26 July 2021
The charming market town of Crickhowell is said to have been the inspiration for the village of Crickhollow in JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit, and with a picturesque location in the beautiful Usk Valley, it’s easy to see why.
From exploring historic castles to climbing in the surrounding Black Mountains, discover why it’s an ideal destination for anyone wanting to explore the Brecon Beacons in this insider’s guide to Crickhowell.
👉 Where is Crickhowell?
👉 Things to do
👉 Crickhowell pubs
👉 Crickhowell walks
👉 Cafes and restaurants
👉 Crickhowell shopping
Where is Crickhowell?
Located in the historic county of Brecknockshire in the south-eastern part of Powys, Crickhowell lies around halfway between Abergavenny and Talybont-on-Usk, within the Brecon Beacons National Park. Crickhowell is also nestled at the foot of the Black Mountains in the peaceful Usk Valley and nearby peaks include Crug Hywel, which is often known as Table Mountain, and the Sugar Loaf.
Things to do Crickhowell
There are lots of things to do in and around Crickhowell, from spotting stars in the dark skies of the Brecon Beacons to exploring the historic remains of Crickhowell Castle.
Crickhowell Resource and Information Centre
The Crickhowell Resource and Information Centre, known as the CRiC, is the perfect first point of call for visitors to the Welsh market town. You can speak to knowledgeable staff about things to do in Crickhowell, pick up maps of the area and purchase locally produced gifts at this handy tourist information centre. There is also an on-site gallery which features regularly changing exhibitions showcasing local artists and Welsh crafts.
With an elevated spot that’s high above the town, climbing to the top of the motte at Crickhowell Castle will give you one of the best views of the surrounding Usk Valley. The Grade I-listed castle remains are open all year round and are free to explore, with highlights including stone towers and a gatehouse that each date back to the 13th century.
Tretower Court and Castle
Another medieval building near Crickhowell that’s well worth visiting is the towering Tretower Castle, a grand structure that was built in part to demonstrate the wealth of the Picards who transformed themselves over the years from invading Norman conquerors to powerful Welsh lords.
The highlight of a visit to Tretower is exploring an original medieval court building that lies across the castle green. The great hall here is laid out for a sumptuous banquet, exactly as it would have been in the 15th century, with surrounding gardens that are filled with white roses to represent the Picards' allegiance to York during the War of the Roses.
Explore caves and waterfalls at Clydach Gorge
The beautiful Clydach Gorge is a steep-sided Brecon Beacons valley to the south of Crickhowell that’s said to be where William Shakespeare was inspired to write A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Clydach Gorge and the surrounding woodland are a haven for outdoor adventures in the Brecon Beacons and there is a selection of caves to explore, rocks to scramble over and tight spaces to squeeze through. Several tumbling cascades of water make up the Lower Clydach Falls, which you can wander through during a waterfall walk. It’s also well worth seeking out the remains of Clydach Ironworks which are an Ancient Scheduled Monument. Discover more Brecon Beacons caves.
Horse riding in the Brecon Beacons
If you fancy exploring the Brecon Beacons countryside surrounding Crickhowell, the Golden Castle Riding Stables are based in Llangattock and offer lessons and riding sessions for all ages and abilities. Beginners can take part in gentle pony treks through the Usk Valley and experienced riders can enjoy more challenging hacks through the dramatic landscape of the nearby Black Mountains.
Stargazing in the Brecon Beacons National Park
Low levels of light pollution in the Brecon Beacons National Park mean that it is one of the best places in the UK to go stargazing and the area has been a designated International Dark Sky Reserve since 2013. The village of Cwmdu is located in a peaceful valley on the outskirts of Crickhowell and, because it’s sheltered by the surrounding Black Mountains, it’s a perfect Brecon Beacons stargazing location where you can spot meteor showers, shooting stars and the smoky white band of the Milky Way.
Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal
The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal is located to the south of Crickhowell and runs through the nearby pretty village of Llangattock. It’s one of the most scenic waterways around and if you fancy meandering along some of the canal’s picturesque 35-mile route, you can hire a variety of different boats from Brecon Park Boats in Llangattock. It’s up to you whether you choose the more energetic option of canoeing through the Brecon Beacons or spend a lazy day exploring the water on an electric day boat.
Walk across Crickhowell Bridge
One of Crickhowell’s most recognisable landmarks is an 18th-century stone bridge that crosses the River Usk. With a dozen distinct arches, it’s the longest stone bridge in Wales, and as you walk over its 420 feet you can enjoy wonderful views of the nearby Llangattock Escarpment. The gently flowing river underneath Crickhowell Bridge means you can play a game of pooh sticks, which involves throwing sticks over the upstream side of the bridge and seeing which one appears downstream first.
These are just some of the pubs where you can stop for refreshments after exploring Crickhowell and the nearby Brecon Beacons villages:
The Britannia Inn
Located right in the heart of Crickhowell, The Britannia Inn is a bustling dog-friendly pub that's popular with locals and visitors to the area alike. A secret beer garden is hidden away inside chunky stone walls at the back of the pub and is a real sun-trap during the summer months.
The Bear Hotel
This charming, dog-friendly coaching inn dates back more than 500 years. Here you can sup on a range of local Welsh ales in the cosy bar area that’s warmed by a roaring open fire. The Bear is located in the heart of Crickhowell, and the characterful white building features a cobbled courtyard and the original bell pulls that weary 15th-century travellers would have used to call for service on arrival.
The Horseshoe Inn at Llangattock is a perfect example of a village pub with a picturesque spot close to the river and stylish country-chic interiors. The interesting food menu features a selection of Welsh and Jamaican dishes and outdoor seating is available so that you can make the most of warmer summer months.
