Author Topic: Walk: Corn Du in The Brecon Beacons  (Read 3020 times)

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Offline Geoff Reid

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Walk: Corn Du in The Brecon Beacons
« on: October 01, 2013, 01:56:56 PM »
We drove across to the Brecon Beacons yesterday, intending to walk up Corn Du first [SO 007 213] , then across (and up slightly higher), to Pen Y Fan [SO 012 215] before visiting Tommy Jone's obelisk [SO 000 217] and descending via Y Gyrn [SN 988 215]  and trudging a short distance along the A470 back to where we'd dumped the car in the Pont A Daf car park. [SN 987 198].

We had a cracking walk up although less than perfect weather conditions above 600 metres, which steadily worsened as we approached 800 metres encouraged us to shorten our original route plan a bit :)

With very few other walkers on the mountain, and visibility down to about 20 yards as we approached the 800 metre mark, it seemed as if we had the entire mountain to ourselves.  We both like that feeling of solitude, (even if it's just the impression rather than the reality),  so we were a bit surprised to hear a woman shouting as we approached the meeting of several paths on the ridge at Bwlch Duwynt  [SO 005 209].

The woman, (a Welsh bird on her mid 40's), was alone and shouting loudly for her walking companions. Naturally we wandered over for a chat and to see if she needed help. It turned out that her Son and Husband had taken her up for her first mountain walk and then wandered off without her.  Poor woman had no map, no compass and absolutely no idea where she was or which path and direction she should take to get safely down again.  We ascertained where she'd come from and then made sure she knew exactly which direction and path she needed to take to get back down although she was adamant that she wasn't going back down without her son and husband.  We suggested that, if she's wasn't going back down she should at least stay put for a while, (Thankfully she was wearing enough of the right clothes to keep her alive for a good while), and not wander off in another direction! - Tig and I quietly resolved to ascend to the summit of Corn Du and then come back to the same point to check that she was alright before we continued with our own walk.

The final part of the ascent climbs another 49 metres (in altitude) over a distance of about 350 metres. Compared to the ascent from Pont A Daf the last bit is almost a gentle stroll with a final bit of easy rock scrambling to get up onto the summit plateau itself.  Our enthusiasm wasn't in the slightest bit dampened by a steady horizontal rain, the near constant wind speed of about 40mph or visibility and light levels which were both decreasing by the minute.  As we started the final scramble I took the opportunity afforded by sheltering rocks to whip off my shell layer and get a micro fleece on - in that few seconds of being partially exposed to the wind I had a perfect reminder of how quickly windchill will cause hypothermia - I carry enough body fat that I don't get cold particularly quickly but in those few seconds I really felt it. After getting my fleece on I was comfortable for the rest of the walk.   

Tig - Patiently waiting while I get my fleece on....





Monsieur Vile at the summit of Corn Du...





Tig at the summit of Corn Du....





Toasty Tig





Whilst Tig was doing a Facebook 'Check In' at the summit, (yes, she really was - there's a healthy 3G signal up there, although nothing for most of the ascent), I wandered around to locate the path down which we were intending to scramble when we started off for our next peak, Pen Y Fan.  I located the top of the path, and was reasonably sure I had located the top of the correct path, but being pedantic about such things whipped out my map, oriented it with compass and quickly realised that I had become disoriented.  The combination of low light levels, poor visibility and few visible landmarks almost caused me to make a common and potentially deadly navigational error - I was facing in the wrong direction (by about 90 degrees) and what I had initially thought was probably the top of an interesting downward scramble to our next path was in fact the top of an interesting, albeit brief, vertical plunge of a few score metres then prolonged and uncontrollable rag-doll tumble for 200 or perhaps 300 metres. It always pays to check your position and bearing and if you're not absolutely sure where your next step is taking you, don't take it :)

Not this way!




We spent about 20 minutes on the summit of Corn Du - mostly to just soak up the ambience and enjoy having a mount topentirely to ourselves, but also to get a feel for what the weather was doing, get an updated report and decide whether to stick to or revise our plan.  No improvement in weather was imminent so we opted not to press on to Pen Y Fan, the obelisk or Y Gyrn, deciding instead to return by the clearing defined paths by which we'd ascended. 

I wasn't overly worried about the Pen Y Fan stretch - the paths are well defined, but we thought we'd give ourselves a good reason to come back and walk all three peaks on a clearer day, but I decided against Y Gurn on the basis that the paths over it aren't clearly defined and, although my map and compass skills are good, it represented taking an unnecessary risk in poor weather and low, almost zero by now) visibility.

