Brecon Beacons National Park is jam-packed full of amazing hiking. During a 3-day long weekend trip, Beck and I were absolutely stoked to fit in the best 6 Brecon Beacon hikes. In fact, this guide will help you plan your own weekend, long weekend trip or extended trip at the beautiful Brecon Beacons. Otherwise, feel free to use this guide to simply help you discover the best hiking on offer in the area; including, the word-class Four Falls Walk.
Before you get stuck into this in-depth, yet succinct and helpful guide on the best Brecon Beacons hikes, make sure to watch our short production below for even more inspiration!
For more UK hiking content, read our guides on the incredible NC500 in Scotland (coming soon) and the underrated West Pennine Moors in North-West England.
Brecon Beacons National Park | 3 Day Guide
Just to clarify, Brecon Beacons National Park is made up of four mountain ranges in South Wales, with Brecon Beacons (otherwise known as the Central Beacons) making up just one of these ranges. From west to east, the other ranges include Black Mountain, Fforest Fawr, and the Black Mountains – yes, two very similarly named mountain ranges just to confuse visitors.
Thankfully, we were able to experience phenomenal hikes on all four of Brecon Beacons’ mountain ranges:
- Black Mountain: Llyn y Fan Fach & Llyn y Fan Fawr Circular Walk
- Fforest Fawr: Four Falls Walk & Henrhyd Falls – it’s worth noting that the south-westerly edge of Brecon Beacons National Park (where these hikes are located) is known as Waterfall Country and is absolutely stunning!
- Brecon Beacons: Pen y Fan Horseshoe Ridge + Fan y Big + Blaen y Glyn Waterfalls
- Black Mountains: The Sugar Loaf & Waun Fach & The Dragon’s Back
So, for those of you who are keen to squeeze all of these Brecon Beacon hikes into 3 days, you can follow our itinerary below:
- Day 1: Pen y Fan Horseshoe Ridge + Fan y Big + Blaen y Glyn Waterfalls & The Sugar Loaf
- Day 2: Four Falls Walk, Henrhyd Falls & Llyn y Fan Fach & Llyn y Fan Fawr Circular Walk
- Day 3: Waun Fach & The Dragon’s Back – it’s also worth noting that it’s possible to fit another hike onto the third day of your trip. However, for us, this day was an absolute wash-out. Plus, we had a 3.5 hour journey home; so, that took up the rest of our third day.
By following this 3-day Brecon Beacons itinerary, you’ll be able to experience at least one hike on all four mountain ranges in the national park. But, if you’re just keen to learn about the best hikes in the area, look no further than our guide/list below. To suit all itineraries, we have simply presented this guide in order of our favourite Brecon Beacons hikes. However you use this guide, we hope it helps you discover this gorgeous national park.
1. Four Falls Walk
- Type: Red Track + Green Track (Out & Back with Loop)
- Distance: 9.72km
- Time: 3 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 306m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Four Falls Trail Car Park (Gwaun Hepste) – £4
Travel Made Me Do It have personally rated each trail in this guide
Definitely add the Four Falls Walk to your Brecon Beacons hiking itinerary. It was hands down our favourite hike in the national park, located in serene Waterfall Country.
The sensational Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd y Pannwr and Sgwd-yr-Eira waterfalls were a pleasure to chase. But, don’t ask me how to pronounce them any time soon. The cascades along the River Mellte produced varied waterfalls which were all charming and exciting to explore.
For clarification, the Four Falls Walk mainly involves following the red track (Four Falls Trail) with multiple green tracks (Waterfall Link Paths) connecting you directly to the waterfalls via short out and backs. We parked at the Gwaun Hepste Car Park; but, it’s also possible to do the Four Falls Walk from Cwm Porth Car Park. As you can see from our Wikiloc, our GPS directions basically follow the red and green tracks shown on the map below.
To get you even more excited for the incredible Four Falls Walk, we’ll briefly detail the hike below and each of the four waterfalls.
Sgwd Clun-Gwyn (Waterfall 1)
After a flat start, the narrow trail beings to gradually descend. At around 2km, you’ll reach the first of the four waterfalls – Sgwd Clun-Gwyn. This waterfall is the smallest of the four; but, is nevertheless powerful and breathtaking.
Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn (Waterfall 2)
After rejoining the red track, you’ll continue with the river to your right; although, you’ll be hiking well above the river itself. Eventually, you’ll meet another waterfall link track which initially takes you to Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn. This waterfall is a wider set of cascades that gently glide across the uneven vertical rock surfaces. Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn is a fantastic waterfall to photograph, particularly early in the morning before the sun rises too high.
