Brecon Beacons Tourism Blog | Actively working together
This blog is here to support tourists and communities by offering an insight of what’s going on in the Brecon Beacons and surrounding area. The Brecon Beacons National Park blog tells you everything from hiking ideas, cycling routes, places to visit and what’s on.
Black Mountains Smokery have some great serving suggestions which will get your taste buds tingling and some foodie gift ideas for Christmas, Easter, birthdays and all occasions.
Smoked foods are perfect party food – ready to eat and easy to prepare.
A garnished side of award-winning Oak Roasted Salmon served with buttered new potatoes, roasted beetroot and dill sauce, is the easiest way to entertain family and friends. Alternatively, enjoy carving their gorgeous Glazed Free Range Ham, served with oven baked potatoes and a selection of the Smokery’s fabulous locally made chutneys and preserves.
Produce an impressive starter in seconds with Smoked Duck sliced into a salad with seasonal fruit or berries and roasted nuts.
Conjure up canapés in the blink of an eye.
With a stunning sliced side of Smoked Salmon and a jar of dill sauce, you have the makings of beautiful, classic blini.
Gourmet Food Gifts and Luxury Hampers – Look no further for the finest presents for foodies.
Black Mountains Smokerys’ hampers range from the Taste for Two Hamper, a perfect introduction to smoked foods at £49, to the mighty Classic Crickhowell Wicker Hamper (£375) which combines smoked salmon, duck and chicken with cheeses, chocolates, pates and all manner of accompaniments – all beautifully packed in a traditional wicker hamper – everything you could need for a luxury spread in one go!
Treat your loved one to a Smoked Food Gift Voucher, allowing them to choose their favourite smoked foods direct from Black Mountains Smokery! Each voucher carries a discount code that can be used online or over the phone. £25, £50, £75 & £100.
Need even more luxury?
Why not include a hand crafted oak platter in a hamper or with a side of smoked or roasted salmon? Gift pack your goodies in a traditional wicker hamper, £25/£40 with a special insulated lining ready to reuse for classic summer picnicking.
On the 25th of January each year, people all over Wales celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day, the Welsh patron saint of lovers. A Welsh love spoon is traditionally given as a Saint Dwynwen’s day gift.
Dwynwen lived during the 5th century and fell in love with a prince called Maelon Dafodrill but, unfortunately her father had already arranged that she should marry someone else. Dwynwen was so upset she could not marry Maelon that she begged God to make her forget him. After falling asleep, Dwynwen was visited by an angel, who appeared carrying a sweet potion designed to erase all memory of Maelon and turn him into a block of ice.
God then gave three wishes to Dwynwen. Her first wish was that Maelon be thawed; her second that God meet the hopes and dreams of true lovers; and third, that she should never marry. All three were fulfilled, and as a mark of her thanks, Dwynwen devoted herself to God’s service for the rest of her life.
Traditionally a Welsh Love spoon is given as a Saint Dwynwen’s day gift but there’s plenty more to give in the Brecon Beacons. Read on to find all the gifts you can give this St Dwynwen’s Day!
Choose whole hams to tapas, cured or smoked meats such as Welsh Dragon sausage or welsh beef. Or give in and buy the lot! Have a look which hamper your would like to purchase and place your order here.
Stockists for Emma Bridgewater pottery, Carrie Elspeth Jewellery, Powder scarves, Alex Clark Art, alongside homeware, gifts & wonderful Welsh products. A great independent shop in the charming town of Brecon, where you can pick up some delightful items and gifts!
For those who like a tipple!
If your other half likes nothing better than sipping away at a scotch or gin at the end of the day, forget the big names and watch them marvel at the taste of one of Penderyn award wining welsh whisky’s or gin’s. Or why not book a tour of the distillery, something to look forward to in the New Year find out more here.
Take a pick from the many selections of hampers Authentically Welsh have put together containing all Welsh produce!
