Pen Y Fan: Hiking the brecons

Pen Y Fan Peak

Pen y Fan (pronounced Pen-er-van) is the highest peak in South Wales. Located in the Brecon Beacons, the peak reaches 886m above sea level and is approximately 6.5km in length. There are a few routes that people tend to take if starting from the Pont ar Daf car park. One route takes you through Corn Du, the Brecon Beacons’ second highest peak, whilst the second takes you through Bwlch Duwynt. Some hikers choose to go down the same route they came up, whereas others will opt to take the other route and finish at the opposite end of the car park. The average time to hike here is 2.5 hours from start to finish and will have unpredictable mountain weather so I will include an example packing list below.

My Hike

I hiked here at the end of June, I got lucky with the weather having the rain holding off. But just in case I had my waterproofs packed near the top of my daypack ready to grab at a moment’s notice. Starting at the southern entrance to the route, I opted to take the motorway route. This is one of the easier footpaths however has the downside of being one of the busiest. Do not worry if it initially seems very busy as the crowds will quickly begin to thin out as you make your ascent. I first went through the kissing gate and crossed the footbridge over the river to Bwlch Duwynt. Bwlch Duwynt is a landmark on the way to Pen y Fan, and is welsh for “Windy Pass” You’ll see a footpath here that will take you along a flatter terrain ending at Pen y Fan peak.

Starting the Climb

The hike is classified as moderate, which means you don’t have to be superfit to make it but it will be a bit of a challenge. It can be quite steep at times so while not essential poles can come in especially handy, especially when making your way down. Don’t be fooled as you climb as you may see Belch Duwynt and believe that to be the peak, but you will in fact see the land flatten into a gentle climb to your final peak.

Although the rain held off, however, we did have a lot of cloud cover. At higher elevations, this meant visibility was low and at times I could barely see 10m in any direction. If the peak is covered in clouds then it can get wet and chilly at the top. I was fine in just a t-shirt as I was keeping warm by moving, but when I stopped for lunch at the peak I put on a waterproof coat as a bit of extra warmth and also because when you’re standing inside a cloud, the moisture clings to your body and clothes without you even realising it.

Packing List Essentials

The mountain weather can be unpredictable, and this list won’t be suitable for all times of the year. But this is recommended on my experience in June and should be included in any daypack as a minimum.

  • Small Day Pack
  • Waterproofs
  • Hiking Boots
  • Hiking Socks
  • Fleece
  • Water
  • Snacks

Pen Y Fan FAQ’s

Is parking free at Pen Y Fan?

Parking is currently free at the Pont ar Daf car park. However, there have been plans for a while to start charging for visitors who are not national trust members. So make sure you check for any signs when you visit. It is a very popular spot to visit by tourists and locals alike, so to ensure a space make sure you arrive early.

Are there toilet facilities?

Yes, there are toilets located at the base of the Motorway entrance. They are free to use for anyone however there are no toilets on the trail or at the peak, so make sure you go before you leave.

Can I eat nearby?

There are burger vans in the Pont ar Daf car pack. So if you are on a particular diet its recommended you pack a lunch, or save the burgers for the way back as they will make your ascent a lot more challenging!

Is Pen Y Fan an easy hike?

It’s classed as moderate, so some degree of fitness is needed but you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete. There’s no scrambling, it’s just a gentle walk with the occasional steep section.

What should I do next?

The next place I went to was the Four Falls Trail. However there is a lot to do in Wales. I have attached a link to Get Your Guide below. Showcasing some of the most popular activities. By booking through the link I may receive a commission.

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