Winter in the Brecon Beacons
Tuesday 1st March 2016
These photos were taken during a trip to the Brecon Beacons over February half term. It’s a bit of a tradition for us to head to the mountains during the school holidays. Over February half term, the spring holidays in late March or early April, and then again at some point in August we head either north or south to Snowdonia or the Brecon Beacons. This time it was the Brecons and the plan was to make an ascent to the main ridge for dawn.
We drove down to South Wales on the Monday and climbed the ridge in daylight to make sure that it was safe for us to go up in the dark the next morning. It was the first time we’d climbed Pen y Fan and Corn Du, and even thought we knew it to be a well trodden path, after a hairy anniversary climb in the Glyderau back in August we were feeling extra cautious. It was bitterly cold up on the ridge even in the sunshine, but the views out west over the rest of the range were incredible. Looking up over Corn Du I could make out the moon hanging low in the sky just above the peak.
After coming down off the ridge, we stayed the night at YHA Brecon Beacons. It’s a really good YHA; the kitchen is well equipped and it’s perfectly placed for walking the main ridge. The next morning we set the alarm and drove through the dark to the main carpark at Pont ar Daf where we set upon rugging up in as many layers as possible, buried our hands in our pockets, and by the light of the stars and moon reflected in the snow, began the walk up to the ridge. We reached it about 20 minutes before sunrise and were treated to the most majestic display of lights as the sky turned from deep blue to orange through a rainbow of pastels.
We didn’t stay up on the ridge for very long as the wind was so strong it made our faces sting. Taking these pictures was a struggle, too, as I really wanted to capture the scene but having my hands out of my pockets was painful. As soon as the sun was fully up, we made our way back down the same way we had come and got back to the hostel for a much welcome cup of tea and bowl of porridge with strawberry jam. There’s nothing quite like the sense of accomplishment and calm that comes from having climbed a mountain before breakfast. We were so lucky with the weather, as it can be hit or miss in winter, but that morning is one I will never forget.