Sgwd y Pannwr (Waterfall 3)
After checking out Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, the waterfall link track continues and ends at the third of the four waterfalls – Sgwd y Pannwr. This waterfall has many levels with individual sets of falls, making it perhaps the most epic waterfall of them all. We were blessed to be able to fly our drone over the various waterfalls that make up Sgwd y Pannwr and the resultant footage is simply mouthwatering! Anyway, drone or no drone, Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn is a charming set of falls and deserves time to explore.
Sgwd yr Eira (Waterfall 4)
Last but not least is Sgwyd yr Eira. After checking out the second and third waterfalls, you’ll retrace your steps on that particular waterfall link track. Next, you’ll briefly resume following the red track and then commence the final waterfall link track. After descending a steep set of stairs, you’ll arrive at the highest waterfall on the Four Falls Walk. Plus, you’ll get to walk behind this one, which is a fun experience in itself.
2. Pen y Fan Horseshoe Ridge + Fan y Big + Blaen y Glyn Waterfalls
- Type: Self Made Loop
- Distance: 22.5km
- Time: 7 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 1.1m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Taf Fechan Forest Car Park
Being the highest peak in South Wales, Pen y Fan (886m) is the most popular mountain in Brecon Beacons National Park. There are quite a few options for hiking to the summit of Pen y Fan; many of which are shorter trails focussing on merely reaching the peak (e.g. Pen y Fan and Corn Du circular walk). However, we recommend that you hike to Pen y Fan via its Horseshoe Ridge, an option which is longer and harder, but oh so worth it with the glorious landscape and views.
For those who want an even longer hiking trail and adventure, we also recommend adding on Fan y Big and exploring the many waterfalls of Blaen y Glyn. By doing so, you’ll have an additional 6km or so, which makes sense as it inevitably forms an awesome self-made hiking loop. This is also an efficient way to experience the best peaks of the Central Beacons mountain range, ticking off both Pen y Fan and Fan y Big in the same hike.
Pen y Fan Horseshoe Ridge
After emerging from Taf Fechan Forest, you’ll pass farmland and begin to slowly ascend to the first peak – Twyn Mwyalchod, via a short out and back. You’ll then head towards Cefn Cul, which is the next peak approaching the horseshoe ridge. There are many rocky outcrops, providing epic views and spots for photos.
Soon enough, you’ll be following the sensational horseshoe ridge, which is a wide trail offering sweeping 360 views of the surrounding mountain ranges.
After passing another peak named Craig-Gwaun-Taf, you’ll steer right and upwards towards Pen y Fan via Corn Du. From Corn Du (873m), there are incredible landscape views with the imposing Pen y Fan just a stone’s throw away. Unfortunately, for us, it was a total white-out atop Pen y Fan; but, otherwise, we’ve heard the views are to die for!
Fan y Big
After reaching Pen y Fan, it’s time to head to the next peak of interest – Fan y Big. From the highest peak in Brecon Beacons National Park, you’ll steeply descend before the trail flattens and follows more epic ridgelines.
After you descend further, you’ll be cruelly met with a short but steep climb to Fan y Big. We can assure you that it’s well worth it! Fan y Big provides possibly the best views of the entire hike, with Pen y Fan and the other mighty Central Beacons ranges in the distance.
Blaen y Glyn
After descending Fan y Big, it is possible to complete a loop back to Taf Fechan Forest. But, we recommend that you add on the beautiful Blaen y Glyn waterfalls too. For almost 1km, you’ll have countless cascades and waterfalls to explore along the quaint Nant Bwrefwr. In fact, the lower you go, the better the waterfalls get!
Taf Fechan Forest
To finish the hike, you’ll follow the road that connects Blaen y Glyn to the Taf Fechan Forest. Admittedly, it’s a tough uphill climb to finish; but if you have the energy, this is a good time to speed hike, to smash it out as quickly as possible. At least, there is a lovely forest with a moss-covered floor waiting for you at the end!
What the hell is speed hiking? Plain and simple – it’s hiking at a faster speed than you would with walking, and it usually takes place on some sort of trail. For tough or uninspiring sections of a trail, speed hiking is a good way to complete that part of the hike as quickly as possible.
3. Llyn y Fan Fach & Llyn y Fan Fawr Circular Walk
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 14.3km
- Time: 3.25 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 732m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Llyn y Fan Fach Car Park (SA199UN)
In the Black Mountain region of western Brecon Beacons, are extraordinary glacial lakes. Hiking the circular loop around both Llyn y Fan Fach and Llyn y Fan Fawr offers spectacular views of the lakes as you climb the surrounding mountain ranges. Indeed, this is one of the best Brecon Beacons hikes and is an absolute must!
