Caroline Shipsey

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Sunrise from Pen-Y-Fan Saturday 20th February

After my plea on Wednesday for some inspiration it was delivered in spades today (Saturday). Originally my plan had been to head for Sidmouth to play some music, but my inclination changed and I found myself getting out of bed at 2.30am, and heading for the Brecon Beacons with Duncan (aka DuncanDisorderly) to meet up with four other photographers from the Talk Photography forum - Mark, Mark, Spencer and Will.

We started the walk from the Storey Arms at around 5.30am in freezing temperatures and complete darkness, the aim was to see the sunrise from the top of Pen-y-Fan.

Pen-y=Fan Sunrise Caroline Shipsey

Pen y Fan is the highest peak in South Wales, situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park. At 886 metres (2,907 ft) above sea-level, it is also the highest peak in Britain south of the Snowdonia mountain range. The twin summits of Pen y Fan and Corn Du were formerly referred to as Cadair Arthur or 'Arthur's Seat'.[1]

The summit lies on a ridge stretching from Talybont Reservoir in the east, to the A470. 500 m west lies the subsidiary top of Corn Du, beyond which the terrain drops at a moderate angle to the subsidiary top of Y Gyrn then more steeply to the Storey Arms on the A470. To the east, the ridge drops steeply to the col connecting it to Cribyn, the next mountain along the ridge. From Corn Du, a gentle ridge descends south towards Merthyr Tydfil.

The mountain and surrounding area are owned by the National Trust whose work parties attempt to combat the erosion caused by the passage of thousands of feet up and down this most popular of South Wales' peaks. The mountain is used by the military for training and selection processes

The decision to travel light and without a tripod was a wise one as it wasn't long before I was struggling with the climb. There were several inches of snow on the hills and the path was icy so considering that it was dark for most of the climb it was amazing that no-one slipped or fell down. Struggling turned into battling to keep going, had it not been for Duncan's absolute refusal to ahead and catch up with the others, I definitely wouldn't have made it. It was around 7am when I finally was able to see the view from the ridge and the sun had yet to climb into the sky.

The view was stunning even in the half light and by the time I had recovered my breath the sun was just hinting its way over the horizon.

The light was changing fast as cloud or mist rolled in, my fingers were dead from the cold and I was still feeling a bit out of sorts from the long climb so my reactions weren't good for getting the best pics - Just time to enjoy being there I guess. Also I only had one lens the Sigma 15-30 which was possibly not the best choice as it turned out. With 5 other people in the group I knew I would get to see plenty more shots to remind me of the day.

Pen-y=Fan Sunrise Caroline Shipsey

It was bitterly cold, and the views had gone within about 30 minutes so although we lingered on hopefully I was beginning to get chilled and it seemed a good idea to head back down.

I'm really pleased with the images of the sunrise, it was magical and well worth getting up at such a crazy time and then experiencing long haul to the ridge. The rest of the day involved eating, some more photography at some stunning waterfalls and a relax in the pub before heading home. A big thank you to the TP lads for good company and laughter, check out this link to see more pics from the day.