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Brecon Beacons
Protected Area
Part of the Brecon Beacons, looking from the highest point Pen y Fan, 886 m (2907 ft), to Cribyn, 795 m (2608 ft)
Country Wales
Council Blaenau Gwent, Carmarthenshire, Merthyr Tydfil, Powys, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Monmouthshire
Highest point Pen y Fan
 - elevation 886 m (2,907 ft)
Area 1,344 km2 (519 sq mi)
National Park of Wales 1957
IUCN category V - Protected Landscape/Seascape

The Brecon Beacons (Welsh: Bannau Brycheiniog) is a mountain range in South Wales. It forms the central section of the Brecon Beacons National Park (Parc Cenedlaethol Bannau Brycheiniog), one of Wales's three National Parks.



The Brecon Beacons, seen from the south

The Brecon Beacons range consists of the mountains to the south of Brecon. The highest of these is Pen y Fan (886 m); other notable summits include Corn Du (873 m), Cribyn (795 m), and Fan y Bîg (719 m). These summits form a long ridge which forms a horseshoe around the head of the Taf Fechan river to the south-east, with long parallel spurs extending to the north-east. The round of the Taf Fechan skyline forms a popular ridge walk known as the 'Beacons Horseshoe'. Many other fine walks exist in this part of the National Park but the mountains are known for swift changes in weather conditions, even in summer. In winter they can be dangerous.

The Brecon Beacons are named after the ancient practice of lighting signal fires (beacons) on mountains to warn of attacks by the English, or more recently to commemorate public and national events such as coronations or the Millennium.

National Park

Llyn y Fan Fawr in the Black Mountain, one of the less frequented parts of the National Park
Pen y Fan, Corn Du and Fan Gyhirych from Fan Hir

The National Park was established in 1957, the last of the three Welsh parks; Snowdonia was first in 1951 with the Pembrokeshire Coast being the other. It covers 519 square miles (1344 km²), 332 100 acres stretching from Llandeilo in the west to Hay-on-Wye in the east. It encompasses the ranges confusingly named the Black Mountains (in the east of the Park, on the border with England) and the Black Mountain (in the west). The area to the west of the Brecon Beacons range is known as Fforest Fawr (Great Forest).

The western half of the National Park gained European and Global Geopark status in 2005[1]. Fforest Fawr Geopark includes not only the historic extent of Fforest Fawr but also the Black Mountain and much of the central Brecon Beacons together with surrounding lowlands.

Most of the National Park is moorland, with some forestry plantations, and pasture in the valleys. In 1966 the Brecon Beacons Mountain Centre was opened as an interpretive facility to better enable visitors and tourists to understand and enjoy the area.

On 22 May 2005, the first walk to span the entire length of the Brecon Beacons National Park was opened. The 100-mile (160 km) route, called The Beacons Way, runs from the foot of Ysgyryd Fawr east of Abergavenny, through Crickhowell and ends in the village of Bethlehem, Carmarthenshire.

Activities in the Park include walking, cycling, mountain biking, horse riding, as well as sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and fishing its rivers and reservoirs, rock climbing, hang-gliding, caravanning, camping and caving. The Taff Trail also passes through the Beacons on its way from Brecon to Cardiff.

Sgŵd yr Eira, on the Afon Hepste near Ystradfellte

The Park is known for its waterfalls, including the 27-metre Henrhyd Waterfall and the falls at Ystradfellte, and its caves, such as Ogof Ffynnon Ddu.

Welsh mountain ponies graze wild within the Park, as do many Welsh mountain sheep.

Due to the remoteness of some of its mountains and the weather, the Park is used for military training. The Special Air Service (SAS) is known for holding especially demanding selection training exercises here such as the Fan dance (exercise). The infantry regiments of the British Army all train at Sennybridge, where NCO selection also takes place.

The Beacons in winter

In 2006 and 2007 controversy surrounded the government decision to build the South Wales Gas Pipeline through the Park, the National Park Authority calling the decision a “huge blow”.[2] To many, this contradicted everything that the declaration of a National Park stood for. However, the scheme was completed.

