A natural haven, Brecon Beacons National Park is known for its grassy moorlands, reservoirs, waterfalls and rugged mountainous landscape. Wildlife thrives here and the national park is a great spot for bird-watching. If you live for the outdoors, Brecon Beacons is the place to go. It was established as a national park in 1957, although the oldest rock formations date from the Ordovician Period, around 450 million years ago. The Black Mountains are found in the east of the park. The Central Beacons rise to 886m at Pen y Fan. Further west is Fforest Fawr, while Y Mynydd Du lies in the far west and contains the two glacial lakes of Llyn y Fan Fach and Llyn y Fan Fawr. With fern-filled gorges, green valleys, red sandstone, caves and castles, Brecon Beacons National Park is an area of exceptional natural beauty.
Wales is sometimes called 'The Land of Castles'. Carreg Cennen Castle is an imposing structure, perched majestically on a limestone precipice; few Welsh castles can boast such a spectacular position. Raglan Castle stands on the south eastern edge of the park and is a late medieval fortress. There are red kites to be spotted flying above the parkland, whose wingspans can be spectacular. There are two main festivals: Hay-on-Wye Literature Festival and Brecon Jazz Festival.
For sports fanatics, or people who like to try their hand at outdoor activities, Brecon Beacons has many opportunities on offer. The most popular river to canoe down is the River Wye, which caters for all abilities. Alternatively, why not start caving (under the supervision of a qualified instructor) and discover some of the country's most dramatic cave systems. Many people enjoy cycling through the Brecon Beacons; the Taff Trail brings you to the heart of the park from the south. The area is ideal for fishing, as well as horse riding, water sports and, not forgetting the obvious, walking. Whether you're after hikes in the hills or riverside strolls, Brecon Beacons provides the backdrop for your active holiday.
+ Gives you space to breathe.
+ Great for bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts.
- Some parts can get busy, despite being such an expansive area.
- There can be some dangers to be aware of in hiking in remote parts of the park.
For environmentally-conscious travellers, Brecon Beacons National Park promotes sustainability through the installation of small scale renewable energy as well as working on increasing the energy efficiency of buildings.
Although handy, don't rely on mobile devices to help you find the way for fear of having no signal or internet access, or even running out of battery. The best thing to do is take a map, on paper, in a plastic bag and go back to old-fashioned ways. Also, avoid the busiest peaks in summer time by visiting the lesser known Black Mountains to the east.
Welsh food, although sometimes thought to be bland or boring, should be on your list of things to try whilst in Wales. Although there is some debate surrounding this subject, the common features of a traditional Welsh breakfast usually include bacon, sausages, cockles, laverbread, black pudding, eggs and fried mushrooms.
To bring back
Described as "one of Britain's breathing spaces", it's only worth bringing back one thing from Brecon Beacons. After all that walking, you'll be left with a clear head.