The Brecon Beacons National Park is one of three Welsh National Parks, and the area is renowned for its colourful, scenic and hilly countryside and plethora of outdoor activities. The National Park covers 520 square miles and stretches from the Wales-England border to the southern Welsh city of Swansea.
Highlights in the region include the mountain ranges within the park – the Black Mountains (to the west), Fforest Fawr, the Black Mountains (to the east) and the Brecon Beacons themselves. Only 30 miles from the Severn Bridge near Bristol and four hours' drive from London, the Brecons are not difficult to access from southern England.
The landscape varies throughout the park and the southern section contains limestone crags, caves, woodland gorges along the rivers and caves to explore. The Black Mountains to the west are largely unexplored and more rugged, while those looking for gentler landscapes should travel to the Black Mountains in the east or the southern industrial valleys. Much of the area is preserved and boasts excellent diversity of wildlife.
The list of possible activities is long. Visitors can find walks to suit any mood – good trails to seek out are the Offa's Dyke Path, the Taff Trail, which spans south from Brecon and the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal. Mountain bikers will enjoy riding the Taff Trail or one of the other many well managed routes.
Those looking for more adventurous activity can attempt caving, pony trekking, white water rafting, hang gliding, rock climbing and abseiling. Venture into the Dan-yr-Ogof caves in the Brecon Beacons with a guided tour or climb Pen y Fan, the highest point in South Wales. Walk to Llyn y Fan Fach, a remote lake laid by retreating glaciers that is a 4-mile walk from Llanddeusant. Cruise the canal in a rented narrow boat through locks to Abergavenny or take a pleasure cruise from Brecon. Visit the National Showcaves Centre for Wales in Abercrave. Anglers can head to the Rivers Wye and Usk to fish pike, carp or trout. Enquire at one of the local outdoor activity centres to sign up for regular courses or guided tours.
The Brecon Beacons are loaded with remnants of generations past. Carreg Cennen Castle is a ruined medieval fortress that sits poised on a cliff near the village of Trapp. Tretower Castle and court near Felindre contain a Norman keep and medieval manor house. Llanthony Priory, a 12th-century prioiry ruin, occupies a delightful spot below the Offa's Dyke Path and has a working hotel, pub and campground on site.
Good base towns in the region are Brecon, Abergavenny (which has the region's train station) and Hay-on-Wye, famous for its stunning amount of bookshops and annual Hay Literature Festival. Tourist information centres can be found in Libanus, near Brecon, Abergavenny, Llandovery and Pontneddfechan. A wide variety of accommodation is possible across the Brecon Beacons, and low-budget youth hostels or bunkhouses are well suited for those using the region for outdoor pursuits.