process we climbed over 2,000 ft (620 m) so you need to be reasonably fit to complete the circuit.
Our quiet route to Pen Y Fan began at the small car park of Cwm Gwdi (grid reference 02393 24747 or see the map). You are expected to pay a £3 charge to help maintain paths.
Bring cash or expect to spend 10 minutes grappling with the parking app (I suggest you download the app before arrival). National Trust members park for free, but remember to bring your NT membership card.
Straight away the track begins to climb.
Shortly you’ll be in open countryside with the hills in front of you.
The route rises steeply
On a glorious day, that we were lucky to find, it is not very long before you can see for miles.
And easily make out the route you have climbed.
There is still further to climb before the path flattens out for awhile.
Part two of the climb
For a short distance the path levels out a little with just a gentle slope.
The landscape is barren and there were not even any sheep around for company. As you can see from the photos there were hardly any people climbing from this side of Pen Y Fan.
The final push and we’re almost there.
At last we reach the top of Pen Y Fan and regain our breath and look around at these magnificent views of the countryside below and the rest of the Brecon Beacons.
Having seen hardly anyone on our ascent I was a little surprised to find so many people at the top. All of them either taking their picture beside the trig point announcing 886 m or admiring the landscape around us.
We had walked 3.5 km but it seemed much further.
A short distance away lies another high point, Corn Du.
Corn Du is slightly lower at 873 m, but it also provides some dramatic scenery.
Here we took a well earned rest and sat down for our lunch. Corn Du had far fewer visitors than Pen Y Fan.
The road back down
A steep descent from Corn Du takes you to a ridge. Proceed along the ridge and you will find an obelisk dedicated to a 5 year old boy who was discovered here in 1900. The tragic story is beautifully told on the National Trust site.
From the ridge you can clearly see Llyn Cwm LLwych. On a hot day it is a very enticing sight. A llyn is the welsh name for a tarn. I also learnt that LL at the beginning of a word in welsh is pronounced as if it was CL in English. I have been mispronouncing welsh names for decades.
The route takes you down to the llyn. Check out the map to see exactly where you turn off the ridge. This descent is quite tricky with several large steps down.. Once by the lake you can look back up at the route you have taken.
Here at the llyn you may feel like dipping your toes in the water. However, even in June on a very hot day the water was cold.
A gentle route
After the severe drop from the ridge the remainder of the route down is very gentle.
Eventually you arrive at the road. This is a very quiet lane that takes you over the stream with a pool.
For an accurate guide consult the map. The route on the lane is just under ½ mile. The final part however is the hill back up to the car park. After the 8 miles of walking this last section I found quite tough. However I was pleased to finished the walk and thoroughly enjoyed the route.
If you enjoyed the quiet route to Pen y Fan then you can find many other great walks at Find a walk – Britain.
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