"The Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains" Top 5 Page for this destination Brecon Beacons National Park by Spincat

I spent much of my early childhood in this region - the high wilderness between the Camarthan Van ('the black mountain') in the west, through the Beacons themselves, to the valleys of the Black Mountain range, in the 'border country' to the east. It ruined me for other landscapes for many years: this was 'proper countryside' and everything else paled beside it.

As well as the strange shaped mountains with their rough pasture and high-roaming sheep, there are wonderful remote valleys. Simon Jenkins in a recent Guardian article:

Here the rolling flanks of the Black Mountains shelter narrow defiles and streams with such magic names as Olchon, Honddu and Llynfi. Of these the loneliest and loveliest is the Vale of Ewyas, running a full 12 miles from Llanfihangel north to Hay Bluff. This autumn the vale was resplendent. Beech, ash and elder were coated in leaves of yellow, orange, ochre and brown, flickering in the low sun against a blue sky and turning the valley into a river of foaming gold.

Surfing this river were the churches of the place. The 12th-century Augustines selected Ewyas as remote enough for an abbey at Llanthony (before finding it too remote after all). They left wild Norman outposts at Patrishaw, Llanbedr and, my church of the year, the eccentric Alice-through-the-looking-glass Cwmyoy (or Cwmiou).

A wonderful place for people who like solitude: long walks with startling panoramas, wild ponies, birds of prey, the special silence inside old stone churches, evenings in quiet pubs by the fire. There is also plenty of organised sport - some of it horribly noisy and much of it, to paraphrase a famous quote about golf, 'a good walk ruined'.

The amazing shapes of these mountains - in particular their characteristic 'anvil' shape - come from their geological make-up: the rock called Old Red Sandstone. This also created the terracotta pink soil that you'll see in the valleys - astonishing against the green of the grass and hedgerows.
Carboniferous Limestone and Millstone Grit also make up the ridges and valleys of this land, and the limestone formations to the south of the National Park have created the spectacular Dan yr Ogof caves and wonderful waterfall country.

Pen y Fan, in the Beacons range, rises to 2907 feet and is the highest red sandstone mountain in England and Wales. If climbing here, take care. The slopes look gentle - something to do with their pleasing child-like sweeps and curves - though they are not. Until very recently the SAS used to train here, and men were regularly lost to these mountains.

The region became a National Park in 1957.

For some wonderful pictures and well written infomation about the region, I thoroughly recommend this website . It includes a photographs of the area taken by professional photographer, Nick Jenkins. More of his photographs can be seen, and may be purchased, from this site

Interesting archaeological info at this site

Abergavenny is becoming well known for its food festivals and click here for information about farmers' markets in the Brecon area.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Remote, breathtakingly wild and lovely; a vast area to explore within the mountain folds
  • Last visit to Brecon Beacons National Park: Oct 2006
  • Intro Updated Jan 20, 2008
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Reviews (19)

Comments (28)

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    May 31, 2010 at 4:34 AM

    An interesting page on what sounds and looks to be a beautiful area.

  • MikeBird's Profile Photo
    Jul 17, 2009 at 1:59 PM

    Enjoyed your tip on Kilvert. We once stayed in the cottage opposite the church in Clyro where Kilvert was the vicar. Your tips brought it all back. Thanks, Mike

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Jan 27, 2009 at 12:13 AM

    All too long since I visited this lovely page - and the places you write about. Nice to catch up virtually, heaven knows when I'll get the chance of a reality check! leyle

  • halikowski's Profile Photo
    Jun 4, 2008 at 9:58 AM

    I have in front of me a beautiful book I'm sure you would appreciate `Beloved Twyi. A Visual Journey' by Ken Day. The thing I want to see -- red kites at Dinas, north of Llandovery.

  • ranger49's Profile Photo
    Mar 22, 2008 at 4:22 AM

    We celebrated our marriage at the Skirrid with a family gathering and splendid meal in the Good Old Good Food Guide Days. Sadly , as you say now lost and gone - pity it's almost our local!

  • uglyscot's Profile Photo
    Mar 18, 2008 at 12:48 AM

    What wonderful writing about this glorious part of Wales.O love the more intimate glimpses.

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Mar 8, 2008 at 12:50 AM

    Fantastic page with brilliant photos of the Breacon Beacons area. Although I have been twice to llovely Wales I never made it to a proper visit of the Brecon Beacons.

  • christine.j's Profile Photo
    May 20, 2007 at 4:56 AM

    Wonderful updates on your page! The story of the lady in the lake is part of the English curriculum here in some schools.

  • Gwenvar's Profile Photo
    Feb 10, 2007 at 12:14 PM

    To answer to your question, I was there end of August 2006 and plan of going back if ever I'm in the area. :-)

  • Ben-UK's Profile Photo
    Jan 25, 2007 at 1:32 PM

    Excellent page -- nice comment about Mr Spincat getting grumpy on the waterfalls walk! -- you've put a lot of work into this, very well done.

Spincat Visits Here Frequently!


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