Brecon Beacons Travel Guide

The Brecon Beacons National Park is only half an hour's drive north of Cardiff, and comprises four mountain ranges and an interesting terrain of old mining valleys, bare escarpments, and sprawling sheep farms.

Most visitors are walkers heading for Offa's Dyke Path, which passes along the eastern border, or the Taff Trail, heading south from Brecon. Offa's Path runs through the Black Mountains, which boast spectacular views such as the ruins of Llanthony Priory, the River Honddu, the ancient hill forts at Y Garn Goch, and the pretty church at Partrishow.

There's much to see and do in Brecon Beacons, and popular activities include hiking, horseback riding, fishing, rock climbing, canoeing, spelunking (cave exploring), and sailing. The popular mountain bike route, the Taff Trail, traces 100 miles (160km) along Beacon's Way across the park. The highest point in the Black Mountains is Waun Fach and the tallest peak in the Brecon Beacons is Pen-y-Fan.

Travellers shouldn't be surprised if they bump into groups of soldiers in the park, as this is a major army exercise area and a main training ground for the SAS (Special Air Service). Indeed, travellers might see them bounding up the mountains, doing the Fan Dance: a 15 mile (24km) route march in the Brecon Beacons that's notorious within the ranks of all UK Special Forces. Around the park are the historic market towns of Brecon and Hay-on-Wye, fascinating destinations with Norman and Jacobean ruins and famous second-hand book shops.