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.
|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
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:
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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