The Brecon Beacons are perfect for outdoor pursuits. Positioned on the border between Mid and South Wales, this stunning National Park offers a wealth of enticing landscapes and a startling array of scenery. The area is home to many beautiful expanses of forest, some stunning waterfalls and quaint little market towns; as well as the highest peak in the South of Britain. If you love the great outdoors, then the Brecon Beacons National Park is the perfect place to explore and makes the ideal setting for a cottage break. There are so many things to do in the area, and many of them such as hiking, trekking and cycling are all completely free. We’ve put together our favourite five popular attractions in the Brecon Beacons to enrich your holiday even further.
1. Carreg Cennen Castle
Wales is renowned for its castles and it would be a sin to visit our celtic neighbours without exploring at least one of these majestic examples of Welsh history. The dramatic ruins of Carreg Cennen Castle make for a very romantic backdrop that is perfect for taking photos. Children will love the captivating ruins where you can almost taste the history of the place coming to life around you, and couples will enjoy strolling together taking in the beautiful views and the surroundings. Carreg Cennen Castle was voted the Welsh building of the Millenium and is open 364 days a year.
It isn’t just the spell binding views from the top and the ruins themselves that make the castle such an attraction, but you can explore the caves beneath the ruins too. Be sure to bring a torch, or you can hire one when you purchase your tickets for a very reasonable fee. The walk to the castle itself is challenging, but is certainly worth it when you reach the summit. Just be aware that it may not be suitable for those who are less mobile.
Dogs are permitted on to the site and will no doubt relish the walk, but you must keep them on leads at all times and remove any dog mess.
2. Red Kite Feeding Centre
Seeing red kits feeding in the stunning natural setting of Llanddeusant, Carmarthenshire is a spectacle indeed. The Red Kite Feeding Centre has been carefully designed to fit in with the surrounding landscape and not intrude on the wild habitat of these remarkable creatures. It allows nature lovers to experience these birds up close without ruining their surroundings. As well as the exquisite red kites, visitors may also see buzzards, ravens and other wild birds. The hide is situated only a few feet away from where the birds are fed and visitors can watch as the birds swoop from the sky and fight for the food. Over fifty birds fill the sky during feeding times and it is a remarkable sight to behold.
Twenty years ago there were only 30 pairs of breeding kites in Wales, but now, thanks to this fantastic conservation programme, there are over ten times the amount!
The birds are fed at the same time each day, 3pm during British Summer Time (BST) and 2pm during the rest of the year (GMT). There is no need to book and the prices are very reasonable at just £4 per adult. Just be sure to arrive in plenty of time to get settled in the hide before the feeding starts. The hides are accessible for wheelchair users (ramps and wide access points provided).
3. Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal
The canal that runs through the Brecon Beacon National Park is often voted the prettiest canal in Britain. It makes for a lovely day out and best of all, it’s completely free! The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal runs along the line of the Usk Valley which is beautifully scenic and tranquil. It also makes a great spot for looking for wildflowers, birds and wildlife.
If you don’t fancy the walk, or would rather explore the area on the water then you can take a boat trip. The area used to be a busy industrial site and is rich in history, however nowadays the canal provides a very pretty country walk (with options for both long and short walks). It’s also ideal for fishing, with plenty of carp, bream and roach in the canal and great for cyclists with a super cycle path running alongside the canal.
You can prepare a picnic from your cottage in the morning and enjoy it alongside the serenity of the canal. There are also pubs and cafes on route to make the walk even more appealing. The Canal & River Trust recommend allowing 2-3 hours for the visit if you intend to walk the length of the canal, though of course that depends how long you spend in the pub or how many cafés you choose to visit along the way!
4. Brecon Beacons Visitor Centre
Referred to in Wales as The Mountain Centre, the Brecon Beacons Visitor Centre makes for a great day out for those wanting to explore this stunning area. It offers spectacular views of Pen Y Fan, South Wale’s highest peak as well as being the perfect base for some manageable walks (dogs are welcome on lead). If any of your party isn’t up to walking then they can sit inside the lounge and enjoy the views from the panoramic windows. There is a lovely large field area ideal for families to play games and the spot is perfect for picnicking. If you’d rather buy your lunch, then there is a wonderful selection of hot and cold food available from their Taste of Wales menu.
As well as a shop selling a wide variety of books and providing leaflets to help you understand more about the area, there is also a permanent exhibition that will give you a fascinating insight into the region. You can even buy souvenirs and mementos on site.
The Brecon Beacons are the ideal place for stargazing. On a clear night you can spot all the major constellations, the milky way, nebulas and meteor showers. Don’t worry if you’re not an accomplished stargazer as there are plenty of stargazing events occurring all through the year. The National Park is an International Dark Sky Reserve which is remarkable as there are only 5 such destinations in the world!
5. Family Day of Fun at Cantref Adventure Park
With animal petting farms as well as large play areas Cantref Adventure Park is a great family day out, whatever the weather. Animal shows happen regularly throughout the day, whether you like the sound of handling some of the pets (sheep, llamas and water buffalo are amongst the animals waiting to meet your family) to ferret racing and even pig racing! The petting sessions are every half hour, allowing you to work easily around all the other activities to get involved with. Kids and adults can race down the longest slide in Europe, which offers spectacular views of the Black Mountains from the top. Although dogs are not permitted within the park, of course guide dogs are very welcome.
So, whichever time of year you choose to visit the stunning Brecon Beacons, you’ll be sure to find plenty of things to do to keep yourselves amused. If the weather is not on your side, don’t be disheartened as we can also recommend some great attractions for a rainy day. It’s also worth checking if any festivals or events are on when you visit. The Hay Festival offers a rich variety of world-renowned guest speakers, writers and poets as well as fabulous book stores, world music, street food and kids activities. If you fancy something purely music based then the fantastic Brecon Jazz Festival or The Green Man Festival may be more up your street. Why not co-ordinate your visit to fit in with one of these thrilling events?