Pen y Fan Walking Routes from YHA Brecon
Pen y Fan (886 m) is the tallest mountain in south Wales. It is situated amongst the dazzling peaks of the Brecon Beacons National Park in county Powys. Pen y Fan is one of the most popular hiking trails in the region with multiple different routes to the summit.
The Youth Hostels Association (YHA) is a charity that provides accommodation in the UK, often for hikers and hillwalkers. Fortunately for hikers of Pen y Fan, there is the YHA Brecon situated on the western slopes of the mountain!
This 19th-century farmhouse offers cheap views, fantastic facilities, and easy access to the Brecon Beacons National Park. To ensure you choose the best trail, here are the top 5 Pen y Fan walking routes from YHA Brecon.
Top 5 Pen y Fan Walking Routes from YHA Brecon:
There are multiple Pen y Fan walking routes from YHA Brecon. However, there aren’t any that start directly from the doorstep of the hostel. In all cases, you will need to travel a short distance to get to the actual trailhead.
Most of the trails begin from the Storey Arms Outdoor Centre or the Pont ar Daf Car Park on the A470. This can be reached by a 1.4km walk along a paved track from YHA Brecon. There is free parking at the YHA Brecon and at the Storey Arms Car Park for those driving. Alternatively, you can catch the T4B bus service that runs from Merthyr Tydfil and stops outside both sites.
1 . Pen y Fan and Corn Du Circular
Length: 7.4 km
Elevation Gain: 545 m
Route Type: Loop
Time to Complete: 2.5-3.5 hours
This is a classic hiking trail with a steady but steep ascent to the summit followed by a gradual hike back down to the valley. On the return trail, there is the opportunity to summit the smaller peak alongside Pen y Fan called Corn Du (873 m). The trailhead starts at the Pont ar Daf Car Park and finishes at the nearby Storey Arms Car Park. This is one of the most popular Pen y Fan walking routes from YHA Brecon. It’s short and sweet, straight to the summit!
2 . Pen y Fan Short Circular
Length: 6.3 km
Elevation Gain: 491 m
Route Type: Out & Back
Time to Complete: 2.5-3 hours
Despite the name, this is actually more of an out-and-back trail. It is the shortest and most direct route to the summit. If simply bagging the peak then heading back down to the car park is your goal, then this is the trail for you! This will be one of the busiest paths up to Pen y Fan so be prepared for some crowds on holidays and weekends. The trail starts and finishes at the Pont ar Daf Car Park. Get there early as this car park is known to fill up!
3 . Brecon Beacons Horseshoe
Length: 17.7 km
Elevation Gain: 817 m
Route Type: Loop
Time to Complete: 5-7 hours
This is one of the most epic Pen y Fan walking routes from YHA Brecon. However, the trailhead sits on the eastern side of the mountain and is difficult to reach with public transport. There’s a scenic railway that runs from Pant to Torpantau on the Brecon Mountain Railway line. However, most people drive and park at the Brecon Horseshoe Walk – Neuadd Carpark or the Pont Cwm y Fedwen instead.
This lovely trail begins in the Taf Fechan Forest (Owl’s Grove) before following the natural shape of the valley up towards the impressive Neuadd Reservoir. The route cuts steeply up the valley wall to join the ridge. The path then arcs around the U-shaped valley topping the peaks of Corn Du, Pen y Fan, Cribyn, and Fan y Big.
4 . Pen y Fan, Corn Du, and Cwm-IIwch Circular
Length: 11.1 km
Elevation Gain: 687 m
Route Type: Loop
Time to Complete: 4-5 hours
This is another fantastic variation of Pen y Fan Walking Routes from YHA. Again, this trailhead is a little tricky to access unless you have your own vehicle. The trail can either be commenced from the Nant Cwm Llwch Car Park or the Cwm Gwdi Car Park on the north side of Pen Y Fan.
The ascent is steep up to the summit, but the long meandering descent is pure bliss and offers you the best opportunity to survey the scenery. This is a quiet trail with a reasonably low footfall – perfect for those hikers looking for a bit of solitude!
5 . Corn Du, Pen y Fan, Cribyn, and Taf Fechan Circular
Length: 18.5 km
Elevation Gain: 1,213 m
Route Type: Loop
Time to Complete: 7-8 hours
This is a long, demanding hike that climbs across multiple peaks on a trail that will take you the best part of a day to complete. The trailhead commences at the Pont ar Daf or Storey Arms car parks. The ease of access to this trail makes it one of the top Pen y Fan walking routes from YHA Brecon, albeit the hardest.
This trail is a loose combination of the Brecon Beacons Horseshoe and the Pen y Fan and Corn Du Circular. So, if you are limited by public transport but are desperate to see as much of the region as possible, this is the hiking trail for you!
Pen Y Fan’s popularity does come at a price. With so many people wanting to visit this relatively small hiking area, the trails can become clogged and the car parks full. To avoid this, try visiting during off-peak times and look into hiking some of the trails less travelled.
YHA Brecon can also become fully booked during peak season so it’s best to reserve your accommodation well in advance. Fortunately, these Pen y Fan walking routes from YHA Brecon aren’t the only options. There are scrambling routes up to the peaks and other trails that tackle the summit from the western slope. Whatever trail you choose, it’s sure to be a great one!