They were simpler times…
After seeing the photos from the Lakes, we were all hoping for a lucky cold snap and winter conditions or failing that a repeat of last year and some balmy 18C sunshine. The succession of storms in prior weeks, followed up by a drive across to Wales in continuous rain, did slightly dampen hopes. Arrival at the Star Bunkhouse in Bwlch (gourmet) and promptly crossing to the New Inn across the road for a nightcap and a good look at the maps renewed enthusiasm.
Eight of us were staying at the bunkhouse (Sarah G, Katherine T, Alastair M, Cara, Vicky, Simon MC, Lena and Elman), but John Bradshaw had managed to find overspill accommodation in a campsite up the road. Photographic evidence was provided on Sunday morning, to confirm he hadn’t found a cosy B&B instead! Fair to say it looked very spacious and refreshingly quiet.
Saturday morning dawned unexpectedly sunny, and we were in good spirits as we set off for a car park above Talybont Reservoir, the start of our route up to Fan Y Big. It’s not a long drive, but by the time we were gearing up in the car park, it was snowing and it certainly felt like winter (at least for twenty minutes).
A steep, well-stepped climb up Craig y Fan Ddu, and we emerged from the lee of the hill onto the summit plateau and into a brisk 50mph wind. Not such a committing route on paper, it felt rather more serious when the snow (hail?) was coming horizontally into your face. Sarah was much envied when she produced ski goggles and a balaclava from her bag.
At the summit of Fan Y Big and a lunch break huddled in the wind shelter, two parties formed – one group continuing on an out-and-back extension to summit Pen Y Fan, while the other group continued on the main route with an eye getting to a tearoom before closing time.
Dinner was at the Castle Inn in Llangorse, just up the road from the bunkhouse – and we were lucky to be there given that it had been underwater with the flooding only two weeks earlier! Impressively everything was up and running again, and the friendly locals and good food hit the spot.
With more big winds forecast, we planned a lower level walk on Sunday starting at Cadwgan in Mynydd Du Forest just north of Abergavenny, much of it on the Brecons Way long distant route. For the most part, the weather was kind and unexpectedly sunny although a bracing snow pelting at lunch on top of Crug Mawr kept us moving. The village church in Partishow was an unexpected treat, and a pause to explore didn’t stop us finishing in good time for a restorative tearoom stop in Abergavenny before the drive home.
Thank you to Sarah, Simon and John for doing all the driving. Looking forward to when we can get back out there!
[Thank you to Elman and Lena for some of the photos]