02 March 2021
Whether you’re looking for an exhilarating off-road mountain bike adventure, a scenic trip along a gentle traffic-tree trail or a thrilling climb along a winding mountain pass, you’ll find an array of wonderful cycle routes along the length and breadth of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Cycling is a great way to explore the area on a short break or holiday to Wales and, if you aren’t able to bring along your own equipment, there is a selection of places where you can hire mountain bikes, road cycles and electric bikes along with helmets and other safety equipment.
🚴 Long-distance cycle routes
🚴 Mountain bike trails
🚴 Road cycling routes
🚴 Traffic-free trails
🚴 Bike hire and guided tours
Long-distance Brecon Beacons cycle routes
There are a trio of long-distance cycling routes that run through the Brecon Beacons National Park. Sections of these longer routes can either be tackled individually or combined with other cycling trails to create longer circular journeys.
The 55-mile long Taff Trail starts at Cardiff and you can follow this scenic long-distance cycle route right through the Brecon Beacons from Merthyr Tydfil at the bottom of the National Park to the market town of Brecon at the top. The largely traffic-free trail uses tramways, former railway lines and canals, and the Brecon Beacons section of the route will take you through open moorland and past reservoirs and waterfalls.
Lon Las Cymru
Another long-distance cycle route that passes through the Brecon Beacons countryside is Lon Las Cymru which in total covers 250 miles across the full length of Wales. The full route of Lon Las Cymru is known as one of the toughest long-distance challenges on the National Cycling Network and the Brecon Beacons section of the route will take you through the Black Mountains and up high along the famous Gospel Pass.
Brecon Beacons Touring Route
The newly created Brecon Beacons Touring Route runs the entire length of the Welsh National Park from Llandeilo in the east to Abergavenny in the west. The route takes in the central part of the Brecon Beacons National Park and can be broken into five more manageable sections which feature a Roman road, winding country lanes and the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal towpath.
Brecon Beacons mountain bike trails
Whether you’re looking for a challenging climb over rocky terrain or a peaceful ride around a reservoir, you’ll find an array of Brecon Beacons mountain bike trails to suit different fitness and skill levels. Here are some of the most scenic routes to try:
The Gap is one of the Brecon Beacons most well-known mountain bike trails but this 35km red-level route, which takes you through the crevice between the Cribyn and Fan-y-Big peaks, is not a bike ride for the faint hearted. The ride is right in the midst of the mighty Brecon Beacons mountains and involves a challenging climb with several steep rocky segments to navigate. The scenery here is magnificent though and, once you have reached the top, you can have lots of high speed fun on the descent.
Bwlch Loop around Llangorse Lake
This is a 24-mile intermediate-level circular route that starts at Talgarth car park and climbs up to Llangorse before descending to the village of Bwlch and taking you back to Talgarth. Highlights along the route include the Allt Yr Esgair hill fort and there are several country pubs along the way where you can stop for some well-earned refreshments.
This challenging Brecon Beacons mountain bike trail is a great choice for more experienced riders and follows a figure-of-eight-shaped loop around the Pontsticill Reservoir and up to the village of Talybont-on-Usk. You’ll take in parts of the Taff Trail and ride through the stunning Usk Valley on this red-rated route that is around 22 miles in total.
If you’re looking for something a little shorter and more easy going, the Crickhowell Loop is a 10-mile blue-rated cycle route that starts at the Crickhowell village car park. The loop is a mixture of paths, lanes and stony woodland tracks and you can call in at Llanbedr Village before returning to Crickhowell.
Talybont Forest Trail
Pretty Talybont-on-Usk is a bit of a hub for mountain biking in the Brecon Beacons with four different routes running through the riverside village. The Talybont Forest Trail is an 11-mile, intermediate-level, blue-rated mountain bike route that’s suitable for anyone with basic off-road cycling skills. It follows part of the Taff Trail before heading into woodland for some hilly off-road thrills before descending to the tranquil Talybont Reservoir.
Bike Park Wales
Just outside the Brecon Beacons National Park, close to the town of Merthyr Tydfil, is a dedicated mountain bike park with cycle hire and 40 specially created trails to tackle. Trails at Bike Park Wales range from beginner to expert with steep climbs, technical trails and jump sections for experienced riders and a 5km single track trail for novices that’s the UK’s longest green-rated downhill route.
Brecon Beacons road cycling routes
With undulating passes running high between the mountains and peaceful country lanes connecting vibrant market towns with pretty villages, there are an assortment of scenic road cycling routes throughout the Brecon Beacons. Here are some of our favourites to try:
Following the road up to the top of Blorenge is a cycling challenge that’s known as The Tumble and, on any given day, you’ll find several riders tackling this tricky Brecon Beacons climb. Blorenge is a mountain that lies in the south-eastern part of the National Park and the summit is 561 metres above sea level. The climb is at a 10% gradient and the route to the top is around 4 miles - if you fancy incorporating the climb into a longer ride, the Abergavenny circular is a good one to try.