On our descent we returned to where we'd left the woman just in time to see her husband and son loom out of the mist from the direction of Pen Y Fan.  Incredibly (in my opinion) the son was wearing trainers and football shorts and a light shell jacket.  Both men were surprised to see the woman there and the son said: "We thought you'd gone back down Mum!"   Had they not arrived when they did our intention was to invite/encourage her to walk down with us.  I was a bit surprised when all three set off into the cloud, rain and wind in the direction of Pen Y Fan - I can't decide whether the son was proper 'ard, impervious to the weather or just mental.  All I can say for certainty is that I was layered up, dry and maintaining a comfortable body temperature. If I'd been wearing shorts I think I'd would have become dangerously cold in a matter of minutes. Still, each to their own I suppose eh?

Both looking forward to going back, think I'll be investing in a 4 season walking coat and possibly a pair of thermal lined trousers if we get back there this side of next summer though.  In summary: A shorter walk than planned, none of the views we'd hoped for but really enjoyable nonetheless.  Burned plenty of calories, added some muscle mass to our legs and know we're fitter than we were when we walked the Langdale Pikes a couple of weeks back. (in the process of writing about that). 
« Last Edit: October 01, 2013, 03:12:36 PM by Geoff Reid »



Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Walk: Corn Du in The Brecon Beacons
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2013, 03:15:05 PM »

Prep finished - Post unhidden :)

Offline Outoftowner

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Re: Walk: Corn Du in The Brecon Beacons
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2013, 03:56:10 PM »
Very interesting Geoff. The difference in your preparation, planing, common sense and alertness compared to the other 3 visitors to the area is stunning but unfortunately....typical.

I hope that these people know that not only has Prince William retired form rescuing idiots on mountains but the trusty Sea King fleet are due for retirement themselves in a few weeks. The Air Sea Rescue service will be provided by a civilian company, using little helicopters that you can't even stand up in. (Something of a restriction for Medics working on very ill people, I believe.)
What's it all about?

Offline Muggins

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Re: Walk: Corn Du in The Brecon Beacons
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2013, 04:48:41 PM »
I envy you that walk/climb. do you think I could get up there on the trolley?

Sounds to me like you helped prevent a planned murder there!  I know how the poor woman felt - although I would have thanked you kindly for your help and accepted it.

I was once nearly abandoned on Port Loe, Cornwall, We walked along the cliff to Loe Bar and started back by the beach, where my short stubby legs and heavier weight meant the sands were sucking me in with every step, whilst the lighter ones of the children and Mr Muggins went on in front and got around a headland with more time to spare and the tide was advancing.  When, to their surprise I actually caught up with them (to this day I still feel they were going to leave me there) they were sat ten foot up on a sea wall in which the steps started four foot up.

They had no choice then,  in public,  but to haul me up that first four foot.

Next time you go to Cornwall Geoff, try Trencom, you won't need all the gubbins, but it is a good place to go.
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Spunkymonkey

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Re: Walk: Corn Du in The Brecon Beacons
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2013, 09:19:12 PM »
The abandoned welsh bird reminds me of a walk in Scotland in few years back.

We were planning to climb Ben Nevis but visibility was really bad, so we decided to visit the waterfalls at the foot of the mountain instead. We got chatting to a very nice young lady and asked if she was walking alone.

It turned out that she was on her honeymoon and the fluorescent speck in the far distance was her new husband.

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Walk: Corn Du in The Brecon Beacons
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2014, 12:44:13 PM »
I envy you that walk/climb. do you think I could get up there on the trolley?

Definitely not via the route we used - the ascent paths are reinforced with sandstone cobbles but they are, ahem, somewhat irregular in size, shape and level.  Even with fell walking boots on the path is a challenge in itself.  There are other ascents (we'll do doing them one by one over the next couple of years) but I don't know how they're surfaced (if at all).


Next time you go to Cornwall Geoff, try Trencom, you won't need all the gubbins, but it is a good place to go.

We will.  Tig wants to do more lower level walking this year and it is nice to wander along with a small day pack and packed lunch on your back :)

We walked up Lord Hereford's Knob (I kid you not) in the Black Mountains on the 22nd of December (Tig's birthday).  I'll have to knock up a short post with some video.  WHen we started it was chucking it down with Snow and, at the summit, the wind was so loud that, even though we were shouting at each other, it was impossible to hear any words at all - beautiful and breathtaking. 

It was a short, cold and windy walk but well worth it for the view over the Wye valley.