Pen Y Fan Horseshoe Walk

Keen followers and stalkers will remember when I climbed up Snowdon a few years ago with M and N via Crib Goch and a) very nearly fellow b) had a panic attack and c) very nearly shat my pants on the ridge, not to mention losing my hat to some sheep, probably; a small price to pay to be here today writing this drivel for you to read, or like without reading. Theres some nice photographs if reading isnt your thing, but then again if it isn’t then get out of my Blog I’d rather your sort went elsewhere. So this year, probably about 3 years since the Crib Goch debacle, and since i’ve moved house from the low lands and forests of Shrawley to the table lands and big skies of Clifton, and being reminded frequently by M and N that I no longer have any dog walking friends up here. I could get some, I just don’t want any, i’d rather listen to the birds, the birds are my friends now. Anyway we three have been banging on about walking up Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons for some time; a very long time but sadly have never been able to fix a date, until recently, well about 4 days ago actually. So on Friday 28th October, on a very wet, dark and cold 6 am morning, (yeah that early) M and N arrived noisily out side my house in the van with Misty and lots of clattering about, it was at that point that harmony resumed and the 3 idiots clambered into the electric car and silently sloped off westwards.

6am is always going to be problematic regards bowel movements, having barely been up for 30 minutes and on top of forgetting all the pork pies and scotch eggs, despite being properly prepared the night before, which it turns out I obviously wasn’t, yet i’d been scrumping and everything, remembered the bloody apples and mad some coffee, but forgot the pies. I had to move them out of the way in some fridge management in order to get the freshly ground coffee out. An idiot, like I said. Turns out 6am is too early for any bowel movements for most and so hitting Morrissons in Brecon at 8am proved the perfect (ahem) comfort break. N stole some toilet paper which I mistook for a till receipt (In the toilets? Really?) just in case my fear of certain death reared its ugly head once more. Yes this was a ridge walk, but the difference being the ridge fall was only very steep on one side, and I could thankfully keep away from that, as the more shallow ridge fell down to some reservoirs to the south west that way the sun shone, the horseshoe kept more sinister unpredictable weather for us. We parked up at a place called Pont Cwm-y-fedwen and walked North towards the drained disused Upper Neuadd reservoir and associated disused system of water control, filter beds, burnt out Filter House and towers surrounded by builders fencing and propped up with scaffold, a beautiful place sadly disused now, the dam to the reservoir to the North stands as a relic to the past, listed and battered by the elements, black and Victorian, standing pointlessly in its new guise as a tourist attraction too far off the path for us to visit on the way back as we had a tired Dog and some sore feet, big toe nail issues and hip pain. There is a Neuadd House just south of where the reservoir once pooled, a spot surrounded on pretty much all sides by a dramatic mountain scape save for the entrance river to the South; Pretty spectacular place to be The 3 years which passed since our last trip out have taken their toll it seems, not on me, i’m like some sort of wretched ageing mountain goat at the moment.

From this bone yard, the place where reservoirs come to die, we had a steep climb west and Up onto the proper ridge at Graig Fan Ddu, its on the map, which roughly translates as “Misty get away from the edge” (shouted) It was windy up there, but the whole walk can be seen rolled out in front of us, no hidden drops, no evil knife edge walks, just a smooth path through the peat bogs on the tops with Corn Du a few miles ahead, No alarms and no surprises, no element of any gruesome nasty test to come, just an ever increasing dribble of people emerging from the mist to the West from the car park and visitor centre, there isn’t, it appears, a pub on top of Pen Y Fan offering Purple Moose bitter and porcelain warmed by a previous occupant, but I won’t go back into that, we all know where we stand. The walk was beautiful and pretty easy really, the one steep ascent right at the beginning, then a couple of downs and steep ups to get up to Pen Y Fan and then Cribyn (named after the late great Bernard Cribbins no doubt). So a little moaning for the ups is justified but nothing much to think over once you’re up there. Ive probably said it once before but its the downs which pain me more so these days, old man take a look at yourself.

So we didn’t need the pork pies, M had some splendid chilli nuts and dried fruit, N bought some Tea and my coffee was cold in my chilli bottle, but I drank it cold as some sort of protest realising that throwing it away was a better plan.The scrumped apples were delicious but Misty was tiring, as she too is 3 or 4 years older which is somewhere between 21 and 28 dog years which brigs her up to about 77 years old, I think if I found myself halfway up a mountain at that age i’d probably want to lie down too. The walk down from Cribyn, aside from the first 10 minutes was a really leisurely stroll down a very shallow path on the other side of the valley back towards the car, as the rain whipped into us at a billion miles an hour and soaked me to the smock under my coat, at that point the moisture stopped, Do not mock the smock you non believers.

Finally returning to the car N had boot issues, M and I were leg weary but ready to get cracking, hoping for a curry house directly on the route to be open with a car park out the front in full view of the windows so I could leave the car unlocked with Misty in the footwell as I don’t know how to turn the alarm off and having to pop out every 2 minutes to turn off the alarm would be a mare. The borderlands don’t open such niche position Curry houses until gone 5pm anyway so we had to settle for a nice looking pub and tea shop combo in Leominster, it allowed dogs so the 4 of us could relax with pork pie, coffee for them, pint of Landlord for me. Leominster could promise much and last Saturday seemed more colourful but fuck me it’s bleak on a rainy Friday Herefordshire afternoon. Everything is falling apart as dealers congregate in the park swapping packages, chatting over those revolting energy drinks. Ive never had one but i bet they’re grim, i’m good like that its often spooky how many times i’m right. 

So I arrived back probably just in time for an evening at the Fox, maybe catching the end of happy hour but by the time i’d cracked open a bottle of Butty and collapsed in front of the fire I couldn’t and wouldn’t move, apart from to whip the arses of Mrs T and Master T  at Chor-da-Di; still got it.

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