A guide to kayaking and canoeing in the Brecon Beacons holiday cottages

A guide to kayaking and canoeing in the Brecon Beacons

Julie Smith 22 December 2020

Kayaking and canoeing are fantastic ways to have some fun and exercise in the great outdoors and both activities have soared in popularity over recent years. The rugged landscape of the Brecon Beacons is filled with rivers, lakes, canals and reservoirs so makes an ideal location for taking to the water. Whether you are an absolute beginner or have lots of water sports experience, you’ll find clubs, tuition and equipment hire dotted around this Welsh National Park so you can enjoy kayaking or canoeing surrounded by some of the UK’s most stunning scenery.

Where to get on the water in the Brecon Beacons

Brecon Beacons Waterways

From fast flowing rivers to gentle canals and tranquil reservoirs, there are plenty of options for taking to the water. Here are just some of the places where you can go kayaking or canoeing in the Brecon Beacons National Park:

Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal


The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal is a great option for beginners as it’s sheltered from the wind and there is no current to carry you off course. The Monmouth Canoe and Activity Centre can provide equipment hire and tuition and if you want to bring your own you’ll need to have a British Waterways Boat Licence and should park and access the water at Goytre Wharf.

In total there are around 30 miles of canal in this waterway that flows through the pretty Usk Valley. The area is a haven for local wildlife so you may well spot swans, herons, and mallards as you glide across the water. 

River Wye

River Wye

The River Wye is a popular choice for kayaking and canoeing thanks to a lovely 100-mile stretch of water that is ideal for touring in a paddleboat. Access to the water is typically done from the section around Hay-on-Wye where you can join a regular guided paddle, hire a kayak to strike out on your own, or even launch your own boat for no charge if you have one.

The river tends to be gentle when the water is low but it does get more challenging as the levels rise. It’s a good choice for intermediate kayakers looking to join an organised ride or for more experienced paddlers who are used to handling changing conditions.  

We recommend hiring a boat from The Wye Valley Canoe Centre who are based on the banks of the river in Glasbury and paddling downstream. Once you’ve gone as far as you would like to, they will come and collect you and bring you back to their Glasbury base. 

River Tawe 

River Tawe

If you’re a more experienced kayaker looking for a thrilling ride, the Tawe is a steeper and faster flowing river in the Brecon Beacons National Park. You’ll need to be able to handle white water rafting to tackle this river and the Tawe Kayak Club can provide help and advice with a selection of spare equipment available to borrow.

There are no access arrangements on the River Tawe so you’ll be able to enjoy an exhilarating kayak run at any time of year but beware of the weather conditions and any obstacles such as broken tree branches along the way.

Brecon Beacons Water Trail

Brecon Beacons Water Trail

The Brecon Beacons Water Trail was created in 2011 by the Brecon Canoe Club so makes a great choice for canoeing in the National Park. It runs along the River Usk from Brecon to Talybont-on-Usk with a handy leaflet showing the various access points and things to look out for along the trail.  

The most popular access point on the River Usk is Brecon Promenade and you can hire a canoe from Brecon Park Boats who are based here. 

Llangorse Lake

Llangorse Lake

The largest natural lake in Mid and South Wales, Llangorse Lake has an idyllic location in the Brecon Beacons National Park and is a great option if you fancy paddling out on tranquil open water. Various types of boats including canoes, kayaks, and pedalos are available to hire at Llangorse Lake with permits available if you want to bring along your own.   



There are four reservoirs within the Brecon Beacons National Park, namely the Pontsticill, Pentwyn, Usk and Beacons, where canoeing and kayaking are permitted through a special passport scheme. Occasional users are able to apply for a 7-day passport but the best way to access the reservoirs is through an organised group.  

Pontsticill Reservoir is a large reservoir that’s surrounded by stunning scenery that’s a good spot for canoeing and kayaking as Parkwood Outdoors who can provide tuition and hire are based on its shores.   

Water sports instructors and guides in the Brecon Beacons

Learning watersports

There are a number of different companies in the Brecon Beacons who run organised canoeing and kayaking sessions throughout the year. 

Black Mountain Adventure - an outdoor activity centre that’s based on the banks of the River Wye between Brecon and Hay-on-Wye. Qualified instructors offer a range of introductory courses and guided tours along the river and boat hire is available through Canoe Hire Wales who are also based at the centre. 

River Strokes - this activity centre near Hay-on-Wye offers introductory kayak roll lessons in an indoor swimming pool to help you learn the basics. You can also take specific river or white water skills courses, depending on the style of kayaking you are looking to master.

Way2Go Adventures - you can take a scenic canoeing trip down the River Wye from Glasbury to Hay-on-Wye or carry on further to Whitney-on-Wye depending on whether you want a half day or full day session. The boats used are Canadian open style canoes that are suitable for 2-3 people and this is a relaxing way to take to the water with an instructor present at all times.

Other outdoor activities in the Brecon Beacons

Brecon Beacons Waterfalls

The landscape of the Brecon Beacons is filled with mountains, caves and waterways that are ideal for trying out a range of outdoor activities. Here are some of the other ways to get outdoors and active on your next short break or holiday:

  • Pontsticill Reservoir and Lake Llangorse are both large bodies of water that are ideal for a range of water sports including stand up paddleboarding, dinghy sailing, and windsurfing.
  • If you fancy taking to the water without a boat, gorge walking is a thrilling activity that involves clambering over rocks and scrambling up Brecon Beacons waterfalls. This should only be done with a specialist company such as Blue Mountain Activities.
  • There are miles and miles of underground tunnels and caverns beneath the Brecon Beacons to explore. Exploring this fascinating underworld can be done on an organised caving trip with Hawk Adventures.
  • Black Mountain Adventure Centre also offers a range of rock climbing and abseiling activities up some of the dramatic rock faces in and around the Black Mountains of Wales.

Start planning your Brecon Beacons adventure

Brecon Beacons Adventures

If you fancy canoeing down the River Wye or kayaking on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, you’ll find lots of lovely Brecon Beacons holiday cottages where you can rest your heads after days filled with adventure.

From cosy cottages that are just the right size for two to family-friendly properties where you can gather with loved ones, browse our range to find the perfect base for your holiday in 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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