Unpredictability - Good for your health

Our modern life is based on organising an environment free from the unexpected. The house needs to be as stable and reliable as possible. The job as safe as possible. Nothing should break down. Nothing but what we predict, should occur.
This is the life of the zoo animal. Let's explore the life of the Nomad. Let's live the life of the Nomad.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Pen y Fan

It was late August and I had a hire car and I had some free time.  And it came into my mind to explore an area known as the Brecon Beacons in South Wales.  This is a range of mountains comprising of six peaks with Pen y Fan being the highest at 886 meters.  So I would book a hotel and I would drive the five hours to this scenic part of Wales and hike to the top of Pen Y Fan and back.

I had booked a hotel called the Castle Coaching Inn located in Trescastle - whose name means "town of the Castle", and indeed the ruins of this castle still remain in the east end of the village.  I had arrived in Trescastle at midday and this was four hours short off the hotel's check-in time and so I decided to drive into Brecon itself.  This market town has a population of nearly 8000 making it the third largest town in Powys and it is also a military town - hosting the Infantry Battle School of Dering Lines and The Barracks which is home to the 160th Welsh Brigade.

I found a parking space on the edge of the town for the hired Citreon DS4 and proceeded to stroll around the historic town.

Passing the South Wales Borderers and Monmouthshire Regiment Museum it occurred to me that paying the entrance fee would not be too bad an idea.  We can learn from our books and we can learn from these exhibits of the past, and so a good hour or so was given to a military world I have read much about - but experienced little of.

Cpl T Shannon 3rd Volunteer Battalion - The Welsh Regiment 1900.
Vickers Machine Gun

To visit a museum without coming away with some interesting facts is to go for a swim without getting wet.  And so here are a few facts concerning WW1
  • 51 kg was the minimum weight for a man enlisting in the Army during WW1.
  • 484,173 horses and mules were lost by the British during WW1.
  • 621,972 British servicemen received disability pensions at the end of WW1.
  • 633 Victoria Crosses were awarded during WW1.
  • The British Infantryman carried 4.72 stone of equipment in the initial Somme attack.
After the stroll through the town and after the visit to the museum it was time to return to the hotel in Trescastle.  The hotel had resident parking in the rear of the building.  I parked the car and retrieved my luggage and approached the entrance to the hotel, which also doubled up as the entrance to the pub. Alone and in my thoughts, approaching the reception of the hotel an event occurred in my mind that was unique and unusual.  My consciousness was flushed with the certainty of a future that was unavoidable - as if it was the formulation of a geometric equation that was absolutely correct.  A premonition of a future romance.  That is what it was and the belief as rugged as the fortress to which this village owned its name.  So that was a premonition and if it was unusual it was also a shifting tonic to the loneliness of this nomad's existence.  I was convinced I was about to meet a special lady and the belief so strong I was surprised she was not there waiting to check me in at the reception desk.

The next morning, after a hearty full Welsh breakfast, I drove the eight miles to the base of Pen Y Fan.  The clouds hung low and the peaks could not be seen.  The hike would be circular starting from the Storey Arms outdoor education centre on the A470, heading east and ascending first the peak of Corn Du before the final ascent to Pen Y Fan.  Then heading back west on a parallel path to the car park.

 Start of the path
 Approaching Corn Du

 Peak of Corn Du
 Clouds clearing on the approach to Pen Y Fan
 Pen y Fan Summit

Brave mountain dweller

The hike only took two hours.  It was a pleasant surprise when the clouds dispersed when approaching the mountain peaks.

Driving back to the hotel a sign pointing direction to a reservoir called the Usk piqued my curiosity.  This impressive basin of water was fenced with a path whose entrance began at the start of a bridge and I was surprised to see a machine that allowed you to insert the coinage required to buy a fishing permit.  I walked a third of the reservoir's circumference before heading back to the car. This reservoir - deep, dark, beautiful, dangerous and alluring.   I promised a return in the new year for further exploration.

This was my hiking trip to the Brecon Beacons and it was a fine thing to be away from the cities and the offices and the airports - even if it was for just a couple of days.

Peace to All


  1. A very Merry Christmas from our part of the world to yours. We have enjoyed reading of your travels and adventures over the last year, and hope 2014 will be good to you.

    1. Thank you Jenny and Robin. A very Merry Christmas to you also and many happy journeys in the new year.