Authenically Welsh provide a wonderful range of hand packed hampers bursting with flavoursome Welsh foods … delivered directly to your doorstep – perfect for a loved one Have a look at all the hampers and order yours online.
Whether enjoyed in a 5-star hotel or a delightful Welsh Cafe, Afternoon Tea is one of the best ways to treat your loved one! The Brecon Beacons have some of the finest Afternoon Teas around, using local produce to create an afternoon tea worth having! Click here for our top places to enjoy afternoon tea in the Brecon Beacons.
Browse the shelves at the Old Railway Line Garden Centre
If you’re stuck for ideas of a special gift to give this St Dwynwens and Valentines day, then head to The Old Railway Line Garden Centre where there are plenty of gifts to choose from! Why not visit the florist who can make you a bespoke bouquet from their extensive range of cut flowers for a romantic gift to a loved one.
Who cares if it’s dark & cold outside? Burns Night was created to hold a candle in the midst of the dark for friends to get together to feast and celebrate. Combine that with the Saints day of the Welsh Patron Saint of Lovers, Santes Dwynwen, and we have a good reason to create a Burns night menus using local Welsh produce. Starting at 7.30 pm and sitting for 8 pm. Enjoy a welcoming drink on arrival, something to take the chill off. Tickets are priced at £30 a head. Sharing tables (unless specifically requested otherwise). Please contact the team to purchase your ticket on 01874 620 111 or contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
Stare at the stars
What could be more romantic than gazing at the stars together? On a clear night in the Brecon Beacons, you can see the Milky Way, major constellations, bright nebulas and even meteor showers. It’s enough to make anyone starry eyed! Find out our top places here.
For a bike lover!
If your other half loves nothing more than a cycle, then pop to Drovers Cycles in Hay On Wye for your one stop shop for clothing, gifts and bikes!
Its home is in the vaulted caverns once used as the house cellars – we thought being close to the earth in the Brecon Beacons would naturally generate energy, and be a perfect location for our spa. Its design introduces a place of calm where you can slow-down, unwind and be pampered,
allowing you a little well deserved ‘me’ time.Our spa also offers you the chance to relax in the Jacuzzi; detox in the sauna; take a dip in our seasonal heated pool or work-out in our gym, where qualified fitness instructors are on hand to help you. Or simply sit in our Moroccan styled relaxation room after a treatment, have a drink and just chill-out. However, it must be said that the views of Cribyn and Pen Y Fan from the house will almost help you to recharge as much as the treatments do, but one thing is for certain, with this combination we know you will leave us feeling relaxed, refreshed and simply – lovely!
Don’t forget, there’s also plenty of accommodation where you can have a romantic getaway in the Brecon Beacons! From secluded Shepherds Huts to cosy B and B’s there really is somewhere for everyone to enjoy a memorable Valentines Day! Book your stay here!
Before you book a walk….
….carefully take note of the following:-
As most of our walks take place on open mountain and moorland, appropriate clothing is required at all times. This includes:-
Walking Boots (not trainers)
Spare warm clothing eg a jacket or fleece
Waterproof jacket and trousers
Note: Jeans are NOT acceptable, as they act as a refrigerator when wet and can cause hypothermia.
You will need to bring your own food and drink(preferably a hot drink for the 3 and 4 boot walks).
You should carry a rucksack to put your spare clothing, food and drink and personal items in.
And, finally, when booking:-
Check the grade of walk you wish to book on by reading ourGrade Guide.
For safety reasons we ask you to provide the names of all the walkers in your party (including yourself, please) and to provide a telephone number which we can use in case anything happens to you or one of your party and we need to contact a relative or friend (not the phone you will be carrying with you, please!).
Note that bookings are held for only 24 hours, before payment is made. If you do not pay within 24 hours your booking will be cancelled. By paying through PayPal your is processed immediately.
Pauline Gibson is a junior doctor, who becomes the face of a campaign to save her local hospital. I’m Not Running is an explosive new political drama exploring personal choices and their public consequences, written by Academy Award-nominated writer David Hare. More Information.
