Brecon Beacons National Park
The Brecon Beacons National Park (Welsh: Parc Cenedlaethol Bannau Brycheiniog) is located in southern Wales, part of the United Kingdom. Within an area of 1347 km 2 (520 sq miles), the park contains some of the most spectacular and distinctive upland formations in southern Britain. Stretching from Hay-on-Wye in the east to Llandeilo in the west, the park includes the Black Mountains, the Central Beacons, Fforest Fawr and the Black Mountain as well as a vast array of moorland, forests, valleys, waterfalls, lakes, caves and gorges.
Other options are Brynaman, Govilon, the small villages Llangadog, Capel Gwynfe and Bethlehem, Llangorse, Pontneddfechan, Talgarth, Talybont-on-Usk, and the lovely parish of Myddfai.
The Brecon Beacons (or simply 'the Beacons') can refer both to the central range of mountains which stretch east from Storey Arms to Talybont and also to the national park as a whole which contains other extensive ranges as outlined below. Though use of the alternative term 'the Brecons' has increased in recent times, it is not used locally and will not win you friends! The mountain area on the east of the national park (extending to the English border) is called the Black Mountains, and the area on the west of the park (towards Llandeilo) is known as the Black Mountain (singular). Old writings suggest that the entire collection of mountain massifs between Abergavenny and Llandeilo was once known as the Black Mountain - which helps to account for some of the confusion that arises with modern naming of the area.
HistoryThe Brecon Beacons mountain range together with the neighbouring Black Mountains, Fforest Fawr and Black Mountain ranges was designated as the Brecon Beacons National Park in 1957. It was the last of the original ten to gain its status.
A band of limestone running east-west through the park brings with it a pock-marked landscape riddled with caves, some of which are amongst the longest in Europe. Along the southern edge of the park, adjacent to the South Wales Coalfield are numerous signs of former industry such as quarries, tramways and limekilns.
The major river within the park is the Usk which rises on the western Black Mountain, gathers waters from the central Beacons and then flows along the southern edge of the eastern Black Mountains. Its valley provides the main east-west route through the park.
Flora and faunaNative broadleaf woodland is abundant within the valleys though it's greatly supplemented by conifer plantations in certain areas. A number of rare whitebeam species cling to limestone cliffs in parts of the park; these are generally protected as nature reserves. The global populations of some of these species is only around 25 to 30 trees! The red kite is emblematic of the park, particularly west of Brecon though it's becoming a more common sight in the east too. Herons, kingfishers and dippers are a common sight on the area's rivers which are in the main unspoilt - indeed the Usk catchment has SAC status, the highest level of protection, not least for its fish and lamprey species with there also being a healthy population of otters. Water voles have recently been re-introduced to Llangorse Lake area.
ClimateBeing an upland area, the Brecon Beacons get their fair share of rainfall though the eastern Black Mountains are distinctly drier than the western Black Mountain. The stretch of country between Brecon and Hay-on-Wye is the driest part of the park followed by the eastern part of the Usk valley towards Abergavenny. The ranges often form a weather divide with dry weather on say the northern side of the watershed whilst rain falls on the southern slopes.
There are regular bus services from both Swansea (Quadrant Bus Station) and Cardiff (Railway Station bus terminal) into the park area.
Fees and permits
Sgwd yr Eira Waterfalladdress: PenderynThis is the waterfall you can walk behind, as it has a shallow cave behind the curtain of water. A must see if you are visiting South Wales. The path from the Lamb has been renewed and easy to follow, The waterfall is a 30 minute walk from Penderyn. The steps down to the river are steep and need care. Can be combined in a single walk with several other waterfalls nearby.
Pen Y FanThe highest peak in Southern Britain, at , is a popular walk for locals and visitors alike. Fantastic views, and an exhilarating walk. Can be included in a circular walk known as the horseshoe taking in the adjacent peaks of Cribyn and Corn Ddu.
Black MountainArea in the western section of the park (not to be confused with the Black Mountains in the east). Fan Brycheiniog is the highest peak at . The area has much evidence of glacial activity and there are two magical lakes Llyn y Fan Fach and Llyn y Fan Fawr.
Y Garn GochIron Age hill fort
Celtic EventsOutdoor activities in the Brecon Beacons.
Green Man FestivalGlanusk Park, Crickhowell - annual alternative music festival typically held in mid-August.
address: Pontpren, Penderyn
phone: +44 1685 813609address: Cwm Cadlan, Penderyn, CF44 0YJFantastic little B&B with 3 rooms, all en-suite. Very comfortable beds, friendly hosts, delicious breakfasts. Ideally placed for waterfalls and mountains, Walkers and cyclists welcome.
phone: +44 1639 731167address: Brecon Road, Penycae, Ystradgynlais SA9 1GLA boutique hotel in a stunning location in the foothills of the Black Mountain, part of the western Brecon Beacons.
- Wales' capital city, Cardiff, is a place to head should the weather turn wet - good museums and a castle to explore. There are a huge variety of shops in the city centre, many of which are located in covered arcades.
- Swansea and the Swansea Bay region complements the Brecon hills with wide, sandy beaches - also the excellent leisure centre and National Waterfront Museum will keep the whole family amused.
- Llandovery is a lovely old market town on the edge of the Beacons.