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The very best walks and hikes in the Brecon Beacons holiday cottages

The very best walks and hikes in the Brecon Beacons

Clare Willcocks 06 March 2020

The Brecon Beacons is a huge, beautiful expanse of natural landscapes, encompassing mountainous regions, rich wooded valleys, weather-beaten peaks and majestic lakes.

One of the best ways to appreciate the magnificence of the Brecon Beacons is on foot – nothing compares to the feeling of achievement when conquering Pen y Fan or Sugar Loaf Mountain, or the awe of rounding a corner to a view of a mirror-like lake. Hidden within this magical adventurer’s playground is a plethora of intriguing historical sites and unique attractions, which makes walking in the Brecon Beacons a rewarding and memorable experience.

We’ve picked out some of our favourite walks which take in some of the most stunning parts of the Brecon Beacons. Some are circular walks and some are one-way only, so you will have to retrace your steps, giving you the chance to admire the scenery twice!

So, without further ado, here are our best walks in the Brecon Beacons.

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Waterfall walks

Elidir Trail in Waterfall Country

Distance: 2.5 miles, each way (approx 2 hours)

Good to know: Accessible by wheelchair and pushchairs up to Lady Falls (1.3 miles)

Difficulty: Moderate 

Elidir Trail in Waterfall Country

Starting at the Angel Inn in Pontneddfechan (which incidentally is the perfect place to reward yourself with a hearty meal after your walk), this scenic, 2.5-mile trail is indicated by purple waymarkers and wends its way past a number of stunning waterfalls. The first, Sgwd Gwladus (Lady Falls) can be accessed by everyone.

The next, Sgwd-y-Bedol (the Horseshoe Falls) tumbles down a series of semi-circular ledges and is reached by turning back to the bridge and heading left along the Nedd Fechan River. Sgwd Ddwli Isaf (Lower Gushing Falls) is the next of the larger waterfalls you’ll come across, closely followed by the incredible Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf (Upper Gushing Falls) where the water crashes powerfully down into the river below.

Continue on along the river to the picnic area at Pont Melin-fach or retrace your steps back to the inn.

Four Falls Trail

Distance: 4.5 miles (3+ hours, circular walk)

Difficulty: Fairly challenging terrain, lots of ups and downs

Elidir

This is one of the best-loved walking trails in Waterfall Country, which is unsurprising as it takes in some absolutely fantastic waterfalls. Start in the Cwm Porth car park where you can admire the largest cave entrance in Wales, where the River Mellte disappears into the darkness, accompanied by intrepid potholers! The walk meets the river as it emerges from the underground passage and takes you to four waterfalls which are slightly off the main path, but clearly signposted: the majestic Sgwd Clun-gwyn, the huge Sgwd yr Pannwr, a cascading staircase of waterfalls Sgwd Isaf Clwn-gwyn and finally, arguably the most impressive, the thundering curtain of Sgwd yr Eira. Here, you can pass behind the curtain and feel the spray as tons of water fall before you.

Turn back the way you came to reach the car park.

If you're looking for even more stunning waterfall walks, take a look through all of our favourite waterfall walks in the Brecon Beacons.

Mountain walks

Sugar Loaf Mountain

Distance: 5.2 miles, circular walk (approx 3 hours)

Difficulty: Moderate

Sugar Loaf Mountain

Discover the magic of the Brecon Beacons landscapes as you pass through woodland and across open hillsides to this wonderful mountain peak. Start the Sugar Loaf Mountain walk at the car park on the southern slopes of the mountain, and descend into woodland, skirting around the peak before heading up its western side. There is a trig point which marks the top of Sugar Loaf mountain, from here you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Black Mountains. Head back down via the south-westerly path to the car park.

Pen y Fan and Corn Du

Distance: 4 miles, circular walk (approx 2.5 hours)

Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous

Pen y Fan

Pen y Fan is one of the most popular and iconic peaks in the Brecon Beacons National Park, and Britain’s highest mountain. There are several walking routes to the top, but we’ve chosen this circular route which takes in the second highest peak in the Brecon Beacons, Corn Du. The route climbs up to Bwlch Duwynt (Windy Pass) and leads across the slopes of Corn Du to the section between the two mountains. From here you can admire the impressive views of the Neuadd Valley and the reservoirs close to Merthyr Tydfil. The footpath then leads up to the summit of Pen y Fan, an exhilarating 886 metres above sea level. On the summit you will notice a cairn which was Bronze Age burial chamber.

