The Welsh wonders of the Brecon Beacons
The Brecon Beacons National Park, established in 1957, tends to be overshadowed by its big brother, Snowdonia, to the north. The advantage of this is that the Beacons are less crowded, and the mountain trails quieter. With glorious mountain scenery, pretty villages and market towns full of character, it's an ideal destination for an absorbing summer stay.
The great outdoors
The Brecon Beacons offer a variety of activities and days out, with the mountain scenery the focus of attention.
- Hikers have plenty of terrain to challenge them in the Beacons. Pen Y Fan is the highest mountain in South Wales, at a respectable 886 metres. Most hikers take the traditional route from the Storey Arms to the summit.
- Cycling is well-catered for in the park, with dedicated trails and hire-shops. One popular weekend trip is the Taff trail from Brecon all the way to Cardiff. The Beacons bus offers services from the city for cyclists.
- A slightly more relaxing way to see the mountains from the saddle, horse-riding is a great option for families. Visit horseridingbreconbeacons.com for details of 5 trekking and riding centres across the park.
- Camping on farms is a popular activity in the area. Facilities can range from basic to almost luxurious. The National Park website offers contact numbers for sites. Larger groups will have to book in advance where possible, especially at the height of the summer season.
At the north-east tip of the Brecon Beacons National Park, the village of Hay-on-Wye, in Powys, is world famous for its annual book festival. Every June top literary names from around the world descend on the small town. Even outside the festival week, it's a paradise for book-lovers, with over 30 bookshops to browse.
The Brecon Beacons form a mountain range right in the path of those weather fronts scudding across the Atlantic. Balmy weather is never guaranteed, even in the height of summer. Dress sensibly for your mountain hikes, and have a back-up plan. Those cute villages and attractive market towns are perfect for wandering around on rainy days.