Llyn y Fan Fach
Starting on a gravel road with the cascading Afon Sawdde to your right, you’ll gradually ascend a wide trail until reaching Llyn y Fan Fach. This is when the steep uphill climb begins, as you circle the lake, with the peak – Waun Lefrith, providing spectacular views of the lake below and other mountain ranges.
Llyn y Fan Fawr
Positioned high above Llyn y Fan Fach, you’ll then make your way to the second lake of this hike – Llyn y Fan Fawr. After circling the first lake, the trail flattens out, before sharply descending and re-ascending to Picws-Du. You’ll then gain more elevation, and as you approach Fan Foel, the lake below appears. After reaching Fan Brycheiniog (802m), increasingly marvellous views of Llyn y Fan Fawr are to be enjoyed!
After a steep winding descent, you’ll arrive by the lake’s side, where you’ll begin to circle it. To finish the loop, you’ll be roaming and negotiating some boggy sections. The return journey essentially has you at the foot of the mountains, with all of the ranges you had conquered earlier, to your left.
SIDE NOTE: The heavens opened up as we arrived at Fan Brychein, so our descent to Llyn y Fan Fawr was wet and slippery. Rain and wind are quite common in Brecon Beacons National Park, so always be prepared for adverse weather.
4. The Sugar Loaf
- Type: Out & Back with Loop
- Distance: 6.5km
- Time: 2 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 293m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Trailhead: NP7 7LA
Interestingly, the Sugar Loaf summit is 596 metres, falling short of mountain status by only 4 metres! Nevertheless, hiking the Sugar Loaf is well worth it, with exceptional views of the eastern Brecon Beacons to enjoy.
The trail begins next to farmland, meandering through flat expansive moorlands, before steeply ascending to the rocky summit. The views atop Sugar Loaf Hill are phenomenal for such relatively minimal effort. The Sugar Loaf is one of the best Brecon Beacons hikes to do in the late afternoon or even for sunset. With a bit of luck, you’ll have exceptional action in the skies to further elevate your hiking experience!
5. Waun Fach & The Dragon’s Back
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 11.9km
- Time: 2.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 541m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Dragon’s Back Pub
Hiking to the summit of Waun Fach, followed by the Dragon’s Back ridgeline is a fantastic trail in the Black Mountains region of northeastern Brecon Beacons National Park. Starting from Rengenffordd, you’ll head towards Cwmfforest, gradually ascending as you pass by farmland. Expect wild horses frolicking in the fields, as you climb towards the peaks of the Black Mountains ranges.
After arriving at the first obvious peak, you’ll turn left sharply, before the trail begins to veer right and ascend to Waun Fach (809m).
SIDE NOTE: Admittedly, we experienced a complete whiteout atop Waun Fach, which spoilt our views. But, at least visibility improved as we approached the Dragon’s Back. Although at this point, it was hailing sideways, so we were speed hiking like never before to get back to some shelter! Despite the poor conditions, this hike was very much up there with the very best Brecon Beacons hikes.
The Dragon’s Back
Once you’ve reached Waun Fach, take another sharp left, and you’ll briefly continue along the top of this mountain range. After yet another left turn, you’ll begin to gradually descend on even grassy terrain towards the Dragon’s Back. Having arrived at the Dragon’s Back during a hailstorm, we were lucky to manage just a couple of photos. If you can time your visit to the Dragon’s Back with nice weather, we guarantee you’ll have an extraordinary experience hiking this trail.
6. Henrhyd Falls
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 1.2km
- Time: 0.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 28m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Henrhyd Falls Car Park
Located in Waterfall Country, Henrhyd Falls is an easy to reach single-drop 28-metre waterfall. With the crowds flocking to the Four Falls Walk, you shouldn’t find the Henrhyd Falls walk too busy. Although, with limited rainfall, Henrhyd Falls can look a bit tame at times throughout the year. So, for the ultimate visit to Henrhyd Falls, your visit best be timed following periods of heavy rainfall. Otherwise, even with a less powerful waterfall, being able to walk behind the falls is still an awesome experience!
From the car park, you’ll have a simple path to follow downhill, before turning left and crossing a bridge. You’ll then turn left again, and follow a narrower trail among forest surrounds that leads you directly to the waterfall. Given the simplicity of this trail, we didn’t record GPS directions for this hike.
