According to mountain classification criteria, to be regarded as a mountain a peak must be at least 2,000ft tall and have a minimum drop between the summit and the lowest point of the mountain ridge of 98.4ft.
Unfortunately for Fan y Big while it retains its 2,351ft height, the drop has been measured at 93.4ft, making it 5ft under what is required to retain its mountain status after it was measured by mountain surveyor Myrddyn Phillips using new satellite technology.
Phillips said that while Fan y Big is considered a ‘marginal’ hill amongst hill-climbers it is still worth climbing for the views of the surrounding Brecon Beacons.
He said: ‘To an extent it is a shame for it to lose its status but it is a fine hill which is part of a superb range in the Brecon Beacons and I can’t imagine this will stop walkers from visiting it.’
Following the survey, Fan y Big has been removed from the list of Hewitts – a list of hills in England, Wales and Ireland with a height of more than 2,000ft. The original list was compiled by author Alan Dawson who published ‘The Relative Hills of Britain’ in 1992, however after receiving the new measurements, Fan y Big was struck off the list.
British hill and mountain expert and author Alan Dawson said: “Once I was informed about Fan y Big it was reclassified as it is important to get things right. ‘The reason the Hewitts classify mountains using two criteria is because if you don’t measure the drop between the summit and the col there’s no way to tell one hill from another. Measuring by height alone is meaningless as any bump could be classified as a mountain, so you need two dimensions.”
As a result of the reclassification, Wales has been left with 135 Hewitts. Fan Y Big is often hiked as part of the popular ‘Horseshoe Walk’, which covers the four highest peaks in the Brecon Beacons.
What is a Hewitt?
A Hewitt is a hill in England, Wales or Ireland over more than 2,000ft (610m) with a drop of at least 98 ft (30m) all round.