Mountain rescue

Mountain rescue in Wales is provided by eight groups, with assistance from local police forces, and in serious situations an RAF helicopter from RAF Valley. These are:

  • BMRT - Brecon Mountain Rescue Team [1]
  • SARDA South Wales - Search and Rescue Dog Association covering Southern & Mid Wales[2]
  • SARDA Wales - Search and Rescue Dog Association covering Northern Wales
  • C/Beacons - Central Beacons
  • WBMSART - Western Beacons Mountain Search and Rescue Team [3]
  • LMRT - Longtown Mountain Rescue Team based in the east
  • NEWSAR - North East Wales Search and Rescue [4]
  • SARA - Severn Area Rescue Association

Most are staffed by local volunteers and funded primarily by donations. Their work is not restricted to mountain and wilderness rescue; teams sometimes assist the local police to search for missing or vulnerable persons in the community.


Over twenty hill-forts were established in the area during the Iron Age. The largest, and indeed the largest in south Wales, were the pair of forts atop Y Garn Goch near Bethlehem - Y Gaer Fawr and Y Gaer Fach - literally 'the big fort' and 'the little fort'. The forts were once thought to be trading and political centres.

When the Romans came to Wales in 43AD, they stationed more than 600 soldiers in the area. Y Gaer, near the town of Brecon was their main base. During the Norman Conquest many castles were erected throughout the park. One of the most famous is Carreg Cennen Castle but there are many more.

Towns and villages

Local councils

  • Brecon Town Council
  • Cefn Coed: Crossroads for City, Country & Coast
  • Clyro
  • Glasbury Community Council
  • Hay Town Council
  • Llanfihangel Cwmdu with Bwlch & Cathedine Community Council
  • Llangattock Community Council
  • Llangors Community Council
  • Llanthony
  • Llywel Community Council
  • Pontsticill Pontsarn & Vaynor
  • Talybont-on-Usk Community Council
  • Trallong Community Council
  • Trecastle
  • Ystradfellte Community Council
View north into Cwm Llwch from Corn Du, in the Brecon Beacons range

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Controversial National Grid Pipeline given the go ahead! Brecon Beacons National Park Authority

External links

Coordinates: 51°53′N 3°26′W / 51.883°N 3.433°W / 51.883; -3.433


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Brecon Beacons National Park article)

From Wikitravel

Europe : Britain and Ireland : United Kingdom : Wales : Mid Wales : Brecon Beacons National Park
Part of the Brecon Beacons National Park, looking from the highest point Pen Y Fan (2907 feet, 886 metres) to Cribyn (2608 feet, 795 metres)
Part of the Brecon Beacons National Park, looking from the highest point Pen Y Fan (2907 feet, 886 metres) to Cribyn (2608 feet, 795 metres)

The Brecon Beacons National Park [1] is located in southern Wales, part of the United Kingdom. Within an area of 1347 sq km (520 sq miles), the Park contains some of the most spectacular and distinctive upland formations in southern Britain. Stretching from Hay-on-Wye in the east to Llandeilo in the west, the park includes the Black Mountains, the Central Beacons and Fforest Fawr as well as a vast array of moorland, forests, valleys, waterfalls, lakes, caves and gorges.



The Brecon Beacons mountain range was designated as a National Park in 1957.

Get in

From London, take the M4 motorway into South Wales. Turn off at exit 22 (near Cardiff) onto A470 towards Brecon. Further west, leave the motorway at exit 43 onto the A465 or at exit 45 (near Swansea) onto the A4067. Take both roads in the direction of Brecon. The A4067, in particular, passes through some very pleasant scenery, and you will be reminded of the famous quote by a famous Buddhist master the whole way: "the journey is the goal." One scenic drive off of the main A470 is the A4059. It sticks to the high ground and has opportunities to see wild Welsh Mountain Ponies.

There are regular bus services from both Swansea (Quadrant Bus Station) and Cardiff (Railway Station bus terminal) into the park area.

Wild Welsh ponies still roam the Brecon Beacons.
Wild Welsh ponies still roam the Brecon Beacons.
  • Green Man Festival, Glanusk Park, Crickhowell [2] - annual alternative music festival typically held in mid-August.
  • Canyoning
    • Call of the wild [3]

Interactivities - Outdoor Activity Operator

  • Wales' capital city, Cardiff, is a place to head should the weather turn wet - good museums and a castle to explore. There are a huge variety of shops in the city centre, many of which are located in covered arcades.
  • Swansea and the Swansea Bay region compliments the Breacon hills with wide, sandy beaches - also the excellent leisure center and National Waterfront Museum will keep the whole family amused.
  • Llandovery is a lovely old market town on the edge of the Beacons.
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


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Proper noun

Brecon Beacons


Brecon Beacons

  1. A mountain range and national park in the south-east of Wales


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