Comedy Club Fri 25, 8.00pm £10 / £20 with pre show curry and a drink.
Stuart Goldsmith ‘A charming, expert stand up’ THE SUNDAY TIMES Huge Davis ‘Jet black, funny and unsettling’CHORTLE. More Information.
Join over 100 young ACF musicians from across the UK as they come together with musicians from the Regular Army to put on a concert that demonstrates the incredible talents of the youth of today and showcases some future stars. More Information.
Richard II is irresponsible, foolish and vain. His weak leadership sends his kingdom into disarray and his court into uproar. This visceral production poses the question, ‘when the country is on the brink of disaster, who is the right person to take charge?’ More Information
Into The Light is a beautiful and daring piece of physical theatre about interaction, connection and validation, performed by those we need to see and hear. More Information.
Pinocchio Tue 19 Mar, 7:30pm £10 / £8 / £30 Fam | Teu
Pinocchio is the story of a child free from prejudices: he’s disobedient and mischievous, yet at the same time naïve. We are invited to delve into the imagination of a child-puppet and reflect on values such as education, graft, responsibility and sincerity. More Information.
Pipeline Theatre, known for indelible characters and breathtaking production values, take you on a break-neck, darkly comic and taboo-busting journey, through an NHS – a place where even gallows humour is at death’s door. More Information.
The Hoedown is both a withering dissection of Trump’s America, and a celebration of Americana. There’s stand-up, improvised ballads, cracking good musicianship, and ultimately a hilarious, foot-stomping time to be had by all!
The formation of the limestone caves beneath the Brecon Beacons National Park began over 300 million years ago.
The carboniferous limestone of South Wales was formed in shallow tropical seas in the Paleozoic era, over 300 million years ago. Much of it is of organic origin, being the shells and skeletons of sea creatures, large and small. Amongst the most spectacular fossils to be seen in the National Park are Lithostrotion corals. Their intricate internal detail is often beautifully preserved.
A band of carboniferous limestone stretches across the National Park from Blorenge in the east to Carreg Cennen in the west. It’s in this thin belt of limestone country, 45 miles long but rarely more than one mile in width, that some of the most spectacular caves in Britain are to be found.
The first caves
Limestone is soluble in mildly acidic water and the water running off the peaty ground of the National Park’s hills is just that. Finding its way into small cracks in the rock, it widens them over the years creating a network of open fissures and tubes. When eventually these interconnecting passages reach a certain scale, we think of them as a cave network.
The caves form both along bedding planes, layers of rock, and along vertical fractures present in the rock from the times millions of years ago when South Wales was successively stretched and squeezed as continents collided and split apart. Roof collapse also plays a part in the growth of a cave over many thousands of years.
Water pours down the southern slopes of the familiar old red sandstone hills to the north and on meeting the limestone, disappears underground. Because most of the National Park’s rocks slope gently towards the South Wales Coalfield, many caves follow this southward dip but they also extend east-west across it until they emerge in one of the major valleys carved through the limestone.
The karst landscape
This countryside with its limestone pavements, caves, dry valleys and shakeholes is known as a karst landscape after the classic region of that name in Slovenia. Our area differs from other karst areas of Britain in having fewer limestone pavements but many more shakeholes (depressions formed where surface water washes the boulder clay that covers the limestone down into cracks or fissures in the limestone). These are present particularly in areas that, at first sight, are not limestone areas.
Although such areas as Mynydd Llangynidr and Mynydd Llangatwg are gritstone plateaus, the limestone isn’t far below the surface and the collapse of sections of cave within the limestone leads to craters appearing at the ground surface. Some are truly impressive at 60m across and 20m deep!
A unique opportunity for you to be part of a group of 40 like minded individuals enjoying the dark skies of Wales. On the evening you will be accompanied by two astronomers who will guide you around the night sky from constellations to nebula, learning the mythology and science of astronomy. No experience needed just an enthusiasm to learn more about the night sky and why not bring a camera or use ours to record your experience.
