Wales’ Brecon Beacons National Park Offers History and Adventure

Ever since 1957, visitors have been flocking to Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales to soak in the beautiful wilderness scenery and countryside. The park is just over 500 square miles in size and offers some of the most picturesque landscapes in all of the United Kingdom.

The park is actually located in the Brecon Beacons mountain range in the southern region of Wales. There’s also a town there which is named Brecon. The highest mountain in the range is Pen y fan, which is the tallest point in the southern UK at a height of about 3,000 feet.

[photo By marcusandsue]

The park features some beautiful rolling hills and this area has a long and storied history that dates back thousands of years. You’ll find many remnants of the Bronze Age as well as ancient stone Neolithic tombs. In addition, the ruins of Celtic hill forts from the Iron Age can be found along with ancient stone circles. There’s a World Heritage site known as Blaenavon in the park which honors Industrial Revolution landmarks. The area used to be a huge iron foundry and you can see the Big Pit coalmine as well as several limestone quarries that surround it.

In 1066, when the Norman Conquest took place, there were hundreds of castles built across Wales. Many of these can be found in the park today in various states of ruin. One of the most popular of the castles is Carreg Cennen, which sits on top of some pretty dramatic cliffs. If you’re a fan of the water, you’ll find the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal flows through the heart of the park. In total 35 miles of the waterway winds its way through the picturesque countryside and past the charming Usk Valley villages all the way from Five Locks to Brecon. There are also cycling trails that run alongside parts of the canal and you can hire canoes and take boat trips down the waterway.

There are more chances to enjoy the water in Brecon Beacons with several gorges inside of the park where the Hepste, Nedd Fechan, and Mellte Rivers roar over steep cataracts. Another wet area is Llangorse Lake, which is on the middle of some lovely water meadows and grasslands. The lake attracts a wide variety of birds such as warblers, geese, ducks, and starlings. Inside of the lake lies a manmade rock island which dates back to the Iron Age.

The park is located about an hour’s drive from Wales’ Cardiff International Airport. There are also train stations in many of the park’s bigger town and buses connect the smaller communities. There’s also a hop-on-hop-off bus in the summer. You’ll find that any time of the years is ideal for visiting the park. However, one of the most popular times is between late May and June as there’s a literary festival known as the Hay Festival which takes place in the town of Hay-on-Wye. In addition, there’s a small winter festival each year in December.

There are plenty of different accommodation choices inside the park as you’ll find bed and breakfasts and campgrounds and caravan parks in various communities.

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