The Brecon Beacons is a true joy for family travel. With a background of majestic mountains and dramatic rugged moorland, it’s sure to capture the heart of any lucky traveller. With a National Park ripe for exploring, a handful of whimsical waterfalls to discover, spectacular dark skies for stargazing and a whole heap of fabulous activities sure to delight and inspire all ages, the Brecon Beacons makes an ideal getaway for a fun family holiday in the UK.
Discover the ancient woodland and waterfalls of the National Park
One of three national parks in Wales and home to the magical Black Mountains, the Brecon Beacons National Park is a treasure of natural landmarks and opportunity for adventure. Look out for Welsh mountain ponies and sheep dotted about the hills as you set out to discover ancient woodland full of legend and intrigue.
The little fairies in your party will love the abundance of enchanting waterfalls with their beautiful names and tumbling cascades in the aptly named Waterfall Country. Have a peek at the easier access guide on the official park website to find out the best child and buggy friendly routes.
Spot a sprinkling of stars at the International Dark Sky Reserve
You’re on holiday so there’s no problem staying up late, right? If that’s your mantra, grab some woollies and a flask of hot chocolate and head up to the Beacons to gaze at the spectacular blanket of sparkling stars above. One of many Dark Sky Reserves and Parks in Wales, you might be able to see the Milky Way or even a meteor shower if you’re lucky.
When you’re all starred-out, have a look for bats, foxes and badgers and see who can count the most before heading home. You may have to sleep in the next morning but aren’t holidays all about adventure?
Marvel at underground caves and meet dinosaurs at the Showcaves Centre
If you’re looking for something atmospheric and want a little history on the side to make the trip a bit more educational, head to The National Showcaves Centre in the south of the Brecon Beacons. Walk through beautifully decorated passageways in Dan yr Ogof Cave and the huge ancient passages of Cathedral Cave, and marvel at the thousands of straw-like stalactites and cascading waterfalls at the beautiful ‘Dome of St Paul’s’.
Finish with a ghoulish glimpse of Bone Cave where 42 Bronze Age skeletons have been discovered. Budding palaeontologists will love the world’s largest collection of life-sized dinosaurs – the T-Rex is an obvious favourite – and animal lovers will be thrilled with the Shire Horse Centre and its real-life gentle giants. Finish off at the museum and shop and take a quick break with a huge slab of cake and a hot chocolate in the coffee shop.
Mess about on the water along the serene River Wye
Mini Indiana Jones’ can wind their way along the River Wye with one of the many adventure sports companies who will safely show you how to discover the best spots. Canoe, kayak or sail, watching out for pretty dragonflies, serene swans and cheeky otters before disembarking at the literary haven of Hay–on–Wye.
Here little bookworms can have a browse around the shops and a welcome bite to eat. If your water babies aren’t old enough to navigate by themselves, ask about one of the family canoes which hold two adults and two children at Celtic Canoes in Glasbury-on-Wye.
Explore the famous Pen-y-Fan mountains on a pony trek
Hop aboard a hairy native Welsh pony and explore the foothills of this eponymous mountain range from the best perspective in the world. Hire a mount at Cantref Adventure Farm and head out onto the central hills of the Brecon Beacons, where you can spend an afternoon bonding with your new equine friends.
Don’t worry if you’ve never ridden before – the centre caters for beginners and Welsh ponies are some of the kindest out there. There’s also an adventure farm for little ones if the tiny tots of your party are too small to take part.
Defend your king and country at Carreg Cennen ruins
There’s nothing more fun than scrambling over the dramatic ruins of Carreg Cennen. All ages will love this atmospheric ruined castle that sits on a sheer limestone crag 300 feet above the River Cennen. Learn about the history of the castle before you go and imagine being under attack from invading forces as you try to defend your honour with a succession of pits, drawbridges and gatehouses.
Take a torch and explore the natural cave in the underground tunnel below the castle which was once a dungeon for unfortunate prisoners – this is definitely one for the imagination!
Visit the Bat Cave from The Dark Knight Rises at Henrhyd Falls
Batman lovers should head to the highest waterfall in South Wales, home to one of the most popular superheroes of all time. Turned into the Bat Cave in The Dark Knight Rises starring Christian Bale, you can tread in his footsteps by disappearing behind a curtain of white water to discover this legendary secret space.
While this is the highlight for sure, the Nant Llech Trail to get there is pretty much an adventure in itself. It’s best for older kids as younger ones will need a good amount of supervision along the paths which can be slippery.
Fly a kite and enjoy a picnic on the iconic Sugar Loaf Mountain
Learn to love windy days when you take a colourful kite up to Sugar Loaf Mountain and fly it to your heart’s content. With technology now the go-to for most kids, the simple pleasure of kite flying has been lost. One of the highest peaks in the Black Mountains, Sugar Loaf boasts superb panoramic views across South Wales, the Brecon Beacons and into south-west England. It’s a great place to watch out for some wildlife, including another type of kite, the red kite, which can occasionally be seen soaring overhead amongst the skylarks and swallows.
Take a yummy picnic and refuel hungry mouths with fresh local produce that can be found at the excellent farmers’ market in nearby Abergavenny on Tuesdays, Fridays or Saturdays or from a local farm shop on other days – maybe now’s the time to introduce the kids to the delights of the soft and crumbly Welsh Cake!
If you want to explore the Brecon Beacons with your little monsters, you’ll need somewhere to stay. Have a look at Sugar & Loaf’s Brecon Beacon cottages to find a child-friendly property that will give you an excellent base for your next adventure.
** This is a collaborative post **