Hikers Guide To The Beacons

The Brecon Beacons in mid Wales is ideal for hiking, with its extensive range of mountains, ridges, and gentler valley paths and rivers. From the highest peak of Pen y Fan down to Taf Fechan river, and options for crossing between different peaks and paths around the 520 square miles of the Beacons, you can spend a weekend or a longer trip exploring the landscape of the Powys region. It’s worth reviewing, then, what kind of walks and difficulty levels are available, where you can stay, and how you can stay safe on the mountains. 

Walking in the Black Mountains ©

In terms of getting to the heart of the Beacons, one option is to take the Beacons Bus from Cardiff train station, which will take you straight into Brecon and other parts of the Beacons. Once there, you have a lot of different options for hiking. Most people start off with the Black Mountains for their grassy slopes and milder walks compared to other parts of the Beacons. Fforest Fawr is also recommended if you want to take in more wildlife, while Pen y Fan, at 2907 feet in elevation, is a challenge for any hiker. Set trails around the Beacons includes the 100 mile Beacon Way, which runs from Abergavenny to Llangadog. You can also try the Offa’s Dyke National Trail, and the 55 mile stretch of the Taff Trail from Brecon to Cardiff.

Sgwd Henrhyd the tallest waterfall in South Wales by Brian Price ©

Other walking ideas include taking National Trust paths, which make the most of the Brecon Beacons’ status as a National Park, and cover areas around Pen y Fan, Dorn Du, and Cribyn. Shorter walks are also available that take in the Nant Llech valley and the Henrhyd waterfalls, as well as the foothills of the Upper Tarell Valley. The National Park Authority and the Brecon Beacons Park Society also provide routes, while you can take guided tours of the many caves around the Beacons.

If looking for places to stay, then you can either choose to base yourself in one of Brecon’s many small towns, camp off road, or make use of the self catered cottages and bungalows around the Beacons. The latter options are recommended if you’re doing a lot of hiking, as they’re located close to paths and mountains. One bungalow to investigate is Wern-y-Marchog, which is a large self catering bungalow near to Pen y Fan that comes with a hot tub and large areas for children. Alternatively, you can try Craig Y Nos, a converted 16th century farmhouse near to many of Brecon’s walks. Staying in towns like Brecon mean that you can take advantage of local farmers markets, cycling hire, and restaurants, pubs, and a cinema.

It’s important, though, to keep yourself safe when hiking the Brecon Beacons. Make use of the Visitor Centres around the Beacons, and make sure you bring tough walking boots and suitable layers for a trip. Some parts of the Beacons are used by the SAS and SBS for military exercises, but should be clearly signposted and blocked off from public pathways. Make sure you have general supplies like a torch, sunblock, and food and drink when going off main paths, and check weather forecasts before hiking any of Brecon’s highest peaks, which can get cold very quickly.

Rob James is a well seasoned traveller who has visited many places around the globe.  Since having children he now looks forward to a his annual holiday to the Brecon Beacons.  Rob can be found blogging about many different locations which his has visited over the years.

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