The Brecon Beacons is one of the UK’s most beautiful national parks, filled with majestic mountains, wonderful waterways and peaceful villages. But did you know that hidden beneath this stunning scenery is a series of fascinating caves?
The natural limestone caverns were formed millions of years ago and you can still burrow deep underground and walk through these fascinating tunnels on an exciting caving adventure. So if you fancy scratching below the surface on your next Welsh getaway, here is our guide to some of the best caves to explore in the Brecon Beacons National Park.
National Showcaves Centre for Wales
One of the most popular underground places to visit is the National Showcase Centre for Wales which comprises one of the UK’s largest series of underground tunnels. Three caves are accessible to the public and there is also a selection of family-friendly activities to try at this popular Brecon Beacons attraction.
Dan Yr Ogof
The centrepiece of the National Showcaves Centre for Wales is the beautiful passageways of Dan Yr Ogof, which were formed around 330 million years ago and first discovered in 1912 by a pair of local brothers. There’s around a kilometre of the cave to walk along here, with fascinating rock formations including the Alabaster Pillar, the Angel and the interestingly named Rasher of Bacon to look out for along the way.
Walking through the entrance of Cathedral Cave is like going down Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole; this spectacular cavern has a truly magical quality to it that has made it popular as a Brecon Beacons wedding venue. Thousands of pretty stalactites decorate enormous passageways, and the highlight of this huge cave is its series of natural waterfalls that cascade into underground lakes. Majestic 40-foot drops surround you at Cathedral Cave’s Dome of St Pauls for a dramatic end to your walk through the cavern.
Uncover the history of the showcaves in the eerie Bone Cave, which got its name because of skeletons dating back to the Bronze Age and a variety of fascinating Roman items that have been found here. Visitors can explore a series of exhibits showing how the network of caves was used in the past and how some of the important discoveries were made.
Other activities at the National Showcaves Centre
The caves of the Brecon Beacons were a rich source of valuable Welsh gold during Roman times and you can try your hand at panning for this extremely rare precious metal at the Dan-Yr-Ogof showcaves. Panning for gold is just one of the family-friendly activities available at the National Showcaves Centre - there’s also a dinosaur park to explore and a museum which shows the further reaches of the caves through interactive technology.
The Bat Cave at Henrhyd Falls
Not only is Henrhyd Falls the highest waterfall in South Wales, but this wonderful National Trust-managed site is also featured in The Dark Knight Rises film. Christian Bale as Batman memorably disappears behind the 88-foot falls to enter a secret Bat Cave hidden behind the water. Amazingly, this isn’t a piece of cinematic trickery and you too can step behind the water at Henrhyd Falls to enter the cave for yourself. Seeing the water thunder down in front of you is a magical experience and the pool of water at Henrhyd Falls is also a beautiful spot for wild swimming.
Porth Yr Ogof
Porth Yr Ogor, or the ‘gateway to the cave’ as it’s roughly translated to in English, features a twisting network of tunnels lying behind a gaping 17-metre-wide entrance. It’s the largest cave entrance in Wales, and with 2.25km of labyrinth-like passageways to explore, Porth Yr Ogof is an ideal option for a caving adventure. You can scramble over and squeeze through obstacles such as The Wormhole, The Corkscrew and The Washing Machine as you make your way through the cave, but it’s important to only tackle the various underground tunnels and passageways with an experienced caving instructor.
Outdoor adventure companies offering caving tours include:
If you’re not quite ready to explore Porth Yr Ogof’s maze of tunnels, it’s still well worth seeking out the impressive entrance. You can combine a visit to Porth Yr Ogof with tackling the Four Waterfalls trail as the cave entrance is located close to the start of this wonderful Brecon Beacons walk.
Located on a steep-sided valley near Blaenavon World Heritage Site, Clydach Gorge is a prime location for outdoor activities in the Brecon Beacons, with a series of waterfalls, rocks and natural caves to explore. William Shakespeare was reputedly inspired to write A Midsummer Night’s Dream after visiting the gorge and it’s well worth exploring this beautiful part of Monmouthshire, whether you fancy a scenic waterfall walk, scrambling across the rocks or heading underground for a caving adventure.
Popular Clydach Gorge caves include Ogof Craig a Ffynnon, which features a series of tunnels and passageways decorated by beautiful natural stalactites, and Ogof Clogwyn, which is the most easily accessible cavern to walk through. Forest Adventure is an outdoor activity company based at Clydach Gorge and they offer a range of organised caving experiences with qualified instructors.
The romantically remote Carreg Cennen Castle is perched on top of a towering limestone crag with stunning views of the Carmarthenshire countryside from above and a selection of caves and caverns to explore beneath the surface. It’s believed there are at least nine caves hidden underneath the 13th-century castle, and after you have taken a romantic walk around the ruins, you can head down a vaulted passageway lit by loopholes to the mouth of the main Carreg Cennen cavern.
There’s a trench you can walk along to explore the limestone cave that lies below - look out for a natural basin at the end of the tunnel. The dripping water that collects here was once used to supply drinking water to the castle’s inhabitants. There’s also a small dovecot down here that once served as the castle’s dungeon.
Another very pretty caving location is Sychryd Gorge which lies within the Waterfall Country area of the Welsh national park. A series of three different Brecon Beacons waterfalls are located along Sychryd Gorge, and a large limestone cliff called Dinas Rock is popular with climbers.
The largest cave of Sychryd Gorge is located just a short walk from Dinas Rock and is called Ogof Afon Sychryd, or Will’s Hole - there are also several smaller surrounding caverns close by.
Please note: Access to the caves at Sychryd Gorge is via a steep narrow section of the gorge and should only be tackled by experienced cavers.
The Big Pit
Once the site of a working coal mine, The Big Pit is now a fascinating museum that forms part of the Blaenavon World Heritage Site. Visitors can don a hard hat and head 300 feet underground to explore a network of original mining tunnels.
You’ll get an insight into the life and work of the miners with a lamp on your helmet to light the way. The authentic sounds and smells are great fun for children and there’s also lots of information to help you learn more about this important part of Brecon Beacons history.
Plan your getaway to the Brecon Beacons
If you have been inspired to explore the Brecon Beacons, whether that’s above ground in the peaceful countryside or below ground exploring some of the region's wonderful natural caves, there are lots of idyllic holiday cottages to stay in during your getaway.
So whether you are planning a romantic break or a fun-filled family adventure, why not browse our range of Brecon Beacons cottages for your next UK holiday?
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.