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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Craig Cerrig Gleisiad, Wales ©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.
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.
Look out for wild ponies on the ridge up to Carn Pica ©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.
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.
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.
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.
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.