Wales | Brecon Beacons

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No holiday for Oskar

Ah, the Brecon Beacons, how I love those hills! Ever since my sister moved over to Wales in 2004 or so, I have visited her every year, combining family visit with hiking and trekking. I guess for me it is where I discovered the outdoors, the wildcamping, enjoying being out there, in "good" weather, driving rain or strong wind. And because of going to the Beacons almost once a year, the place is littered with memories by now, all of them good ones.

The plan this time was to go camping for three days together with Oskar, our recently adopted furry friend. Unfortunately, a misunderstanding with the vet and the ever watchful border control ruined that party, so I had to drive back to Antwerp to leave him there.

 
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Slack-packing in the Brecon Beacons

Because of the detour, I arrived pretty late on Saturday evening at the Llyn y Fan Fach car park, but right on time to see a beautiful sunset. Welcoming indeed! I didn't have much of a plan, except to try and take it really easy, with UTS coming up next weekend. I took it very slow and turned to slack-packing while enjoying the summer weather as much as I could. I followed the Beacons Way along Fan Hir to Fan Fraith, after which a more direct route took me back to Llyn y Fan Fawr, where the water was too inviting not to take a swim. After another night on top of Fan Foel, a short but gorgeous walk was completed. 

 

Because, you know... Coffee, right?

It seems like I'm continuously improving my kit-list. This time, I massively upgraded the quality of my coffee. Ditching the instant coffee, I went all out. I had a nice pack of coffee beans, a mini coffee-grinder and an Aeropress. Even at home the Aeropress with freshly ground beans is my preferred way of making coffee, but being able to make a brew like that in the mountains... 

Because of a stubborn overuse injury left-over from Legends, I had to choose different footwear. I wasn't all too sure about whether this was a good idea, but my choices were pretty limited so I opted for the Vibram FiveFingers V-Trail I use for running short distances. Turns out, they are absolutely perfect for the conditions. And as a nice bonus, you can use them for swimming as well!

 

Why the Brecon Beacons?

So why do I like the Brecon Beacons so much? They are not as spectacular as Snowdonia further north in Wales. The highest summit, Pen y Fan, is only 886m high, and not that steep either. There's no scrambling to be done, but there is a sense of timelessness which can easily be felt here, where Pen y Fan and Corn Du keep watch over the other mountains and have seen glaciers come and go. In a world that often moves too fast and seems to be screaming for attention, it is a great place to visit.

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Maen Llia

After the walk, I drove to my sister's place, and passed Maen Llia, the standing stone between Fan Nedd and Fan Dringarth. The information sign says the purpose of erecting this stone is not clear. It could have been a place of worship or a boundary, but I like to imagine it is a connection to the past and future and a place to stand still, if even only for a short moment.

 
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Waterfall country

After these three days, I stayed at my sister's and family, and went for a day hike at the waterfalls near Ystradfellte, an area also known as waterfall country.

If you're looking for variation, there's plenty to be found here!