Thanks largely to one too many of the aptly named ‘Hikers Ruin’ I had consumed the night before and the fantastic breakfast my hosts had produced, day 2 was quite a late start! I wanted to head out onto the part of the Brecon Beacons just west of A470 but the lingering headache was making it hard to concentrate on the map, so in the end I download a free route on ViewRanger published by Trail Magazine.
By the time I arrived, close to midday, the car park at Storey Arms Centre was full and the car park slightly further down was heaving. Fortunately I managed to find a space and I quickly headed away from the bustle and out onto the hills. The first part of the route follows a narrow (and quite muddy) sheep trail along the side of the hills gradually climbing up to the top of Craig Cerrig-gleisiad.
The A470 was a constant companion down in the valley, but the views towards Brecon were spectacular. Unlike the previous day viability was much better with higher clouds and I was slightly disgruntled to notice that I could even make out people on Pen Y Fan who must be having some brilliant views I once again failed to get the day before!
The peak at Craig Cerrig-gleisiad gives you some great views across the mountains to the west, but is also home to a bees nest. The angry buggers quickly sent out a few scouts to drive me and the dog away, so rather than taking a breather I carried on towards Fan Frynych. Looking back there were some great views of the cliffs in the nature reserve. The trig point was thankfully free of bees, so I settled down for some lunch.
I remember having been to this trig point before a few years ago, just when I was beginning to get back into hiking again. That time we came up through the nature reserve, and from the trig point continued west before looping back to north. Whilst finishing off my pork pie I finally remembered to give the app Peak AR a go – using your camera it augments details of the peaks around you onto the view you can see. Nest idea, but I found it inaccurate in the placement of the peaks from my position.
Lunch finished, I retraced my steps back to join the Beacons Way and followed it towards Fan Dringarth. The way was quite hard going, with many small bogs to negotiate especially in the valley between hills and I was soon pretty muddy. At the point I was due to drop down to meet the river I found a nice sheltered spot to brew a cuppa and to survey the wilderness around me.
It was at this point that the niggling idea of going for a swim crept up on me, and I was actually nervously excited as I picked my way down to the river. You can read about the swim here: http://www.mycountryside.org.uk/2011/08/14/taking-the-plunge/. Afterwards I sat on a large rock jutting into the river, put on another brew, and enjoyed the tingling of my body after the cold water and the peacefulness of my surroundings.
The climb up to Fan Fawr was a nightware. There was no path and the incline was just at that angle where it saps the strength from your body at every step. I was already pretty sore from the day before and generally weaker than usual, so I really struggled to get to the top (take a few steps, rest, take a few more steps, rest). Eventually I made it to the trip point, which is not the actual summit, and after a quick breather carried on to the top.
Final peak of the day bagged I made my way back down Fan Fawr (noting that this route is even worse than my ascent) and back to the car. An excellent second day in Brecon Beacons, including my first wild swim! I had something special planned for day three though that I have been looking forward to for months… to be continued!