About the Brecon Beacons
The UK National Parks were set up in order to protect and manage areas of outstanding natural beauty which are rich in wildlife and cultural heritage, for everyone’s enjoyment and benefit. The Brecon Beacons was established in 1957 and in 2005, Fforest Fawr Geopark was created in the west of the park, when it was accepted into the Geoparks Network.
The Brecon Beacons is a vast and incredibly beautiful area in mid-Wales with abundant wildlife, waterfalls, rivers and caves, stunning mountains, lakes and valleys. There are also plentiful bike trails, horse riding and canal paths, cultural and architectural heritage sites, attractive market towns, art trails and festivals galore. It is also one of the few remaining areas in the UK with low reflective light and The Brecon Beacons Dark Sky project was set up to preserve our dark skies so that visitors can enjoy the wonderful night skies and stars.
The Brecon Beacons is a sustainable environment which won Green Tourism’s Green Destination Goldstar Award in 2013. The area is well known for its green way of life, with locally-produced food widely available, electric cars, bikes and canal barges to hire, small farmers’ markets, eco-friendly accommodation and lots of mills and hydro schemes which make the most of the local hills and streams.
Flora and fauna
The Brecon Beacons national park is home to wild Welsh mountain ponies which roam freely across the rugged hills and uplands. Visitors can also see red kites, which were once endangered but have bred rapidly recently, buzzards, various owls and perhaps a peregrine falcon or red grouse if you’re lucky. The Usk Valley is also home to greater horseshoe bats and Britain’s largest breeding population of lesser horseshoe bats. The woods and grasslands provide a home for a diverse and unique range of trees, flowers, fungi, mosses and grasses.
Archaeology and history
The Industrial Revolution began in the nearby Welsh Valleys and the National Park is home to many ancient monuments, including prehistoric and Roman sites, camps and hillforts, stone circles and burial chambers. It also has a rich industrial heritage and there are numerous medieval castles and ancient churches to explore. Some of Cadw’s Register of Landscapes of Outstanding and Special Historic Interest in Wales are within the Brecon Beacons National Park, including the Black Mountain and Mynydd Myddfai, the Middle Wye Valley, East Fforest Fawr and the Middle Usk Valley.
Festivals and events
The Brecon Beacons is home to many arts, music and food festivals including the world famous Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, the popular Green Man music and arts Festival outside Crickhowell, the thriving Food Festivals in Abergavenny and Brecon and the Brecon Jazz Festival, which over the years has attracted some of the leading lights of world jazz.
The highest peaks in The Brecon Beacons are Pen y Fan, in the central park area, which at 886m is the highest mountain in the south of the UK, whereas Waun Fach, at 810m, is the highest peak in The Black Mountains in the east of the park. Walkers are spoilt for choice and can enjoy the challenging Black Mountains horseshoe and other full-day hikes such as the classic Brecon Beacons Horseshoe walk that includes the peaks of Corn Du, Pen y Fan, Cribyn and Fan y Big. In the west of the park is Fforest Fawr, an area of water falls and steep valleys which comprises a series of hills or ‘fans’ including the 734m high Fan Fawr. Y Mynydd Du and The Black Mountain dominate the far west area of the park, with Fan Brycheiniog at 802m towering over two beautiful glacial lakes called Llyn y Fan Fach and Llyn y Fan Fawr.