Swanning around Europe for three weeks made me want to get out of my city and experience more of Wales’ beauty. So me and my fellow interrailer hit the road and headed for the Brecon Beacons, a mountain range just outside of Cardiff in order to walk up Pen y Fan. Driving along, we were able to preview some of the incredible views – rolling mountains and fresh greenery stretching out in front of us broken up by gorgeous reservoirs tucked in amongst the hills. Upon arrival, we parked up, packed our bags with water and snacks (of course) and made our way over to the mountain in front of us.
Feeling confident and prepared, we began our ascent. However, as we made our way up, we began to doubt our hasty decision to start climbing up the first mountain we came across. We stopped, turned around, and saw on the opposite side of the road, Pen y Fan and a very easily accessible walkers path which ran in a massive circle around the mountain. Okay. Smooth. We trudged back down the random hill we had just climbed, shook ourselves off, pretended it didn’t happen, and started again. I honestly don’t know how we made it around Europe in one piece.
Okay. This is going okay. I can do this. I puffed as the path began to spiral into a gentle slope up the mountain. Okay. Yeah. This is fine. I huffed as the gentle slope turned into a steep ascent. Okay. Maybe it’s time for a quick break. I stood and surveyed my surroundings, spotting the delicate reservoirs in the distance and the expanse of mountain range around me. Pretty impressive.
The path dipped down into a small lake and it was at this point where my ankle started to burn with the familiar pain of a blister. I took of my walking boot, shoved a couple plasters on it and picked up what I thought were the rements of the plaster packaging but was in fact sheep poo. Yep. I just picked up poop. Life can only get better. I dipped my fingers into the nearby water and shook myself off again. And then subsequently stepped into a muddy marsh, my boot oozed down with squelchy mud. Great. I am not a country girl, obviously.
My friend strode on ahead, leaving me lagging behind with burning thighs, streaming nose and dangerously close to passing out. I really should invest more in this whole exercise thing. I stopped again in order to get a few snaps of the landscape and to you know, learn to breathe normally again, and took in the world around me. Simply breathtaking – being a city girl and being mid-way up a mountain with only fresh land, blue skies and rolling hills around me. I was basically alone by now, my friend was so far ahead she was just a small dot on the horizon. I tried to catch up, I honestly did but my legs are not equipped for that kind of strenuous exercise. And then a jogger ran past me, casually jogging like he hadn’t a care in the world, smiling at me and saying “hey”. Seriously? Jogging? Up a mountain? No.
Limping on my blistered feet and breathing heavily, the summit was in sight. My friend sitting there all smug and happy and eating some snacks. I was nearly there! Too bad there was still a massive steep rocky ascent for me to get up.
It’s worth it once you get to the top! Passer-bys laughed as they leisurely walked past me as they made their way down. Shut up.
Finally, what felt like seven hours later, I made it to the summit. And it was amazing. You could see for miles, miles and miles of open land and fresh air, making the passer-bys right. It is definitely worth it.
We ate our picnic, enjoying the view and appreciating Wales’ beauty. As we made our descent back down Pen y Fan, we realised that going down was definitely a lot more boring. As a guy bounded down the hill, running without a care in the world, jumping over rocks, flinging himself down the mountain and generally looking like he was having a damn good time, I was tempted to join in and get down faster but then I realised that I would almost definitely face plant the ground. So I didn’t.
I hit the bottom, sweaty, thirsty, red-faced, hobbling on blistered feet and with sheep poo rements on my hands but I still felt rather victorious. Never again though, mind.
Pen y Fan and the Brecon Beacons are worth a visit, showcasing Wales’ best qualities – stunning panoramics, rolling mountains, fresh, green land and lots and lots of sheep. And sheep poop. Do not. Pick up. The poop.