Out of all the Brecon Beacon walks, the Pen Y Fan walk is the most well known because it takes you to the highest point in the Brecon Beacons and in South Wales!
There are a few different Pen Y Fan walking routes that you can do to take you to the top of Pen Y Fan.
In this wales travel blog I detail how I did my Pen Y Fan walk which I loved, so you can do it too and you can plan your Pen Y Fan hike!
Pen Y Fan Walk
About Pen Y Fan
If you don’t know already, the Brecon Beacons is a National Park in South Wales situated not too far from the Wales and England border. Pen Y Fan is one of the highest peaks in the Brecon Beacons.
What is the height of Pen Y Fan?
It’s 2,907 ft and there is a fairly popular Pen Y Fan walk that can be done in a few hours.
This was perfect for me as I was on my way from Pembrokeshire heading back to England, and the Brecon Beacons is in-between on this journey.
Before planning your journey see – the best time to visit Wales!
Pen Y Fan Parking
I made my way to Pont ar Daf Car Park which is a car park where the Pen Y Fan Routes start.
It isn’t far from the main roads surrounding the Park and as I came from the A465 from the West I was treated to a lovely drive through the mountains before reaching the car park.
I used the postcode LD3 8NL to find the car park. It turned out that this is actually the postcode for a car park just down the road from Pont ar Daf called the Storey Arms car park as its home to the Storey Arms Education Centre.
I came across the actual car park first so pulled in but at 12:00 on a Summer’s Sunday afternoon, there was no way I was getting parked as the area was completely full with many people also doing the Pen Y Fan walk.
I could see that some people were pulled up on the side of the road and thought I might have to do that but luckily drove down to the Storey Arms car park which I could see a few meters away and I found a space there.
Both car parks for Pen Y Fan are free however I did see articles online which say they might start charging soon.
If you need to hire a car for your road trip around Wales, I suggest heading over to Rental Cars who check all of the top companies so you can compare the best prices and options!
Pen Y Fan Walking Routes
The Pont ar Daf car park is home to the toilets (and the last toilets you’ll see). Here I found a board that detailed the Circular Route I wished to take which would pass Pen Y Fan but also Corn Du, another highlight of the area.
This route is 5 miles long, I estimated it would take me about 3 hours (which it did!) and I then headed off.
Pen Y Fan Circular Route
The incline on the Pen Y Fan hike started straight away and kept going and going for what felt like forever!
Lots of people were passing me on their way back down, they were pretty much all covered up with coats on whereas I was sweating and peeling my layers off but I found out later that it gets cold pretty quickly at the top!
In the distance, I could see a mountain ridge and people ascending and descending it and thought that this must be Pen Y Fan!
After a good 30 minutes of climbing, I finally reached the top and was quite confused when I saw a track going towards the right, another to the left and another up the ridge I had been eyeing up!
I decided to take the track to the left alongside the ridge, luckily the track was now flat and I could take in the views. I was also right up in the clouds by this point and my layers quickly went back on, plus the extra layers I had packed!
Soon in the distance, I could see another ridge with people climbing it, I followed the track and found out that this was, in fact, Pen Y Fan!
The sign at the top kind of gave it away as did the number of people who were getting pictures with it.
The view was pretty bad though as it wasn’t a particularly clear day and the cloud was very low but it’s all about the journey right!?
Pen Y Fan to Corn Du
After walking back down it was time to climb the ridge that I had been seeing all along which I figured must be Corn Du and indeed it was.
I also find it funny that once face to face with a steep incline it isn’t nearly as steep as it appears from far down below!.. well some of the time!
Corn Du is a mere 13 meters lower than Pen Y Fan and to be honest, I preferred it.
Maybe because it was a bit quieter with fewer people standing around or maybe because the view was better and clearer for me on that day or maybe because Llyn Cwm Llwch, an iconic small lake, could be seen below making it that bit more iconic and photogenic.
Corn Du to Storey Arms Car Park
After a few pictures, I started descending down the other side where I could see a lot of walkers in the distance. There is a pathway to walk down to Llyn Cwm Llwch lake and I think from a distance I could see people swimming in it (!), however, I didn’t go down as I was quite short on time.
Instead, I carried on down the path which became quite a steep decline but soon inclined pretty steeply too!
Turning around I could see both ridges in the distance and it again reminded me how high they really are!
The pathway soon plateaued, the road came into sight, and before I knew it I was walking down the end of the path and coming out on the road where the Storey Arms Car Park sits, where my car was conveniently located as was a food van for me to get a well-deserved burger!
FAQ About the Pen Y Fan Walk
How hard is it to walk up Pen Y Fan?
Pen Y Fan is a fairly challenging walk but it is not the hardest mountain walk up in the UK. The incline is gradual in places and I saw many people of different ages and fitness levels walking up Pen Y Fan.
Is Pen Y Fan harder than Snowdon?
No, Pen Y Fan is not harder to climb than Snowdon. I found the Pen Y Fan walk quicker and less tiring than Snowdon.
Do you need walking boots for Pen Y Fan?
Walking boots would be ideal for walking up Pen Y Fan because of the rugged terrain and the fact that the weather changes quickly so it might be dry when you start walking and then get very wet. However you don’t have to have walking boots to climb Pen Y Fan and good trainers will do.
Can you walk Pen Y Fan in trainers?
Yes, you can walk Pen Y Fan in trainers that have a good grip and sole and that you know are comfy to walk in for multiple hours and you don’t mind getting muddy.
Should I climb Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons Wales?
Yes! Just remember that although it’s not the most intense hike the park has to offer and the tourist board claims its ‘moderate’, you are climbing a mountain so relative fitness, appropriate walking shoes and walking wear is needed!
What is the best Pen Y Fan Walking Route?
I saw people walking it both ways however I was happy with the way I happened to walk from Pont ar Daf. The initial walk from Pont ar Daf carpark is long and steep but it gets higher gradually and is a consistent incline.
If I had walked from Storey Car park the track inclines and declines a lot but the inclines are a lot more intense and steep. The overall length of this path is also a lot longer, therefore when I walked this path back to the road, although I did have a steep incline, I only had to do it once rather than twice if I had done it the other way round!.. Do you see what I mean?
Best place to stay near the Brecon Beacons?
The town of Brecon is a good place to base yourself before or after visiting the Brecon Beacons National Park. The towns of Merthyr Tydfil and Abergavenny would be good places to use as a base too and they may be cheaper. I’d recommend having a look on Booking.com to check availability and prices as it is a nice and convenient area to stay in Wales.
What to pack to climb Pen Y Fan?
Definitely pack layers for Pen Y Fan! It gets very hot when walking and very cold up in the cloud! Also, be prepared for rain. Wales is known for its rain and this area of the Country is especially bad. Even if it doesn’t rain the whole time it’s likely you’ll experience a few short showers as I did.
Packing some food and snacks is a good idea as there is only a burger van in each car park, there is no cafe when walking to Pen Y Fan.
Take a fair amount of water, I didn’t see anywhere that I could refill my water bottle on the walk.
The toilets in the car park were pretty bad with no toilet roll when I went so pack some extra just in case!
As I also said, you are climbing a mountain so comfortable and appropriate clothing and footwear are needed to walk Pen Y Fan. I wore my Merrell Siren Sport Q2 shoes which were great and so comfy!
- More of my Wales Posts:
- Hiking Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons.
- How to Climb Snowdon from Pen Y Pass!
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