Brecon Beacon National Park
12.06.2010 - 12.06.2010
Ever since I arrived in the UK I had been planning a trip to Wales (or what the Welsh call Cymru). There is something mysterious about this little country that sits on the hip of England and has been subsumed within the larger United Kingdom. I told my three co-workers that I wanted to go and they said they wanted to come. So on Saturday morning we left Brighton at 5:20 am and made it into Cardiff, Wales around 10 am. We dumped our bags at the hostel and headed straight to Brecon Beacon, a huge national park in the south. While Brighton is a pretty town I think we were all craving more dramatic scenery. They say the Welsh countryside is the last truly "wild" place in the United Kingdom but that requires a car and more time than we had. Since we couldn't make it that far north in one weekend we settled for Pen Y Fan, the highest peak in Southern Wales at 886 meters (2,907 ft) above sea level.
After consistently moody weather over the last few weeks it was such a relief to get the shining sun and bright blue sky. We trekked upwards through pastures of lazy sheep grazing and communicating via cartoonish baaaa-ing. As someone who grew up in the heart of Toronto I find sheep vaguely fascinating though they did not seem to feel the same way about me:
As we came over the ridge this was our first view of Pen Y Fan with the distinctive flat top. Perspective is a funny thing since it looks remarkably close but was actually quite a long way up from here:
As current and former smokers we arrived at the summit breathless and sweaty from exertion but it was worth it:
My traveling companions at the edge:
On the way down I met this ewe who was was not as ambitious as her peers who graze along the steep ridges of the mountains:
At the end of the trail there was a creek and mini waterfall. It was so good to lay in the sun with my feet resting in the cool fresh water. I couldn't help but feel this swollen sense of contentment in the fact that we were hanging out in the beautiful Welsh countryside:
We returned to the hostel in the evening full of fresh air but little sleep. We played epic rounds of card games in the courtyard while drinking British beer and eating World Cup themed crisps (e.g. Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding). In the background the football match (England vs. USA) played with a pretty muted response. The Welsh don't tend to cheer for England but since they tied there wasn't much to cheer anyway. By midnight I was asleep and ready for day two.