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April is one of my favourite months to be in the mountains...
Spring has arrived, and yet any particular day out could feature weather from any of the four seasons, or indeed multiple seasons in one day. This, in a nutshell, is what we experienced on Saturday.
Friday night saw the arrival of 22 keen walkers to the Clyngwyn bunkhouse and B&B, nestled in the southern part of the Brecon Beacons National Park, close to six waterfalls, Wales’ only single malt whisky distillery, and of course the main mountain peaks of South Wales. The group was a mix of regulars and those on their first Large Outdoors trip. There were quite a few people who has never been to the Beacons before, and over our Friday night pies and cheese-board we discussed the days to come.
It was everyone’s goal to reach the top of Pen y Fan on Saturday, and despite driving to the start in a snow storm, we soon split into two groups to begin the walk. The walkers up for a more challenging day out headed up Corn Du, Pen y Fan and then Cribyn, before dropping down along the Roman road towards the Neuadd Reservoirs. The original plan was to have lunch on Cribyn, but this coincided with a fierce blizzard so we continued on down the other side. In between the show showers there were clear views north over the rolling hills of Mid-Wales, and south to the forest around Merthyr Tydfil. Luckily, the afternoon brought high clouds, blue sky and sunshine, and on our return to the Craig Fan Ddu ridge for the return journey, we could see as far south as Swansea Bay and even the coast of Exmoor.
The group on the shorter walk also made it up to Corn Du and Pen y Fan before joining the path back alongside these peaks to return via a different track to the car park. They also had plenty of time out of the snow to appreciate the beautiful scenery and a sunny afternoon waiting at the bunkhouse for the rest of the group to return!
After a dinner of garlic mushrooms, sweet potato curry and treacle sponge, Sunday dawned bright and warm. We all assembled down the road in Pontneddfechan to walk to the famous waterfalls, which lie along the four rivers of Afon Pyrddin, Nedd Fechan, Afon Hepste and Afon Mellte. The speedy group managed a near-complete circuit, visiting the two waterfalls you can walk behind, and covering many miles of sun-dappled woodland, which has been allowed to remain in the steep-sided gorges the rivers have created. The other group, at a more reasonable pace, made it to probably the most spectacular sight on the waterfalls trail, the great curtain of water that is Sgwd yr Eira. If you don’t want to get wet, you have no choice, as the path goes right behind it.
Despite the snowy start to the weekend, and the ‘cosy’ nature of the bunkhouse, everyone in the group was able to stretch their legs, see extensive views over the Brecon Beacons, and even summit some hills. It’s a pretty special weekend when you can say you’ve walked behind a waterfall and climbed the highest peak in southern Britain within two days!
Author: Alex Kendall
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