Fan Dance (Brecon Beacons endurance walk) walk

SAS fitness exercise. Storey Arms over Pen y Fan to Torpantau, and back again, against the clock, with a full pack

Length 13.5 miles (21.8 km) with 1,100m ascent (in under 4 hours)
Toughness 8/10 (10++ if done in under 4 hours with a 30 kg pack)

The Fan Dance is a load bearing, non-navigational, TAB ("tactical assult to battle") test on Pen y Fan mountain in South Wales used as part of the SAS selection process. In English, that's an endurance event, against the clock, with a full pack, but you don't have to worry about navigation.

Its a lovely walk. From the Storey Arms centre, you climb up a moderate ascent to the summit of Pen Y Fan (2,907 ft, 886 m), the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons national park. Then descend very steeply down "Jacob's Ladder" to a farmer's track (an old Roman road), which you follow gently downhill, past a reservoir, then through a forest to Torpantau (a heritage rail station on a minor road) on the far side of the mountain. That 7.5 miles so far. Then you turn round, and return back the way you came to the start!

The actual walk, at 13.5 miles, with 3,700 ft (1,100 m) of ascent, isn't too bad. To make it more interesting, its done against the clock, in under 4 hours (i.e. average 6 km/h), which means you have to jog the whole way, up nand down.

To make it even more fun, the SAS recruits also do it with a 30kg of equipment (a pack, rifle, and water), and at the end of a hard week of training.

As a walk for mere mortals, its a good challenge on it own (i.e. even without a full pack, and at your own pace)

You can do the walk in either direction. There's free parking (for now) at the Storey Arms. Parking is easier at Torpantau. Our other Brecons walks give you detailed directions, but the route is quite straight forward (in good weather)

It goes without saying, that if you try the timed event, that running down hill can easily lead to knee problems (let alone a tumble) unless you are already an experienced trail runner.


OS Explorer: OL12 (Breacon Beacons National Park)
OS Landranger: 160 (Breacon Beacons)
Harvey Superwalker XT25: Breacon Beacons West/Bannau Brycheiniog Gorllewin (preferred) or Brecon Beacons East/Bannau Brycheiniog Dwyrain
Harvey British Mountain Map: Breacon Beacons/Bannau Brycheiniog


By Car: Pont ar Daf National Trust Car Park on the A470, just south of the Storey Arms Outdoor Centre.

By Public Transport: Storey Arms Bus Stop is on line T4 (Cardiff - Pontypridd – Merthyr Tydfil – Brecon – Newtown), with 6 buses a day Mon-Sat and 5 on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Merthyr Tydfil is the closest train station. From there, catch the T4 bus.

The Real Thing

If you want to try the real thing, sign up for

Fan Dance - Summer event organiser

Fan Dance - Winter competitor

Fan Dance - Summer competitor with selfie stick

Fan Dance - Summer Wind and Rain competitor

Brecon Beacons

The Brecon Beacons National Park is in south Wales. It consists of bare, grassy, glacial mountains, with north facing escarpments. Its peaks, just shy of 1,000m (3,000ft), are the highest mountains in the southern UK. The national park is also noted for reservoirs, and the Dan yr Ogof caves. Its 4 mountain areas, from west to east are:

  • The Black Mountain (singular!) : Fan Brycheiniog (803m) and the Dan yr Ogof caves.
  • Fforest Fawr : Fan Gyhirych (725m), Fan Nedd (663m), Fan Fawr (734m), and the Henrhyd waterfalls (Sgwd Henrhyd)
  • The Brecon Beacons : Pen y Fan (886m), Corn Du (873m), Cribyn (795m), Fan y Big (719m), Waun Rydd (769m). South of Brecon, north of Merthyr Tydfil.
  • The Black Mountains (plural!) : Waun Fach (811m), Black Mountain (703m). Abergavenny to the south. Hay-on-Wye to the north.

Our Brecon Beacons Walks

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By Car

Start Car parks on A470 by Storey Arms Centre, LD3 8NL Map Directions


National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234


Mar-22 Andrew

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