Britain is notorious for bad weather with Wales being right up there as one of the places where a little rain is definitely to be expected. The beautiful thing about the Brecon Beacons (as well as the magnificent forests, waterfalls, mountains and landscapes) is that the rain isn’t a problem as there is still so much to do on a rainy day. We have already made a few suggestions for rainy day activities on our ‘Things to Do‘ guide but here are a few more to have up your sleeve just in case you get a rainy day.
1. National Showcaves Centre for Wales
Being underground seems like the perfect solution when there is heavy rain, so exploring the fascinating caves of Dan-yr-Ogof is a great rainy day activity. From the spooky Bone Cave where 42 human skeletons that date back to the Bronze Age were found, to the Cathedral Cave with thousands of straw stalactites. The stunning setting of the Cathedral Cave is often used as a wedding venue. Dan-yr-Ogof cave itself has some truly beautiful formations that have been affectionately named; look out for “the rasher of bacon,” “the angel” and “the albaster pillar”. As well as the stunning natural beauty of the caves, the centre has a dinosaur park featuring over 200 fantastic life-sized dinosaurs. There is also a museum, Iron Age farm and fossil house on site, along with a fabulous well-stocked rock and dino shop and lovely coffee shop, for a very welcome tea and cake after exploring the miles of spectacular caves.
2. Penderyn Whiskey Tour
The Penderyn Whiskey Tour isn’t just a fascinating insight into the rich history of whiskey making in Wales, but the carefully planned exhibition also takes you through the history of the local area, making it an interesting experience for whiskey lovers and the impartial alike. If whiskey really isn’t your thing, then you might be more interested in the Brecon Gin, Brecon 5 Vodka or even the Merlyn Cream Liquor. The shop and visitor centre are open each day, but it is advisable to phone first and book, just to be sure that the distillery is producing on the day of your intended visit. The entrance charge is £9 for adults and includes the tasting of two Penderyn products. Real whiskey enthusiasts may prefer to book on a master class to taste a range of products and see more of this exciting distillery in a two and half hour tour.
The Waterfalls Centre at Pontneddfechan is full of information about the local area and of course focuses on the stunning natural waterfalls. Waterfall Country is a must to visit and this is a perfect base from which to start a walk around the local waterfalls. Are we crazy for advising you to visit waterfalls in the rain? Well actually, heavy rainfall is the best time to view the waterfalls as the water is in full force. Just be sure that you are dressed properly so you can stay warm and dry. You can even walk behind the wall of water at Sgwd yr Eira, which is a real spectacle. The centre also houses an interactive exhibition that explores the formation of waterfalls, the history of the Fforest Fawr Geopark and the importance of rocks to the local area. It is staffed by a group of friendly and knowledgeable Information Officers who will gladly help you out with any queries you may have. You can also buy maps, guide books and souvenirs to enrich your experience.
4. Gorge Walking or Raft Building
If you love being outdoors and fancy a really hands-on activity, then the addition of rain can only enhance the experience. Besides, if you get really sucked into what you are doing then you won’t even notice that it’s raining anymore. Gorge walking is a really intense and enjoyable way to experience the natural world. You’ll find yourself clambering over rocks, jumping into pools, swimming, climbing and battling through waterfalls. The team at Hawk Adventures will kit you up with a wetsuit, helmet, boots and buoyancy aid before one of their trained guides will lead you through a steep-sided gorge. If there’s a group of you, raft building is a great choice and Hawk Adventures will provide you with everything you need to build your raft before trying it out on the water. Caving and potholing are also good choices for a rainy day.
There are no shortage of fantastic activities you can enjoy in the Brecon Beacons and even the heaviest of down pours should not dampen the spirits of hardy outdoor enthusiasts.
5. Lift your spirits with some fine dining
Nothing lifts the spirits like a fabulous meal and your spirits are guaranteed to be lifted at The Walnut Tree Inn, Llanddewi Skirrid on the far eastern side of the national park close to Abergavenny. After a long and very successful career in London, Devon and Ludlow, Shaun Hill brought Michelin Star dining to this beautiful corner of Wales. With an eclectic menu that changes daily, The Walnut Trees simplistic approach to fine dining is breathtakingly refreshing. Open Tuesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner, this little gem of a restaurant is a popular choice so be sure to pre-book.
With a strong emphasis on local and seasonal produce, Gliffaes Country House Hotel near Crickhowell sits in a magical spot alongside the River Usk in the heart of the Black Mountains. A family run business for three generations, the hotel opens its doors all year round (apart from January when it is closed) for morning coffee through to dinner. Enjoy lunch in front of the roaring fire or afternoon tea in the conservatory (or on the terrace if the sun comes out). There are some lovely walks from the hotel should the weather brighten up so bring your walking boots (or wet weather gear!).
Showcasing the very best of produce from the Welsh Borders, The Felin Fach Griffin near Brecon earned its name as a ‘gastropub’ way back in 2000 and has been impressing diners ever since . Open almost every day of the year, the pub serves food from 12:00 through to 21:00, so even when lunch finishes at 14:30, ‘sharing’ food is available until dinner starts – just perfect if you are looking to refuel on a long damp walking day or simply want to make lunch a whole day affair.
If the rain means you’ve had to abandon your plans of walking through the beautiful landscapes, then the idea of cosying up on a train to enjoy the spectacular views may sound far more appealing. The Brecon Mountain Railway travels from Pant, near Merthyr Tydfil into the National Park and offers some truly exquisite views. The observation carriages follow a lovely vintage steam locomotive that adds a certain romance to the whole experience. You can get off at Pontsticill to stretch your legs is the sun breaks through and enjoy the lakeside café, have a roam through the wilderness or play with the kids on the playground. Back at Pant you can explore the workshop, visit the tearooms and purchase gifts and souvenirs.
7. Books of the Beacons
If you are a literary lover, then you will be willing the clouds to bring rain, so you can indulge in a day browsing the book shops of Hay-on-Wye. Known for its literary festival, the town is an Aladdin’s cave for book lovers with some 25 or so book shops to browse. Booths (open each day apart from Monday) not only sells books but also has a cafe and a small intimate cinema where you can shelter from the rain and relax whilst watching a film with a glass of wine.
Whilst browsing for shops of Hay-on-Wye, keep an eye out for these books, all set in and around the Brecon Beacons:
- By Any Name, written by Katherine John (a modern day fast-pace thriller).
- People of the Black Mountains: The beginning v.1 by Raymond Williams (this will give you an enjoyable insight into the history of Wales and England).
- Myths & Legends of the Brecon Beacons by Horatio Clare (as the name suggests, this book will enlighten you with the myths and legends that make this area so fascinating and magical).
- Longbow Girl by Linda Davies (a fantasy novel).
- The Gauntlet by Ronald Welch (one for the mature children or young at heart adults!).
So if the weather forecast looks a little dull on one of your holiday days in the Brecon Beacons, don’t be disheartened. There is still plenty to do in the rain, whether you explore somewhere indoors or battle the elements and let the rain enhance your experience. Either way, we’re sure that your rainy days will be amongst the most memorable.