Pen y Fan
Overview
 
Pen y Fan is the highest peak in South Wales
South Wales
South Wales is an area of Wales bordered by England and the Bristol Channel to the east and south, and Mid Wales and West Wales to the north and west. The most densely populated region in the south-west of the United Kingdom, it is home to around 2.1 million people and includes the capital city of...

 and southern Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, situated in the Brecon Beacons
Brecon Beacons
The Brecon Beacons is a mountain range in South Wales. In a narrow sense, the name refers to the range of popular peaks south of Brecon, including South Wales' highest mountain, Pen y Fan, and which together form the central section of the Brecon Beacons National Park...

 National Park
National park
A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or...

. At 886 metres (2,907 ft) above sea-level, it is also the highest peak in Britain south of the Snowdonia
Snowdonia
Snowdonia is a region in north Wales and a national park of in area. It was the first to be designated of the three National Parks in Wales, in 1951.-Name and extent:...

 mountain range. The twin summits of Pen y Fan and Corn Du were formerly referred to as Cadair Arthur or 'Arthur's Seat'.

The summit lies on a ridge stretching from Talybont
Talybont-on-Usk
Talybont-on-Usk is a village and community in Powys, Wales. It lies on both the River Usk and the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, and in 2003 won the title of 'Powys Village of the Year'...

 Reservoir in the east, to the A470
A470 road
The A470 is a major long-distance connective spine road in Wales, running from Cardiff on the south coast to Llandudno on the north coast. It covers approximately 186 miles , over a zig-zagging route through the entirety of the country's mountainous central region, including the Brecon Beacons and...

.
Encyclopedia
Pen y Fan is the highest peak in South Wales
South Wales
South Wales is an area of Wales bordered by England and the Bristol Channel to the east and south, and Mid Wales and West Wales to the north and west. The most densely populated region in the south-west of the United Kingdom, it is home to around 2.1 million people and includes the capital city of...

 and southern Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, situated in the Brecon Beacons
Brecon Beacons
The Brecon Beacons is a mountain range in South Wales. In a narrow sense, the name refers to the range of popular peaks south of Brecon, including South Wales' highest mountain, Pen y Fan, and which together form the central section of the Brecon Beacons National Park...

 National Park
National park
A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or...

. At 886 metres (2,907 ft) above sea-level, it is also the highest peak in Britain south of the Snowdonia
Snowdonia
Snowdonia is a region in north Wales and a national park of in area. It was the first to be designated of the three National Parks in Wales, in 1951.-Name and extent:...

 mountain range. The twin summits of Pen y Fan and Corn Du were formerly referred to as Cadair Arthur or 'Arthur's Seat'.

The summit lies on a ridge stretching from Talybont
Talybont-on-Usk
Talybont-on-Usk is a village and community in Powys, Wales. It lies on both the River Usk and the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, and in 2003 won the title of 'Powys Village of the Year'...

 Reservoir in the east, to the A470
A470 road
The A470 is a major long-distance connective spine road in Wales, running from Cardiff on the south coast to Llandudno on the north coast. It covers approximately 186 miles , over a zig-zagging route through the entirety of the country's mountainous central region, including the Brecon Beacons and...

. 500 m (1,640.4 ft) west lies the subsidiary top of Corn Du
Corn Du
Corn Du is a mountain immediately to the southwest of Pen y Fan and the second highest peak in South Wales, situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Tommy Jones' Obelisk is found on its western flanks, in between the summit and Y Gyrn....

, beyond which the terrain drops at a moderate angle to the subsidiary top of Y Gyrn
Y Gyrn
Y Gyrn is a top of Pen y Fan in South Wales, situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Tommy Jones' Obelisk is found in between the summit and Corn Du....

 then more steeply to the Storey Arms on the A470. To the east, the ridge drops steeply to the col
Mountain pass
A mountain pass is a route through a mountain range or over a ridge. If following the lowest possible route, a pass is locally the highest point on that route...

 connecting it to Cribyn
Cribyn (hill)
Cribyn is a mountain in the Brecon Beacons with an elevation of 795 metres.The summit lies on a ridge stretching from Talybont Reservoir in the east, to the A470 road. The ridge line to the west connects Cribyn with the peak of Pen y Fan...

, the next mountain along the ridge. From Corn Du, a gentle ridge descends south towards Merthyr Tydfil
Merthyr Tydfil
Merthyr Tydfil is a town in Wales, with a population of about 30,000. Although once the largest town in Wales, it is now ranked as the 15th largest urban area in Wales. It also gives its name to a county borough, which has a population of around 55,000. It is located in the historic county of...

.

