This is my first ‘Places’ post of 2019 and it is a good one!! My best friend Carys celebrated her 21st Birthday on January 15th and to celebrate we had a fun filled weekend of afternoon tea and cocktails and then we travelled up to Brecon to walk Pen Y Fan the day before! (You’d have already known I’ve done this if you’d noticed my new header for 2019!)
As it was a Monday, I took the day off work to go with her as it was something I wanted to do anyway so doing it for her birthday was extra special.
We set off for Brecon at about 10am and arrived at around 12pm. Which is mad as the journey flew by! Before setting off we had decided that we would be taking the ‘Gentle Route’ as neither of us are the fittest and for our first time we wanted to pace it and just do what we could. The easy route was 4 miles up and back. We set out for Pont ar Daf car park as that was where we would be starting our route.
When we got there we found out that they had a toilet (thank god!) so we went for a wee and then piled on our layers. We arrived with layers upon layers and hats and scarves, bags full of water and snacks and there were others there in shorts with no water at all. So we were a bit sceptical about whether we had come way too overly prepared for an easy walk that most people do on a quiet Sunday.
We didn’t let that bother us and continued on with our layers and bags and started our walk. Already at the bottom of the mountain the scenery was incredible. There was a little bridge and a river and it was just so green and pure, it was already breath taking!
We looked up and could see tiny little ant people walking up to where we would be trying to get and took a deep breath and walked.
20 minutes in and we were struggling.
I’m not saying I am super fit, I haven’t done much exercise in a while BUT I didn’t realise I was THAT unfit! I was really struggling, my chest was tight and my legs were aching while Carys was strolling on ahead. I honestly didn’t know if I was going to be able to do it!! How embarrassing!
Then Carys started to lag, both of us were feeling the burn. Stopping and necking our drinks, taking deep breathes. Everyone that was walking passed us on the way down looked chill and unfazed. I was hoping someone would turn to us and tell us ‘it’s worth it’!
About half way up (or so we thought) we decided to take a pit stop and have a breather. Carys took some pictures and we both just took in the wonderful views. If this was only half way up I had high hopes for the top. 10 or so minutes later and a lot of deep breathes and guzzled water we were ready to continue our walk up.
I started to feel a lot better and walking came with a little more ease after this. We both continued to plot along, thighs burning. We eventually got to where we thought the top would begin.. NOPE. We still had a little while left to go. But so far it was gorgeous, windy as heck, but gorgeous. We stopped and took in the view from where we had arrived at and then continued on a slightly more horizontal (thank god) journey to the top.
While on the horizontal path we came across the most beautiful view. I think that was my favourite one of the whole journey. It was amazing. A lovely couple and their dog had caught up with us by then and offered to take our picture, which we were so grateful for. After having a few in front of the view we continued on.
Finally, we arrived at the last upward part of the walk before you reached the top of the mountain. We were so excited that we had finally made it. The last push up seemed to take forever but finally we could see the little sign at the top!
We took in the most incredible view. It was so worth the walk! We didn’t have the best of days but it was clear and you could see for miles so it was fantastic. Two girls offered to take our picture on the rocks next to the sign and we offered to do the same for them. I had carried a bottle of sparkling wine all the way up for Carys to have to celebrate her 21st. She didn’t open it though as she wouldn’t have drank it, but she appreciated my efforts!
After taking in the scenery and taking some pictures it was time to make our way down again. All through the MUCH easier journey down I was just so happy that I had done this and so grateful that Carys wanted to spend that special moment with me. I hope that her last day of being 20 was one she will never forget. I know I won’t!
I definitely want to do the walk again. Maybe work on my fitness and then do it again and see if I feel a difference in walking it. I also really do want to bring Ieuan and do the walk with him because I know he’d really love it too, and maybe even my parents if I can get them all together.
I hope you enjoyed my first ‘places’ post of the year!
(A slightly aching) Beth x