One of my final walks of 2018 concerned an overdue return to the Black Mountains of South Wales. With the tolls for both of the Severn Bridge crossings having been scrapped earlier in December, there was less of an excuse not to travel towards the Brecon Beacons.
I drove to Bristol and met up with my friend Dave, who I’m be car-sharing and walking with.
Pen Y Fan, as you may well know, is the highest mountain in the southern half of the UK. It resides within the central Brecon Beacons of South Wales and is a popular place for all sorts of people, with a car park situated around 400m beneath the summit in terms of elevation.
I don’t often venture here, for the likely possibility that it is going to be bust. Perhaps not ‘Snowdon busy’ but, still. In fact, I’d not been to this particular mountain top for almost two whole years.
All the way back in December 2017, I led a group walk in the Black Mountains that I soon grew to regret. One weekend after snow had fallen heavily across the region, I found the mountain tops were covered and we were struggling through depths up to our knees for much of our day. That’s without mentioning the rain waiting for us before we had a chance to put our boots on and the gale-force winds arriving from the east.
I’d thought about repeating the same route but have always held reservations over the small car park at Black Hill. So, for this outing, I decided to park elsewhere and lead a longer route along different paths.
As far as the Brecon Beacons are concerned, I’ve explored the main ‘Central’ peaks (Pen Y Fan and co.) several times. I’ve also hiked several times around the eastern end of the National Park, where its boundary laps on to the Black Mountains range.
This walk would be my first experience of hiking in the western Beacons. I was hardly going to turn down an opportunity to climb to the highest point of The Black Mountain(Y Mynydd Du).
Forty-eight hours earlier, we’d conquered Tryfan and the Glyderau. A day of scrambling and hiking across less-familiar terrain. It’s almost as if that was in preparation for our final adventure in North Wales.
This was our last full day, ahead of our final night and then, heading home on the Wednesday. We drove in to Snowdonia for the second time in three days. We were destined to climb Snowdon. Not only that, we would journey there along the perilous knife-edge ridge of Crib Goch!