The mountain and surrounding area are owned by the National Trust
National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty
The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, usually known as the National Trust, is a conservation organisation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland...

 whose work parties attempt to combat the erosion caused by the passage of thousands of feet up and down this most popular of South Wales' peaks. The mountain is used by the military
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Defence is the United Kingdom government department responsible for implementation of government defence policy and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces....

 as part of the selection
United Kingdom Special Forces Selection
United Kingdom Special Forces Selection is the selection and training process for members of the United Kingdom's three Special Forces formations: 22 Special Air Service, Special Boat Service, and Special Reconnaissance Regiment...

 process of the UK's
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 Special Forces
United Kingdom Special Forces
The United Kingdom Special Forces is a UK Ministry of Defence Directorate which also has the capability to provide a Joint Special Operations Task Force Headquarters...

 personnel. (See "Fan Dance
Fan dance (exercise)
The Fan Dance is part of the Fitness and Navigation phase of the selection process of the UK's Special Forces personnel. It has also been used on courses run by the Pathfinder Group and the Infantry Battle School, Brecon, Wales. It is a 24 kilometre long distance march in the Brecon Beacons of...

").

Geology

Pen y Fan is formed from various units of the Old Red Sandstone
Old Red Sandstone
The Old Red Sandstone is a British rock formation of considerable importance to early paleontology. For convenience the short version of the term, 'ORS' is often used in literature on the subject.-Sedimentology:...

 which were laid down during the Devonian period. The lower slopes of the mountain are formed from the sandstones and mudstones of the Senni Beds Formation whilst the upper slopes are formed from those of the Brownstones Formation. The very summit, like that of neighbouring Corn Du, is composed of hard-wearing sandstones of the Plateau Beds Formation. The beds of sandstone dip gently southwards towards the South Wales Coalfield
South Wales Coalfield
The South Wales Coalfield is a large region of south Wales that is rich with coal deposits, especially the South Wales Valleys.-The coalfield area:...

 basin.

The Brecon Beacons nurtured their own glaciers during the last ice age and both Cwm Llwch and Cwm Sere were excavated by glaciers which grew in the lee of the high ground. Llyn Cwm Llwch
Llyn Cwm Llwch
Llyn Cwm Llwch is a lake in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Powys, Wales. It is a small lake of glacial origin occupying a rock hollow beneath the peaks of Pen y Fan and Corn Du in the central Brecon Beacons...

 occupies a glacially excavated rock hollow and the lake is partly dammed by a late-glacial moraine
Moraine
A moraine is any glacially formed accumulation of unconsolidated glacial debris which can occur in currently glaciated and formerly glaciated regions, such as those areas acted upon by a past glacial maximum. This debris may have been plucked off a valley floor as a glacier advanced or it may have...

.
The mountain is the highest point within the Fforest Fawr Geopark
Fforest Fawr Geopark
Fforest Fawr Geopark was the first Geopark to be designated in Wales having gained membership of both the European Geoparks Network and the UNESCO-assisted Global Network of National Geoparks in October 2005. The Geopark aims to promote and support sustainable tourism and other opportunities to...

 which was established in 2005 to promote economic development, particularly sustainable tourism
Sustainable tourism
Sustainable tourism is tourism attempting to make a low impact on the environment and local culture, while helping to generate future employment for local people. The aim of sustainable tourism is to ensure that development brings a positive experience for local people, tourism companies and the...

, based on the area's geological heritage.

Tommy Jones' Obelisk

On the route from the Storey Arms (once a coaching inn
Coaching inn
In Europe, from approximately the mid-17th century for a period of about 200 years, the coaching inn, sometimes called a coaching house or staging inn, was a vital part of the inland transport infrastructure, as an inn serving coach travelers...

 on the Brecon to Merthyr road) to the summit, a memorial obelisk
Obelisk
An obelisk is a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top, and is said to resemble a petrified ray of the sun-disk. A pair of obelisks usually stood in front of a pylon...

 commemorates a five-year-old boy who died in August 1900. The son of a Rhondda
Rhondda
Rhondda , or the Rhondda Valley , is a former coal mining valley in Wales, formerly a local government district, consisting of 16 communities built around the River Rhondda. The valley is made up of two valleys, the larger Rhondda Fawr valley and the smaller Rhondda Fach valley...

 coal miner, Tommy lost his way near Cwm Llwch Farmhouse while visiting his grandparents, starting a twenty-nine day search which aroused nationwide concern. His body was found at the spot marked by the obelisk. Tommy had died from exhaustion and hypothermia
Hypothermia
Hypothermia is a condition in which core temperature drops below the required temperature for normal metabolism and body functions which is defined as . Body temperature is usually maintained near a constant level of through biologic homeostasis or thermoregulation...

 or exposure, but how a small boy managed to climb so high remains a mystery.

The inscription on the granite obelisk reads, "This obelisk marks the spot where the body of Tommy Jones aged 5 was found. He lost his way between Cwm Llwch Farm and the Login on the night of August 4, 1900. After an anxious search of 29 days his remains were discovered Sept. Erected by voluntary subscriptions. W Powell Price Mayor of Brecon 1901."

The obelisk, a useful landmark in misty conditions, was paid for by the proceeds of a memorial fund started when the jurors at the boy’s inquest waived their fees.

