Not only is the Brecon Beacons one of the best places to visit in Wales, it’s the perfect hiking spot. So, if you’re looking for some of the best walks in the Brecon Beacons, then you’ve come to the right place!
The Brecon Beacons is in southern Wales and spans over 1,344 km²; it’s home to a wealth of mountains to climb, waterfalls to splash around in, stunning scenery, and thousands of sheep – fun fact: there are three times more sheep in wales than people.
As you can imagine, the combination of the above makes for some pretty spectacular adventures to be had in the Brecon Beacons if you love the outdoors as much as we do.
After many recommendations from my keen-hikers-of-Wales parents, I set off for a week-long trip to the Brecon Beacons and squeezed in all the hikes our legs could cope with.
The below are, without a doubt, the best walks in the Brecon Beacons that all have something unique to offer.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE WALKING IN THE BRECON BEACONS
Before heading off on some of the best walks in the Brecon Beacons, it’s important to understand as much information about the area as possible so you are fully equipped ahead of your trip.
The below points would have been invaluable to us ahead of our trip, so we are sharing these with you so that you can enjoy as much of the Brecon Beacons as possible.
- PLAN YOUR HIKES IN ADVANCE
As awesome as Wales is, it isn’t well-known for its blue skies and sunshine all year round. For this reason, checking the weather ahead of your hike in the Brecon Beacons is super important. Not only will the weather affect the timing of your walk, but it will also affect what you wear and what you pack – swimmers or an extra waterproof?
Tip: We love using an app called AccuWeather as the live radar function shows exactly what’s on the horizon for the next 2 hours – which in our experience, is very reliable.
- MOST SHOPS ARE CLOSED ON A SUNDAY
As one of the most remote areas in the United Kingdom, it’s still a tradition for small towns to close their shops on a Sunday. Although initially, this is quite annoying when you’re used to a world that can provide everything you need almost instantly, slowing down and planning around this is quite refreshing.
Large supermarket chains are exempt from this, however, they also close at 4 PM on a Sunday (just like the rest of the UK) – they are also very few and far between in the Brecon Beacons.
- BOOK RESTAURANTS IN ADVANCE
A lot of people head to the Brecon Beacons in peak season, and so going out for food is near impossible if you haven’t booked a table in advance – or at least that is what we quickly discovered.
The below restaurants are both great places to eat in Crickhowell:
- The Bear Hotel (for a nice lunch or evening meal)
- Vamos (for any meal or some amazing home-made cakes)
- START YOUR HIKE EARLY IN THE MORNING OR LATE IN THE AFTERNOON
The level of flexibility on this point will inevitably be dependent on other factors such as the weather – as we’ve already discussed!
However, for the sake of snagging a car parking space, getting there before 9 AM if you’re a morning hiker is going to be imperative during peak season and on a weekend. If you prefer to hike in the afternoon then anytime after 12 PM is usually fine.
- TAKE CASH FOR PARKING
Although a lot of the car parks have since started to offer contactless methods of payment following the Covid-19 pandemic, there are some car parks on our list of the best walks in the Brecon Beacons that still only take cash.
It’s usually no more than £5 for the day.
- HAVE A BACKUP PLAN IF IT RAINS
The Brecon Beacons is a hub for outdoor activities, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed if you get a bout of rain during your trip.
A change in the weather means that you may need to change your plan for that day – watersports such as rafting or canyoning can still be enjoyed in the rain.
Alternatively, if you’re set on hiking (even in the rain), then it’s a sensible idea to find a trail that’s covered or less exposed to the elements of that day.
- Ystradfellte Four Waterfalls Walk from our list of best walks in the Brecon Beacons is an example of a walk that is suitable on a rainy day – we are saying that from first-hand experience!
WHERE TO STAY WHEN WALKING IN THE BRECON BEACONS
The best walks in the Brecon Beacons are mostly situated in the north, south, and east side of the Brecon Beacons National Park, so staying anywhere but west makes the most sense.
Some of the best places to stay in the Brecon Beacons are:
- Crickhowell – a quaint small town set among the mountains with plenty of hiking trails on its doorstep. There are a wealth of small shops, cafés and restaurants, as well as historical landmarks such as Crickhowell Castle nearby.
- Abergavenny – sits on the edge of the Brecon Beacons and is considered the ‘gateway to Wales’. It’s a lively market town with a great selection of pubs and good transport links.
- Llangorse – a remote location among nature. Home to the largest lake in South Wales, making it a great area for watersports as well as hiking.
- Brecon – a lively town that hosts popular events such as Brecon Jazz Festival. A great location to discover the northern edge of the Brecon Beacons.
