Tim Knifton

Tommy Jones

13th January 2013.

A 5am alarm call, one McDonald’s breakfast and a 6:15am start to climb Pen-y-Fan and down 1,000 feet into Llyn Cwm Llwch. It was a hard climb with Dai, Neil and Molly the dog this morning in minus cold weather conditions.

'Lakeside dash'

‘Llyn Cwm Llwch’


Pen y Fan (pronounced /pɛn.ə.ˈvan/) is the highest peak in South Wales and southern Britain, situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park. At 886 metres (2,907 ft) above sea-level, it is also the highest peak in Britain south of the Snowdonia mountain range. The twin summits of Pen y Fan and Corn Du were formerly referred to as Cadair Arthur or ‘Arthur’s Seat’.

The summit lies on a ridge stretching from Talybont Reservoir in the east, to the A470. 500 m (1,600 ft) west lies the subsidiary top of Corn Du, beyond which the terrain drops at a moderate angle to the subsidiary top of Y Gyrn then more steeply to the Storey Arms on the A470. To the east, the ridge drops steeply to the col connecting it to Cribyn, the next mountain along the ridge. From Corn Du, a gentle ridge descends south towards Merthyr Tydfil.

The mountain and surrounding area are owned by the National Trust whose work parties attempt to combat the erosion caused by the passage of thousands of feet up and down this most popular of South Wales’ peaks. The mountain is used by the military as part of the selection process of the UK’s Special Forces personnel.

Tommy Jones memorial

'Tommy Jones'

A tragic story of a five year old little boy who was lost on the mountain in the summer of 1900.

A visit to relatives

On 4 August 1900 a miner from Maerdy, at the head of the Rhondda Fach valley, decided to take his 5 year old son Tommy to visit his grandparents who still farmed near Brecon. They’d travelled by train and planned to walk the four miles to Cwmllwch, the farmhouse in the valley just below Pen y Fan.

A long journey

By 8pm they’d reached the Login (today in ruins) where soldiers were encamped for training at the rifle range further up the valley at Cwm Gwdi. The father and son had stopped for refreshment when they met Tommy’s grandfather and cousin William, who was 13. William was asked to go back to the farm and tell his grandmother to expect Tommy and his dad, and Tommy ran off up the valley with him.

When the two boys had got half way, Tommy who was frightened by the dark perhaps started to cry and wanted to return to the Login where his father was. So the two boys parted. William completed his errand and returned to the Login within a quarter of an hour – but Tommy hadn’t returned.


His father and grandfather started the search immediately, joined by soldiers from the camp. The search was halted at midnight and resumed at 3pm the following day. The search continued for weeks. Everyday parties of police, soldiers, farmers and other volunteers combed the area systematically with no luck.

The dream

After reading accounts of the search, a gardener’s wife living just north of Brecon is said to have dreamed of the very spot where Tommy was found. She spent a few restless days before persuading her husband to borrow a pony and trap on Sunday 2 September to take her and some relatives to Brecon Beacons which they’d never climbed before.

They’d reached the ridge below Pen y Fan and were making their way towards the summit over open ground when Mr Hammer, who was a few yards in front, started back with an exclamation of horror. He had found the body of little Tommy Jones.


No one could explain how the five year old had managed to reach the spot where his body was found. He’d climbed 1,300ft from the Login. Today the spot where Tommy’s body was found is marked with an obelisk. The jurors at the inquest donated their fees after determining that he had died from exhaustion and exposure.

It was more than 60 years later that the first Mountain Rescue team was set up in the Brecon Beacons.

Thanks for reading.

This entry was published on January 13, 2013 at 7:21 pm. It’s filed under HDR, Landscapes, Nature, Photography, Sunrise, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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