Brecon Beacons National Park
Home to a mix of mountains and moorland, standing stones, castles, waterfalls and wildlife, the Brecon Beacons National Park extends for 42 miles from east to west, and is divided into three distinct areas: the Black Mountains in the east, the Brecon Beacons and Fforest Fawr in the centre, and the Black Mountain region (formerly called the Camarthen Fans) in the largely Welsh-speaking west.
As well as mountains to climb, there is a huge range of outdoor activities to try - mountain biking, horse riding, abseiling, paragliding, rafting and more. The region is also one of the UK's four International Dark Skies Reserves and part of the National Park is a UNESCO Global Geopark, protecting and showcasing its geology, archaeology and history.
Next week (17 April), it will be 60 years since the Brecon Beacons national park was designated one of the UK's 15 National Parks, throughout the year celebrations are taking place, including group walks, arts and crafts, food festivals and tea parties. See http://www.breconbeacons.org/events to find an event.
Did you know? Five fun facts about the Brecon Beacons National Park
- Covering an area 520 square miles, the Brecon Beacons National Park is four times the size of Malta.
- There are around 1,250 farms within the park, the majority of which are pastoral (cows and sheep).
- When glancing over a map of the national park for the first time, many will retreat from the chart in bewilderment. Sandwiching the Brecon Beacons massif in the centre of the park are two mountain groups: to the east, the Black Mountains and to the west the Black Mountain.
- The 95-mile Beacons Way winds through the heart of the park, contributing to just a fraction of the overall 1,232 miles of right of way trails in the area.
- Of the 11 International Dark Sky Reserves in the world, the UK has 4 –Exmoor, Snowdonia the South Downs and the Brecon Beacons National Park. The rugged landscape of the Brecon Beacons National Park became a dark sky reserve in 2013. Its sandstone peaks and upland lakes offer a magical setting to discover galaxies.
Explore market towns
The market towns of Brecon and Hay-on-Wye are pleasant places to spend an afternoon, packed full of traditonal shops and well stocked cafes, they are also brimming with history.
Browse the incredible selection of antique and book shops in the famous book town of Hay-on-Wye before enjoying a spot of lunch in one its many cafes or pubs.
A bustling market town set in the heart the Usk Valley, Brecon's narrow streets with Georgian facades tell the story of its Norman past. Take a look at the, 12th century cathedral, South Wales Borderers Military Museum, and Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery, plus on the second Saturday of every month, Brecon hosts the largest farmer's market in the area.
Walking in the Brecon Beacons
On foot is the best way to experience the Brecon Beacons and a climb to the top of highest peak in Wales, Pen y Fan (886m) is well worth the effort. There are four ways to walk the peak, all of varying difficulty. This popular walk starts at the Storey Arms at 440m and depending on the weather conditions offers an achievable climb for children and dogs.
The route: 4 miles|easy
Leaving the Storey Arms car park, follow the foot path sign towards Pen y Fan. It’s a slow and steady climb along a well marked path to the top of the peak. From the top you can either choose to complete a circular route by heading down the steeper path or return the way you came.
Find more great walks in the Brecon Beacons here.
Places to stay
For a riverside retreat Mill House in the hamlet of Pontfaen, Powys offers the perfect place to escape from the stresses of everyday life in comfortable surroundings. From the cottage sit and watch wildlife from the small balcony (if you're lucky you might spot herons or salmon) or head off for a walk in the surrounding countryside. In cooler evenings light the logburner and play board games round the fire. A perfect base for exploring all the Brecon Beacons has to offer.
Find more places to stay in National Parks here
Brecon Road, Crickhowell NP8 1DG
Charming bed and breakfast with a stream running through the garden and beautiful views of the Llangattock escarpment.
Dan yr Parc Farmhouse
Cynghordy, Llandovery SA20 0LD
Has its own woodland with a natural waterfall, and rooms overlooking roaming chickens.
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