Family Walking & Hiking

Climbing Pen Y Fan with a Toddler in Tow

Heading back down from Pen Y Fan with Corn Du in the distance
Written by SQ

We decided to go hill walking up Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons and there was absolutely no way we weren’t taking the baby!

It’s a Monday morning, the weather is absolutely beautiful and both my son Dominic and daughter-in-law Laura have the day off work together, which is a rare occurrence.

Jackson, their two year old is running around the garden with his usual exuberance. Like most toddlers he seems to have an almost infinite supply of energy.

Watching Jackson, Gayle suggests ‘team savvy‘ as she likes to call our little group, go climb a mountain somewhere. And so, we decided to take Jackson on his first hill walk up Pen Y Fan in South Wales.

Brecon Beacons Her We Come

For those of you that don’t know Pen y Fan is the highest peak in South Wales and situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park. At 886 metres (2,907 ft) above sea-level, it’s also the UK’s highest peak south of Cadair Idris in Snowdonia.

When we arrive, I’m not surprised the car park is full. It seems the weather has brought hundreds of walkers out on the pilgrimage, even on a Monday morning!

Start of the main track to ascend Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons National Park

Start of the main track to ascend Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons National Park

It’s a Long Walk for a Toddler!

As the round trip is around 8km (5 Miles), Dominic decided he would take their Child Carrier Backpack along, to give Jackson some breaks during the ascent. Jackson however, was his usual chipper self, and happy to be walking just as much as riding in the backpack.

Using a Baby Carrier Backpack on Pen Y Fan.

For those of you that don’t know a child carrier backpack is basically a regular backpack with a space for babies or young children to sit in.

They really are great for longer walks with toddlers, and as often happens when we meet others out walking with babies and toddlers, they all want to know where to get one from.
(Try Here)

The Trade Route or Motorway

There are several routes up Pen Y Fan, but as we were taking Jackson it made sense to take the easier ‘Trade Route’ to the summit from Pont ar Daf, or ‘The Motorway’ as its often called.

At the start of our Pen Y Fan Hill Walk

At the start of the Pen Y Fan ‘motorway’

The Girls making good progress ascending Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons National Park

The Girls making good progress on the ascent

The track itself is well made, obviously from the countless thousands who have come before. It’s really child friendly too, in that it’s wide and flat. There are small water gullies that cut across the track every 15 metres or so in places, Jackson however, never seems to tire of leaping over these with cries of laughter every time.

Father, Son and Grandson climb Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons Nation Park

Jackson with the Boys

Mother and Toddler Walking up Pen Y Fan in Brecon Beacons

Jackson with The Girls

One word of caution here, there are some steep slopes off the right hand side of the path in places and we kept Jackson in reins the entire time just to be safe.

Warm and Friendly Feeling

On the way up (and down lol) we encountered many other walkers and a few school groups, and the atmosphere was warm and friendly. Most people where happy to say hello and where especially complimentary of Jackson who seemed to be enjoying the attention.

Nigel taking a break on the way up Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons National Park

Taking a break on the way up.

As the oldest senior member of the team I was responsible for ensuring the youngsters had regular breaks along the way. 😉

Are We There Yet?

We reach the top, but we’re not quite there, as we first come upon Corn Du (pronounced: Corn Dee), which is Welsh for Black Horn. It’s only 13m (43ft) lower than Pen Y Fan and is home to a Bronze Age Burial Cairn.

Pen Y Fan from Corn Du

From Corn Du we still need to cross the ‘saddle’ leading up to the summit of Pen Y Fan in the distance.

Finally There!

At the summit we take in the amazing views and they really are breathtaking (see below). Then it’s time to queue, yes I said queue for a few minutes to take the obligatory summit photo. Oh yea and take a few more for others lol.

Photos done it’s time for a well earned cuppa. Wherever we go and whenever we get there, there is always time for tea. It’s kind of a tradition for us to make a brew before heading back and today is no exception.

And finally we head back down

And so after spending about 20 minute on the summit it’s time to head back the way we came. Overall we took around 2 hours to reach the summit, which is not fast by any means, but we did set a leisurely pace to be honest.

Sadly on the way back down I twisted my knee and this slowed us down somewhat, but overall the total time up and back was around three and a half hours.

Heading back down from Pen Y Fan with Corn Du in the distance

Heading back down from Pen Y Fan with Corn Du in the distance

Final Thoughts

If you are thinking about taking a toddler up Pen Y Fan, then I highly recommend it. To be honest we got as much enjoyment out of seeing him do it as he did doing it, (OMG did that make sense?)

The most important take away is we had fun doing it as a family!

As always just remember the walking with children basics; appropriate equipment & clothing, sunscreen, drinks, snacks, reins or carrier and first aid kit.

And please don’t go in bad or poor weather. The weather and visibility on top may be very different from the start so always check the weather forecast.

Getting to Pen Y Fan

If you’re coming from most places in England and Wales, you’ll probably travel on the M4 Motorway. At Junction 32 turn off to join the A470 and head to Pont ar Daf.

The car park at Pont ar Daf is about 200 metres from the Storey Arms centre which is one of the most popular access point for tourists and walkers to Pen y Fan. The car park has space for around 50 cars and has basic toilet facilities. I’m told there’s often a burger van there too, but we didn’t see it the day we went.

Further Reading

Hill Walking with a Toddler up Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons.

Questions? Comments? Tips? Join the fun below.

Please share your experience with us in the comments below. As always thanks for your attention,

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