A walk in the Brecon Beacons National Park comes complete with perfect picnic spots, awe-inspiring views, fascinating historic sites and grand geological features. Here is a collection of our top picks…so your 2019 is full of nature, fresh air and epic views!
1. Sugarloaf Mountain
This rewarding walk takes you up the distinctive Sugar Loaf Mountain. Viewed from some directions it has the shape of a sugar loaf or even a volcano (which it isn’t!). It is a short climb to the summit and on a clear day it is possible to see hills as far north as Shropshire and as far south as Somerset as well as many of the major mountains in the Brecon Beacons. Below Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny is an interesting market town with a castle and market hall and lots to explore. More here
2. Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal
It is one of our most beautiful and peaceful waterways following the line of the lovely wooded Usk Valley, it is a true hidden gem. The navigable section of the canal runs for 35 miles from Brecon to the Pontymoile basin. Its location makes it a haven for wildlife and a favourite with nature-lovers, walkers and cyclists. The northern section forms part of the Taff Trail Long Distance Footpath, a 55 mile route that can be walked or cycled that starts at Brecon Basin and ends in Cardiff. More here.
3. Pen Y Fan
A walk up Pen y Fan, the highest mountain in South Wales, is a must do in 2019! Challenge yourself and feel exhilarated when reaching the top where you will get superb 360 degree views of the whole National Park. With well maintained paths taking you to the summit as well as parking at the base of the mountain, it is an accessible and enjoyable walk for all. More here.
4. Carreg Cennen Castle
Carreg Cennen is a haunting, atmospheric castle that appears to spring out of legend and fairytale.
Carreg Cennen Castle never ceases to amaze. There are few castles in Wales which can boast a more spectacular location. Its stout, weatherbeaten ruins crown a sheer limestone crag overlooking the remote Black Mountain (Mynydd Du) and the River Cennen in the western corner of the Brecon Beacons National Park, around four miles southeast of Llandeilo.
An attack on the castle must have been a daunting prospect. Ingeniously adapted to its rocky hilltop, its core is a high walled, strongly towered enclosure, protected by a succession of pits, drawbridges and gatehouses. Approach from the other direction is impossible, for the castle tiptoes on the edge of a sheer 100m cliff. Find out more here
5. Talybont Reservoir and Forest
Set in the central Brecon Beacons, this is a popular place to visit with a road crossing the 380 metre long dam to forestry walks on the far side. The wide tracks in the Talybont Forest on the eastern side of the reservoir join up with the Brinore Tramroad and Taff Trail to give longer walks with no barriers. Most of the forestry tracks near the reservoir are level but get steeper further up the hill you go. Lay-bys and car parks alongside the Talybont to Pontsticill road offer good views of the reservoir and surrounding hills. There is one bird hide suitable for the disabled. More.
6. Craig y Nos Country Park
Situated in a dramatic and romantic location in the secluded upper Swansea Valley, Craig-y-nos Country Park is a 40-acre Victorian garden with shady woodlands, meadows, ponds, lazy lawns and rushing rivers. You are welcome to bring your dog but please keep it on a lead. Dogs are not permitted in the hay meadow while sheep are grazing in the winter months. The river meanders through the park, but just as at home here is the designed landscape of tall trees, lush meadows, woodland plantations, fishpond, lakes, lawns and woodland walks. There is plenty for you to see as you walk around. Discover more here.
7. Bwlch to Tor y Foel
It’s Bwlch with magnitude. Fresh air, lush valleys and big views – this energetic, exhilarating walk comes with lots of ups and downs, with forest, lake, canal and historic tramroad along the way. Find the walking route here.
8. Garwnant Visitor Centre
For a great day out for the whole family why not explore one of the many woodlands open to the public within the Brecon Beacons National Park. Garwnant Visitor Centre, owned and managed by Forestry Commission Wales, is situated in Coed Taf Fawr, a large area of forestry situated in the National Park and Fforest Fawr Geopark. Coed Taf Fawr is a large mixed woodland with pleasant walks and streams running through it. It is nestled around three reservoirs,with beautiful views. More here.
