The view from the top: Pen y Fan
For a breath of fresh air that will blow the cobwebs away – and help you earn a hearty Sunday lunch – Pen y Fan is hard to beat.
At 886m, Pen y Fan is the highest mountain in southern Britain, followed by Corn Du at 873m and Cribyn at 795m, also in the Brecon Beacons.
According to the National Trust, which looks after the peaks to the tune of £100,000 annually, more than 250,000 pairs of feet make the trek each year to the summits.
The simplest route, and one that’s ideal for families with children in fine weather, is the four-mile circular walk from the Storey Arms Outdoor Centre or the Port ar Daf car park. Starting at around 440m, the climb to Pen y Fan’s peak is manageable, but none-the-less stunning.
Once you make it to the summit, Pen y Fan rewards you with views stretching across the Severn Estuary, south and mid Wales.
On a clear day you may see the Cambrian Mountains, Black Mountains, Gower, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Somerset. If the conditions are in your favour, you may even spy the summit of Cadair Idris!
One thing you will almost definitely see, whatever the weather, is the cairn at the summit, which was a Bronze Age burial chamber.
In the Bronze Age, individual burials or cremations held inside inverted funerary pots, were inserted into stone lined pits, called cists, dug into cleared ground. Once interred the burials and cremations were then covered in a large mound of stone or earth, making the familiar circular shape of the cairn.
Grave goods such as pottery, weapons, beads and food offerings were also sometimes included. Indeed, when the cairn at the summit of Pen y Fan it was excavated in 1991 a bronze brooch and spearhead were found inside the chamber.
The main access point on to the central Brecon Beacons is the Pont ar Daf car park, on the A470 a few miles south of Brecon.