26 August, 2022
Have you summited Pen Y Fan and now looking for the next challenge? Fan Fawr is an often overlooked, quiet gem of a mountain next to Pen Y Fan.
Last year I had taken a friend on a hike up Pen Y Fan. We’d exchanged hi’s and good vibes with the many other walkers on the path, in fact that’s half the fun, sharing in the camaraderie, the shared understanding that we’d all pushed one or two personal boundaries to get to the top!
Fast forward a year and my friend was ready for a new challenge in the same area. Just across the A465 road, opposite Pen Y Fan, towers the mighty Fan Fawr. Lofty enough to be challenging, but comfortably close to Pont Ar Daf and Storey Arms car parks and take-away vans – and, even better, you won’t need map reading skills for this one.
We checked the mountain weather forecast the night before (20-30mph wind gusts, drizzle and little low cloud on top) and set out next morning from the Storey Arms layby for the steady climb.
The route starts from the gate just behind the refreshment van in the Storey Arms layby. The path is fairly steep from the outset. After about 30 minutes we reached the foot of Fan Fawr, where the path steepens again. Ten minutes further up and the path became a little more challenging underfoot with loose stones and deeper ‘steps’. Hint: take regular stops to see Pen Y Fan rising up behind you on the other side.
Eventually the stony path levels off at the top and bears round to the right. Where the path ends, turn left along a grass path which heads towards the stone cairn over the brow of the hill. Once there, you will be rewarded with stunning views to the east towards Pen Y Fan! From the cairn, we took the grass path behind us towards Fan Fawr trig point (about a 10-minute walk). On a clear day you can see the Camarthenshire Fans in the distance. The trig point was a perfect place for a rest, drink and snack.
Feeling invigorated after our pitstop, we retraced our footsteps in the direction of Pen Y Fan. The closer we got to the cairn, the more our eyes played tricks on us that the edge of the mountain would drop into an abyss. But fear not! The path down to the Storey Arms layby emerges below. Take care on the way down, you may need to use your hands in a couple of places to steady yourself on the deeper steps down – we did!
Although this route is not as clear as the Pen Y Fan path, if you stick to the ‘straight up, straight down’ trajectory, it’s a straightforward route. The terrain underfoot is not difficult, but robust, waterproof walking shoes or boots are recommended, especially as the ground is boggy after rain.
So, you're convinced, but what are the next steps? Here are some of my top tips to help you with your journey to the Fan Fawr summit.
Now you've ready my experience and noted my top tips, it's time for you to give Fan Fawr a go!
This article was kindly contributed by Andrea Harris.
"I am a keen hiker (erstwhile London girl) who moved to Herefordshire ten years ago. I can regularly be found in the mountains of the Brecon Beacons, Snowdonia and the Lake District. I will also dip in a waterfall, river or lake, given half the chance - in all weathers . I was a novice hill walker a couple of years ago, and vividly recall the feeling of being intimated by the Beacons. So, I joined various walking groups, got skilled up on OS map reading (Silver NNAS & Mountain Skills), started investing in decent walking kit and the mountains are now my sanctuary!"