My first year of running ends on a high (literally)

Yep by my admittedly vague calculations I’ve been running a year. I’ve gone from not being able to run 2 fields in a row to the beach to this……


Yep I woke up this morning and thought do something diffent today. So I ran up South Wales’ highest mountain Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons …. the hard way.

I did a bit of googling and found a few routes up it – the “motorway” as its known is an easier path from the A470 which is used by hundreds of walkers … not for me so I ended up at Cwm Gwdi on the other side of the mountain as it promised a much quieter and steeper route with more rugged terrain.Β  Never ever take the easy option!

So after getting lost in the car as per usual (I’m quite used to this by now) I got there around half eleven and got changed. Chucked my hydration pack on with my nutrition and necessities (I actually took a whistle and foil blanket as I wasn’t sure exactly where I was headed except for up) and set off. Luckily they provide a route map!

I took note of the general direction and then promptly forgot about it. Up is up right?

The first climbs were brutal …Β  I was immediately in the red and wondering what I was doing.

The view back towards Brecon. The forest in the middle was my starting point. The scenery was pretty amazing though even if I was blowing out of my ass at this point.

I had to settle into a powerhike for some of the next bit as it was virtually unrunnable for me without putting myself so far into the red I probably wouldn’t recover. Perhaps I’ve learned a few tricks in the last year and one is to hold back, this isn’t a race.

Its steeper in reality than it looks
Sheep leading the way.

There were a series of false peaks at this poinmt which allowed some running in between but then as I reached the last of these I hit the ridgeline!

Target acquired! Nope not the one on the left – Pen Y Fan is the one to the right covered in cloud.

This was now runnable so off I set at a less than fearsome pace!

View from the ridge to the right.
Now I could see the peak and the cloud was clearing – Looking pretty steep there though.
Ohhhh cool I get to do some mountaineering too! I forgot my crampons, at the top of this it’s literally rock climbing for the last 50 yards or so. I was wondering why I’d literally not seen a soul on this route …..
The views from the top were worth it though!
So yeah …. I ran up there.

From Pen Y Fan its a short trip across the saddle to Corn Du – slightly lower but just as scenic.

The saddle to Corn Du
View from Corn Du …Β  Note clouds ….

I started descending on the other ridge and was enjoying the technical bits of the descent. There were only a few walkers who seemed to enjoy watching me hurtle past to my inevitable doom.

I was skirting this lake on the left hand side ridge.
In fact the trail I was on wound right past it – You can see it above the lake in this photo

And then it started raining – just like that I was soaked, I went for my jacket from my pack and found I’d left it in the car …. Nevermind a bit of water never hurt anyone but I wanted to get down lower out of the wind.

A sad moment as I passed the obelisk for Tommy Jones
The view back to the two peaks. Basically I ran this ridge right across the photo.

At this point the rain stopped and although soaked through I was low enough to feel warm again just through running.

The descent continued a few miles down the valley and i was sure I would pop out near the carpark ….. which clearly wasn’t the case. I’d completely forgotten about the map I’d not so carefully studied at the start but luckily my trusty phone’s GPS told me I was in the wrong valley and a few miles away across another huge climb. Being the sensible being I am I declined freestyle rock climbing and simply followed the path down until I hit a road. From here it was a matter of a few miles up some nasty sodding hills to get back to my starting point.

I came out here – Cwm Llwch – In Wales we don’t believe in vowels.

I was wondering if it was worth a 120 mile round trip to do this but It was a great run of around 8 miles of constant climbing and descending with superb views. I was really pleased with how I felt throughout it and that I could even do it at all is something I’m proud of.

EDIT: Just wanted to add this panorama



Author: Gareth

Running coastal trails in South Wales and working on a healthier body and mind

11 thoughts on “My first year of running ends on a high (literally)”

  1. “Being the sensible being I am I declined freestyle rock climbing” … I had to re-read this 4 times until I actually believed it rofl. Happy to read that you somehow turned into a sensible being and didn’t break your leg πŸ˜€
    Sounds like the perfect thing to do on a lovely summer day during vacation! So happy for you that you’re able to do this after the whole ankle and then toe drama! Can’t wait to read about the adventures you’ll do!

    Liked by 1 person

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