9. Mynydd Illtud
Cracking commons and ancient settlements. An easy but rewarding walk from the National Park Visitor Centre at Libanus. Along the way, you’ll find wonderful wildlife, panoramic views and an Iron Age hillfort. The common takes its name from St Illtud, a Celtic Christian missionary and teacher of St David, Wales’s patron saint. According to legend, Illtud is buried on the common not far from the Visitor Centre, but his grave is now thought to be at Llantwit Major. For a full route description, please click here.
10. Riverside walk and the Warren, Hay on Wye
The riverside walk or Bailey Walk follows the old railway line alongside the wooded banks of the River Wye and leads to an area of grassland known locally as the ‘Warren’. This is a level walk, with up to four different start points. The surface of the old railway line route itself is mainly compacted earth and stone dust. There are two wide kissing gates along the route and a third gate at Gypsy Castle Lane car park which can also be fully-opened using a RADAR key to allow a mobility scooter through (please re-lock the gate after you’ve passed through it). When you reach the open ground of The Warren, the route down to the river the surface changes to compacted earth and grass. This area is grazed by sheep and has a large number of molehills. More info here.
Make sure you follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more inspiring walks in the Brecon Beacons National Park and much more! Happy New Year!
This January offers something for everyone in the Brecon Beacons National Park! Head to Pen Y Fan to cheer on those taking part in the gruelling Fan Dance Race, watch plenty of shows at Theatr Brycheiniog, celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day and get some delicious produce at Llangynidr Farmers Market!
5th – 6th January – The Fan Dance Race
The Fan Dance is a gruelling 24km non-navigational race over two sides of Pen Y Fan, the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons. This infamous route has long been a part of SAS (Special Air Service) and SBS (Special Boat Service) selection. Find out more about The Fan Dance.
17th Jan-24th Feb-Portrait of a Farming Community: Exhibition at Theatr Brycheiniog
Rob was a Large Animal Veterinarian working in the Brecon area from 2004 to 2010. His interactions with the farming community gave him the opportunity to photograph local farming families. Robs portrait collection slowly grew and in 2006 he co-produced a calendar titled ‘Welsh Dudes’ which highlighted some of the local farmers.
2010 saw Robs departure from Veterinary practice due to ill health, and while he is no longer involved in the farmer community he still remembers the characters he was privileged to meet during his time in practice, these portraits have been stored away, some dating back 14 years.He feels privileged to have been asked to have his photographs displayed, and once again share some of the moments he captured during his time in practice`
His photography includes individuals or several generations of the one family, some who are no longer with us. From 2015 Rob had a career change, he now teachers Yoga in The Well Being Centre, Brecon. He also teaches yoga at Ysgol Penmaes, Bannau Camlais and Orbis centres in Bronllys and Womaston.Rob is still involved in photography today; with his focus more on the local landscape, fauna and flora. More here.
Come and celebrate 70 years of The Westenders at Theatr Brycheiniog this January as they present their spell binding Pantomime, Sleeping Beauty! A show full of comedy and romance, bursting with energetic numbers, spectacular scenery and mesmerising special effects that’s guaranteed to entertain the whole family! Please note the performance on Tuesday 22 will feature BSL interpretation by Julie Doyle who will be standing stage left. Tickets here.
25 January-St Dwynwen’s Day
On the 25th of January each year, people all over Wales celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day, the Welsh patron saint of lovers. The Brecon Beacons National Park will be full of love, so why not pay us a visit with your loved one, for unforgettable experiences and special days out in the heart of South Wales. Find out more here.
27th January- Llangynidr Farmers Market
Meet local suppliers and be spoilt for choice. Stalls include locally produced meats, butter, eggs and cheeses, plants, gardening tools; cards, knitted and other craft items, cakes and Fairtrade products. More here.
There are plenty more things to do in the Brecon Beacons this January!