Llandeilo to Talsarn
The first section of the specially created Brecon Beacons touring route is around 13 miles in total and starts at the colourful market town Llandeilo. It follows the A483 road across the River Towy to the village of Ffairfach before climbing up to the hamlet of Trap with stunning views over the Black Mountains along the way. This is a fairly challenging road route and you can also take an optional detour to nearby Carreg Cennen Castle.
Gospel Pass is a narrow road running through the steep sided Vale of Ewyas with big climbs and majestic views along the way. Starting the 22-mile route at Hay-on-Wye, you’ll climb up the winding mountain road between Twmpa (also known as Lord Hereford’s Knob) and Hay Bluff to reach the peak of 549 metres above sea level. This is the highest road pass in Wales and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views over the Black Mountains before descending down the valley to the atmospheric ruins of Llanthony Abbey.
Brecon to Hay-on-Wye
You can take in two of the Brecon Beacons' finest market towns on this charming cycling route between Brecon and Hay-on-Wye. The 18-mile route is mainly on peaceful country lanes and, at the midpoint of the journey, you’ll pass through Talgarth where there are several pubs that you can call in at for a pit stop.
Llandeilo'r-fan and the Cilieni Valley
If you’re fairly new to road cycling or just want a bit of a helping hand then a great place to start is at Sennybridge Electric Bikes, located in the peaceful village of Sennybridge. Here you can hire an electric bike for the day and set off exploring the country lanes of Llandeilo'r-fan and the Cilieni Valley. The extra pedal power will help you navigate some of the steeper climbs and you can call in at the Shoemakers Arms on your return for refreshments.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly cycle route, the Brecon Beacons is also home to a number of traffic-free trails so you can safely head out on two wheels to explore the National Park:
Brecon and Monmouth Canal Towpath
One of the prettiest cycle routes around follows the path of the Brecon and Monmouthshire Canal as it meanders through the idyllic Usk Valley. There are no cars on this route although the pathway is also popular with walkers and it’s up to you how much of the 22-mile route that you choose to ride. We recommend cycling the 7 miles from the Brecon Canal Basin to Talybont-on-Usk and calling in at the family-friendly pub The White Hart for refreshments.
Talybont Reservoir to Torpantau
This 5.5-mile, traffic-free trail runs between the Talybont Reservoir and the disused Torpantau Railway Station. There is a bit of a climb as you make your way along the cycle path to Torpantau but you can have fun building up some speed on the return leg back to the reservoir. There’s often an ice cream van around the popular Talybont Reservoir so you can enjoy a sweet treat after finishing the ride.
Garwnant Forest Trails
Another good option for cycling as a family is at Garwnant Forest where you’ll find a choice of trails to follow from the site’s main visitor centre. There are cycle routes available to suit all ages and abilities, and special bike skill courses that are ideal for children. Garwnant Forest is ideal for a fun-filled day out in the Brecon Beacons National Park as the site also includes forest trails, play areas and scenic picnic sites.
Usk Reservoir Trail
The tranquil Usk Reservoir is surrounded by wonderful woodland with wide pathways that are just right for cycling. There are some climbs and descents during the 6-mile circuit around the reservoir but this is a fairly easy-going, traffic-free route for families to enjoy. The start and finish point for the loop is at Glasfynydd Picnic Area so you can sit a while after the cycle ride and make the most of this stunning spot in the picturesque Usk Valley.
This 8-mile, traffic-free trail follows the path of the disused Merthyr, Tredegar and Abergavenny Railway line between Llanfoist and Brynmawr, passing high over the beautiful Clydach Gorge river valley. One of the highlights of this route is cycling across the Clydach Viaduct and there are spectacular views from here across both the Brecon Beacons National Park and the Blaenavon World Heritage site.
Bike hire and guided tours in the Brecon Beacons
Image credit: PS Williams
Here are some of the best bike hire places within the Brecon Beacons National Park:
- Based in the village of Talybont-on-Usk, Bikes and Hikes is a one-stop shop for anyone planning a cycling getaway to the Brecon Beacons. Whether you’re looking for bike hire, cycle repair or servicing, the friendly and knowledgeable staff will help you to get on your way.
- Drover Cycles is a bike shop located in Hay-on-Wye close to the famous Gospel Path cycling route. An on-site workshop can ensure your bike is in tip-top condition and there’s a range of bicycles available to hire with delivery available in the local area.
- If you don’t feel ready to strike out on your own, Treads and Trails offers a selection of guided mountain bike trails throughout the Brecon Beacons. Half and full-day tours are available and cycle hire can be arranged if you aren’t able to bring along your own mountain bike.
- Located in the market town of Brecon, Biped Cycles is a family-run bicycle shop which runs a series of organised rides throughout the year and can hire both mountain bikes and electric bikes for cycling through the Brecon Beacons.
Plan your getaway to the Brecon Beacons
If you have been inspired to go mountain biking or road cycling in the Brecon Beacons, you’ll find a range of holiday cottages in and around popular locations like Talybont-on-Usk, Hay-on-Wye and Brecon.
Browse our range of Brecon Beacons cottages to find the perfect base for your short break or holiday to this beautiful part of the UK. For even more outdoor inspiration read our guide to kayaking and canoeing in the Brecon Beacons.
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.