Three friends, too old to go to Ibiza thought it would be an incredible idea to go on a walking holiday, what were we thinking!
Staying in an incredible B&B in Herefordshire each day we walked a route on the Brecon Beacons.
About the Brecon Beacons
The Brecon Beacons are 42 miles wide and cover 520 square miles. Based in South Wales just west of Herefordshire and south of Mid Wales.
Each year thousands of visitors walk this amazing national park taking in breathtaking views of Herefordshire, South, Mid and North Wales and breathing in fresh clean air.
The highest peak is called Pen Y Fan which rises to 886 metres above sea level and is actually the highest mountain in southern Britain.
Around Pen Y Fan there are also several other peaks all within walking distance; Corn Du which is 873 metres above seal level, Cribyn – 795 metres and Fan Y Big (I kid you not) – which is 719 Metres above sea level.
The Brecon Beacons is a national park and was established in 1957 and is one of the first places in Britain to be given this status.
If you see strange men camo’d-up, hiding in the bushes or running zig zags up and down the hills, don’t worry, special forces come here to train as the Brecon Beacons is one of the remotest places in Southern Britain plus has very unpredictable weather, ideal to train in.
This amazing national park is also an International Dark Sky Reserve which means it has exceptional quality of starry nights with natural darkness. There are only 20 in the world!
We decided to stay at the Kilpeck inn which is located on the Herefordshire and Welsh borders and is about 20 – 30 minutes drive from our starting points. This is a gastro pub with B&B and it came out on top on all of our choices as it was a pub with en-suite bedrooms!
Other accommodation options we considered:
- Popcorn camping in Brecon but I was vetoed as neither of the guys wanted camping, far too basic.
- Wigwam holidays also in Brecon but this was a bit too rural
- The Angel hotel in Abergavenny – not within budget
Each morning we ate a delicious English Breakfasts (included in the price) which set us up for the day’s walking – we also paid a little extra and the chef supplied us with sandwiches to take with us.
When we got back we made it a rule that we had a pint in the bar before going to our rooms to shower/bathe refresh for dinner. Let me tell you something, dinner did not let us down, as 2 out of the 3 of us are real foodies I think we bored our friend to death talking about our meals.
We have stayed in many B&B’s but none of them had the luxury of a gastro restaurant and a well stocked bar downstairs.
We decided to do Brecon Beacons as we wanted to start with our biggest walk for day one, no easy break-in, no walk in the park, let’s just go for the big one!
So we started at a car park at the bottom of the Taff trial in Fechan Forest and walked up to Fan Y Big – yes these are the real names and not the names we’d given them!
From Fan Y Big (719 metres above sea level) we walked to Bwlch ar y Fan before descending and then ascending up to Cribyn which is 795 metres above sea level.
After a quick drink stop and to take in the stunning views we walked the big one – Pan Y Fan. This meant descending about 500 metres before climbing 600 metres ish to the summit of the highest mountain in Southern Britain. This is where we tucked into our sandwiches supplied by our Chef back at the Klipeck Inn, drank some coffee and soaked-in the stunning views – our hardest part of the walk was over.
We then descended down and then up to Corn Du before taking this massive ridge which took in Craig Gwen Tag, Rhiw Yr Ysgyfarnog and Craig Fan Ddu before descending down at Cairn to our car park.
Honestly, this is one of the best walks we have ever done and we decided to this walk in reverse on the last day!
The second day we did another part of the Brecon Beacons which meant driving through the beautiful town of Hay on Wye before parking at the foothills of Lord Hereford’s Knob – again we are not making these names up.
We are in the Black Mountains, a mountain range which is part of the Brecon Beacons and is called the Black Mountains because well they look black from a distance.
So we climbed Lord Hereford’s Knob before walking South East along the ridge opposite Offa’s Dyke to a little settling called Capel-Y-Ffin which was below us. We descended down to a little church and crossed a stream and then up quite a steep ascend to Offa’s Dyke, this part of the walk which goes to Hay Bluff and is also known as the Cat’s Back.
This was fairly flat and seemed to go on for ages but once we got to Hay bluff the views where outstanding and worth the walk.
We then descended down to our car and back to the B&B for some incredible food, a few pints and a well earned sleep.
The next day we did the first walk in reverse, not because the Brecon Beacons is short of walks but because we loved it so much and will be back again to explore some more of the Beacons, perhaps starting in Pontnedfachan and doing the famous waterfalls walk.
There are 45 circular walks in the Brecon Beacons National Park guidebook, so if you’d prefer something flatter or tougher there are plenty of options to choose from.