“… A flock of goldfinches flits above the rowan trees that overhang the Afon Tawe, a river that clatters rather than babbles its way over the limestone rocks. Together with the freeze-frame heron on the riverbank and moss draped over the drystone walls, this is a deceptively bucolic beginning to one of the more arduous hikes a rambler can make along the Brecon Beacons Way.”
– Mark Rowe, ‘Walking the Beacons Way’, Walk Magazine, Nov 2015
Wayne sets off along the Beacons Way.
The Beacons Way, South Wales’ Wild Long Distance Walk
Developed as recently as 2005, The Beacons Way was devised by ex-Park Society Secretary John Sansom (who died in June 2006), in conjunction with Arwel Michael and Chris Barber as a means of introducing walkers to the stunning landscapes of southern Wales.
Running approximately 100 miles (161 km) east to west through the Brecon Beacons National Park, it is a linear high-level route for experienced walkers, which passes many of the most important landmarks and peaks in the mountain range.
Combining Roman ruins, castles and a Norman abbey with glaciated landscapes, red sandstone cliffs and the highest mountain in the national park – Pen y Fan, at 886 metres (2,907 ft), whilst also alluding to sites of religious significance with the trail starting at Holy Mountain and finishing in the village of Bethlehem – the walk can be tackled in sections or completed in its entirety in around 8 days.
Enjoying sunny skies and expansive views from the top of Skirrid Fawr on Day 1.
The Brecon Beacons Park Society emphasise that “GOOD ROUTE NAVIGATIONAL SKILLS AND THE ABILITY TO READ A MAP AND USE A COMPASS ARE ESSENTIAL.”
The route is waymarked where it crosses farmland, but there is no waymarking on open hills and moorland. Walkers will need the Brecon Beacons National Park 1:25.000 Ordnance Survey maps OL12 & OL13 to enable them to see the trail in its full context. Without these maps, in bad weather or emergencies, it will be impossible to devise escape routes. No person inexperienced in hill walking should attempt this trail without an experienced guide.
Due to extreme weather conditions, we had to abandon our thru-hike at the end of Day 2. Take a look at our post about our experiences here.
We hope to complete the Beacons Way at a later date!
Day 1: The Holy Mountain to Llanthony via Ysgyryd Fawr (486 metres), Llanvihangel Crucorney and Hatterrall Hill (531m). Total: 17km (10.6miles) long with 697m of ascent. (13.9 miles if walking from Abergavenny train station.)
Day 2: Llanthony to Crickhowell via Bal-Bach (520m), Partrishow, Crug Mawr (550m) and Table Mountain. Total: 19.3km (12 miles) long with 934m of ascent.
Day 3: Crickhowell to Llangynidr via Cwm Mawr, Cwmdu, Cefn Moel and Bwlch. Total: 19.5km (12.2 miles) long with 680m of ascent.
Day 4: Llangynidr to Storey Arms via Bryn Melyn, Craig y Fan Ddu, Fan y Big (719m), Pen y Fan (886m) and Corn Du (873m). Total: 22.7km (14.2 miles) long with 1020m of ascent.
Day 5: Storey Arms to Craig-y-nos via Fan Dringarth (617m), Fan Llia (632m), Sarn Helen and Penwyllt. Total: 23.7km (14.75 miles) long with 555m of ascent.
Day 6: Craig-y-nos to Llanddeusant via Tafarn y Garreg, Llyn y Fan Fawr, Fan Brycheiniog (802m)and Picws Du (749m). Total: 16.8km (10.5 miles) long with 780m of ascent.
Day 7: Llanddeusant to Carreg Cennen Castle via Carreg Yr Ogof (585m), Garreg Las (635m), Foel Fraith (602m) and Carn Pen Rhiw-ddu. Total: 21.8km (13.6 miles) long with 790m of ascent.
Day 8: Carreg Cennen Castle to Bethlehem via Cilmaenllwyd, Carreglwyd, Carn Goch. Total: 10.9km (6.8 miles) long with 240m of ascent.
We planned our route using the stages listed above, which were taken from The Brecon Beacons National Park website:
Overview maps and pictures of the route are also provided here from the Brecon Beacons Park Society: