The Brecon Beacons National Park is one of the many idyllic pieces of countryside Wales has to offer. I’ve lived and spent my university life in Wales and this is always one of my go to places to visit for a day trip or few nights away. If you’ve booked a “staycation”, a relaxing night away or looking for inspiration for the best places to visit in the Brecon Beacons, this is a blog post you’re going to love.
Other Wales blog posts you might be interested in…
How to get to Brecon Beacons National Park…
The best way to get to Brecon Beacons national park is by car. It’s within easy reach of the M4, M50 and A40. Alternatively, there are hourly trains direct to Abergavenny (in the south of the Brecon Beacons) on the Cardiff-Manchester line. There are trains from Cardiff to Merthyr Tydfil every half an hour and trains from Swansea and Llanelli to Llandovery running 4 times daily. Book your train tickets online on thetrainline.com.
Where to stay in the Brecon Beacons…
There are lots of quirky Airbnbs, budget-friendly hostels and sumptuous hotels. My favourite towns to stay in would be Llandeilo, Abergavenny, Crickhowell, Brecon and Hay on Wye.
- If you want to stay in a hostel in the Brecon Beacons, YHA have two: YHA Brecon Beacons and YHA Brecon Beacons Danywenallt. This is the the perfect option for budget accommodation with close access to places to visit in the Brecon Beacons. Book your YHA stay here.
The best time to visit the Brecon Beacons…
Summer months are the most popular time to visit the Brecon Beacons, with the long days, bright skies and warmer temperatures making it ideal for outdoor activities. Spring and autumn are usually crowd-free and have gorgeous colours. Winter is quieter and for the more experienced hikers, however you get the joys of snow-dusted peaks. Wales is known for its rain – so whatever the season be prepared to bring your waterproofs.
The best hikes in the Brecon Beacons...
Pen y Fan: the highest peak in Wales…
Pen y Fan, the highest peak in South Wales, features some of the most spectacular views from its summit. It is very popular with walkers and hikers, with the base only being 1 hour from Cardiff city centre. It offers the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets overlooking the hills and valleys, and a a variety of routes, making climbing Pen y Fan one of the best hikes in the Brecon Beacons no matter how experienced you are. There are four main routes to the summit of Pen y Fan, all of which are some of the best hikes in the Brecon Beacons National Park…
1. Pen y Fan: The Storey Arms or Pont ar Daf (Beacons Way)
This is the most popular Pen y Fan hiking trail of them all, starting at around 440m and climbing to the peak of 886m is very manageable. It has gentle incline and can be tackled by small children; in fact, it’s one of the best hikes in Wales for complete beginner hikers. This route usually takes around 1 -1 ½ hours to get to the summit from the Pont ar Daf or Storey Arms car park, maybe longer if you stop to take photographs, which I guarantee you will, as it’s one of the best hikes in the Brecon Beacons! Just before the summit you’ll see stunning views of the Neuadd Valley, and on a clear day the views from the summit itself are spectacular.
2. Pen y Fan: The Beacons Circuit
As beautiful as it is, there is more to the Brecon Beacons than Pen y Fan! This hike in the Brecon Beacons is for the more advanced walker, and follows an 11-mile circuit. Start from Pont ar Daf or the Storey Arms, and then climb up to Corn Du (873m) before you get to Pen y Fan (886m). From there, head to Cribyn (795m) and then head back down via the Neuadd Resevoirs).
3. Pen y Fan: Cwm Llwch walk from Cwm Cwdi
This is another one of the more challenging walks in the Brecon Beacons, but only 8 miles. It starts at Cwm Gwdi car park and follows a track up to Pen y Fan, then Corn Du, and round Cefn Cwm Llwch ridge, where you’ll walk past Llyn Cwm Llwch, the best preserved glacial lake in South Wales. On the clearest of days at the summit of Pen-y-fan you can see all the way to Snowdonia.
4. Pen y Fan: Horseshoe Ridge
This is the most demanding route to Pen y Fan of them all, following a 9-mile circuit encompassing 4 peaks. Starting at Taf Fechan Forest, you’ll walk past the Lower Neuadd Reservoir to Corn Du (873m), and then onto Pen y Fan (886m), Cribyn (795m) and Fan y Big (719m). It’s one of the best hikes in the Brecon Beacons, not to mention one of the best hikes in Wales; expect views of stunning moorland, beautiful peaks and the glacial lake Llyn Cwm Llwch.
More hikes in the Brecon Beacons…
Pen y Fan is gorgeous and one of the best places to go hiking in Wales, but there are plenty more places to go walking in this beautiful Welsh National Park. Here are some more of my favourite hikes and walks in the Brecon Beacons…
5. Four Waterfalls
There are several waterfalls found within the Brecon Beacons, with the area given the nickname “Waterfall Country”. The four waterfalls walk is a circular path through the woodland of the “waterfall country” and one of the most popular hiking trails in the Brecon Beacons.
The walk starts at Cwm Porth car park and leads to the four waterfalls, Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd y Pannwr and Sgwd-yr-Eira. Each of the waterfalls are incredible with Sgwd-yr-Eira being the largest. If you’re feeling brave enough you can walk behind the falls, but bear in mind that the water is chilly!
