Best Hill Walks in Brecon Beacons National Park
Best Hill Walks in Brecon Beacons National Park Details
The Brecon Beacons National Park was established in 1957, the third and final Welsh National Park and has a wide range of walks to suit all abilities. It’s a popular walking destination, which is partially due to it’s location, being close to the population based of the south wales coast as well as London and the South of England
The Brecon Beacons National Park is usually split up into four distinct, if confusing, areas. From west to east these are; Mynydd Du (Black Mountain), Fforest Mawr, Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) and Mynyddoedd Du (Black Mountains).
The Brecon Beacons includes the highest and the most popular mountain in South Wales, Pen y Fan. There are variety of routes to the summit which are all outlined in our Walks up Pen y Fan article. The most popular of these is the route from the A470 – either from Pont ar Daf or Storey Arms.
Best Hill Walks in the Brecon Beacons
The Brecon Beacons are best known for their mountains, and of course there are plenty of hill walks to choose from. This selection brings in the best walks from the Black Mountain, Fforest Fawr, Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains and the main summits.
Height Gained – 860 metres, Distance – 15.3 km, Time – 5-6 hours.
Starting the rundown from west to east, is this walk up to Fan Brycheiniog and the distinctive escarpments of Mynydd Du (Black Mountain). Largely rolling hills over high cliffs, a straightforward route for the experienced walker that’s easy on the eye and photogenic. Much of the walk is along the Beacon’s Way, a common theme on most of these Brecon Beacon walks!
Height Gained – 330 metres, Distance – 6 km, Time – 2-3 hours.
The Fforest Fawr area of the Brecon Beacons National Park was designated as the Fforest Fawr UNESCO Global Geopark in 2006. It earned this status due to the geological and cultural heritage from the distinctive Old Red Sandstone from the main summits of the Brecon Beacons and 7000 years of human influence from hill forts to limekilns. The Geopark also includes the Black Mountain and the main summits of Pen y Fan, so is much larger than the range of hills normally identified as Fforest Fawr. There are other summits in Fforest Fawr – Fan Fawr, Fan Llia, Fan Nedd and Fan Gyhirych – but Fan Frynych is convenient to get to and has views across to Pen y Fan.
Height Gained – 570 metres, Distance – 8 km, Time –4 hours.
Is this really one of the best walks in the Brecon Beacons? The walk up Pen y Fan is certainly the most popular, and is included for that reason more than anything else. As a first hill walk, it does provide a route that’s suitable for hill walking novices who are properly prepared for the mountain conditions. However, this popularity does bring pressure on the area in regard of parking and erosion on the footpaths and we’d suggest one of the following walks as the better routes up South Wales’ highest mountain.
Height Gained – 650 metres, Distance – 11 km, Time –4 hours.
The approach from the takes you up Cwm Llwch, past the miniature Llyn Cwm Llwch and up to join the Storey Arms hordes for the final section. You’re only with the crowds for a short time, as the route immediately descends the Cefn Cwm Llwch ridge.
Height Gained – 680 metres, Distance – 12.4 km, Time – 5 hours.
Pen y Fan also has a horseshoe walk from the south. Starting in Cwm Taf Fechan, this walk ascends Pen y Fan via Craig Gwaun Taf to join the main route to the summit for the short final section over Corn Du and on to Pen y Fan. The route continues to Cribyn and then descends Bwlch ar y Fan rather than ascending Fan y Big, and back down to the starting point.
Height Gained – 940 metres, Distance – 29 km, Time – 8 hours.
This is a somewhat epic route, as they tend to be in the Black Mountains. Starting from Llanthony, after a shortish ascent the route lacks any significant ascents as you walk the Offa’s Dyke National Trail over the Black Mountain and on to the viewpoint of Hay Bluff. There is some welcome change in altitude as you descend to Gospel Pass and on up to Twmpa, or Lord Hereford’s Knob (titter ye not!). A long return route along Chwarel y Fan brings you back to Llanthony after a full day’s walking!
Height Gained – 650 metres, Distance – 12 km, Time –4 hours.
The highest summit in the Black Mountains can be reached from the west by a reasonably short walk (especially compared to the previous one!). This route starts at the Dragon’s Back pub and ascends to the summit plateau via the Y Grib ridge. A longer route can be taken from Mynydd Du Forest on the other side of Waun Fach, which if you walk the entire skyline is an epic walk and perhaps a more fitting walk to the roof of the Black Mountains.
Height Gained – 250 metres, Distance – 5.5 km, Time –2 hours.
Sugarloaf may not hit the magical 600m mark, it only misses by 4 metres, but it’s a popular summit. As is usual with these lower summits, it boasts extensive views towards the Black Mountains and Pen y Fan. There’s a good path all the way to the summit, making this one of the easier hills to climb. Remember it’s still a hill and when we walked it, someone was being rescued by the local Mountain Rescue as they’d broken an arm.
Height Gained – 320 metres, Distance – 5 km, Time – 2 hours.
Opposite Y Fal across the Gafenni valley is the distinctive summit of Ysgyryd Fawr, also known locally as The Skirrid or Skirrid Fawr (according to the summit trig!) or even Holy Mountain as there’s a ruin of a chapel on the summit. When we say ruin, there are a few stones, so don’t expect anything too striking! The view however, across the Beacons and into England is certainly divine!
Best Long Distance Trails in the Brecon Beacons
You may want to enjoy the national park over a number of days, and there are a number of options that allow you to do so.
Distance – 152 km, Time – 8 days
The Brecon Beacon’s very own long distance trail, and one that doesn’t shirk from the summits either. It starts from the railway station at Y Fenni / Abergavenny and crosses the Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons, Fforest Fawr and Mynydd Du before the route ends at Llangadog and another railway station. Surely one of the best ways to see the Brecon Beacons if you’ve a week to spare?
Distance – 121 km, Time – 4 TOUGH days – Stats for the Brecon Beacons Only – from Y Fenni to Llanymddyfri.
The Cambrian Way stretches from Cardiff to Conwy and takes in the main summits of the Brecon Beacons. The Brecon Beacons section starts from Y Fenni / Abergavenny and finishes at Llanymddyfri, and is an option for those looking to complete the Cambrian Way in shorter sections. It also takes a tougher line than the Beacons Way in places, and we think that modifying the route to follow the Beacon’s Way in places would make a better route (Mynydd Llangynidr Mountain and Fan Frynych for instance). The 4 day itinerary will involve a final day of nearly 40km and 5 days may well be more achievable for this section.