This post highlights a circular walk via Fan y Big, including a wild camping option. Starting point: Blaen y Glyn Uchaf free car park. Distance: 7 miles (11km). Height gain: 420 meters (1380 feet). OS Maps: Explorer OL12 or Landranger 160. Download Route Summary.
Fan y Big may not be the highest peak in the Brecon Beacons – in fact it was recently downgraded to a mere “hill” after it was found by an intrepid mountain surveyor that it missed the mark by just 4.9ft (1.5m) – but it’s still a very special place and well worth a visit.
We took this walk on a brisk spring day with friends from London and their teenage son and daughter. All were new to mountain walking so we chose this walk for its ease of terrain and navigation. It also had a few options to shorten the loop just in case anyone couldn’t hack it. Fortunately, everyone could!
Starting point: Blaen y Glyn Uchaf free car park. Distance: 7 miles (11km). Height gain: 420 meters (1380 feet). OS Maps: Explorer OL12 or Landranger 160. Download Route Summary.
You can follow this walking route to Fan y Big in any direction, but I favour the counterclockwise option. After a steep climb at the start, the rest of the walk is a gentle ridge walk along the Beacons Way to the summit, followed by a gradual descent through the Taf Fechan Forest. People with little to no mountain experience and/or limited fitness will find it a good challenge, but very doable.
There are plenty of wild camping options on this route. My pick would be near the infant river Blaen Caerfanell, a rare opportunity to camp at a high level while still having access to water. You’ll find it along the Craig y Fan Ddu ridgeline, where the Beacons Way diverges from the ridge towards Fan y Big (pictured below). There are plenty of other wild camping options if you don’t mind carrying your water in, as the top of the ridge is very flat and open.
Everyone in our group was blown away by the views, and it’s easy to see why. As you approach Fan y Big you behold this beautiful undulating row of peaks: Fan y Big, then beyond that Cribyn, Pen y Fan (the actual highest peak in the Brecon Beacons), and Corn Du. You don’t actually having to deal with the crowds typically found on the other summits, particularly on a pleasant weekend afternoon. We had Fan y Big to ourselves for a short while. It’s worth braving the “Diving Board” to capture a photo (it’s not as scary as it looks in pictures).
It wouldn’t be an Eat Sleep Wild post without a mention of our hillwalking food that day. For lunch, it was Lentil and Wild Garlic Soup (an adaptation of my lentil ragu with kale and parmesan), wholemeal sourdough bread, and wild garlic pesto.
For snacks, my oaty blueberry muffins:
… and old school trail mix!
More pictures from our Fan y Big walk:
Important note: This guide should be used in conjunction with the appropriate OS map. Do not attempt this route without a map, compass, and the skills to use them.