If you want magical waterfalls, mighty landscapes, spooky stories and adventure then make sure to head to the Brecon Beacons national park in the heart of Wales! Covering a region of 520 square miles, the park includes four mountain ranges and 268 ancient monuments, so there are always plenty of things to do in the Brecon Beacons.
#1 Waterfall Country
One the most popular areas in the Brecon Beacons, Waterfall Country or Coed-y-Rhaeadr in Welsh, is a magical and serene region bursting with life and sound where the trickle and rush of water mingles with the rustling of the trees and the chatter of birds. Situated near Merthyr Tydfil, the area is part of the Fforest Fawr massif with steep tree-lined gorges and rocky limestone outcrops dramatically framing the famed waterfalls and creating interesting hikes for all levels. A visit to the area has to include a trip to the famed Sgwd-y-Eira, the Snow Waterfall, where you can enjoy the unique experience of walking behind the powerful curtain of water along a narrow natural path in the rock.
There are many ways to discover Waterfall Country with plenty of different walking trails winding through the beautiful forest landscape. There are 25 miles of official footpaths and even a downloadable audioguide which can teach you about the flora and fauna of the region. Hidden in the forest, you can also discover the abandoned remains of the area’s industrial past including mines, quarries, kilns and even a gunpowder factory! For the more adventurous or those looking for an outdoor challenge why not try a hand at gorge-walking, caving at Porth-yr-Ogof caves or canoeing or kayaking in one of Wales’ best locations for whitewater activities.
Are you looking for a good old fashioned adventure in the great outdoors? Maybe a treasure hunt? Then geocaching is the perfect way for you to explore new areas! There are unexpected and ingenious caches hidden all over the landscape just waiting to be found. In the Brecon Beacons national park, there are over 180 geocaches located in spectacular and interesting places, such as the crashsite of a bomber plane from the Second World War. You can also combine your geocache hunt with an orienteering course and improve your bushcraft and survival skills.
Geocaches can range from small containers to large old ammunition boxes containing geoswag (small toys and random objects rather than gold and jewels...) and a logbook. The geocacher’s must seek out the geocaches using GPS through an app on a mobile device or even an Ordanance Service map and a compass. You can take the swag, but only if you replace it with something of equal value for someone else to find and don't forget to sign the logbook to prove you have found the cache. How many you can find?
#3 The Skirrid Mountain Inn
Sat atop a mountain that so legend has it, shuddered in anger and broke in two after the Crucifixion (hence the name), the Skirrid Mountain Inn is one of the UK's most haunted pubs and has a fascinating history. The inn has stood on this spot for over 900 years, accommodating the travelers making their way through the dramatic and often unforgiving landscape of the Brecon Beacons. Still serving this function today, it has 3 visitor bedrooms, a wood panelled restaurant offering home cooked meals and lovely cosy fireplaces.
The inn is at the centre of local legends and folklore and during its long history is has seen its fair share of grisly events. Most of the ghost sightings in the building are associated with its former use as a courtroom and place of execution. The guilty were sentenced in the inn and then subsequently hung until dead from an oaken beam, that can still be seen today. The spirits of these restless souls are said to wander the building lamenting their fate. Do you dare to stay the night?
#4 Brecon Mountain Railway
Sit back and enjoy a relaxed tripy through the Brecon Beacons on the Brecon Mountain Railway, which travels 3 miles from Pant, just north of Merthyr Tydfil, to the heights of Torpantau at 1313 feet (400m) above sea level. The heritage steam train transports its passengers along the route of the original Brecon and Merthyr Railway which was built in 1859, and offers magnificent views as it passes along the length of the Taf Fechan Reservoir and ascends higher into the peaks.
Do you want to know more about the history of this beautiful railway? A 25 minute stop at Pontsticill gives visitors the chance to explore the history of the line and those who built it at the Steam Museum. Alternatively, visitors can take a walk along the picturesque Taf Fechan Reservoir or enjoy a tipple with a stunning vista at the Lakeside Cafe.
#5 Hay Festival
For 10 days every May and June in the book paradise of Hay-on-Wye, the Hay Festival is a celebration of reading and writing and the arts with authors from around the world attending the festival to give readings, talks and interviews. The festival is intended to inspire, entertain and invite people to imagine the our world and how it might be. It is not just literary authors who attend the festival but also Noble Prize winners, politicians, scientists, musicians and people from all walks of life. Previous guests have included Hilary Mantel, Margaret Atwood, Bill Bailey, Boris Johnson and Stephen Fry. Hay attracts over 85,000 visitors annually and is broadcast live on BBC radio. As well as the main event there is also a children’s festival ‘Hay Fever’, which offers different activities and workshops tailored to the younger audience. It is an unmissable event in a charming setting surrounded by beautiful countryside and the quaint town of Hay-on-Wye with its many bookshops.
Places to stay in the Brecon Beacons
There are a variety of places to stay in the Brecon Beacons and choosing from many options can be quite a task! To save you some work we have narrowed them down to our 3 favourites.
Erwlon Caravan and Camping Park, Llandovery
Named Camarenthshire’s Best Caravan, Camping and Glamping site, the family run Erwlon Caravan and Camping Park in the west of the Brecon Beacons offers the perfect location to explore this magical region of Wales. Its award winning amenity blocks have designated adult only and family areas, there is parkwide WiFi, fully serviced super-pitches and a children’s playground. The park is ideally situated for activities in the great outdoors with an abundance of walking trails, cycling routes, caving and riding adventures.
Grawen Caravan and Camping Park, Cwm Taf
Situated at the foot of the southern ridges of the Brecon Beacons and the nearby Llwyn-on Reservoir, Grawen Caravan and Camping Park is perfect for both outdoor pursuits and relaxing in the picturesque surroundings. There are plenty of things to do in the area with a plentitude of walks, the base of Pen-y-Fan, Wales’ second highest peak, is just a 10 minute drive away and Waterfall Country is also within easy driving distance. The family run park has electric pitches, a laundry area, is dog friendly and has a children’s play area. The nearby village of Cefn Coed also offers all that you could need during your stay with shops, pubs and takeaways!
Tal-y-bont Farm Caravan and Camping, Tal-y-bont on Usk
A working farm, Tal-y-bont Farm Caravan and Camping is just 6 miles from Brecon town in the lovely surroundings of the Brecon Beacons. The farm is well located for outdoor pursuits, with a variety of options such as sailing, watersports or fishing at the nearby Llangorse Lake, as well as pony trekking, walking and cycling routes in the area. Visitors can also explore the historic village of Tal-y-bont on Usk with the Brecon Canal and Brinore Tramroad, early transport systems for coal and limestone from south Wales, going through its heart. The farm has 20 hookup points, an amenities block and pets are more than welcome!
Cwmdu Campsite, Crickhowell
A Visit Wales 4 Star Campsite, Cwmdu Campsite is the perfect place to kick off your motorhome adventure. Aside from welcoming campervans and motorhomes, they are also pet friendly! They have excellent toilet and shower facilities, and also offer caving experiences for beginning. At Cwmdu Campsite you won't be returning from the adventure, you'll be beginning it there. Their on-site shop will ensure you never run out of supplies, stocking everything from fresh bacon to ice cream. Hoping to save yourself the trouble and eat out? There is a superb cafe 250m down the road serving home cooked breakfasts and lunch until 4pm.
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