Brecon Beacons guide: where to go and places to stay

Celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Brecon Beacons national park by climbing its highest peak and exploring the attractive market towns of Brecon and Hay-on-Wye this spring.

13th April 2017
Brecons

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.

What’s on

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.
dark sky
Head to the hills for one of the best night skies in Britain/Credit: Getty

 

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. 

Hay-on-Wye

hayonwye
'Town of Books' Hay-on-Wye/Credit: Getty

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. 

Brecon

Brecon
Powys, Brecon - view over market town to Brecon Beacons/Credit: Getty

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

penyfan

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

Self-catering

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. 

Mill house
Warm and welcoming all year round, the cottage provides an ideal base from which to explore and truly appreciate this untouched area of mid Wales - a walkers and naturalists paradise. Credit: Quality Cottages
Balcony
Watch herons fishing, salmon leaping in September and Red Kites wheeling in the skies above. Credit: Quality Cottages

Quality Cottages (www.qualitycottages.co.uk 01348 837 871) offers stays at Mill House from £259 for three nights or £399 for seven nights, based on four sharing. Two dogs welcome free of charge.

Find more places to stay in National Parks here

B&B

 

Ty Gwyn
Brecon Road, Crickhowell NP8 1DG
01873 811625
www.tygwyn.com
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
01550 720401
www.danyparc.co.uk
Has its own woodland with a natural waterfall, and rooms overlooking roaming chickens.

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