Bagged peaks have been a little slim on the ground this year but that hasn’t stopped us racking up several ascents of Pen y Fan. Being the highest mountain in South Wales and within easy reach makes for an irresistible combination and many a spare half day has been spent on its flanks. The last twelve months have seen us up there in all conditions from thick snow and blizzards through to late summer sunsets, each walk unique in both character and weather. In fact I’m pretty sure that I could climb it every day for a year (now that would make for an interesting challenge!) and never find any two days alike. With this being Christmas and all it would have been great to round off our festivities with a final climb in the snow but alas, the days of white Christmases are I fear a distant memory. Instead we awoke to a forecast of clear skies and sunshine which seemed a good second best so we set off to burn a few of those calories consumed the day before. So too did most of South Wales.
I’ve commented before on the ever growing popularity of Pen y Fan but this is the first time that we’ve not been able to park in the main car park and instead were forced to pull up a short distance away. This did at least provide a new vantage point from which to photograph the hills (above) but just look at how many people were already on the main path. So much for solitude and isolation! Fortunately my favoured route across country from Storey Arms was completely deserted and we didn’t see a single soul from start until we joined the main drag just beneath Corn Du. It was just us, the Ravens and a wandering Red Kite, plus those views of course. Although the day wasn’t quite as clear as had been initially forecast clouds scudding across the sky provided an ever changing vista of light and shadow. I’ll let my photos do the talking from here on.
You can see from my later shots just how large the shadows being cast were thanks to a low winter sun, an effect which somehow made the range look more dramatic than ever. The neighbouring peaks of Cribyn and Fan y Big were just begging to be climbed but with daylight hours already drawing to a close that’s something which we will just have to save for next year. One thing that these images don’t show is just how windy and cold it was at the top with windchill sending ambient temperatures well below freezing. Even so this was far from an arduous winter climb which we have so enjoyed in the past so my fingers are firmly crossed for decent snowfall in February or March. Maybe then I can shout those immortal words in my best Alan Partridge voice “Lynn, Lynn, where’s my crampons?”.