If you are planning a holiday to Wales, why not explore the famed Brecon Beacons National Park? It’s known for its ancient myths and legends, its breathtaking waterfalls, but most importantly, its excellent walking routes.
We’ve picked out three of the best walks in the Brecon Beacons for you to uncover on your next holiday and added in maps for each, making them easy to follow. With an endless choice of circular walks, moderate to challenging hikes, waterfalls walks, trails leading through the Black Mountains and the southern peaks, as well as routes leading to unforgettable views, there is so much to choose from.
Now that we’ve narrowed the choice down to what we believe may be the top three hikes in the Brecon Beacons, it’s up to you to go and investigate. Take a look and let yourself feel inspired.
Pen y Fan and Corn Du circular walk
Climb the two highest peaks in the Brecon Beacons.
Start and finish point: Pont ar Daf car park, Brecon
Distance: 4 miles (6.4 km)
Time: 2 hours 30 minutes approx.
Dog-friendly route 🐶
Let’s begin with the highest peak in the Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan. A mountain that towers over the landscape, Pen y Fan was once nicknamed ‘Arthur’s Seat' due to the shape it creates together with its twin summit of Corn Du, the second highest peak in the Brecon Beacons. A place of importance for centuries, Pen y Fan and Corn Du both have a Bronze Age cairn with a central stone cist, one at the top of each mountain.
This circular trail will lead you over Corn Du and to the top of Pen y Fan so you can take in the spectacular view.
1. Begin at the Pont ar Daf car park and pass through the kissing gate to start the walk. From here, cross over the wooden bridge then follow the footpath marked ahead.
2. One you reach Bwlch Duwynt, take the footpath leading to the right that crosses the southern slope of Corn Du. You’ll soon find yourself at the saddle between Corn Du and Pen y Fan. Continue to follow the footpath and you’ll be climbing up Pen y Fan.
3. You’ll come to the top of the highest peak in the Brecon Beacons, another location to tick off your bucket list, and can take in the spectacular view and see the first of two Bronze Age burial cairns.
4. Retrace your steps back to the saddle between Corn Du and Pen y Fan, then bear right, following a trail up to the top of the second-highest summit in the Brecon Beacons. You’ll pass a second Bronze Age burial chamber and get a second breathtaking view, two unforgettable holiday moments combined in one walk. When you’re satisfied, leave Corn Du from the northern end where a steep section of path leads down to a gentler trail to an obelisk, a memorial to a young boy who got lost out here on the mountainside.
5. Retrace your steps from the obelisk back to a fork in the road. Take the permissive path down to the stream, Blaen Taf Fawr, and cross over and continue down the trail. You’ll pass through a gate on Y Gyrn, an upland bird habitat, then by continuing to follow this path you’ll come to another kissing gate by Storey Arms Education Centre. From here, follow the tarmacked footpath back to the car park.
Where can I stay that’s nearby?
- The Bothy, sleeps 2
- Belle Vue Cottage, sleeps 10
- Abercynrig House, sleeps 12
Beacons Way | Crickhowell to Llangynidr
Walk along the popular Beacons Way.
Start point: Crickhowell
Finish point: Llangynidr
Distance: 12 miles (19 km)
Time: 5 hours 30 minutes approx.
Dog-friendly route (including dog-friendly pubs!) 🐶
A moderate walk, this route will take you through beautiful countryside, past a memorial to John Sansom, and you’ll get an excellent view over the magnificent Llangorse Lake. Pubs, cafes and shops can be found along the way offering plenty of opportunities for rest stops so you can make this a full day out.
1. Join the trail by climbing over a stile signposted Beacons Way in the north-west of Crickhowell. This is the path you’ll follow for most of the walk. The trail will lead you alongside a stream, past one farm, along a walled track between fields, until finally arriving upon an open hill.
2. The footpath will lead you along the side of the hill and around Cwm Mawr where you can find a memorial stone to John Sansom. From here, head down into the village of Cwm Du where you can find a café and pub, a great chance to refuel. You’re already halfway through the walk.
3. Cross the main road by the pub and follow the footpath before cutting through fields to the next lane. This trail will lead up to a second open hill on a farm. You’ll reach the top of Cefn Moel and get to take in remarkable views over Llangorse Lake, the largest natural lake in South Wales.
4. Tracks lead from the top of Cefn Moel, along a ridge and down into the village of Bwlch where there’s a pub and a few shops.
5. Pass through this pretty village, crossing another busy main road, then down a lane at the side of the pub and a footpath through fields. A road on the right-hand side will lead you over an 18th-century bridge across the River Usk and into Llangynidr. This is the end of the walking route.
If you wish to return to the start by foot, you can follow the Crickhowell Canal Walk along the River Usk back to Crickhowell, or take a taxi back.
Where can I stay that’s nearby?
- The Artist’s Studio, sleeps 2
- Boutique Retreat, sleeps 4
- The Mansion, sleeps 19
Climb the highest peak in the Black Mountains.
Start and finish point: Pengenffordd
Distance: 7.3 miles (11.7 km)
Time: 4/5 hours approx.
Dog-friendly route 🐶
The Dragon’s Back is a ridged series of peaks that look as though they could hide a sleeping dragon buried beneath the earth. It’s a different climb but another fantastic route to tick off your hiker’s bucket list and a great chance to discover the Black Mountains.
1. Park up at the end of the lane leading to Dinas Farm. Take the track around the right of the farm buildings and pass through a gate onto open hillside. Turn right and you’ll see the footpath for this Dragon’s Back walk. Follow the field boundary right to a gate and stile, then climb a steep path up to the summit to see the remains of Castle Dinas, reputedly the highest Norman Castle in Wales and England.
2. Once you’ve taken in these old ruins, retrace your steps to the stile and climb up the steep track that leads to the Dragon’s Back. The ground will soon even out, drop down into a saddle, and lead up again. At this point you should be able to see the hilly pattern ahead that resembles a dragon’s back and take in breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Follow the crest for the best views.
3. When you come to a fork in the trail, turn right and this main path will soon lead you to a low rocky cairn. Carry on past and turn right again at the next fork to climb relatively steep steps up to the top of Pen y Manllwyn where you’ll reach another low rocky cairn.
4. Take in more incredible views before turning right along a wide path, following a ridge, to reach the top of Waun Fach, the highest peak in the Black Mountains.
5. Turn right across a bog before reaching a path that leads steeply into a saddle. Ensure you are walking south-west as it’s easy to get disorientated here. Follow the path left along Pen Trumau then down into another saddle between Pen Trumau and Mynydd Llysiau. From the cairn here, follow the track leading right, down the hill, before bearing left along Rhiw Trumau. At the end of this trail, you’ll come to a tarmacked lane. Turn right.
6. You can follow this lane to a farm then left up a dirt track to Castell Dinas from which it’s a matter of retracing your steps back to the car park. Pengenffordd is home to a couple of pubs so you can head straight to dinner or grab a well-earned drink once you’ve completed this difficult trek.
Where can I stay that’s nearby?
- Pen y Fan Hideaway, sleeps 3
- Pear Tree Lodge at Talgarth, sleeps 4
- Felin Newydd House, sleeps 18
For more inspiration...
Walking and hiking are popular among the Brecon Beacons, and there are many more excellent routes criss-crossing the region. Take a look at our blog post detailing a range of excellent waterfall walks throughout the Brecon Beacons.
If you are ready to go explore the mountains and take in breathtaking views, browse through our collection of Brecon Beacons cottages scattered across this national park and find the perfect walkers’ bolthole for you.