The search was used as the theme of the 1980 film, Tommy Jones.

Race

The Pen y Fan Race, held annually on a Saturday in mid July, starts in the field immediately south of Cwm Llwch. The route takes runners to the top of Corn Du
Corn Du
Corn Du is a mountain immediately to the southwest of Pen y Fan and the second highest peak in South Wales, situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Tommy Jones' Obelisk is found on its western flanks, in between the summit and Y Gyrn....

 and Pen y Fan before descending the steep slope NW from the summit to rejoin the walkers’ path above the stile. The race is 3.5 miles (5.6 km) long, with 1930 feet (588.3 m) of ascent, classified as "AS" (A being the most severe category, S meaning short). The men’s record of 30 minutes 00 seconds was set by Keith Anderson in 1992, when the race was a counter in the British Fell Running Championships; summiting in third place, Keith descended the 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the summit of Pen y Fan to the finish in 7m 10s. Keith was an international standard road runner, competing in the Commonwealth Games Marathon in 1998, and was also reputed to be perhaps the fastest ever fell-running descender. In 2010 a prize of £500 was on offer for breaking the record, rising by £100 each year; race winner Martin Shaw from local fell running club Mynydd Du finished in 34:05. The Pen y Fan Race is held on a Saturday, and with the ten mile (16 km) Fan y Big Horseshoe Race on the Sunday comprises the "Brecon Fans Race Weekend".

Panorama

From the summit on a clear day the Bristol Channel
Bristol Channel
The Bristol Channel is a major inlet in the island of Great Britain, separating South Wales from Devon and Somerset in South West England. It extends from the lower estuary of the River Severn to the North Atlantic Ocean...

 (including the islands of Flat Holm
Flat Holm
Flat Holm is a limestone island lying in the Bristol Channel approximately from Lavernock Point in the Vale of Glamorgan, but in the City and County of Cardiff. It includes the most southerly point of Wales....

 and Steep Holm
Steep Holm
Steep Holm is an English island lying in the Bristol Channel. The island covers at high tide, expanding to at mean low water. At its highest point it is above mean sea level. It lies within the historic boundaries of Somerset and administratively, it forms part of North Somerset...

), Cardigan Bay
Cardigan Bay
Cardigan Bay is a large inlet of the Irish Sea, indenting the west coast of Wales between Bardsey Island, Gwynedd in the north, and Strumble Head, Pembrokeshire at its southern end. It is the largest bay in Wales....

, Carmarthen Bay
Carmarthen Bay
Carmarthen Bay is an inlet of the south Wales coast. The coastline includes famous beaches, including the Pendine Sands and Cefn Sidan sands, and is partially covered by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park....

, Swansea Bay
Swansea Bay
Swansea Bay is a bay on the Bristol Channel on the South Wales coast. Places on the bay include Mumbles, Swansea and Port Talbot. The River Neath, River Tawe, River Afan and Blackpill stream flow into the bay....

, the Gower Peninsula
Gower Peninsula
Gower or the Gower Peninsula is a peninsula in south Wales, jutting from the coast into the Bristol Channel, and administratively part of the City and County of Swansea. Locally it is known as "Gower"...

, the Black Mountains
Black Mountains, Wales
The Black Mountains are a group of hills spread across parts of Powys and Monmouthshire in southeast Wales, and extending across the national border into Herefordshire, England. They are the easternmost of the four ranges of hills that comprise the Brecon Beacons National Park, and are frequently...

, the Cambrian Mountains
Cambrian Mountains
The Cambrian Mountains are a series of mountain ranges in Wales, reaching from, and including, the South Wales mountains of the Brecon Beacons, north Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion, the Black Mountains of eastern Wales, to Snowdonia in North Wales...

, Exmoor
Exmoor
Exmoor is an area of hilly open moorland in west Somerset and north Devon in South West England, named after the main river that flows out of the district, the River Exe. The moor has given its name to a National Park, which includes the Brendon Hills, the East Lyn Valley, the Vale of Porlock and ...

, the town of Brecon
Brecon
Brecon is a long-established market town and community in southern Powys, Mid Wales, with a population of 7,901. It was the county town of the historic county of Brecknockshire; although its role as such was eclipsed with the formation of Powys, it remains an important local centre...

 and much of Mid Wales
Mid Wales
Mid Wales is the name given to the central region of Wales. The Mid Wales Regional Committee of the National Assembly for Wales covered the counties of Ceredigion and Powys and the area of Gwynedd that had previously been the district of Meirionydd. A similar definition is used by the BBC...

 and the South Wales Valleys
South Wales Valleys
The South Wales Valleys are a number of industrialised valleys in South Wales, stretching from eastern Carmarthenshire in the west to western Monmouthshire in the east and from the Heads of the Valleys in the north to the lower-lying, pastoral country of the Vale of Glamorgan and the coastal plain...

can be seen.

External links

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