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One of three breathtaking national parks in Wales, the Brecon Beacons is a landscape known for a range of hills and mountains. The national park features a large variety of stunning sites such as waterfalls, lakes, and caves.
Let’s discover more about this fascinating terrain with 11 facts about the Brecon Beacons.
1. The Park is a Designated Dark Sky Reserve
On a clear night over the Brecon Beacons, it’s possible to see the milky way, major constellations and even a meteor shower. These high-quality dark skies earned the park recognition as a Dark Sky Reserve in 20121 (source: International Dark Sky Association).
The park is one of twenty destinations in the whole world to receive this status and the authority who manage it have vowed to do all they can to reduce carbon emissions and protect the nocturnal wildlife that lives there.
2. Brecon Beacons National Park is 42 Miles Wide
The Brecon Beacons has so much to offer with its mountain, moorland, waterfalls, and castles. In total, the park is 42 miles wide covering 520 square miles across South and Mid Wales. The park gets its name from the Central Beacons which dominate South Brecon.
The National Park also hosts a variety of activities such as watersports, cycling, rock climbing, and fishing. All of this can be discovered while enjoying the breathtaking landscapes and wide range of wildlife that lives in the park2 (source: Brecon Beacons National Park).
3. The Park is Home to Many Important Caves
The Brecon Beacons National Park contains an extensive cave system which has been described as some of the most important in Europe3 (source: Brecon Beacons National Park). Whilst some require the assistance of experienced cavers, others are accessible to visitors such as the National Showcaves Centre for Wales which features three magnificent limestone caves dating back thousands of years.
One of the caves has been named ‘Bone Cave’ after 42 human skeletons were discovered there dating back to the Bronze Age! The caves contain a number of exhibits which showcase how the caves were used in the past and how they were discovered4 (source: National Showcaves Centre).
4. An Area of the National Park is Known as ‘Waterfall Country’
Thanks to a large number of spectacular waterfalls in the Brecon Beacons, one area of the park has earned the name of ‘Waterfall Country’. In this area, four major rivers wind their way through deep gorges to create dramatic waterfalls.
There are five walking trails marked throughout the park which lead the way to some of the best waterfalls in the country. The most famous trail is the Four Falls Trail which takes in the sites of Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd y Pannwr, and Sgwd-yr-Eira waterfalls.
5. The Breacon Beacons Hosts 14 Festivals Every Year
One thing the Brecons Beacons is known for is the wide variety of festivals it hosts every year. They celebrate the best of the food, culture, arts, and music of Wales. The park can host up to 14 festivals in any given year.
One of the best-known festivals is the Hay Festival which is one of the world’s largest literature festivals, attracting notable people from the industry as well as many other celebrity names. The likes of Stephen Fry, Tony Curtis, Jude Law, and Benedict Cumberbatch have attended.
The Green Man Festival is another famous festival that takes place in August. It’s the biggest music festival in Wales and hosted a number of world-renowned singers such as Mumford and Sons and Van Morrison.
6. Pen Y Fan is the Highest Peak in South Wales
At the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park is Pen Y Fan. The highest peak in South Wales, Pen Y Fan rises 886m above sea level. The mountain is one of the most popular hikes in the national park with more than 350,000 people visiting each year5 (source: National Trust).
The Pen Y Fan Corn Du circular walk is the most popular route to enjoy the spectacular views of the Neuadd Valley. On a clear day, it’s possible to see the whole of the Brecon Beacons and even the peak of Cadir Iris in Snowdonia.
7. The National Park is home to a UNESCO Geopark
The geology of the Brecon Beacons tells a story of ancient landscapes and how they were formed. For its cultural and historical value, the park was recognised as an area of scientific importance in 2005 and the Forest Fawr Geopark was the first UNESCO Geopark in Wales. This covers the western part of the national park.
A UNESCO Geopark is an area recognised for its outstanding geological significance. The program ensures the protection of areas which record significant events in the Earth’s history. Since the park was established, evidence of ancient seas has been discovered along with markings of glaciers from the ice ages.
8. Blaenavon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
In November 2000, Blaenavon Industrial Landscapes was accredited as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site has many monuments and buildings that were important during the industrial revolution when the area was mined for iron and coal6 (source: UNESCO).
In the town of Blaenavon, the Big Pit National Coal Museum is one of the top things to do in South Wales, along with the Ironworks and the Brecon Canal. All the sites within the World Heritage Site highlight the deep industrial heritage in the area and showcase the ways people used to live and work in times gone by.
9. The Brecon Beacons is Home to the Largest Natural Lake in Wales
Nestled between the Brecons and the Black Mountains is the largest natural lake in Wales – Llangorse Lake. Formed by glacial movement, it sits in a hollow that is 154m above sea level making it easily accessible for hiking and water sports.
Llangorse is a beautiful place to soak up the natural beauty of the Brecons while enjoying the many kinds of wildlife that reside there. The lake is a popular spot for bird watching and fishing and is designated as a Site of Scientific Interest.
10. Llyn Cwm Llwch is the Best Preserved Glacial Lake in South Wales
Along one of the popular pathways to Pen Y fan is a natural wonder known as Llyn Cwm Llwch. This lake is the best preserved glacial lake in South Wales. Sitting at the head of the Cwn Llwch valley, it forms part of the Brecon Beacons Site of Special Scientific Interest.
This enchanting lake remains hidden from view until reaching the steep slopes of the Corn Du or Pen Y Fan path making it one of the trail’s must-see spots. The lake is the perfect place to take a dip in its clear waters after an exhausting hike during the warmer seasons7 (source: National Trust).
11. It’s Home To One of Wales’s Most Outstanding Botanical Sites, Craig-y-Cilau
Our final fact about the Brecon beacons is that it’s overflowing with a wide variety of wildlife, fungi, and plant habitats. The Craig-y-Cilau National Nature Reserve near Llangattock is famous for its exceptional variety of alpine plants and trees making it one of Wales’s most outstanding botanical sites.
The reserve includes a number of rare plants and trees and is home to the largest native beechwood in South-East Wales. Waterfall Country, which is inside the reserve, has many beautiful wildflowers, mosses, and ferns including a purple haze of heather in the springtime8 (source: Brecon Beacons National Park).
Kieren is the founder and editor-in-chief of Wales Guidebook. Originally from rural Mid-Wales, he has lived all over the country from Cardiff to Wrexham. A true Welshman, Kieren created this site to share his passion for Wales and help others discover this beautiful country.