No, it’s not an April Fools Day joke. Today I really did travel to the Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales to do a spot of rambling which included the scaling of Fan y Big, Cribyn and Pen y Fan, which are three of the highest peaks in the area.
This, for me, was the walk of the century so far. My good friend Simon drove me there along with two other good friends Ray and Chris and we met up with the Corsham Wanderers walking group for ten and a half miles of fantastic scenery, fun and frivolity, and hard slog walking.
I absolutely loved every minute of today. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking as we strode, scrambled and panted up and along high ridges bathed in the spring sunshine. I’m very sorry Marlborough Downs but you’re not a patch on the Brecon Beacons so I don’t love you anymore.
Fan y Big from Cribyn.
Today’s was a proper British mountain landscape with glacial U-shaped valleys, cwms, tarns and arêtes to die for. Spectacular views which reminded me of long gone days spent walking in Yorkshire and Scotland, bringing back huge surges of nostalgia and confirmation of my theory that Southern English countryside, although very pretty, lacks the vast beauty of the lands that lie above the Tees-Exe Line and consequently just doesn’t really do it for me.
This was also my best training so far for my forthcoming trip to Peru (now less than six weeks away). Still nowhere near high enough to present problems of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) but steep enough to pull on the muscles in my legs and get my heart beating for its life during the ascents and descents of these three magnificent pointy, fally-offy masses of rock. They say, ‘No pain, no gain’ but I coped very well with the exercise and must have gained substantially from the sweaty agony that I went through. I felt like I was one of the fittest within our party of hill walkers much more experienced than I was so today I really could hear the pan pipes. I think they were playing Men of Harlech. I could even taste guinea pig!
What I could really do with though, is a walk like this two or three times a week. I spent some of my moments of solitude in those high places thinking about buying an Ordnance Survey map and spending some periods of even greater solitude up there in the near future, pre and post Inca Trail. It really was that good.
At the top of Pen y Fan.
And the weather added to the perfectness of the day. We’ve had a fortnight of unusually warm weather for the time of year just recently but today, although the sun continued to shine like a badger’s shiny bits, the temperature dropped a bit so it was just right for a bit of strenuous exercise.
All the other people in our group were really good craic too. I had met a few of them before and they all seemed very friendly and up for a laugh. Some of them even tittered a bit when Mike the walk leader first mentioned Fan y Big so I didn’t feel at all uncomfortable in suggesting that the route to its summit might be along a pubic footpath.
I love Wales, I love the countryside’s wide open spaces, I love sunshine and I loved today. All that spoilt it was the fact that we were unable to buy a Solero lolly on the road from Crickhowell to Abergavenny on the way home. This was probably because there isn’t a word in the Welsh language for Solero.
I would also love to write more about today but I am absolutely weary to the bone and in great need of my bed where I will soon sleep a dog tired but contented sleep.
Da nos Cymru.