27th August 2017
Another day, another dilemma. Well, it wouldn’t be Summit or Nothing if all went swimmingly would it? Ok, so we’ve lucked out with the weather up here in the Brecon Beacon’s again (no mist for once), but we have no idea where we are going on day two, and before we can even begin, we have to take a trip to the Cotswold’s (the store not the region) to get Nath some new boots after his bit the dust finishing up yesterday afternoon.
Cotswolds (the store not the region) in Brecon doesn’t open until 10am, so we loiter a little longer at family base camp, eating mainly. What we should have been doing was looking at an OS map, but we had half decided that if we were going to do the Cotswolds (the store not the region) we could buy a guide book and get some idea’s of new, interesting UPS to take in from there. So off to the Cotswold’s we went (the store, not the region).
We spent quite a lot of time in the store too, Nath contemplating which boot, me trying to skim read a hundred guide books for inspiration. In the end I just bit the biscuit, paid £12 and bought the AA 50 Brecon Walks – or something. At a glance, it looked like the best walk for us – in this book at least – was Sugar Loaf mountain, but I waited patiently for Nath to finish up shoe shopping before we discussed it.
Anyway, we got the Cotswold (Store not region) shoe shopping excursion out of the way, popped to a supermarket to grab some fresh fruit to take with us on our hike, pulled over in a layby to look at book, and decided two things – a) to disregard the Sugar loaf mountain walk as it was barely a mountain and b) to use the OS map to find a route to plan instead of the guide book. I bitched briefly about having forked out £12 on a book that I probably wouldn’t use again which I think fell on death ears, as Nath had just forked out £160 for boots when he has a perfectly good pair sitting at home (However, he was after a decent waterproof pair for the coming winter months on Dartmoor).
So, with help from the OS map we chose our route by way of finding the most hilarious mountain name and went from there. We didn’t really but Fan Y Big could have easily been chosen by such a method. So, back to where we were yesterday, almost. Fan Y Big sits right next to Crybyn, but we were to enter the mountain from the South this time rather the North West. So, map away, new boots on, guide book disregarded and…. Its half past twelve by the time we set off UP.
Parking up at the Talybont Forest car park (Blaen y Glyn Uchaf – don’t expect us to try and pronounce this in our videos) and set off up the first Up of the day. Craig y Fan Ddu climbs up to about 700m, so nothing like getting the worst UP of the day out of the way. The sun was beating down on us, and it was a slow but steady climb, camera in hand to be my excuse every two minutes of stopping (today I decided that I would also carry my DSLR to actually take some photo’s instead of just filming). Nath, as usual, kept way ahead of myself and chugged along like the machine that he is – or would be did he not have me slowing him down wheezing away in the back ground.
There wasn’t a fraction of the traffic on this route today as there had been yesterday, whether they were all on Sugar Loaf mountain, or had gone home to beat the bank holiday traffic I don’t know, but we only really saw a handful of people throughout the day. If anything, this was the busiest part of our day, with us over taking many groups, and many groups over taking us as we edged up the side of the mountain.
Up the top of the first climb, the ground levelled considerably (although from where we were to the summit of Fan Y Big there was a 50 odd metres climb), but from here the views really began to open up. It never fails to amaze me when observing the scale of these mountainous regions, and all the while I am well aware that here, and in Dartmoor, and even in Snowdonia and the Lake District, we haven’t really began to scale any massive hieghts yet.
I look forward to Scotland, but am also a little apprehensive, and I also wonder how far we can go once we have started ticking off the bigguns of our home nation. Will we eventually get to see some other mountain ranges out of the country, and start scaling some even larger mountains? I certainly hope so, but I do think we (I) need to be fitter and that we (both) have a better knowledge of map reading and orienteering. Anyway, that’s all a little way off yet.
Whilst the views were stunning, there was something up here on top of the Craig Y Fan Ddu that wasn’t as pleasurable. Flying ants. Millions and millions of the little bastards. Clinging to us, crawling in our hair (well, mine). Swarming around our heads like a living fog. At one point I had even taken a video of them that looked just like static on a TV. As disgustingly itch inducing as it was, it was still incredible to see. Every now and again, the tide of ants would receed when the wind picked up, they would duck back down the slopes of the ledge and find cover from the wind, but as soon as it became still once again they would all rise up again.
We headed in land, to where there was somewhat of a fork in the road, where our circular route began around Gwaun Cerrig Llwydion really began. The two tracks converged at the site of a waterfall, however, when we reached it, there really wasn’t much water, but it was picturesque. I’d imagine that if there had been a lot of rain fall then the fall’s would have come to life! We were to follow the Beacons Way, taking a left at our junction, but first we decided that a stop and a bite was in order.
After ten minutes of chatting and map reading, we set off again on our route, and although we were obviously higher up and the views were remarkable, the terrain underfoot was as close to Dartmoor as we had set foot on outside of our home turf. We even had the pleasure of meeting a pile of stones which could have been a cairne on any Tor back home. We strolled across the open moorland until, eventually we reached the edge of the Gwaun Cerrig Llwydion and looked out across the vast valley below.
It was a moment where I had to put the cameras away and just take it in with my eyes. It was, for me, the highlight of any Summit or Nothing experience so far, a real goosebumps moment. I have captured photos of it, and panning video shots, but neither seem to do it the justice. It was a breathtaking moment I soaked in so that hopefully it will stick with me for a long time to come. We skirted around the edge of the drop off, until we made our way to the Big Fan Y, I mean, Fan Y Big.
We took this time to take in the views, and take pics of each other stood over the expansive valley from the natural ledge there. The view across to Pen Y Fan and Crybyn showed us that there was still a lot of people out and about, luckily for us, they were mostly in that direction. Pen Y Fan looked like it had ants crawling all over it. Uh, oh. Who said ants?
We settled down on the summit, after shouting our mantra across the lands of course, and cooked up some boil in the bag meals and a coffee, just in time for a swarm of flying ants to rise up and smother us once again. Its enough to (almost) put you right off your dinner. A couple of lads arrived at the summit with us as we sat, and I uploaded a pic to Instagram and a collection of pictures to our Facebook page. One of the lads said to his friend that flying ants only come out one day a year, so this was unfortunate timing. We took a little pleasure in poo poing his theory as we had seen many yesterday too.
The lads soon sat down to enjoy their own lunch too, and at first Nath and I exchanged glances. Nath especially doesn’t like people, but soon we all began chatting merrily away about hiking and mountains and we were ecstatic to hear that compared to these chaps we were seasoned professionals. They had both recently started and hadn’t seen much of anywhere at all, we gave the the run down on our past conquests, Snowdon, Tryfan, Scaffel, Ling Mell, The Old Man of Coniston. We sounded like we knew what we were on about. I even mentioned our channel, and they both seemed disinterested. We never did get a comment from them.
So now the final furlong, and as we walked back along the ridge, and completed the circular route back to the dry waterfall, the sun was sinking and it bought with it a real icy wind. We picked up pace as we re-trod the final descent of the mountain, both on a high that often comes to us (me usually but this time Nath as well) when getting off a mountain. When we got back to the car we recorded the sign off for our YouTube vdeo, and I took Nath’s SD cards home to edit, and unbeknown to me until over a week later when I was four hours away at home, I must have misplaced two of the three batteries for the Panasonic camcorder here, as I removed them from my camera bag to get to the SD card holder that was buried. So, without knowing it, a typical Summit Or Nothing end to a great day. Fantastic.