The 6 Best Brecon Beacons Hikes Recap
Brecon Beacons National Park is easily one of the best hiking destinations in the UK. Probably only thwarted by Snowdonia National Park in the north, Brecon Beacons is certainly the next best national park in Wales. So, make sure to spend at least 3 days in this beautiful national park, and see how many of the 6 best Brecon Beacons hikes you can get through!
Getting to Wales
Flights: To do this trip from abroad, it probably makes sense to fly to Cardiff. When booking flights, you should definitely use Skyscanner to search for the cheapest flights. When flying abroad, we always get the ball rolling with a Skyscanner search. Although, with the pandemic, we have changed tactics and decided it’s safest to book directly with the airlines.
Additionally, if you’re UK or US-based, you should sign up to Jack’s Flight Club for the best flight deal alert service. By simply subscribing to the free weekly newsletter or buying premium membership, you could save lots of money on international travel. For the Aussies, we recommend subscribing to I Want That Flight for the best flight deal alerts, where you can usually find cheap flights with Jetstar or Tiger Airways.
Getting to Brecon Beacons National Park
Located in South Wales, Brecon Beacons National Park is fairly straightforward to get to from nearly anywhere in England. Accessing many of the trailheads would be time-consuming to reach by public transport though. So, we highly recommend Rentalcars.com for the best car hire deals (if you don’t have your own set of wheels). Plus, they have an unbeatable free cancellation policy!
Being keen campers, we’d usually be recommending an epic campsite to stay for a weekend exploring a national park. However, Beck and I visited Brecon Beacons National Park when travel restrictions meant a lot of campsites were still closed or running at minimal capacity. So, we decided to spoil ourselves and stay at the gorgeous Tower Hotel in Talgarth, located on the northeast edge of Brecon Beacons.
It’s a small family-run hotel, restaurant and pub, rated 9.2 on Booking.com with 190 reviews (as of early October, 2021). The host, Jan, is very kind and generous. Not only did she cook us a delicious full English breakfast on our final morning; but, because we missed breakfast our first morning to go and hike early, she went to the shops and packed us a take-away breakfast the night before. This even included lunch and snacks for the day – Beck and I were blown away by her generosity.
At £70/night for a double room, the Tower Hotel wasn’t a budget stay by any means. But, we were very pleased with our stay, as shown by our 10/10 review.
Five Hiking Gear Essentials for Brecon Beacons National Park
These are our five hiking gear essentials for exploring Brecon Beacons National Park. For a more comprehensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Otherwise, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a trip, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- Merrell Moab 2 Mid Goretex hiking boots – it’s our go-to hiking boot, which suited the varied terrain of the Brecon Beacons hikes.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Snap Fleece Jacket – when visiting Brecon Beacons National Park, it’s likely that you’ll need some warm layers. This jacket is not only warm; but, very compact and convenient for storing in your rucksack.
- Patagonia Torentshell 3L Jacket – this jacket was an absolute life saver during poor weather conditions hiking Llyn y Fan Fach & Llyn y Fan Fawr Circular Walk, and Waun Fach & The Dragon’s Back.
- GoPro HERO 9 – to capture your hiking trips, you can’t beat the GoPro HERO 9!
- Nakie hammock – if you’re looking for a lightweight, compact, small and durable hammock, look no further than the Nakie hammock. Made from 100% recycled materials, this is the go-to hammock for any camping or hiking trip. We thoroughly enjoyed chillin’ out at in our Nakie hammock at Taf Fechan Forest. If you’re keen on this awesome hamock, make sure to use the ‘DANIELPIGGOTT’ checkout code for 10% off.
Some of these Brecon Beacons hikes are straightforward and easy to follow. However, most of the hikes listed are either long trails or multi-trail combinations and can be tricky to navigate if you’re unfamiliar with the area. So, we recommend using our Wikiloc maps for GPS guided directions. You’ll see many of our GPS maps sorted under the relevant trail on this page.
For those not so prepared, if you’re needing navigation help during your hike and don’t have any phone reception, consider using Maps.me. Although, you need to have at least downloaded the map of the general area beforehand.
- Complete the Four Falls Walk early: on the weekend, this trail can become extremely busy. The car park was actually full by late morning. So, make an early start and you’ll have a much more peaceful experience checking out these glorious waterfalls.
- Pack for poor weather: make sure to pack wet weather gear as conditions can turn foul pretty quickly in Brecon Beacons.
- Explore more of the Waterfall Country: there are many other waterfalls in Brecon Beacons National Park. Click here to find out about other waterfall trails in the sensational Waterfall Country.
What other UK hiking destinations would you like us to write about it? Let us know in the comments below.
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