The Brecon Beacons. A national park in the south of wales, with a mixture of heather uplands, peat bog and decent hills.

Guides and Maps

The OS Explorer maps OL12 and OL13 cover the entirety of the national park at 1:25000. If you prefer 1:50000 it's landranger sheet 160, with the very westernmost parts of the park on 161. There are a lot of well-marked paths in the park, so you can probably get away with 1:50k if you stay on the paths.

The Nutall's guide to the mountains of wales includes several walks in the Beacons. Although when I first went to the Beacons I had not read this guide, we wound up walking along routes almost exactly the same as those in the guide. So I can certainly say I approve of their route planning ;)

Aug '11 Trip

Stayed in a quiet little village called Pontsticill, in a holiday cottage. Bit cramped with 5 of us, but made for a cheap getaway.

First Day: Saturday 27/8/11. We decided to do a longish walk taking in the popular peaks of Corn Du, Pen-Y-Fan, Cribyn and Fan-Y-Big. The map of the route is here. Turns out that this is very similar to walk 13.1 in the Nutall's guide.

This was a walk between two car parks, avoiding a trudge on the road at the end. Starting from the car park just before the bridge over Pontsticill resevoir (yes, it's just a lay-by, but it's marked on the map & that's good enough on narrow lanes in a national park), the route takes you along a few hundred yards of road, before quickly turning off onto a track beside some fields and thence onto the hills. The initial climb from where you enter access land to the trig point atop Twyn Mwylachod is a gentle climb but it's over boggy and tufty ground and this was a particularly unwelcome introduction to fellwalking for one of our party. If you're happy with a sharper ascent, taking the Nutall's route and climbing up from the end of the valley, north of the forest, may be better.

From the trig point, we walked up the well marked track to Corn Du, stopping to have a snack en route (yes, it was a late start and an early lunch, can you tell ;) ). This track provides a good view either side, both back down the valley towards Ponsticill resevoir and down the neighbouring valley. If you like the hills to yourself, get on these ones early. By the time we joined the Beacons way just before Corn Du, the well-marked path had become a road and the traffic substantial. Not as bad as some Lakeland fells in the height of summer, but getting that way. Following said way over Corn Du and up Pen-y-Fan gives some spectacular panoramic views both north and back south. There's a reason this route is popular. The route off of Pen-Y-Fan, over Cribyn and up Fan-y-Big is easy to follow, just a bit jarring on the legs as some of it has had rocks placed on it to help avoid erosion.

After Fan-Y-Big you have to be slightly attentive to spot the Beacons' way veering off to the right. IF following the Nutall's route, the path is much more obvious, but you miss some waterfalls and some quieter hillsides, which are a welcome contrast to the summit of Corn Du & Pen-y-Fan. The descent down to the car park at the bottom of the waterfalls is quite pleasent if your knees haven't objected to the walking up to this point. Several photo opportunities and no long road walk at the end. If I were doing this again, I might start at the Nutall's start point and follow our route to our end point. Only works if you have two cars though :)

Beer and food in the Butchers Arms in Pontsticill was a welcome evening after that walk. Good beer and steaks the size of small continents were had, can definitly recommend that pub!

Second Day: Sunday 28/8/11. This time we stuck out east to our start point at Glyntawe. Turns out this walk is almost the same as 13.6 in the Nutall's guide. But we didn't ascend Fan Hir and Garreg Las and did it in the other direction to the Nutall's. Map is here. On reflection. If you are going to do Fan Hir, I would do it in the direction the Nutall's suggest and start with Fan Hir from the pub car park. Otherwise, starting from the show cave car park is a better plan.