Lovely Ceramics and Prints on sale from The Beacons to the Sea exhibition. at the Andrew Lamont Gallery, Theatr Brycheiniog. Open 10am – 4pm every day until Saturday 22nd December.
The Beacons to The Sea exhibition in the Andrew Lamont Gallery at Theatr Brycheiniog is on until early afternoon on Saturday 22nd December. The displays are offering some lovely last minute Christmas shopping opportunities with pottery and ceramics by 15 different makers and lovely prints by the Swansea Printmakers Group. Pretty meadow painted mugs, wall hung Greenmen (all frost proof!), charming dogs, sweet decorative birds, salt glazed pottery and monumental pots with textured glazes all add to the mix on show from the South Wales Potters group. The print makers work on the wall includes black and white etchings of the Beacons as well as colourful representations of the area and the Gower region – these are available framed or as unframed prints .
The potters have been taking it in turns to be in the gallery and there is one last potter to come which is Pauline Paterson, known from the Haymakers in Hay on Wye, Pauline will be in the gallery on Friday 21st December.
The potters exhibiting are: Liz Andrews ~ Jane Blair ~ Dan Boyle ~ Jason Braham ~ Kim Colebrook ~ Matt Jones ~ Angela Hathway ~ Chris Heneghan ~ Lindy Martin ~ Rachel Padley ~ Pauline Paterson ~ Jane Rees Parfitt ~ William Rolls ~ Carole Spackman ~ Claire Spencer Jones
The printmakers are: Lynne Bebb ~ Alan Figg ~ Dhyana Fritsche ~ Anne Gullick ~ Yvonne Hills ~ Vicki James ~ Robert MacDonald ~ David LaGrange ~ Carol Lawrence ~ Lesley Lillywhite ~ Pat Lowe ~ Ruth Parmiter ~ Sally Price ~ Kelly Rees ~ Viv Rhule ~ Al & Carys Roberts ~ Kara Seaman ~ Judith Stroud
Don’t miss out on the magical experiences you and your little ones will love at Cantref Adventure Farm this Christmas! There is limited availability for the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of December, for both their Santa Experience and Breakfast with Santa! Read on for more information…
Santa Experience at Cantref
The great thing about Cantref’s Christmas Santa Experience is that we have no stressful queues! We have carefully planned our event so that the children are entertained all the time. We take approximately 6 families into our Christmas Experience every half an hour. Instead of standing in a queue the children can make reindeer food, fill in their elf passport, write their letter to Santa, play our snowball game, play in the snow, meet our cute Baby Donkey, Lamb and Piglets and see our Christmas Scenes. After seeing Santa in his grotto they get a key to his magical present room where they can select their own gift. There is also a chance to sit in Santa’s sleigh. On top of the Santa Experience we have shows on throughout the day including Elf Academy, Mr Ev’s Christmas Show and Christmas Party Games and more.
There is limited availability on the 22nd, 23rd & 24th of December
Breakfast with Santa at Cantref is so much more than the normal garden centre experience where you meet Santa briefly at the table while you eat Breakfast in the Cafe. The elves will keep the kid’s entertained while you enjoy a delicious hot buffet full English Breakfast feast in our lovely warm cafe. Then Santa will come and meet you at your table. Look out for the naughty elves antics when the kid’s pancakes are served!After Breakfast you can take a walk through our Elves Kingdom with real animals and lots of Christmas Trees and Snow. Make reindeer food, sit in Santa’s Sleigh, write your Christmas Letter, play our snowball game, fill in your elf passport and play in the snow while you wait to meet Santa again in his Grotto. Santa will then give you a special key to enter the magical toy shop where you can select your own gift! We also have a Breakfast with Santa option which allows you to stay for the whole day at Cantref so you can enjoy lots of other great activities such as Elf Academy, Mr Ev’s Christmas Show. Pet Handling, Bottle Feeding and Pony Rides.
There is limited available for the 22nd, 23rd & 24th of December!