The central region of the Brecon Beacons, which reaches its highest point on Pen y Fan, is an astonishing landscape of great wedge-shaped mountains forged from beautiful red sandstone. Hikes to Fan Fawr take you to the highest point on the massif to the west of the main chain, separated by a valley that marks the very beginnings of the emblematic River Taff.
Its slopes rise gracefully from all directions but for its spectacular east facing cwm, which falls dramatically to the glacial moraine of Cefn Bach. From this natural amphitheatre, various infant streams merge to form the Nant Pennig which is then gathered by the Beacons Reservoir below.
Just as with Pen y Fan, the most direct walking routes to Fan Fawr use the Storey Arms Centre car park. Other paths approach from the north, linking neighbouring Craig Cerrig-gleisiad. Gradients are kind, with only the occasional steep pull. The views are marvellous, especially when following the escarpments. Winter conditions make the walk more challenging but also more rewarding, well within reach if you’re appropriately equipped.
From the summit, the majestic sweep of Corn Du’s western flank meets a distinctively tabled summit. It’s an interesting place to view the procession of hikers making their way up from the Storey Arms, like ants on a tree branch. The very apex of Pen y Fan, the highest point in southern Britain, pokes out above Corn Du. Back on Fan Fawr, don’t be fooled by a trig point that marks a point some 2,000 feet (600 m) to the south west of the true summit.
Brecon is an ideal base for adventures in this part of the Beacons, with plenty of accommodation options in the town and camping in the surrounding countryside. A youth hostel lies just off the road below Craig Cerrig-gleisiad, a great starting point for routes on the massif.
In the know? Log-in to add a tip for other adventurers!