WHAT TO PACK FOR A WALKING TRIP IN WALES
- Hiking boots (him/her)
- Hiking socks (him/her)
- Compression socks
- Zip-off trousers (him/her)
- Waterproof trousers (him/her)
- Lightweight and breathable t-shirt (him/her)
- Waterproof jacket (him/her)
- Waterproof phone case
- Swimmers (him/her)
- Water shoes
- Swimming cap
- Nose clip
- Microfiber towel
- Sun cream
- First aid kit
THE BEST WALKS IN THE BRECON BEACONS
PEN Y FAN AND CORN DU CIRCULAR WALK
DURATION: 3-5 hours
BEST FOR: Wild swimming, history, panoramic views
Pen Y Fan is one of the most popular mountains to summit in Wales, as not only is it the highest peak in south Wales, but it also has historical tales to discover too.
Corn Du is the sister peak, which makes sense to tackle at the same time given it’s so close.
The trail starts from Cwm Gwdi car park and follows a steady incline across moorland, before reaching a cobbled staircase that follows a trickling stream.
At around the 50-minute mark, the incline starts to level off and you’re faced with a direct ridge towards the base of Pen Y Fan – the panoramic views from this point onwards are absolutely breathtaking.
As you approach the base, the short and steep rubble of rock to the top requires some careful scrambling to the summit.
After a quick breather, head over to Corn Du, before descending along the obvious path down to Llyn Cwm Llwch (the lake below Pen Y Fan).
Along the way, you’ll discover an obelisk in memory of Tommy Jones – a tragic reminder of a young boy who l lost his way in the Brecon Beacons in 1900.
After a quick dip in the Llyn Cwm Llwch, the route heads back across moorland before eventually reaching a country road that leads to the car park.
- We’ve written an in-depth guide about this route – PEN Y FAN WALK (THAT AVOIDS THE CROWDS): FULL GUIDE
SUGAR LOAF AND USK VALLEY CIRCULAR
DURATION: 2-3 hours
BEST FOR: Rolling hills, panoramic views
If you’re anywhere on the eastern side of the Brecon Beacons National Park then Sugar Loaf Mountain will stick out like a sore thumb; its unique shape mistakes people for a volcano, making it an attractive landmark to tick off the hiking list.
To reach the starting point of Sugar Loaf and Usk Valley Circular, you’ll wind your way up the valley and cover significant elevation – you’ll question whether you’re driving the route at this point, but don’t panic, you’re on the right track.
Once you reach the car park, you’ll already be in awe of the fantastic views over the Brecon Beacons – but the best is yet to come.
It’s a gentle walk across the fields towards the base of Sugar Loaf Mountain and from here it gets steep.
Before long, you’ll reach the top and discover what has been hiding behind this unique mountain top – panoramic views of not only the Brecon Beacons but the southwest of England, too.
Continuing along the path, you’ll descend through the Usk Valley, beside trickles of water and open moorland, before a short spell through a woodland track.
A surprisingly sharp incline is thrown in on the last leg of the route before heading back to the car park, however overall a great moderate trail and certainly one of the best walks in the Brecon Beacons.
- We’ve written an in-depth guide about this hike – SUGAR LOAF MOUNTAIN IN WALES: HIKING GUIDE
YSTRADFELLTE FOUR WATERFALLS WALK
DURATION: 2-3 hours
BEST FOR: Woodland walk, waterfalls, wild swimming
Nicknamed the Waterfall country, the southern part of the Brecon Beacons is home to the infamous Four Waterfalls Walk.
This circular route follows a gravel pathway for the first 30 minutes or so, before reaching the first, and rather a spectacular waterfall – Sgwd Clun-Gwyn.
From here, the pathway is led over stepping stones, bridges, and through woodland, before taking a series of short and steep diversions down towards each of the remaining waterfalls – Sgwd y Pannwr, Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, and Sgwd-yr-Eira.
The last of the four falls – Sgwd-yr-Eira, is arguably the most impressive, with a narrow pathway behind its curtain of water that gushes into a pool for a refreshing wild swim.
Once all four waterfalls have been ticked off the list, the remainder of the walk is along another gravel pathway before the final stretch – a steady incline to say the least!
Ystradfellte Four Waterfalls Walk is my personal favourite on the list of best walks in the Brecon Beacons National Park and is certainly not one to be missed!
- We’ve written an in-depth guide about this hike – FOUR WATERFALLS WALK (BRECON BEACONS): GUIDE & MAP
DRAGONS BACK AND WAUN FACH LOOP
DURATION: 4-5 hours
DIFFICULTY: Moderate to hard
BEST FOR: Ridge walks, history, panoramic views
The Dragons Back and Waun Fach loop starts from the Castle Inn car park and costs £2 – you’ll need to pay into an honesty box, or else the signposts threaten to put stickers on your car (which is both excessive and aggressive in our opinion, but hey ho!).
This trail immediately hits you with an incline over rolling hills towards the remains of Castell Dinas – the highest castle ruins in England and Wales, sitting at 450 meters!
After exploring the derelict castle, you’ll descend slightly before preparing to hike the undulating ridge ahead – known as the dragons back due to its resemblance to a sleeping dragon.
The route follows the ridge and provides stunning views of the Black Mountains and beyond, before ascending further to Waun Fach.
The trail follows a narrow dirt track across the fields to the peak of Waun Fach, where you will be met with views of Sugar Loaf Mountain and Pen Y Fan in the distance (providing you’re hiking on a clear day in the Brecon Beacons).
