The mountainous Land of Song, Wales, is a breath-taking work of nature, rich in culture, creativity and community. Whilst the magic of nature provides the picturesque backdrop of Wales, it is people and community that helps us each to write our stories, our history. One of three National Parks of Wales, the Brecon Beacons, is located at the heart of the country’s beautiful landscape. Moulded within its ancient and industrial past, the towns and communities that call the Brecon Beacons its home, preserve an idyllic escape into its fascinating history and stunning magic of nature.
Lets explore the wonders and communities that the Beacons have to offer!
Nestled amongst the hills and valleys at the Northern most point of the Brecon Beacons and along the river Wye, lies the medieval town of ‘The Hay’. More commonly known as Hay-on-Wye. This perfectly balanced quiet yet bustling town is world famous for its bookshops and annual literary, music and philosophy festivals – with a host of local and county events scheduled throughout the year. Its most famous bookshop is The Richard Booth Bookshop, named after its founder, it is the largest second-hand bookshop in the World and is impressive in both its quirky blend of historic and modern décor and its vast collection of literary works – the shop even has a license for weddings which means you could bond your love story surrounded by the world’s best literary love stories. Down the road from this world-literary-wonder is the Globe at Hay – an independent arts centre and prominent venue for Hay-on-Wye’s arts and festival events.
So whether you’re an adventurer of works of literary fiction or of the natural outdoors, Hay-on Wye has a whole host of indoor and outdoor, creative and energetic activities to appeal to all; and a warm, friendly group of locals, B&Bs and cafes waiting to welcome you to Hay.
The market town of Llandeilo sits at the Western point of the Brecon Beacons, on the Heart of Wales railway line in the county of Carmarthenshire. This busy market town, surrounded by the natural beauty of the Brecon Beacons and populated with a variety of independent shops and restaurants, is a hub for artists and creatives. Each year in July, the town hosts its Festival of Music celebrating and championing classical music and in 2017 Llandeilo was named as one of the best places to live in Wales.
A popular place for visitors, Llandeilo has a range of hotels, bed and breakfasts and self-catering cottages to suit a range of budgets. The town has great transport links and is easily accessible by train on the Swansea/Shrewsbury line, or by bus and is around half an hour from the M4.
There are also many great walks a short drive from Llandeilo. You can find some of our favourite ones on our earlier blog “5 Awe-inspiring Walking Adventures of the Breath-Takingly Beautiful Brecon Beacons”.
As the location for one of Wales’ earliest ironworks, the historic town of Ystradgynlais, was once a bustling stop along the busy railway of Wales’ industrial past. Long retired from its mining hayday, its historic arches of the Ynyscedwyn Ironworks and the wonderous Gorsedd Stones – erected to celebrate the druid traditions of the National Eisteddford of Wales – are iconic monuments to Welsh history and culture. Nestled in the beautiful southern foothills of the Brecon Beacons, Ystradgynlais isn’t only the keeper of Welsh history, it is also home to some of Wales’ current and most loved wonders including the awe-inspiring National Showcaves of Wales, Craig Yr Nos Castle and Country Park and the Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary – all within a 15 minute drive from the town centre.
At the heart of the natural wonders of the Brecon Beacons, surrounded by hillsides, woodland and waterfalls is the beautiful village of Talybont-on-Usk. This quiet, friendly Welsh village is a storybook of history with its ancient and historic sites dating back to the Iron Age, through the Norman conquests of Britain, right up to Wales’ renowned coal and iron industries. Visit the Iron Age settlement atop of Allt Yr Esgair, walk the roman road to Tretower or visit the 16th Century manor house at Pencelli, where there was once a Norman castle.
It is fitting that this village-window into Welsh history sits along the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal – a stunningly impressive industrial reminder of Wales’ role in the industrial revolution of Great Britain.
After busy days exploring the history and hillsides of Talybont-on-Usk, relax in the village restaurant or one of the 3 village pubs and star gaze into the clearest night skies you will likely ever see.
Home to its famous Jazz Festival and breath-taking cathedral, Brecon is a town bustling with independent shops, cafes and Welsh culture.
A trip to the Brecon Beacons would not be complete without a visit to this beautiful military town with whom they share their name. Explore the architecture, military museum and historic sites or take an adventure into the outdoors with stunning hillside walks and canoeing on the River Usk.
Like many of the picturesque towns across Wales, Brecon has something for everyone, so whether you’re looking for relaxation at the local art gallery, cinema or theatre or are eager for adventure across the natural wonders of the Brecon beacons, Brecon is a perfect place to enjoy the Welsh air and explore the many awe-inspiring wonders of Wales.