Day out: Cribyn, Powys

Often overshadowed by its towering neighbour, Pen y Fan, this verdant mountain in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales is one of Britain's most understated peaks



Amid the lumps, bumps and rounded humps that form the ridgelines of the Brecon Beacons, sits Cribyn.


It’s the kind of peak a child may draw; pyramidal and stacked with brawn. Yet in spite of its mountain status, its summit is neither as high nor as insurmountable as you may imagine.

The Brecon Beacons comprises an Old Red Sandstone ridge formed over 400 million years ago during the Devonian period. In the millennia that followed, glacial erosion shaped the landscape that we see today, of steep escarpments to the north and east, banked at their bases with heaps of grey moraine. 

A Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) spreading its wings.
Peregrine falcons (<em>falco peregrinus</em>) can be seen above the ridges of the national park ©Getty
Mini mountain climb

Cribyn, at 795m, sits 101m below the tallest peak in southern Britain, Pen y Fan. But far from inferior, the angular mount affords spectacular views over the surrounding countryside, making it well worth the climb. 

To avoid the crowds, park at Llanfrynach and follow the Three Rivers Ride route to the base of Bryn Teg, a ridge that leads up to Cribyn. The way is steady going, with a short section requiring a half-scramble. The tactility of the rock beneath your hands brings you closer to the land and offers the sense that you are not just summiting some humble hill, but a true mountain. 

Cribyn Pen y Fan Wales
Cribyn, “the kind of peak a child may draw” ©Getty

From the peak, the impressive rock face of Pen y Fan glows green with mosses and plants, while trailing off to the east is Fan y Big

Look for peregrine falcons, buzzards and red kites swooping gracefully above the national park’s monoliths. The Black Mountains mark the eastern skyline, while to the south, on a clear day, you can gaze across the Bristol Channel to Exmoor and Devon’s rugged north coast.  

Telephoto landscape of the Black Mountains in the Brecon Beacons National Park. View from Llangynidr. February
The Black Mountains shrouded in snow in the east of the Brecon Beacons National Park ©Getty

Drop gently from the peak to the east to meet ‘The Gap Road’. This clear track is popular among bikers and hikers, and leads down to rejoin the Three Rivers Ride

A moment’s thought

As you descend north to The White Swan Inn in Llanfrynach for a well-deserved drink, look back and marvel at your day’s muse: beautiful Cribyn.

Discover more about this route here.

Find out more about the Brecon Beacons, including where to visit and places to stay. Interested in experiencing Cribyn via the Beacons Horseshoe? Visit the Walks in Wales website and plan your journey. 


Main image ©Alamy