The most famous circular walk of the Brecon Beacon National Park

Pen Y Fan hike is the most popular trail of the Brecon Beacons National park and for a very good reason: from the top of its 886 m you will be able to enjoy far reaching views on the Black Mountains, on the Bristol Channel, the Cambrian mountains from the highest peak of Wales!

Its neighbour Corn Du (873 m) is the second tallest mountain of Wales and completes this iconic countryside hike on the the highest mountains of the National park. It is considered to be one of the most dangerous mountains of the area due to the swift weather changes, so always bring waterproof clothes and hiking shoes and plenty of water to tackle this challenging uphill path.

Here is the All Trails’s map :

Facts About the Hike

Distance: 6.8 miles/ 11 km
Elevation Gain: 886 meters
Time: 3-4 hours
Difficulty: moderate/difficult
Map: The hiking trails are well marked and easy to follow. starting from the Pont ar Daf car park. Download the “All trails” app to see the full map and directions. A shorter circular trail is proposed by the National Trust.
When to go: This hike is at its best during the spring/summer months to avoid cold temperatures and rain.
Bring: Hiking shoes, water, snacks or lunch, a waterproof light jacket (remember you are in UK!), and of course, your camera.

Getting to the start of the hike

By Car: The Pont ar Daf car park is the most popular one to start your hike. However there are many other starting points such as Pont Cwm y Fedwen from where you can take the Horseshoe trail which is less known and much harder but it allows to cross a variety of stunning landscapes (check out this National Trust 16 km long trail).

On the trail

From the Pont ar Daf car park, follow the National Trust’s directions, walk through the kissing gate and cross the river heading uphill. The peaceful scenery is dominated by small waterfalls, forest and grassy hills all around you at the beginning of the path.

You are probably asking yourself what does this curious name means. Pen y Fan comes from Welsh, and its is translated into English as “the mountain’s peak”. It was previously named Cadair Arthur – meaning ‘King Arthur’s Chair’.

According to the legend, King Arthur once helped the people of Brecon to fight wild boards frightening the population. Arthur killed the “Alpha boar” letting the body roll in the river waters which today are called Afon Twrch, meaning the ‘river of the boar’.

The trail is very well signalled by National Trust symbols on along the way and it goes steadily uphill until the peak of the Pen Y Fan mountain. Get ready to drink plenty of water as the path is constantly becoming more and more steep.

Enjoy the views over the grassy hills covered with heather, the only plant able to survive extreme weather conditions and the strong winds that sweep the valleys.

Both Pen y Fan and Corn Du where used as burial places during the Bronze Age and they still have a mystical aura attracting people from all over the UK to explore this wild part of the world and breath some fresh air. T

The silence is deafening and you will only hear the wind blowing on the cliff’s ridges and the sound of your panting breath as you climb uphill! The majestic views from the peak are truly worth all the pain to reach the summit!

Once you reached the peak you can come back the same way or make your hike longer picking another trail. Have a look at the guides below to find alternative paths.

More information about hiking in the Brecon Beacons Park

If this walk inspired you to explore this astonishing natural area even further, have a look at the guide for the best panoramic hikes in the Brecon beacon National Park. Whatever your level or preferences are, these guides will inspire you to find your next favourite trail!

Walking on the Brecon Beacons: A Walker’s Guide to the National Park Brecon Beacons Outstanding Circular Walks (Pathfinder Guides) Day Walks in the Brecon Beacons: 20 Circular Routes in South Wales