With abseiling, ziplining over a river, rafting and hikes, a two-night tenting journey within the south Wales nationwide park proves energy-sapping – and boundless enjoyable
Final Breconing … a hiker excessive on Pen y Fan.
I’m being pelted with water. Dangling from a rope. Slipping. Now spinning. “Move your hand, it’s the only way you’ll get down the rock face,” my information Paul tells me as I attempt to work out the place I am going from right here. I shoot down and land in a pool. Graceful, this isn’t.
This abseiling session is only one a part of a brand new wild weekend within the Brecon Beacons with Bristol-based journey travel company Secret Compass, and its first within the UK.
With 26 years of army service behind him, and months spent volunteering for catastrophe aid charities, my information Paul Laidler is stern. “The aim,” he tells me, “is to give you a taste of the extreme expedition lifestyle.”
In actuality, although, that is extra energetic journey than true survival mission. Seasoned campers and hikers will have fun romping by way of the countryside whereas attempting out new actions, however these extra accustomed to holidaying on a seaside and sipping margaritas will certainly discover components testing.
‘We can’t see over the rock edge, however the woosh of water suggests this shall be our trickiest problem but’ Photograph: Tom McShane
I’d mentally prepped for freezing temperatures, countless rain and sodden, blistered toes, however we’re blessed with superb sunshine. Our group has 25 miles of terrain to cowl, on a path that varies in depth from flat stretches to more durable, nearly crawling climbs. I inflate, and paddle a packraft three miles alongside a canal; stroll alongside the Talybont reservoir and trudge uphill with an entourage of intrigued sheep. It’s adopted by a hike alongside Craig y Fan Ddu, one of the crucial spectacular ridge walks within the UK.
The first expletives are uttered on the afternoon of day one, on a painful 500-metre clamber by way of the freezing-cold water and dust of the Torpantau Tunnel, on a disused rail route. There’s a way of aid as we make our technique to our camp for the night time – however there’s yet another problem to get by way of first. Attached to 2 towering bushes is a stretch of cable, and the one technique to cross the river 20 metres under is by ziplining over it. For me – unfazed by heights and completely hungry – it’s a fast-track path to dinner, however for the acrophobics amongst us there are anxious, furrowed brows.
Packrafting close to Talybont. Photograph: Tom McShane
With a little bit of faffing we make it throughout, and head into the forest to pitch our tents, lastly ending in gloomy night time shadows. Continuing the expedition taster theme, we gentle the range and select between just-add-water pouches of curry, carbonara and fish pie, and dine beneath the romantic glare of our head torches. The mixture of adrenaline and mountaineering means sleeping is simple, and we drift off to a soundtrack of owls.
The following morning, after cook-in-the-bag porridge, we set off for the large climb. Various routes result in the highest of 886-metre Pen y Fan, and in true expedition type, Paul leads us alongside the hardest. Near-vertical wanting paths wind between steel-grey rocks and swimming pools of icy water lined with snow.
While the group’s urgent on at an honest tempo – that is Paul’s 205th summit, and he usually runs up right here together with his border terrier Hercules – the climb isn’t a straightforward one. There’s a purpose the SAS use the Brecon Beacons as a coaching floor, and following a leg-wobbling peer over the sting of the mountain, we expertise the Beacons’ vicious wind and risky microclimate on our bum-shuffle on the best way down.
Secret Compass trekkers method the summit of Pey y Fan. Photograph: Tom McShane
The finest is but to come. We collect in an internet of ropes and branches as we’re talked by way of our vertical descent. We can’t see over the rock edge, however the woosh of water suggests this shall be our trickiest problem but. One by one I watch the group – harnessed, roped and somewhat wide-eyed – reverse off the highest of a 40-metre waterfall, earlier than I – legs trembling much more than I’d anticipated – grip my rope and step backwards.
I’d anticipated two days of mentally and bodily demanding challenges. What I hadn’t banked on was a hell of loads of energetic enjoyable to go along with it. The softie survivor in me is nicely and really glad.
• The journey was offered by Secret Compass, whose two-day Adventure Academy weekend prices £250; subsequent dates are 13-15 April, 22-24 June and 14-16 September