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Brecon Beacons Horseshoe: Hiking Pen y Fan

A Landscape Photograph Showing The Craig Gwaun Taf Escarpment With Hikers Making Their Way Along On The Way To Corn Du In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.
A Landscape Photograph Showing The Craig Gwaun Taf Escarpment With Hikers Making Their Way Along On The Way To Corn Du In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

Hikers make their way up Craig Gwaun Taf on the way to Corn Du, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

A Photograph Showing The Road Leading To The Trailhead For Pen Y Fan In The Neuadd Valley, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

The road to Pen y Fan - approaching the trailhead in the Neuadd Valley, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales

A Landscape Photograph Showing Two Hikers Beginning The Ascent Up To Graig Fan Ddu, With Neuadd Reservoir In The Background, In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

Two hikers begin the climb to Graig Fan Ddu above Neuadd Reservoir, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales

A Landscape Photograph Showing Walkers Consulting A Map On The Path To Corn Du In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

Which way now? The path to Corn Du, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

A Landscape Photograph Showing A Lone Female Hiker Looking Out From Craig Gwaun Taf Over The Neuadd Valley In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

A lone hiker looks out over the Neuadd Valley from Craig Gwaun Taf, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales

A Landscape Photograph Showing The View Down From Corn Du, With Hikers Streaming Up The Hill, In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

The view from Corn Du - Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales

A Landscape Photograph Showing A Helicopter That Has Just Flown Over Pen Y Fan In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

Helcopter over Pen y Fan, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales

A Landscape Photograph Showing Hikers Queuing To Take Summit Selfies On The Summit Of Pen Y Fan In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

How very British! Spontaneous queuing breaks out on Pen y Fan for summit selfies. Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

A Landscape Photograph Showing A Couple Sitting On A Ledge On Pen Y Fan Having Lunch, Looking Out At The Neuadd Valley In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

A nice spot for lunch! The Neuadd Valley from Pen y Fan, Brecon Beacons

A Landscape Photograph Showing Cribyn, Taken From Pen Y Fan, In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

Cribyn from Pen y Fan, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales

A Landscape Photograph Showing Walkers Descending From Pen Y Fan Into The Neuadd Valley In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

The Neuadd Valley from Pen y Fan, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales

A Landscape Photograph Showing A Solitary Sheep Staring At The Camera On Cribyn, With Pen Y Fan In The Background, In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

Grazing on Cribyn, with Pen y Fan in the background - Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

A Landscape Photograph Showing The Craig Gwaun Taf Escarpment With Hikers Making Their Way Along On The Way To Corn Du In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.A Photograph Showing The Road Leading To The Trailhead For Pen Y Fan In The Neuadd Valley, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.A Landscape Photograph Showing Two Hikers Beginning The Ascent Up To Graig Fan Ddu, With Neuadd Reservoir In The Background, In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.A Landscape Photograph Showing Walkers Consulting A Map On The Path To Corn Du In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.A Landscape Photograph Showing A Lone Female Hiker Looking Out From Craig Gwaun Taf Over The Neuadd Valley In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.A Landscape Photograph Showing The View Down From Corn Du, With Hikers Streaming Up The Hill, In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.A Landscape Photograph Showing A Helicopter That Has Just Flown Over Pen Y Fan In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.A Landscape Photograph Showing Hikers Queuing To Take Summit Selfies On The Summit Of Pen Y Fan In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.A Landscape Photograph Showing A Couple Sitting On A Ledge On Pen Y Fan Having Lunch, Looking Out At The Neuadd Valley In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.A Landscape Photograph Showing Cribyn, Taken From Pen Y Fan, In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.A Landscape Photograph Showing Walkers Descending From Pen Y Fan Into The Neuadd Valley In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.A Landscape Photograph Showing A Solitary Sheep Staring At The Camera On Cribyn, With Pen Y Fan In The Background, In The Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

For the holiday weekend I joined the crowds on the classic Brecon Beacons Horseshoe ridge walk. It takes you up Corn Du, Cribyn and Pen y Fan (the highest point south of Snowdonia) in the Brecon Beacons National Park in southern Wales.

Despite its popularity, it’s one of my favourite walks as it’s easily reached yet can feel truly wild. The sweeping landscapes and escarpments make for dramatic photographs. And even the crowds can be an interesting feature – I was amused to find hikers spontaneously forming an orderly queue at the summit of Pen y Fan for a chance to take summit selfies on the cairn. How very British!

For me, it was also a chance to test out my shiny new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera with some real landscape shots. Having just switched from a DSLR the weight and size saving makes all the difference I was hoping it would – and the image quality seems up to scratch so far.

There are a few photos above that I took along the way. Let me know what you think.

The route

The route I walked (shown below) is 14km in total, with 656m of ascent. It took me around 3 hours 45 minutes, with plenty of stops for photographs and food breaks. It’s a moderate walk overall, but with a couple of very steep sections.

There’s a free National Trust car park just south of the Neuadd Reservoir where the trail starts (location: SO 03687 17030; 51.8436, -3.3997). The route below shows the walk beginning and ending at that car park.

Want to walk this route? Download the GPX file here! (But read this warning first.)

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