When the first snow appears in the Brecon Beacons, a large crowd of snow-hungry walkers often head to the Storey Arms car park and walk up the very popular route to Pen Y Fan. But if you want a scenic and slightly less crowded walk head west up Fan Fawr instead!
I have walked this route in the summer and was amazed to see so much wildlife around what at first looks like a bleak mountain side. This is partly down to the nature reserve just tucked over the other side. It was only a matter of time before we headed back to this spot to see what the winter would do to the landscape.
Leaving the Storey Arms car park, with the car’s thermometer reading minus 9.5 degrees, we headed in the opposite direction from the crowds which was nice in itself and before we knew it were making our way up Fan Fawr’s snowy slopes. It has to be said the view of Corn Du from here is probably one of the best in the Brecons.
Our aim of the day was to take pictures and enjoy an easy paced walk with friends so stopping for obligatory pictures and testing out panoramic mode was a great way to explore the mountain. It’s often the way you find little hidden spots.
Reaching the top of Fan Fawr, you are faced with an open summit with tracks leading in all directions and panoramic views. We decided to head to the second trig point to get a better view of the western side of the Brecon National Park and of course more scenic pictures to pad out the family album.
Now I could tell you that we followed a certain path north west towards Fan Frynych but I would be lying as snow and ice had covered many of the tracks. We did find the path occasionally, but opted to go directly across which with a bit of snow was always the more fun route!
The wind picked up a little along this part of the walk and we soon found our camera batteries needing to be warmed up in our pockets, and hands freezing every time the gloves came off. Not sure what the temperature actually was but must have been reaching minus 15. The views across to Pen y Fan from here are stunning and it gives a great new angle to the mountain that is often missed when you are on them.
Reaching the nature reserve we stopped to mess around on the ice and look around the area whilst filling up on tea and ginger cake. We had some shelter from the wind here too so you could get great views of the eastern side of the Brecon national park in relative comfort.
Heading back along the Craig Cerrig-gleisiad ridge we turned right before heading down-hill to follow the ridge past the disused quarry and back to the Storey Arms. Along this ridge we had plenty of opportunities to see winter in full strength as most of the waterfalls along it had huge ice sculptures surrounding them, with icicles reaching 15 feet in height! This was amazing to see but once again we found ourselves constantly warming up cold batteries in our pockets to make the most of the moment!
This really is a scenic and often quiet walk on a snowy winter’s day. What more could you ask for?
Route on OS Explorer OL12: Start at the Storey Arms car park SN982203. Head west to the Fan Fawr summit SN970194. Second trig point SN965189. Head north west to Fan Frynych SN958228. Follow Craig Cerrig-gleisiad ridge to SN967218. Head south down the ridge past the disused quarry and follow back to Storey Arms car park.
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More pictures from this walk: