Pen Y Fan (The hard way)

This is the hard way to the summit of southern Britain’s highest mountain. Starting at just over 310m above sea level, you have 576m of climbing before the reaching the top at 886m.

Route details

Cwm Gwdi, Brecon Beacons

  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Time: 5 hours
  • Distance: 8 miles (12.8 km)
  • Map: Landranger 160; Explorer OL12
  • Dogs allowed: Dog friendly

From the car park, take the tarmac road up to the gate, then along the side of a field. In this area, among the prickly gorse you will find rifle and artillery abutments. These were used for military firing practice into the opposite hill of Alt Ddu.

Step over the stile and slightly to your right there is a grassed track crossing several shallow grassed gullies, amongst the bracken heading up to a platform that once housed the quarry ponies. Keep right, close to the edge and follow the old pony and sledge track up past several small quarry sites.

Keep rising up and pass through a large quarry. Once you reach the top, turn right and follow the obvious path along the ridge known as Cefn Cwm Llwch, all the way up to the summit of Pen y Fan. As you tackle the last very steep section on your left you can look down on the river of Nant Sere and across to the peak of Cribyn.

Once you have taken a rest on the summit of Pen y Fan, follow the path down to the right and up to the summit of Corn Du, which stands at 873m. From here find the steep path off the the north west end. Go down this and keep to the right, close to the edge of Cwm Llwch. Follow this path downhill to the obelisk of Tommy Jones.

From the obelisk, follow the path down and to the right to the lake known as Llyn Cwm Llwch. Turn left and continue to follow the path down, crossing the stile. Keep heading north, past a cottage and then a car park until you reach the tarmacked road.

Continue along the tarmacked road until you reach a crossroads. Turn right and follow the road for ½ mile until you reach a right turn opposite Heolfanog cottage. Take the right turn and continue on the tarmac road for another ½ mile until you reach a sharp left. The entrance to Cwm Gwdi car park will be on your right.

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