Best walks in the Brecon Beacons National Park

From spectacular ridgelines and mountains to glistening waterfalls, rivers and lakes, the Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales has something for everyone. Our guide looks at the best walks in the Brecon Beacons – all within an hour's drive of several major cities.

Brecon Beacons waterfall, Wales

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The Brecon Beacons National Park comprises four regions: the Brecon Beacons, Black Mountains, Fan Frycheiniog and Forest Fawr.

The area was designated as a national park in 1957, later achieving International Dark Sky Reserve status in February 2013. The park covers an area of 519 square miles and it’s highest point is Pen y Fan (886m).

Snowdonia’s stately mountains offer the perfect ‘big challenge’, jaw-dropping views and an unbeatable sense of achievement ©Getty

Discover the riches of the Brecon Beacon, Black Mountains, Fan Frycheiniog and Forest Fawr with our guide to the best hikes in the national park.


Waterfall Country, Powys

Rocks in front of the Sgwd yr Eira waterfall, Brecon Beacons, Wales
Sgwd yr Eira waterfall, Fforest Fawr Global Geopark ©Getty

“I cannot call to mind a single valley that… comprises so much beautiful and picturesque scenery and so many interesting and special features.” With these words, Victorian naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace was describing neither the Amazon nor the Far East that he explored on his intrepid travels, but somewhere much closer to home: the Vale of Neath on the southern slopes of the Brecon Beacons. Spilling water, mossy riverbeds and tree-shrouded caverns – Waterfall Country is a ramblers dream – find out for yourself with this 4km walk.

The route

  • 4km/2.5 miles
  • 2 hours
  • Moderate

Waterfall Country walking route and map

Waterfall Country map

Cribyn, Powys

Cribyn, at 795m, sits 101m below the tallest peak in southern Britain, Pen y Fan. But far from inferior, the angular mount affords spectacular views over the surrounding countryside, making it well worth the climb
Cribyn, at 795m, sits 101m below the tallest peak in southern Britain, Pen y Fan ©Alamy

Often overshadowed by its towering neighbour, Pen y Fan, this verdant mountain in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales is one of Britain’s most understated peaks. It’s the kind of mountain a child may draw; pyramidal and stacked with brawn. Yet in spite of its mountain status, its summit is neither as high nor as insurmountable as you may imagine, making it well worth the climb.

The route

  • 18.6km/11.5 miles
  • 6 hours
  • Moderate/challenging

Cribyn walking route and map

Cribyn map

Pen y Fan, Powys

For anyone who doesn’t fancy to entire 10.5-mile hike, stop at the reservoir and appreciate the peak from the valley
For anyone who doesn’t fancy to entire 10.5-mile hike, stop at the reservoir and appreciate the peak from the valley ©Getty

Pen y Fan is one of the most popular peaks in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Most visitors hike to the mountain top from the Storey Arms – but for a quieter and more rewarding route, take the path up from Taf Fechan Forest past Neuadd Reservoir.

The route

  • 16.7km/10.4 miles
  • 5-6 hours
  • Moderate/challenging

Pen y Fan walking route and map

 

Pen y Fan map

Abergavenny and Avon Cibi, Monmouthshire

The market town of Abergavenny on the river Usk seen from Blorenge mountain in the Black Mountains, Wales
Abergavenny market town at the eastern end of the Brecon Beacons National Park ©Getty

Take your time exploring the newly pedestrianised town centre, gather your treats, then set off on a lovely four-hour walk, taking in some beautiful countryside on the Sugar Loaf mountain just north of Aber.

The route

  • 9.9km/6.2 miles
  • 4 hours
  • Moderate

Abergavenny walking route and map

Abergavenny map

Blorenge, Monmouthshire

Keeper's Pond on the flanks of Blorenge in the Brecon Beacons
Keeper’s Pond on the flanks of Blorenge in the Brecon Beacons ©Getty

Step out of your car at Keeper’s Pond and look out over the Black Mountains. The instantly recognisable flat top of Sugar Loaf mountain rises above Abergavenny and, on a clear day, you can pick out the Brecon Beacons’ highest peaks, Pen y Fan, Corn Du and Cribyn to the west. The surrounding landscape bears scars from the industrial activity the area is famous for; coal mining has left black furrows in the hillside, evidence of limestone and ironstone quarries litter the landscape and bell pits pockmark the ground behind the car park – the starting point of this 16.6km walk.

The route

  • 10.6km/6.5 miles
  • 4 hours
  • Moderate

Blorenge walking route and map

Blorenge map

Craig-Cerrig-gleisiad, Powys

Craig Cerrig Gleisiad, Wales
Craig Cerrig Gleisiad, Wales ©Getty
Getty

Climb any of the Brecon Beacons and you’ll find a stirring view. But the best of them all is the glowering peak of Craig-Cerrig-gleisiad. Purple Arctic-alpine flowers and bluebells colour this unique, craggy habitat.

