I left home at 6am yesterday morning highly excited by a weather forecast that said there would not be a cloud over the Beacons for three days, I think my photography quite irrevocably proves that it was wrong. That said I had a great day.
I spent most of the coach journey staring at a cloud that was simply not supposed to be there, remarking how much tinner it was getting the closer the hills became. I always was a bit of an optimist in this regard! When we disembarked from the coach we were most definitely in a cloud, although it seemed a fairly light one, so I was not too concerned about the weather, it would have been nice to enjoy a view for a change though.
I had intended to do a circular route from the Storey Arms, but changed my mind on the way in, opting for the linear traverse from Pencelli to the Storey Arms. I would imagine that on a fine day this would be an absolutely awesome ridge walk. I found the terrain very similiar to that on Bannau Sir Gaer a couple of months ago. The only grumble that I really could have is the erosion on the ridge, but I suppose that goes with the territory.
We were walking from Pencelli by about 10:00am, heading gently up Gist Wen. The intention had been to take the seven nuttalls on route, I only bagged a paltry four, which I am a little pissed about, but I guess they will still be there next time I visit. We deliberately followed the path around the first nuttall, Waun Rydd, deciding that it would not be easy to find the top with visibility at about 20m at that point. Having gained the ridge the first top was Bwlch y Ddwyallt, 754m, which I am fairly sure that I bagged, but not comprehensively so. Our GPS reading pointed to a high piece of peat which was certainly higher than the surrounding land. Can someone please let me know if I am wrong, I will go and find it next time then.
Having missed the first top, and not being wholly sure about the second one, you would have thought that I would have made absolutely damn sure about the third one, Fan y Big, especially with a name like that. So I accidentally walked past it! Alone I would have gone back and knocked the bugger off, but I was in a group which was running short of time, and not excessively enthusiastic about climbing back up to the col. The walk along Craig Cwareli was a very cold and windy one, I found myself in the unusual situation of wearing a third layer.
The situation became more confusing as we reached the 599m bealach between Fan y Big and Cribyn. We found ourselves in a giant whole in the cloud, and it were absolutely boiling. I was more than happy to shed a couple of layers. About ten minutes later we were back in the cloud again, and putting the layers back on!
The ascent of Cribyn from this point is fairly steep, and my left hamstring went again about halfway up the slope. I had my trekking poles today though, and used them to pretty much drag muyself up. Got on the ridge, and it was absolutely fine on the flat. We summited on Cribyn, 795m, and the drag up to Pen y Fan, 886m, just seemed to last an eternity. When we got to the top Mike decided to pull on a full Santa suit. Oh, my, god.
There had been talk of skirting Corn Du, 873m, but we went and stood on top for a moment or two before descending directly to the Storey Arms, thus missing out the last of our intended tops, Y Gyrn. The omission of this means, that barring a huge day out, I will need to make another two visits to mop up the ridge. Had an awesome day though, would definitely go back.
The coach was due to leave at 15:45, and we arrived at the Storey Arms a little beforehand, getting changed in the middle of the lane, and then we went to a pub up the road for some chips….and beer. Think I will probably have a week or two off now to let the hamstring heal, not!