6. Henrhyd Falls
This is the tallest waterfall in South Wales, with a drop of 90 feet. The falls featured in the Batman film “The Dark Knight”, and so between the stunning views and the film connection, this is one of the most popular walks in the Brecon Beacons and one of the most popular walks in Wales. It is quite a slippery route so ensure you have a good water boots on. You can also walk behind this waterfall too, or go for a swim if you fancy a cold dip!
Henrhyd Falls are at their most dramatic and best seen after a strong downpour of rain, but bear in mind that this makes the ground very slippery, so be careful!
7. Fan y Big circular walk
Fan y Big is most famous for its stone slab resembling a diving board overlooking the peaks of Corn Du, Pen y Fan and Cribyn (this stone makes for a great Instagram photo!). It’s a 11km circular walk with gorgeous 360 views of the Brecon Beacons. There’s a steep climb at the start, but the rest of this walk follows a gentle ridge along Beacons Way, and then descends into the Taf Feuchan forest at the end. One of the best things about this hike in the Brecon Beacons is that you get the views of the infamous Pen y Fan, without the crowds, making it one of the best hikes in Wales if you don’t want to be surrounded by lots of people.
PS did you know that Fan y Big is technically classed as a hill, not a mountain, because it’s 1.5m too short to be a mountain?!
8. Sugar Loaf Mountain, Monmouthshire
This is a shorter and smaller climb than the other mountains, with a height of 596m. As you ascend you’ll go through lush meadows and heather-clad hills, and you probably won’t see many other people – this is one of the hikes in the Brecon Beacons that is a bit of a hidden gem! From the peak you can see gorgeous views of Abergavenny, Usk Valley, Wales’ Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons.
9. Elidir Trail (+ Sgwd Einion Gam Falls)
This is a 2.5 mile walk through the magical woodland of the waterfall country (Brecon). It’s definitely one of the best walks in Wales, taking you through several stunning waterfalls, ancient woodland, and retracing the steps of a local boy, Elidir, who, legend has it, discovered a cave here that led to a secret fairy kingdom.
You’ll pass five waterfalls on this trail:
- Sgwd Gwladys / Lady Falls
- Sgwd Ddwli Isaf
- Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf
- Sgwd Einion Gam – no official path
To get to Sgwd Einion Gam waterfalls: From Sgwd Gwladus follow the river upstream, staying on the right of the river and following the path. After 300m (ish) you’ll find a cliff, which will prevent you from walking on this side of the river, so you need to use your judgement to cross the river at the shallowest & safest point. Now on the left of the river bank, continue to follow the river upstream, until you are forced to cross again (safely). Follow the faint path into the woodland. Soon the path will begin to rise – keep following it. Once you’re down the other side, Sgwd Einion Gam should be in view. Continue along the river bank until you reach the lower falls. To get to the main falls, scramble up the muddy river bank on the right of the lower falls, and then follow the path downwards towards them.
10. Carreg Cennen Castle
Situated in the Black Mountains, this is one of the most picturesque romantic castle ruins. It has stunning views over the rolling Carmarthenshire hills. It’s also one of the easiest and shortest hikes in the Brecon Beacons, if you’re looking for a shorter morning walk or if you’re less experienced in hiking. Make sure you get lunch at The Barn when you’ve finished your walk!
11. Pontsticill Reservoir
This is one of the many stunning reservoirs found in the Brecon Beacons National Park and it holds a whopping 3,400 gallons of water! Located a few miles north of Merthyr Tydfil, this walk in the Brecon Beacons encompasses a 5.5 mile circular loop around the reservoir. Follow the eastern side of the reservoir and then when you’re finished, have lunch at the Red Cow Inn.
Note: There is a bridge crossing on this walk, check prior to starting if it’s open. The bridge may be close depending on weather conditions.
12. Llyn y fan Fach and Llyn y fan Fawr
Saving the best hike in the Brecon Beacons until last (in my opinion). This is one of my all-time favourite hikes in Wales, an 18km circular route taking around 4-5 hours to complete.
The Black Mountain Range, located in the western Beacons, is one of the most remote areas of the whole of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The route is less known to tourists but has started becoming a popular favourite over the last year. It is a stunning scenic ridge way walk, passing two beautiful lakes (Llyn y fan Fach and Llyn y fan Fawr) with gorgeous panoramic views.
The walk follows a picturesque river drawing you to the first lake, Llyn y fan Fach. At the base of the lake is a small rescue hut and offers emergency shelter for hikers in extreme weather conditions. Follow the footpath along the well-defined ridge, which sweeps around the edges of the peaks. This spot has the most spectacular jaw dropping views with the Cambrian Mountains seen on a clear day.
Following the ridge leads you to the summit of Picws Du (second highest peak in the Black Mountain Range). The next lake to come into view is Llyn y fan Fawr which translates from welsh as “lake of the big peak” as it’s one of the largest lakes in South Wales.
The area surrounding Llyn y fan Fawr is marsh land and can be boggy. There is a path leading around the lake, however at times it is not well defined. The path heads west and leads back to Llyn y Fan Fach route
Top tip for parking – the road to the car park is very narrow and uneven so ensure you take care when driving. It is a very small car park so ideally arrive here early, especially if it’s a clear sunny day. This hike is definitely one of the best things to do in the Brecon Beacons and one of the best hikes in Wales, so add it to your bucket list now!
What are your favourite things to do in the Brecon Beacons?
Which are your favourite hikes and walks in the Brecon Beacons? Anything you’d add?
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