Introducing Brecon Beacons
Soaring majestically in a wave of dappled pastel tones, the Brecon Beacons roll in a sea of greens, blues, reds and browns across a large slice of Mid Wales. Three distinct regions border the park: the industrial valleys to the south, the central farming heartland to the north and the English border to the east. Swaddled with grassy moors and uplands, the Beacons provide a striking contrast to rock-strewn Snowdonia in the north, but offer comparable thrills and excitement.
Brecon (Aberhonddu) , Abergavenny (Y Fenni) and Hay-on-Wye (Y Gelli) make good base towns, each with a wide range of accommodation and dining options. The closest train stations are Abergavenny and Merthyr Tydfil. The Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal follows the valley of the River Usk from Brecon via Abergavenny down to the coast.
The park runs a mere 15 miles north to south and 45 miles west to east, but embraces four mountain ranges. The name derives from the central and highest range of the quartet, the Brecon Beacons themselves, the high point of which is Pen-y-Fan (886m). South is Fforest Fawr (Great Forest), whose tumbling streams join the River Neath to empty into Swansea Bay. To the west, the quieter Black Mountain range peaks at Fan Brycheiniog (802m), and to the east (don't get confused) are the popular Black Mountains (plural) and Waun Fach (811m).
Walking is a major activity here. Two long-distance paths traverse the park: Offa's Dyke Path, along the eastern border, and the Taff Trail, which heads south from Brecon (Aberhonddu).
For adventure-seekers, the park offers top opportunities for rock climbing, hang-gliding, paragliding, mountainboarding, horse riding, caving and mountain biking, while touring cyclists can pedal the national pan-Wales route, the Lôn Las Cymru.
For a little aquatic fun, take to the water on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, or splosh away on the placid River Wye.
Feeling hungry? Most people have heard horror stories about British grub - that it's fatty, flaccid and flavourless - but this is a fantastic region to dispel such food-based falsehoods. Some of Wales' most succulent lamb frolics here, and farmers produce magnificent organic vegetables.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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