THE news that two people died after being struck by lightning on the Brecon Beacons was shocking in many ways.

Followed by the inquest into the deaths of three army reservists near Pen y Fan, the menace that always lurks on the mountains became apparent once more.

Apart from the famously minute chance of being struck by lightning, many were shocked that it happened there at all.

Seasoned mountain rescue workers admitted they had never seen anything like it or heard of it.

The soldiers, laden with 60lb packs succumbed to the punishing pace they followed and the equally punishing terrain they scaled in burning heat.

The Beacons, like all mountain ranges and wild places, are both beautiful and dangerous.

Conditions can change in an instant and become a place fraught with peril. Some are aware of that and some, like the flip-flop wearing Pen y Fan climbers I have seen in winter, are not.

The experience of most people of these mountains, though is one of peace and serenity.

In January, with much of the Beacons covered in snow, I ran up Pen y Fan. On the way up and down I passed long lines of climbers, some old, some little more than toddlers all plodding steadily to the summit.

That Sunday, there was an air of reverence among the walkers, quietly making their way up to the summit. While down at Storey Arms there were squeals of laughter as children sledged and threw snowballs. It gave the scene the atmosphere of a church service after which the congregation would spill out and the youngsters would play as their parents mingled outside the church.

Mountains the world over are revered. Mount Fuji in Japan is known as ‘Fuji San’ an affectionate yet honourable name. Those walkers who were scaling Pen y Fan’s slopes that Sunday were on a pilgrimage of their own.

This relationship to me is like a reverence for some ancient god – we are in awe of its beauty, captivated by its scale but aware of its menace.