An overwhelming sense of untamed nature is pervasive when visiting the Brecon Beacons National Park, and this past week has been no exception. Staying at Llwyn-y-fron, our holiday house at 300m, at the foot of Fan-y-Big (in the heart of the National Park), the combination of wilderness, fresh air and the ‘escape-from-it-all’ ambiance has truly washed over me.
Home to the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains, this one of three Welsh National Parks (along with the Pembrokeshire Coast and Snowdonia) offers gigantic landscapes, natural heritage sites and plenty of outdoor activities. Stretching over 1,347 sq km – from Hay-on-Wye in the north east, Pontypool in the south east and Llandeilo in the west – the region’s reputation as a destination offering classic rural remoteness was further endorsed when it was declared an International Dark Sky Reserve in 2013.
The region will always be a home from home for me, offering opportunities to escape, relax and explore. Whether tramping over, wading through or gazing across the vast ranges of mountains, forests, farmlands, gorges, moorlands, lakes, waterfalls or caves, the opportunities to enjoy the region through classic outdoor pursuit activities are endless.
So as I kick back on our terrace overlooking the Usk Valley, here is my list of ‘Six of the Best’ Brecon Beacons National Park activities:
- Hill Walking – Brecon Beacon and Black Mountains
Across the higher peaks, along rivers, aside canals, above glacial tarns and above, below or through the clouds. Just remember when planning a hike, expect and dress for all weathers in one hour, preferably ending the walk with a river swim and pub visit.
- Water sports
Water, never far away in Wales, provides one of Britain’s most exciting ‘Waterfall Country’ landscapes as well as activities such as river kayaking, canal canoeing, upland lake swimming, river-dipping, panel-boarding – as well as bonkers bog-snorkelling.
Enjoy the freedom afforded to the traditional semi-wild Welsh ponies and cobs roaming the upland areas since Roman times. With horse-riding and pony-trekking excursions across many of the upland regions.
- Rock Climbing and Abseiling
Whether looking to scale the highest peaks, shimmy down the best abseiling rock faces or scramble up the north face crags, the chance to get up close and personal with the best rope access mountain views is year round.
New cycle-ways are opening all the time, along Roman roads, disused train routes, canals, bridleways and traditional mountain tracks. A recent favourite of mine is the Brecon Beacons to Cardiff route – which is predominantly downhill the whole way!
- Visit the Dark Side
If the weather gets too much… try turning to the dark side: going underground with a visit to Big Pit. Or looking in the other direction, get star-gazing at one of Europe’s most respected night-sky viewing destinations. Both activities cost nothing and will change your view on life forever.