The peaks of Corn Du and Pen-Y-Fan in the Brecon Beacons in Wales are probably the easiest peaks of nearly 3000ft to reach in the whole of the UK. In under an hour it is possible to trek from the car park on the A470 to the summit even in winter, though care must be taken as the path can become very icy. This comparitavely easy ascent must make it one of if not the most popular walks in south wales.
On a cold wintery saturday morning I decided to drive from my home in Dorset to capture the rare event of good snow conditions in the Brecon Beacons. Arriving early at the car park, only a few other hardy souls were there for an early morning trek to the top. Conditions were perfect, light winds and a clear sky with only a few patches of cloud. On the walk up the rising sun illuminated the mountains behind me. A couple of pics of these and I was off up again. Ahead of me I could see the cloud building on the peaks. Not good. By the time I reached the top thick cloud has shrouded everything. Time for plan B.
With the visibility so bad, decided to move on to Pen-Y-Fans smaller neighbour Cribyn. Cribyn being a few hundred feet lower the cloud was just brushing the summit. From the vantage point I had decended to it was just a matter of waiting for a brief clear slot when the summit was clear of cloud. Once I had got my shot I moved on to the summit of Cribyn and waited for the conditions to clear again. By this time it was nearly 12pm and the few hardy souls which had ventured up early in the morning had now grown to many dozens. Looking back towards Pen-Y-Fan, Almost a continuous stream of people were now on the path between Corn Du and Pen-Y-Fan. With the cloud now clearing from Pen-Y-Fan, I found a vantage point on Cribyn to show off the grandeur of South Wales highest mountain.
Mountains in winter always look more imposing and hostile and Pen-Y-Fan is no exception. The SAS get lost up here. With the shots in the bag I decided it was time to make the long trek back to the car, stopping off on the way to take in the breathtaking view from Pen-Y-Fan.
On my descent back to the car I grabbed a last few shots of the neighbouring mountains illuminated by the warm glow of the setting sun, a scene which made me feel like I could be standing somewhere in the Arctic, not in South Wales.
It's cold. Britain freezes and is covered by a blanket of snow, apart from a few exceptions. Here in South and West Dorset we were not hit as hard as other parts of the counry. In Weymouth and Portland the snow had melted not long after it had stopped falling. In North Dorset there is a lot more snow with the area around Shaftsbury hardest hit. Shaftsbury's Gold Hill, famous for the Hovis advert, is a popular spot for adults and children to taboggan with sometimes large crowds gathering at the top of the cobbled street watching the action and cheering on as participants try to avoid ending up under a parked car at the bottom. Not only is Gold Hill good for tobogganing in winter, it is also quite breathtaking location at sunset for pictures when covered in a blanket of the white stuff. It is quite tricky to get a shot sometimes with all the tabogganers but with a bit of organisation and co-operation the tabogganers will wait at the top to give us photographers the chance to get that magic moment.