Blue Ocean

More Than Just a Walk: The Outdoor Excitement of Pen y Fan

If you’ve been browsing things to do in South Wales, you’ve undoubtedly seen Pen Y Fan pop up. It’s the star of the show, that peak dominating the Brecon Beacons, and for good reason. The views are unreal! But here’s the thing. There’s a whole world of outdoor awesomeness waiting to be discovered in this corner of Wales.

Sure, ticking off that Pen Y Fan hike is a must-do. We get it! But what if we told you your South Wales experience could be even more epic? Whether you’re a seasoned walker eager for new challenges or simply looking for something a bit more thrilling, let’s chat about conquering Pen Y Fan and all the other ways to get your adrenaline pumping in these wild Welsh landscapes.

Planning Your Pen Y Fan Hike

Okay, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of tackling Pen Y Fan. While it’s a popular hike, don’t underestimate it – preparation is key! Here’s the lowdown:

  • Choosing the Right Route: Pen Y Fan isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. There are a few different paths leading to the top, each with its own flavour. For the less experienced folks, the classic route from Pont ar Daf is a solid choice. Think steady climbs and gorgeous scenery. Want something tougher? The climb up Corn Du and across the ridge is a leg burner that rewards you with incredible vistas. Do your homework and choose the route that suits your fitness and adventure level.
  • Gearing Up for Success: The Welsh weather is notoriously fickle. One minute it’s sunshine, the next it’s sideways rain! Be ready for anything with the right gear: sturdy hiking boots, comfy layers, a waterproof jacket, and snacks and water to keep you fueled. Sunscreen and a hat are smart additions too, even on overcast days.
  • Safety First: Always check the mountain weather forecast before you go. Conditions up there can change rapidly. Leave No Trace principles are non-negotiable on Pen Y Fan – let’s keep this gem pristine for everyone. Stay on marked paths, pack out all your trash, and be mindful of the environment.

Let’s get into the details.

Pen Y Fan Route Breakdown

North view from the summit of Pen-y-Fan

© Copyright Adrian Perkins and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Here’s a quick overview of the most common routes up Pen Y Fan:

Pont ar Daf (The Classic Route)

Most popular and beginner-friendly

Gradual ascent for the most part

Breathtaking views throughout

Can get very crowded, especially weekends and holidays

Corn Du & Cribyn (The Challenging Loop):

Tougher climb with a good dose of scrambling

Jaw-dropping panoramic views

Less crowded than the main route

Requires a good fitness level and some scrambling experience

Jacob’s Ladder (The Direct Route):

Steepest and quickest way to the summit

Views across the Beacons are amazing

Good fitness level is essential

Essential Gear for Pen Y Fan

Here’s a checklist of the must-haves for tackling Pen Y Fan, regardless of your route:

  • Footwear: Sturdy hiking boots or trail shoes with excellent ankle support and grippy soles


  • Base layer (wicking material like merino wool or synthetic)
  • Mid-layer (fleece or light insulated jacket)
  • Waterproof and windproof outer shell
  • Hiking pants or shorts (quick-drying)
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Backpack: Comfortable, sized for carrying all your gear
  • Hydration: Water bottle or hydration bladder (minimum 2 litres capacity)
  • Snacks: Energy bars, trail mix, fruit, etc.
  • Navigation: Map, compass, or GPS device (even if following a well-marked trail)
  • Headlamp/torch: Just in case!
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses: Even on cloudy days, protection is vital
  • First-aid kit: Basic essentials for cuts, blisters, and emergencies

Extra Considerations:

  • Weather: Adaptable clothing, extra layers if cold is expected, waterproof gaiters if rain is likely.
  • Experience: For exposed routes, pack additional safety gear or consider hiring a local guide.
  • Season: Winter conditions bring additional challenges (ice, snow) and require specialised gear.

Remember: Always research your chosen Pen Y Fan route thoroughly. Check reliable sources for distance, elevation gain, and any specific hazards or warnings.

