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Hike Brecon Beacons Horseshoe

Powys, United Kingdom



9 miles

Elevation Gain

2300 ft

Route Type



Added by Jack Henstridge

Test yourself in the harsh yet beautiful landscape of the Brecon Beacons National Park, the training ground of the British Special Forces. On this route you'll summit 3 of its tallest peaks, including the tallest, Pen y Fan. Scramble up steep paths to high ridge lines, walk in an ancient glacial landscape, and stand on the summits once used as Bronze Age burial grounds 5000 years ago. This is truly an epic day hike.

Starting out from the car park turn left and walk north along the road that leads to the old lower Neuadd reservoir and pump house. Pen y Fan, Corn Du and Cribyn will all be in view from here. Follow the path left and along the high banks of the reservoir until you reach a metal gate which leads into an open field. Here you will be faced with the toughest part of the hike, best to get it done early, the climb and at times scramble to the Graig Fan Ddu ridge. Get your breath back and turn right and follow the ridge north for 2 miles, all the way on this ridge the 3 peaks you’ll be able to summit will be easily visible, if the weather is in your favour. You’ll also be staring into the beautiful ancient glacial valley, and should be able to clearly see the evidence and marks the glacier left.

At the end of the ridge you will descend slightly onto a saddle at Bwlch Duwynt, a split in the trail will face you, right will lead you round the base of Corn Du to Pen y Fan, but follow the trail straight to the short steep climb to the summit of Corn Du at 873m, the high point is marked by a Bronze age burial Cairn, these summits and surrounding areas were used heavily as burial areas in those times. Descend again off the summit to another saddle between the twin peaks of Corn Du and Pen y Fan and follow the trail straight again to summit the highest point of the day, and the highest point in Southern UK, Pen y Fan at 886m. The views from the summit should be almost endless, you will be looking into the Cwm Llwch valley and be able to see the glacial moraine Llyn Cwm Llwch. The north face of Cribyn should be in view too.

The descent off of Pen y Fan towards Cribyn is steep and can be difficult in adverse conditions. Once you are down you are faced with another choice, the dauntingly steep ascent of Cribyn or the route around the base. Take the climb, it’s worth it. From the summit, at 795m, look back at the almost vertical North East face of Pen y Fan. From the cairn on Cribyn follow the ridge South-East and descend down into “the gap”, the large saddle between Cribyn and Fan y Big, yes, Fan y Big. From here follow the well maintained and easy to follow Taff trail 3 miles back to the reservoir and then to the car park. The views back and across the valley and of the Upper Neuadd are truly staggering, as are the views throughout this amazing hike.

A quick note; this part of the UK and especially Pen y Fan has become extremely popular and is heavily trafficked and the evidence is plain to see. The erosion of the foot paths is obvious and made worse by the fact the soil is made up primarily of soft peat. I’d advise avoid this walk in wet conditions for yours and the trails sake. 

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Mountain Biking
Easy Parking

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