Last updated on January 1, 2022
There’s some things that you always mean to do and don’t get around to – in my case, it was getting out running in the Brecon Beacons whilst down in South Wales.
I’d checked the usual running guides and Strava popularity routing (which can really go wrong!) around Pen-Y-Fan, but thought I’d reach out to the Bad Boy Running Club for suggestions on a good route – and hit gold.
The routes that I’d looked at mainly included running up from the Storey Arms outdoor activity centre on the A470 – but it gets busy, and the main route to Pen-Y-Fan looked fairly well trodden. Other options included running horseshoe routes towards Cribyn, Fan-Y-Big, or Corn Du. The great alternative came in the form of an offer to drop off my car at the outskirts of Brecon then get a lift to the start of the back of the hill range (from the Cwm Gwdi car park) – from a chap I didn’t know beyond chatting online, who was an absolute gentleman, offering local knowledge, maps, water for the route, even a gift bottle of whisky for after (Mark, if you read this, there’s an open invite for you up in the Peaks!)
It was cloudy down in Brecon – and likely to rain, so I had all the usual safety gear packed – after a hearty FYB being yelled up the mountain by my host, it was heavy going up the initial hill up to the summit of Pen-Y-Fan. However, at about 700m I broke through the cloud inversion just at the point of watching the cloud rolling over shoulders between Corn Du, Cribyn and Pen-Y-Fan – it was spectacular. The only shame was having had some time to run up the mountain on my own, the crowds on top of Pen-Y-Fan were really loud!
A short run across to Corn Du then back to Pen-Y-Fan gave a chance to get a couple of pictures, then I followed the ridges south-east (at one point running past a guy seemingly doing a photoshoot with his dog), The weather at the top was sunny if slightly windy, but as soon as the path dropped back into the cloud inversion, it got cold. At this point I was glad that the route was on my GPS and I’d scoped the paths, as visibility got fairly bad – eventually dropping into the forest above Talybont. At this stage, my legs were unusually dead – so the final 10k running along the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal was heavy going (if as flat as a pancake!), as pretty as it was (with particularly good views over the River Usk towards the end).
I’d heartily recommend running along the ridges from Pen-y-fan (and going up from Cwm Gwdi) – there’s some relatively direct routes to get back to Brecon (although the route that I took also worked out well apart from about 300 metres working out where to go in the cloud). In the end I went around 30k, 1000m elevation (most in the first third)
And most importantly, take a leap into the unknown occasionally, you’ll meet some great friendly people!