Expo and Travel - The Breacon Beacons

Expo and Travel took 10 members to the Brecon Beacons on Friday 15th Feb for a weekend of walking. The bus left at 6, arriving at a luxurious Bunkhouse in Crai at around 10, after a few stops. The bunkhouse was well stocked with a separate dining area, kitchen and even a TV, which didn’t get switched on once! Everyone got up around 7:30 on the Saturday, to eat a fine breakfast cooked by Conor, and set off at around 9:15 for a days walking.

The Bunkhouse

The Beds

The Living Room

The plan was for two groups to set off, one taking a longer route. This was Group A and contained Conor, John, Sam and Dave (who weren’t members of a 1960s Soul Group!).The other group, Group 1 contained Ross, Byron, Susie, Kate, Jemma and Paul. Conor who had a belief that he was Richard Burns by the way that he drove the minibus through the country lanes drove to the walk starts. Group one would be dropped off at a gate, and heading west, with Group A leaving the van at another car park and heading east, hopefully passing the other group on the way. Group 1 would retrieve the van and pick up the others from a pub in a little village.

The ridge we walked is at the back

The morning was very misty, with the bunkhouse owner informing us that if it hadn’t burnt off by 11:00 then it would be here for the day. It was still misty as Group A set off from the car park and headed up towards Cefn Cwm. The initial climb was very steep and long for around 45 minutes, however after around 10 minutes the mist had cleared and it was beautiful sunshine. A plateau was reached where around an hour of a gentle slope was traversed. From there the summit of Pen Y Fan could be seen, the highest point in the Brecons at over 2900 ft. The summit from below looked to be very forbidding, as it was steep and icy. The climb continued for another 15 minutes, getting every increasingly steeper.

The Ridge from the Top of Pen Y fan

Me on Pen Y Fan

When the final summit climb was reached, it was not as long as it appeared from below, and had rough steps cut into it. It was frosty and very steep though. On reaching the summit the group stopped for a small rest and headed over to Corn Du, which was only a few hundred metres away. The group then turned towards Cribbyn, and headed down the steep slope of Pan Y Fan.

Cribben with Pen y Fan and Corn du behind

Cribben from Pen Y Fan

The sun was very warm now, and the climb up Cribbyn was quite demanding now, even though it was on a well-worn path. At the summit, a lunch break was taken, with still no sign of group 1, but they wouldn’t be far away, and were met 10 minutes down the slope. After a brief stop, the group carried on to the amusingly named Fan Y Big, which gave good views of the route they had just taken.

Dave, Sam and Conor on Fan Y Big

From then on it was a fairly long walk lasting around 3 hours traversing the next ridge and descending down into the village of Llanfrynach. The village could be easily seen in the valley for the last two hours, and the thought of a nice cold beer, possibly combined with some six nations rugby on the TV was good motivation. The path was fairly uninteresting with few interesting features until the lower part, which crossed farmland and passed trough some steep woods and across a small ford. The last 15 minutes was on country roads, until we reached the pub, which was easy to find.

The only problem was that it was shut and didn’t open for another 2 hours! Conor phoned Group 1 to see how long they would be, only to find out they had been distracted by two hills that resembled “boobies”, and spotted a car park between them, to which they headed. Unfortunately this was not the car park where the van had been left, and so Ross had to run the 2- miles to the right car park and pick up the van. Conor had inadvertently forgotten to mention that the pub was shut, so Group 1 believed that Group A was ensconced in the warmth living it up, when they were in fact laying in the dwindling sunshine under some trees in a churchyard!

Group 1 took another hour to arrive, which wasn’t a moment too soon as the sun was setting and it was getting cold. They found it funny to find the pub shut, which was counteracted by Conor’s deriding of their navigational abilities! A short stop was made in Brecon for food and beer, before everyone returned to the bunkhouse and another superb Expo and Travel meal. This time it was a curry which everyone pitched in to make, with Conor taking the Ainsley Harriot lead role. The evening was a quiet affair, with people sitting around playing some of the board games supplied in the bunkhouse.

Craig Cerrig Gleisiad  

Climbing the ridge

The next morning it was up again at 7:30 for another fine cooked breakfast. The owners of the bunkhouse came down and complained that the group was well behaved and not noisy at all, before the van was packed and everyone set off for a short morning walk up to Craig Cerrig Gleisiad. This had a steep initial climb, through a nature reserve, which was fairly testing after the long Saturday walk. Once the ridge had been reached after around 45 minutes, it was traversed and everyone escended back to the can after around 2 hours.

The Walk down

The view from the top

The group then set off for the Welsh national Indoor-climbing Centre, Taff Bargoed, at Trelewis, just south east of Merthyr Tydfil. This was very impressive, with walls up to 16 metres high, and a huge variety of climbs, and the opportunity to lead climbs, use fixed belays and even do some bouldering. Around 2 hours was spent here, before the group returned home, arriving fairly event free at 7:30.

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