The descent from Waun Fach is tough on the knees due to the steepness. However, although rocky, it’s a clear pathway back towards the car park.
Hiking tip: If we were to do this route again, we would do it in reverse.
LLANTHONY PRIORY CIRCULAR WALK
DURATION: 2-3 hours
BEST FOR: History, panoramic views, wildlife
The route starts at Llanthony Priory – an old derelict monastery from the 12th century that has since been partially transformed into a hotel and pub.
After spending some time marvelling at this historical masterpiece, the route leads an aggressive incline for roughly half an hour.
However, the worst is out the way, as the route almost immediately flattens just after the 2km mark, with stunning views to be had across the valley.
The route leads a long stretch across the Brecon Beacons hilltop, through fields and alongside plenty of sheep and wild horses.
At around 5.5km, the route descends at a steady rate back towards Llanthony Priory, and upon return, you’ll find many like-minded hikers relaxing among the ruins of the priory – usually with a drink a hand!
DURATION: 3-4 hours
BEST FOR: Wild swimming, panoramic views, wildlife
Home to a plethora of wildflowers, wildlife, and lakes to cool off in, the Blorenge trail is one of the best walks in the Brecon Beacons to embark on during the spring and summertime.
Starting at 482 meters elevation, the route begins at the Fox Hunters car park and almost immediately finds Keepers Pond – the perfect spot for some wild swimming.
After moving on from Keepers Pond, the route follows a steady decline through the valley for the next hour or so, before reaching The Punchbowl – another wild swimming spot surrounded by woodland.
After all that play in the ponds, it’s time to do some hard work, as the route begins to steepen toward the summit of Blorenge Mountain.
Hard work pays off though, as the views from the top overlook Abergavenny and the utterly idyllic Usk Valley. If you’re lucky, you’ll also spot some paragliders whizzing through the air, too.
The descent from the peak is minimal, making for an easy walk back to the car, where there is often an ice-cream van ready and waiting.
Hiking tip: We did this route on a Saturday and by 9 AM the car park was getting full, so we suggest getting there earlier rather than later if you prefer to walk in the morning.
BRECON BEACON HORESESHOE CIRCULAR
DURATION: 5-7 hours
BEST FOR: Ridge walks, panoramic views
And last, but not least on our list of best walks in the Brecon Beacons is the Brecon Beacon Horseshoe Circular, which tackles the four peaks – Corn Du, Pen Y Fan, Cribyn & Fan Y Big.
Starting from the Neuadd Reservoir car park, the trail eases you in for the first 15 minutes or so before taking a short and steep incline.
Once you’ve caught your breath, the undulating hike to the first peak (Corn Du) begins, with spectacular views in every direction.
As you make your way to the summit, you’ll see Pen Y Fan not too far ahead – the next peak to complete.
After a quick stumble down Corn du and scramble up Pen Y Fan, you’ll see the crowds emerge to summit the highest peak in south Wales.
After the obligatory photo with the Pen Y Fan height marker, it’s time for the knees to take a quick pounding as the route follows a steep downhill, before heading up to the summit of Cribyn – you should arrive here just after the 8km mark.
A mere 2km long and you’ll have completed the final of the four peaks in the Brecon Beacons – Fan Y Big. Here you’ll be able to sit on the edge of a large stone that protrudes from the mountain (if you’re brave enough, of course!).
As you move to the final leg of the hike, the route is undulating with some steep declines, but predominantly a relaxing descent back to the car park.
Hiking tip: In our opinion, although the difficulty of this hike is rated as moderate, we found it challenging due to the length and windy weather conditions – make sure you’re well prepared with food, drink, and appropriate clothing so that you can enjoy one of best hikes in the Brecon Beacons.
LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT OUR LIST OF BEST WALKS IN THE BRECON BEACONS
We believe that the above trails are the best walks in the Brecon Beacons as they cover just such a diverse range of landscapes and cater to a wide range of fitness levels – but what do you think?
Have you explored much of the Brecon Beacons? Would you agree that we have compiled the very best trails, or would you tweak it slightly?
Either way, we would love to hear your thoughts! Let us know in the comments box below.
EXPLORE WALES FURTHER
If you enjoyed discovering the best walks in the Brecon Beacons then you may like some other posts we have on Wales!
- THE PYG TRACK (SNOWDON): THE COMPLETE GUIDE (2021)
- PEN Y FAN WALK (THAT AVOIDS THE CROWDS): FULL GUIDE
- SUGAR LOAF MOUNTAIN IN WALES: HIKING GUIDE
- FOUR WATERFALLS WALK (BRECON BEACONS): GUIDE & MAP
Looking for another UK National Park? Why not try one of these!
- LUD’S CHURCH WALK: THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO AN EPIC CIRCULAR ROUTE
- SEVEN SISTERS WALK: SHORT, MEDIUM AND LONG ROUTES
- CLIMBING BEN NEVIS: THE COMPLETE GUIDE
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