Expanding Your South Wales Adventure

Okay, you’ve geared up, planned your route, and now you’re itching to set foot on that iconic Pen Y Fan trail. But hold on just a second! Let’s talk about making this adventure even more memorable:

  • Embrace the Journey: The summit views are incredible, but don’t rush! Take the time to soak it all in. Pause and admire the rolling hills, spot the grazing sheep, and feel that fresh Welsh air fill your lungs. The reward is in the journey, not just the destination.
  • Pack a Picnic: Reaching the Pen Y Fan summit deserves a celebration. Pack a simple lunch or a few tasty snacks to enjoy while basking in the views. Bonus points if you include some local Welsh treats – nothing beats a delicious Bara Brith (fruit loaf) break at the top of the world!
  • Respect the Environment: We all want to keep Pen Y Fan and the surrounding Brecon Beacons pristine for generations to come. Practice Leave No Trace principles: take out all your trash, stick to designated trails, and minimise your impact on this stunning landscape.

Bonus Section: Pen Y Fan Summit Selfie Tips

Capture those epic panoramas from the summit and snap a triumphant selfie at the peak. Here’s some tips for those pics:

  • Go for Golden Hour: The soft light of sunrise or sunset adds extra magic to your summit shots.
  • Get Creative: Don’t just stand there smiling! Capture unique angles or incorporate fun props.
  • The Wider View: Include the spectacular valleys and ridges stretching out in the background – the landscape IS the star here!

But remember, the most powerful memories are often the ones we experience, not just the ones we document. 

Put down the camera for a while, take a deep breath of that crisp mountain air, and truly connect with the beauty surrounding you. Let the rolling hills, the sound of wind in the grass, and the vastness of the sky wash over you. These sensory experiences and the feeling of accomplishment will stay with you long after the digital photos fade.

Expanding Your South Wales Adventure

Let’s face it, Pen Y Fan is just a taste of the incredible experiences South Wales has in store. If you’re up for something a little wilder, a bit more thrilling, let’s talk about adding a splash of adrenaline to your trip.

Gorge Walking: A Thrilling Alternative

Picture scrambling through lush canyons, plunging into crystal-clear pools formed by cascading waterfalls, and sliding down natural rock formations. That’s the essence of gorge walking in Wales! Unlike hiking, it’s a full-body adventure that engages your muscles and senses in a whole new way.

South Wales is a gorge-walking paradise, with hidden gorges and canyons waiting to be explored. You don’t need to be an elite athlete either – with experienced guides and varying routes, this exhilarating activity is accessible to a wide range of adventurers.

Exploring the Brecon Beacons National Park

Pen Y Fan is the jewel in the crown of the Brecon Beacons National Park, but there’s so much more to see and do in this stunning landscape.

  • Waterfalls: Hunt down mesmerising waterfalls like those hidden in ‘Waterfall Country’.
  • Mountain biking: Swap your hiking boots for wheels and explore the network of thrilling MTB trails.
  • Stargazing: The Brecon Beacons is a designated Dark Sky Reserve – the views at night are out of this world!
  • Horseback Riding: Take in the rugged landscapes from a different perspective with a guided horse trek.
  • Water Sports: Try surf-kayaking or canoeing, or for those chasing a thrill, tackle white water rafting on exhilarating Welsh rivers (but remember that Welsh rivers are notoriously unpredictable, and days without the white waters are all too common.

And More! If you’re seeking a splash of excitement, consider gorge walking or canyoning – exhilarating adventures exploring the hidden waterways of the park. Local adventure companies offer guided experiences perfect for a unique South Wales experience.

Plan Your Multi-Day Adventure

The Brecon Beacons National Park offers so much to see and do, it’s perfect for a multi-day adventure. Explore their website ( to discover a wider range of activities, walking trails, and even accommodation options nestled within the park. With a bit of planning, you can craft an itinerary that perfectly blends iconic hikes like Pen Y Fan with thrilling adventures and opportunities to unwind amidst breathtaking scenery.

Pen Y Fan – A Stepping Stone

Pen Y Fan is an undeniable highlight of any South Wales trip. But remember, it’s just the start of the epic adventures this region holds. Whether you’re craving a more thrilling challenge or simply want to experience the diversity of the Brecon Beacons, there’s something out there to make your heart race and your soul sing.
Ready to unleash your inner adventurer? Get in touch with the team at Blue Ocean Activities! We’re passionate about creating unforgettable experiences in this vibrant corner of Wales. Whether it’s the exhilarating rush of gorge walking, the challenge of canyoning, or other outdoor activities, let us help you customise the perfect South Wales adventure.

Featured image (on top) © Copyright Jonathan Billinger and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.