This is part 2 of the road trip that started in England! If you want to read the first part in how we got here, check out my previous blog here.
We woke up in Cheddar Gorge and after having the most amazing breakfast at our B&B the Bath Arms Hotel, we hit the road and headed for Wales. It didn’t take long for us to get there and when we finally crossed the border I remember being SO excited because of how nice the weather was looking. All of the British Isles are pretty known to have crummy weather, and Wales in particular. So the fact that we were scoring with blue skies, well I couldn’t help but get excited for the hike I was planning. Our first stop was the Brecon Beacons National Park and we headed to the town of Brecon first where our B&B was for the night to fuel up, got some local maps from a gas station, and just took some time to figure out where everything was in general.
I remember the gas station we stopped at and I got in a little conversation with the Welshman working the counter. The guy knew I was American because I shouted across his small little shop, “Paul did you pay for the gas yet?” where Paul was scrambling together some snacks and of course the Welshman made a comment “That’s petrol that is!” I just smiled at the guy, put my map up on the counter and my little bottle of coke and the Welshman asked if we were going up to the top of Pen-y-fan. I told him yes and he began to explain where we needed to go for the trail to head up Pen-y-fan. After a few sentences of rambling from this Welshman, I tried my hardest to save the information but it was so incredibly hard with his thick accent! He was helpful though, and made sure to throw in a little joke saying “You’ll be disappointed when you get up there. There’s no McDonald’s.” – lol.
We did however make another stop at the visitor center where we scored a trail map for the mountain and spoke with an English woman who was able to clearly explain directions which stopped us from getting lost.(Thank you very helpful, random English lady) And when we finally pulled up in the parking lot for the beginning of the trail, we were blown away still by the weather and set our sights for the top of Pen-y-fan, the tallest mountain in the Brecon Beacons.
This was our first trail ever climbing a mountain. Granted, this mountain really isn’t that tall – 2900 ft – in comparison to some of the other giants out there. But this trail was a 2 mile hike completely up-hill. And being first timers, my body really struggled making it to the top of this thing. But man, the higher you went, the better the views were and it didn’t matter how tired, exhausted, and drained I felt from the hike up. It made the whole dang thing worth it.
You wouldn’t know it, but the wind was whipping across the top of this mountain so heavily, that putting our coats back on was a 2 person job. If I were to guess, the winds were probably about 50-60 mph and definitely felt a lot colder than where we came from the bottom of the trail.
When we finally made it to the top together we were so frickin proud that we high-fived each other and enjoyed the views up there completely to ourselves. It wasn’t long until we turned to our right and saw another mountain top, the actual Pen-Y-Fan, was just a tad higher than the one we climbed to the top of. We quickly realized we climbed the wrong mountain that we later found out was called Corn Du. Luckily, the hilly mountains were trailed together and we were able to walk to Pen-Y-Fan very easily and so, after a nice little rest, we began the walk to Pen-Y-Fan.
I remember making it to the top of Pen-Y-Fan and laughing because here I was completely exhausted from this hike and the first thing we saw was a sheep and her baby lamb eating away at the grasses at the top of this mountain so effortlessly. I had to admire their mountain climbing abilities.
Didn’t take long after that to really enjoy and take in the sights from the top. The wind made the air cold and hard to stand close to the edge (people have actually been blown off the sides of this mountain before) but the sky was clear and so was the air which gave us sights for miles in all directions.
While I was researching for this trip, I became very fascinated by the amount of myths and legends that seem to be embraced so heavily through Welsh culture. One in particular is of the mysterious lake of Cwm Llwch which sits at the base of the mountain called Corn Du – the first peak we hiked over – pictured above.
Legend says a passageway leading from a rock to the island was said to be open on May Day each year. Those who had the courage to pass through the doorway would find themselves in a beautiful garden on the island inhabited by fairies. The fairies would play enchanting music, tell stories of future events, and present visitors with exquisite flowers and luscious fruit. But each guest was told nothing must be taken from the island. But one May Day, a greedy visitor placed a flower he had been presented with in his pocket. When he emerged from the rock the flower vanished and he lost all his senses. Since that day, the door to the island has never opened. I remember standing there, at the summit of Pen-y-fan overlooking this lake and wondering about the truths behind these legends. My heart always dances with the ideas of magic.
After spending a few hours up there, Paul and I made our descent down, had a picnic in the car, and then headed back to our little town of Brecon where we would be staying. We settled into our B&B and took a walk around town where we had dinner at the Castle Hotel which had an amazing view of the mountain range we had climbed that afternoon. The weather stayed nice to us all evening and we were able to enjoy an amazing meal while watching the sunset over the trails we conquered. I don’t think food tasted that good in a long time either.
Below is a video I put together of our travels through Wales and England. Be sure to watch it and see snippets from our travels during this blog post 🙂
Also, to anyone interested I do have prints available from this post and others in my shop! Check it out here if you’d like to purchase any and help support this traveling photographer! If there’s any you don’t see in the shop that you’d like, contact me at email@example.com
Stay tuned for the next blog post which will be Part 3 of this roadtrip! And it includes our adventures through northern Wales in the beautiful park called Snowdonia.