Throughout National Walking Month we will be sharing some of our Brecon Beacons National Park Ambassadors’ favourite walks. Who knows, they might well become your new favourite walk too!
This week’s route is Pen-y-Crug from Brecon, as recommended by Brecon Beacons National Park Ambassador, Sean Crawford.
Many will know this walk, I am sure; it is very popular with Brecon residents.
It is a favourite of mine, and a circuit that can be done in an hour. Parking anywhere in Brecon, it is an easy walk out of the town from which there are a couple of routes up to Pen-y-Crug, which can be combined into a circuit. Both are mapped on this route card (which also gives some fascinating insights to the history of the hill).
Either route gives a brisk walk with expansive views over the Breconshire countryside, and which culminates upon the summit of one of a series of iron age hill forts along the Usk Valley.
The naturalist John Muir famously wrote “I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out ‘til sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in”.
Walking is for me about feeling the freedom of the hills and wind in my hair, as well as, perhaps like Muir, also connecting not only with the land but my own inner self. And having done so, I rarely want to rush home from a walk. Once at the summit of Pen-y-Crug I tend to linger rather longer than I ever intended. And so it was on the day on which I chose for this particular walk.
Rusty from having been working at my desk all day, I admit to having struggled slightly to motivate myself to get ready and leave the house. However, the air was crisp, the skies cerulean blue, and after a day working at a laptop, the last of the bright spring sunshine was enough of a lure.
Heading up the lane which passes Crug Villa, I felt a palpable lift as I unlatched the small gate onto the common which atops Pen-y-Crug. I love the freedom of walking in the Brecon Beacons themselves, but also find equal satisfaction in walking the gentler upland commons around Brecon, of which Pen-y-Crug is one.
It is from Pen-y-Crug that a unique view is afforded – one of looking into the central Brecon Beacons from the outside, from which the peaks can be seen ranged across the Usk Valley. That view is just as alluring as being within the hills themselves – something I appreciated as I paused at the summit’s trig point.
I settled down on the close-cropped sward to enjoy the view – and the last of the sun’s warmth. Ponies grazed around me, and one or two walkers passed by. I remained settled, allowed any sense of time to absent itself, and simply watched and waited.
Serenely the sun lowered, then blazed as it touched the horizon. Still I didn’t want to rush home. With sunsets, real beauty is often to be found in the other direction. Sure enough, turning away from the now set sun, the skies above the Black Mountains to the east blushed delicately with rose.
I sat and enjoyed that for a while, before sauntering back to Brecon through the meadows to Maen Du well – whilst reflecting on just how right John Muir was about staying out ‘til sundown.
Sean Crawford, May 2021
When out walking please remember to follow Welsh Government Social distancing rules and visit the Brecon Beacons National Park safely.
We recommend using an OS map of the area in conjunction with this blog.
The Brecon Beacons National Park Authority takes no responsibility for any accident or injury that may occur while following the route.