Pen y Fan is the highest peak in south Wales, situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park. At 886 metres (2,907 ft) above sea-level, it is also the highest British peak south of Cadair Idris in Snowdonia. The first ‘summit’ of Corn Du at 2864 feet is often confused as the highest point by inexperienced walkers who turn back at this point, but Pen y Fan is just a short walk further on.
The mountain and surrounding area are owned by the National Trust whose work parties attempt to combat the erosion caused by the passage of thousands of feet up and down this most popular of South Wales’ peaks. The mountain is used by the military and recruits on SAS selection, who often struggle to keep up with me. Then again, I don’t carry the weight they do and I also have four legs which helps.
The mountain features in many walks, charity runs and is even used as a star-gazing point due to its remote nature, away from the town’s lights. In recent years erosion of the paths on all sides has become a problem due to the sheer numbers of people walking to the top. Christmas Day is very popular as is Boxing Day and New Year’s Day for walkers.
At the top is a well preserved Bronze Age cairn. The grave is fitted with a series of concentric stone kerbs to protect the central mound from slippage. The spot will have originally held the remains of a dead person or persons since multiple burials were common in the Welsh Bronze Age.
Pen y Fan is formed from various units of the Old Red Sandstone which were laid down during the Devonian period. The beds of sandstone dip gently southwards towards the South Wales Coalfield basin.
I’ve run to the top many times and always enjoy the mountain. So does my daddy who reckons he’s been up and down over 50 times by now.