Walking the Beacons Way

The Beacons Way is an iconic walk, established in 2005, by John Samson, of the Brecon Beacons Park Society. It runs for just under 100 miles along the length of the Brecon Beacons National Park. It is a challenging route, though well within the reaches of a fit and competent hill walker. Demanding uphill climbs and undulating ridges give spectacular views of the National Park, its varied landscapes and its wildlife.

“God willing,” as we believers like to say when considering the uncertainty of the future: I am walking the Beacons Way.

I am doing so as a member of the irreverent, and, by all normal human measures, irrelevant Tuesday Walkers Society—an informal (some would say unfortunate) group of males that adopted me as one of its own, in 2017, after a period of testing probation. Their reasons for so doing are not really known, even to them, but ever since the decision was made, discussion has frequently returned to the adoption of a “black ball” system that would ensure such need never happen again.

In response to this generous inclusion, I cajoled them into allowing me to introduce them to one or two mountainous walks in the Brecon Beacons NP. They hated (me for) the steepness, but loved the views—and the isolation was useful in (temporarily) keeping us away from populations centres and pubs.

On the last such ascent, in 2017, one of our number, on reaching one of the many “false summits” that litter such routes and discovering that there lay a segment of the Beacons Way, casually suggested that we walk the entirety of it. In the heady atmosphere of machismo and bravado characteristically brought on by “topping out” mountainous walks, it was suddenly a ‘done deal’—albeit accompanied by some genuinely dark mutterings and murmurings, on the way down.

So here we are: 2018 and embarkation has begun. We are intending to complete the route in various ways and in no particular hurry, either. Because it’s linear, shuttling around in cars is inevitable—there aren’t many public transport routes between the different valleys and peaks of the Mynydd Du, Fforest Fawr, Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains—the four geologically-defined sections through which the Way wends. In particular, its meandering through the Black Mountains will require careful use of the longest summer days, so will likely be followed out of sequence.

The Tuesday Walkers Society is essentially misanthropic and consequently not open to membership (though no-one’s ever wanted, much less asked, to join). However, if you’re interested in long, brisk and mountainous walks, in south and west Wales, you can ask to be kept in this loop.


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