Living in South Wales, we are lucky enough to be on the doorstep of some of the most beautiful landscapes in the World. The Brecon Beacons National Park has plenty of them, from Wales' largest lake to the grandeur of the mountains (including Pen y Fan, it's highest peak). If you love the outdoors, you'll love Brecon.
I have been there many times over my lifetime, and even got married there, so it holds a pretty special place in my heart. Yet, even though I have been there many times, I have never walked to the top of Pen Y Fan! The only time I have ventured to go up there it was snowing at the top, and with my appalling choice of footwear I never reached the summit.
How ironic that I chose to reach the top on a day when the snow had tumped down just a few days before! Actually, it probably wouldn't have entered my head to go there that particular day if I wasn't going to a workshop that same day (more about this later), but as I was in the vicinity and I love snow, I thought it would be a good idea. And, apart from the near treacherous journey up and back (a normally 2 and a bit hour journey took 3 and half), it was well well worth it.
The views were just out of this World! Apart from some icy terrain, it's probably why it took me so long because I couldn't help but stop again and again to take it all in. And I wasn't alone. I take my hat off to the walkers (and tiny walkers about my childrens' age), runners (!) and dogs (who should get a mention too) who made it to the summit too, some with smiles on their faces and some with tears. Yet once they reached the top you could see their pride in getting there, and also their shared appreciation of the captivating landscape around us.
After taking many pictures and standing for a while to admire it all, I had to make a move. On my way down I watched with amazement as some skiers and snowboarders made their way to the bottom. I bet that was an experience, and fair play to them. There are no cable cars at Pen Y Fan you know! After reaching the bottom, I made my way to Brecon town to get a much needed coffee and dry socks ready for the evening event.
If you've not heard of a photographer called Alyn Wallace, you really should look him up. He's a photographer who specialises in astrophotography (a specialized type of photography for recording photos of astronomical objects, celestial events, and areas of the night sky) and landscapes. I first came across him last year when I discovered his pictures online. I was mesmerised by his astrophotography work in particular and discovered that he ran a workshop. It just so happened that I discovered this when my husband was asking for Christmas gift ideas, and I was so pleased when I opened the envelope on Christmas morning!
I attended his workshop which consisted of a couple hours of theory, before we went out to put that into practice. As the roads had been so icy, we were a bit restricted on places to go, but Alyn still knew of some places we could visit that could kick start our astrophotography journey. As Brecon is an international dark sky reserve, it's an ideal place for astrophotography, and even with a couple of stumbling blocks (the appearance of 40 odd foreigners coming down the mountain, as drunk as skunks and stopping either to fall or ask what we were doing) I did manage to get some images I'm very pleased with and didn't think I could ever achieve. As I'd never been able to photograph a star (and I've tried), I'm pretty pleased with the end results, and hope this is something I can pursue in the future.
Photography is as an art form and having gone on this workshop, I've got a lot more respect for (any) photographers out there who make a living from this every day. Chris and I have been lucky enough to give this a go, and I thank my lucky stars every day that we did.