In the beginning of June, a friend told me he was heading to Wales for a weekend, primarily to hike the tallest mountain in Southern Wales, Pen y Fan. When he asked if I was interested in coming along, of course I said yes! I had yet to see Wales, which I really wanted to see, not to mention that I had never climbed a mountain before and desperately wanted to knock that off the bucket list! I actually want to keep climbing them, it wasn’t just a one time desire… But, I had to start somewhere!
We had our stuff packed and ready to go, so as soon as we were out of work Friday afternoon, we hit the road heading West to Wales. Of course, we found lots of traffic along the way, but we made it to our hotel just after 9pm, so not too horrible of a drive. We crashed for the night, and got up early the next day, had breakfast, and headed out for Pen y Fan, about 30 minutes away. We arrived to find the parking area packed full of cars. There was some sort of event about to start, the name of which I can not remember, for people to hike up and along the mountains. We quickly got ready, and headed through the crowd to the trail up the mountain.
Immediately by the parking lot, you cross a little foot bridge over a small stream, which just up it, has a pair of pretty little falls. The path climbs up along the stream, although far above it, and you quickly leave it behind all together. Overall, I have to say this was probably one of the best choices for an initial mountain climb. The path was long, but very gradual, with very few steep parts. I was so thankful for that as we climbed!
Before long, however, we found ourselves in some low clouds and rain, which continued all the way to the top of the slightly shorter summit next to Pen y Fan, Corn Du. As we stood on the summit of Corn Du, the rain and wind was pelting us, we were soaked, and we couldn’t see anything off the side of the mountain. We couldn’t tell just how far Pen y Fan was from us, or if it was even worth going over to that one, since we wouldn’t be able to see its amazing views anyways. After some deliberation, we decided to just start back down the mountain and go change into dry clothes.
We descended from the summit of Corn Du, back to the little saddle, just in time for a very brief gap in the clouds to reveal a bit of the view down into the valley below. Beautiful, but quickly gone from view. We continued down from the saddle, back down the path, and before long, the rain stopped, and the clouds broke and left! We just stood there on the side of the mountain, in that slightly irritated disbelief of “it couldn’t have down that twenty minutes ago?!” We debated, and chose to climb back up that last portion of the mountain for a second time. The views we knew were up there beckoned us and we just couldn’t resist.
We broke the top of the saddle again and were immediately rewarded with the beautiful green valley, with a small lake, ringed by the mountain chain. Already worth it! We could also see that Pen y Fan really wasn’t that far away from Corn Du, and we immediately set off for it. We could see clouds in the distance heading our way and we wanted to look off the other side of Pen y Fan, for those were some amazing views as well.
We made it to the top of Pen y Fan just as the clouds were starting to close in, managing to snap some pictures of the views quickly, along with a picture of us with the mound and sign for the summit. After that picture, we re-donned our coats, zipping them up just as the rain started to come down again! The first half of our hike back down the mountain was the same as it had been coming up, rain and wind. Eventually we got below the clouds and the rain let up for us, but we had long ago been drenched. Thankfully we came prepared and had spare clothes waiting in the car!
We changed into our dry, warm clothes, and then hit the little food cart parked in the lot. While waiting for the pork and onions to cook for our sandwiches, I got a chocolate muffin. Without even realizing it, the first half was immediately gone, and the second half wasn’t there for much longer than that! I can’t remember having ever eaten a muffin so quickly, or so thoughtlessly! I was truly ravenish and couldn’t eat that muffin fast enough! All in all, even though I got thoroughly soaked, and was quite sore afterwards, this was an absolutely amazing, rewarding experience, and I can’t wait to climb my next mountain!!