The Dragon Inn Crickhowell
The Grade II-listed building of The Dragon Inn is located on Crickhowell High Street and dates back to the 15th century. Characterful original features include exposed stone walls and dark oak beams, and local Welsh drinks on the menu include Brecon Vodka and Aber Falls Gin.
Nantyffin Cider Mill
Once renowned for its cider production in the 19th century, this former drover’s inn is now a renowned foodie pub with an idyllic spot by a babbling brook at the foot of the Black Mountains. An original stone cider mill lies in the centre of this characterful Crickhowell pub to remind you of its history, and the outdoor play area at Nantyffin Cider Mill will help to keep little ones happy during your visit.
One of the big draws of Crickhowell as a UK holiday destination is its wonderful Brecon Beacon location in the scenic Usk Valley. From climbing in the Black Mountains to gentle riverside strolls, here are some of the best Crickhowell walks to try.
Crickhowell to Table Mountain
The flat-topped peak of Crug Hywel is better known as Table Mountain due to its distinctive shape and lies less than 2 miles from Crickhowell. There are around 380 metres to climb but spectacular views and the remains of an iron age hillfort make the fairly steep climb to the top well worth the effort.
You can take a 1.2-mile walk along the river from Crickhowell to the nearby village of Llangattock, where you can either pick up the canal towpath or explore the limestone cliffs of the Llangattock Escarpment. This peaceful nature reserve is a haven for local birdlife, with lots of wildlife-rich woodland to explore. Follow the path to the top of the escarpment where you can look out over the perched bog of Waen Ddu.
The gentle, mile-long Crickhowell circular is a great way to explore the town and is a good family-friendly option for little legs. Starting off at Crickhowell Castle you’ll follow a path along the River Usk before walking through the high street towards St Edmund's Church. The walk can easily be extended by walking further along the riverside path, where you can also stop for a picnic when the weather is good.
Sugar Loaf circular
The Sugar Loaf is one of the most well-known peaks in the Black Mountains and there are various routes and pathways you can take to the summit. Crickhowell lies to the west of the Sugar Loaf and the nearby village of Llangenny is the starting point for this 8-mile circular walk. You’ll pass through peaceful woodland and lush green countryside and cross over the Grwyne Fawr river on your way to the top.
Crickhowell cafes and restaurants
Here are some of the best places to eat during a short break or holiday to Crickhowell:
Cafe Le Gallois
Located in the historic Beaufort Chambers, which was once the headquarters of Crickhowell Town Council, Cafe Le Gallois is a French cafe where you can enjoy coffee, croissants and cakes along with charcuterie platters and baguettes for lunch.
The Courtroom Cafe
One of Crickhowell’s hidden gems, this lovely little cafe is located in the town’s old courthouse. There are lots of home-cooked classics on the menu along with freshly baked cakes and scones which can be washed down with a pot of tea.
Latte-da Coffee & Kitchen
The pretty garden at Latte-Da is perfect for al fresco dining during the warmer summer months. Dishes are created using seasonal ingredients from local suppliers and there are lots of gluten-free and vegan choices on the menu. It’s worth treating yourself to some award-winning Welsh Llanfaes Dairy Ice Cream during your visit.
The Vine Tree Llangattock
This 19th-century coaching inn has views across to Crickhowell from its picturesque spot by the side of the River Usk in Llangattock. The Vine Tree is one of the best restaurants in the local area, with three separate dining areas to choose from and a regularly changing food menu that showcases the best seasonal Brecon Beacons produce.
Image credit: Facebook @nichollscrickhowell
Crickhowell was named the UK’s best high street in 2018 and shopping options range from traditional butchers and bakers to independent shopping boutiques. There's also a 19th-century market hall which hosts regular arts and crafts fairs.
There are lots of lovely places to call in if you’re in the mood for a spot of retail therapy; here are some of our favourites:
Nicholls is a small chain of Brecon Beacons department stores which has been in operation since 1925. The elegant Crickhowell store is housed in a handsome Georgian building and sells ladies clothing from brands such as Joules and Barbour along with perfume, jewellery and a range of homeware items.
Webbs of Crickhowell
Another great family-run department store with a long Crickhowell history, Webbs specialises in selling quality furniture for the home and garden. There has been a Webbs of Crickhowell in the town since 1936 and the store prides itself on its high levels of customer service.
CW CW is a ladies fashion boutique selling clothes, accessories, shoes and jewellery along with a range of well-being items so that you can look and feel your best. Regularly changing seasonal stock includes brands like Sea Salt, Great Plains, Ichi and Dansk Copenhagen.
If you’re planning some outdoor activities in the Brecon Beacons National Park then Crickhowell Adventure is a great place to call in for supplies. You’ll find clothing and footwear for walking and climbing along with local maps and essential items for keeping four-legged friends warm and dry.
Along with locally sourced meat and freshly prepared sausages, this high street butcher sells a range of deli items that are perfect for a summer picnic. You can pick up cooked meats, cheeses, olives and chutneys, with special boxes and hampers available for delivery to your holiday cottage.
As well as stocking an extensive range of books to browse, including signed copies and local interest titles, Book-ish also sells a range of toys, board games, cards, and interesting gifts. This charming shop also features an on-site cafe where you can enjoy some light reading as you eat.
Plan your Crickhowell getaway
If you have been inspired to visit this wonderful part of the Brecon Beacons National Park, you’ll find a range of lovely Crickhowell cottages where you can rest your head after days of exploring.
From romantic retreats to family-friendly properties, browse our range of holiday homes in Crickhowell and the surrounding Black Mountains to find the perfect base for your next Welsh getaway.
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.