The route

  • 4.4km/2.7 miles
  • 2 hours
  • Moderate

Craig-Cerrig-gleisiad walking route and map

 

Craig Cerrig Glesiad map

Llanthony and Hatterall Ridge, Monmouthshire

Llanthony Priory sits in the Vale of Ewyas in Monmouthshire
Llanthony Priory sits in the Vale of Ewyas in Monmouthshire ©Getty
This energetic circular walk meanders in and out of the Brecon Beacons National Park, negotiating the scenic Hatterall Ridge that separates England from Wales. Lying in the Vale of Ewyas, the evocative ruins of Llanthony Priory, a 12th-century Augustinian abbey, can also be enjoyed on this 4.5-mile circular walk.

The route

  • 8km/5 miles
  • 3 hours
  • Moderate

Llanthony Priory walking route and map

Llanthony Priory map

Carn Pica, Powys

Look out for wild ponies on the ridge up to Carn Pica
Look out for wild ponies on the ridge up to Carn Pica ©Daniel Graham
Daniel Graham

There’s no easy way to get to the summit of this mountain, which rises more than 750m above sea level. You can approach it from the long, sprawling mass of Bryn and the boggy uplands of Waun Rydd, or from the west and the Central Peaks of Pen y Fan and Cribyn. This 8km circular walk, our favourite route to the Carn Pica summit, begins and ends at Talybont Reservoir.

The route

  • 8km/5 miles
  • 3.5 hours
  • Moderate/challenging

Carn Pica walking route and map

Carn Pica map

Fan Hir, Powys

Surrounded by peat moorland, rocky mountain ridges and spilling streams, Llyn y Fan Fawr is a great place for novices to try their hand – and feet – at a guided trail run
Surrounded by peat moorland, rocky mountain ridges and spilling streams, Llyn y Fan Fawr is a great place for novices to try their hand – and feet – at a guided trail run ©Sian Anna Lewis

This seven-mile route across the Black Mountain to Llyn y Fan Fawr in the Brecon Beacons National Park is wild and rugged – take on the path at walking pace, or for a little more excitement, try running the length of the ridge.

The route

  • 10.6km/6.6miles
  • 4 hours
  • Moderate/challenging

Fan Hir walking route and map

Fan Hir, Black Mountains map

Craig-y-Cilau, Monmouthshire

Lesser spotted woodpeckers can be seen in the hazel and oak woodland
Lesser spotted woodpeckers can be seen in the hazel and oak woodland ©Getty

Little known and seldom celebrated, these towering rocky crags are within an hour’s drive of Cardiff and Bristol – yet people insist on travelling further in search of such mountainous drama.

The route

  • 7km/4.3 miles
  • 2.5 hours
  • Moderate

Craig-y-Cilau walking route and map

Craig y Cilau map

Llyn y Fan Fach, Camarthenshire

Looking east from Bannau Sir Gaer over Llyn y Fan Fach
Looking east from Bannau Sir Gaer over Llyn y Fan Fach ©Getty

Perhaps the hardest part about this day out is finding the car park; pass the small community of Llanddeusant and you know you’re close. Parking up in the small, gravel car park, you’ll already be aware of the solitude of this part of the Brecon Beacons – it’s the quiet understudy to the neighbouring central peaks of Pen y Fan, Corn Du and Cribyn, yet certainly no less spectacular.

The route

  • 6.2km/4.8 miles
  • 2.5 hours
  • Moderate

Llyn y Fan Fach walking route and map

Llyn y Fan Fach map

Sugar Loaf Mountain, Monmouthshire

The summit of Sugar Loaf mountain, Mynydd Pen y Fal, in the Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons national park, Wales at sunrise.
Pinched at its crest, the iconic Sugar Loaf peak is visible from miles around ©Getty

In its relatively modest 596m, the summit of Sugar Loaf in the Brecon Beacons National Park encompasses much that is magical about mountains, hills and woodland – explore this wonderful Welsh peak with a  five-mile circular walk.

The route

  • 8.4km/5.2 miles
  • 3 hours
  • Moderate 

Sugar Loaf Mountain walking route and map

Sugar Loaf mountain, monmouthshire map

Talybont-on-Usk, Powys

Talybont Reservoir, Wales
Brinore Tramroad runs alongside Talybont Reservoir beneath the rounded summit of Tor y Foel (551m)
Getty
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The Brinore Tramroad fell out of use more than 150 years ago, yet evidence of the primitive railway still haunts this quiet valley in the heart of the Brecon Beacons. Explore this old track on a short walk from Talybont-on-Usk along the tramroad and back along the Caerfanell River.

The route

  • 2.8km/1.7 miles
  • 1 hours
  • easy 

Talybont-on-Usk walking route and map

Caerfanell River walking route and map