Standing on the summit of a prominent hill above the UskValley, Pen-y-Crug is one of the most impressive hillforts in the Brecon Beacons National Park.
It can be found at a height of 331m on the Crug, a hill just outside Brecon. During the IronAge, about 2000 years ago, Pen-y-Crug would have been a very busy place,where people lived,worked, farmed and traded. In the 18th and 19th centuries, areas of the Crug was occupied by a brick and tile works, and worked as a tile quarry; old quarry workings and clay pits,trackways and kilns indicate the Crug was a locally important industrial site. Today the site is situated on common land and is owned and managed by the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority. The walk to the hillfort is well worth the trip, coupling impressive archaeological remains with breathtaking and expansive views of the Central Beacons.
Where is it?
Start – Maen-duWell LD3 9PN. Explorer map OL12 or Landranger Map 160. Grid ref. SO 039 296. Pen-y-Crug is 1.5 miles/2.5 km northwest of Brecon. Heading north out of Brecon on the B4520 (Pendre Hill), take the last left hand turn before you exit Brecon into Maes y Ffynnon. Immediately take a right hand turn and follow the road up to a roundabout.
2.5km (1.5 miles) return
Allow 1-2 hours.
Mostly grassy paths and several stiles throughout the walk. There is a steady climb covering 140m of incline from Maen-duWell to the top of Pen-y-Crug.
- Maen-duWell SO 039296
Start the walk from the drop
off near the roundabout, where Maen-duWell is clearly
marked with a brown sign post next to the red ‘no entry’
signs. Head over to Maen-duWell which dates from the
mid-1700s.You will see a small stone building with a water
course coming from it. Inside the building you will be able to
see the well-pool – the spring is here.
- Looking towards the peak of Pen-y-Crug, cross the stile to the
left of Maen-duWell.This leads into the next field on your
route. Follow the National Park way markers more or less
straight ahead and continue uphill until you reach the summit
of the Crug marked by a stone pillar (trig point).This section
of the walk crosses stiles and fields initially, then more open
bracken covered hillside.
- When you are close to the top you will cross the fort’s
ramparts, which today are rounded earthwork banks and
ditches.These were once made of stone and earth with a
wooden defensive palisade or fence, built on top.They
allowed those who occupied the hillfort to defend themselves
and made it very difficult for anyone to attack the settlement.
Entry to the interior of the hillfort was gained through a single
well-guarded entrance on the southeast side.Above ground,
little survives of the round houses,stock pens and granaries
that once occupied the hillfort.
- 4 Pen-y-Crug SO 029303. It is clear to see why Iron Age
peoples chose to build a defendable settlement here. In clear
weather you can see over the whole of Brecon and far
beyond from the trig point at the top of Pen-y-Crug. Looking
south-west, you should be able to make out the Iron-age hill
fort ofTwyn-y-Gaer on the Mynydd Illtud Common. Looking
south-east you should be able to make out SlwchTump (with
the mobile mast), the third of the hill forts all visible to each
other.You can also see the Black Mountains in the east and
Pen y Fan and the Central Beacons to the south. Notable
landmarks in Brecon are St Mary’s Church tower and the
- To return to the start point, retrace your steps and head
down back towards the well.
To lengthen 4km/2.5 miles. Start your journey at Brecon Cathedral (SO 045290) then head up the hill away from the town centre.The road is signed as Pendre and changes to the B4520 (please note that Pendre Close is the wrong road). Head up the hill until you get to the last left hand turn – Maes y Ffynnon.Take the obvious and immediate right hand turn, and follow the road until you reach a mini-roundabout.
Follow the route card from the Maen-duWell section. Return via bridle path back to the B4520 (green dashed line on the map)
Activities suitable on this route
Journey sticks. Photography. This route is ideal for bird spotting. A set of binoculars will also make it easier to view some of the landmarks such as Twyn y Gaer and Slwch Tump.
There is often free parking in Maes y Ffynnon for cars or a mini bus and a roundabout for easy turning.
Refreshments and toilets
Pilgrims Tea Rooms, next to the cathedral. Ring 01874 610610 to check opening times.
The nearest toilets are at Brecon Cathedral- opening times may vary according to the season. http://www.breconcathedral.org.uk/visiting/visiting.php
There are no train services. For buses to Brecon check http://www.traveline.cymru The 40A leaves from Brecon
Interchange and town centre every half an hour Monday-Saturday to Maes y Ffynnon at the start of the walk.
Brecon has most facilities including cafes and pubs. Places to visit include Brecon Cathedral, the Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh and the Monmouth and Brecon Canal.
10.30 Take a little time to have a look around Maen-du well at the start of the walk. Bring a set of binoculars to spot local birds and landmarks.
12.30 Complete walk Picnic lunch or eat at Tea Rooms
1.30 Visit Brecon Cathedral and Heritage Centre.
More info on this route can be found here.