Take time to really enjoy the view from the top, you can see as far as Brecon and even Cadair Idris to the north, Sugar Loaf mountain to the east and the Bristol Channel to the south-west if visibility allows. Head back from here to then climb the summit of Corn Du (which is also topped by a cairn). From here, make your way back to the car park, via a detour to the obelisk if you wish.

Fan Hir

Distance: 7 miles, circular walk (approx 3 hours, 15 minutes)

Difficulty: Challenging, wild and rugged

Fan Hir

This dizzying ridge route is popular among runners but can be enjoyed just as much at a slower pace. Start at Tafarn-y-Garreg car park and head north on the Beacons Way which leads along the bottom of the ridge. The path is muddy and crosses streams, so be sure to wear suitable footwear and prepare to get mucky! With the ridge on your left, you’ll eventually reach Llyn y Fan Fach Lake, close to Fan Brycheiniog which is the highest peak in the Black Mountains. The path is sometimes unclear here, so be aware of natural markers and follow the map. The route takes you around the edge of the lake before ascending Fan Hir, then all the way back to your start point along the flat ridge, where, again, you’ll encounter streams and bogs to make your walk more interesting.

Catch your breath and replenish your energy after this exhilarating walk in the Tafarn-y-Garreg pub.

Discover even more amazing views from the top with our top mountains to climb in the Brecon Beacons.


Forest Walks

Taf Fechan Forest

Distance: 4.69 miles (approx 2 hours, 15 minutes)

Difficulty: Moderate to challenging

Taf Fechan

Enjoy views of the highest mountains in the Brecon Beacons without exerting too much effort on this moderate forest walk. Beginning at the Taf Fechan Forest car park, the route takes you on a gentle stroll, predominantly through the forest and meandering past a reservoir, across moorland, alongside a river and past some waterfalls and Birch Hall Bothy before heading back to the car park.

Monmouth and Brecon Canal

Distance: 6 miles, one way (approx 2 hours, 40 minutes)

Difficulty: Easy - gentle towpath walk

Monmouth and Brecon Canal

A gentle and peaceful walk on the towpath alongside the Monmouth and Brecon Canal, where you can catch glimpses of the peaks of the mountain tops through the trees that line the banks. Starting in Crickhowell, the route follows country lanes to meet the canal at Llangattock, from where you wander along the leafy canal path, finishing in Llangynidr. If you have enough energy, you can extend your walk along the towpath which continues to Talybont Reservoir where there are more forest and waterside trails.

Short walks

Penderyn Quarry Line

Distance: 2 miles, one way (2 hours)

Difficulty: Easy, flat terrain

Penderyn Quarry

Starting at Penderyn Village, this scenic trail follows the route of the former Penderyn Quarry Line which carried minerals from Moel Penderyn to the Hirwaun Ironworks. Keep an eye out for the old railway sleepers or you may even be lucky enough to spot a kingfisher if you’re really lucky. The history of this area is fascinating and you can download an audio trail of Hirwaun to find out more about the ironworks through the life of worker William Bryant.

This is one of our most sedate Brecon Beacons walks, so why not round off a relaxing afternoon with a drink in the Red Lion pub, one of the first in Wales to secure Dark Sky Site status.

Brecon Promenade 

Distance: 0.5 miles, one way (approx 1 hour)

Good to know: Accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs

Difficulty: Easy, flat, tarmacked surface

Brecon Promenade

As short walks go, this is the perfect choice for families or those who just want a bit of fresh air while still enjoying the scenery. From Brecon town centre, the walk follows an off-road pathway alongside the river, where you may be lucky enough to spot kingfishers, cormorants and ducks. Notice Llanfaes Bridge which has seven arches – before this bridge was originally built in 1563, a ford would have been the only way to cross the river.

Enjoy your stay

When you’re tired from your Brecon Beacons hiking, there’s nothing more comforting than knowing you have a cosy holiday cottage close by where you can relax and rest your weary legs, ready for the next day’s adventures! Take a look at our wonderful collection of Brecon Beacons cottages and begin planning your holiday in this wonderful part of Wales.


Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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