Walks And Walking in Wales – Brecon Beacons
The Brecon Beacons in South Wales offers walks and walking routes as varied as you could imagine. An area of true outstanding natural beauty its landscape is intertwined with exploitation, conservation, preservation and recreation.
The Brecon Beacons, defined by the Brecon Beacons National Park, has embraced the need to protect this beautiful area with investment and environmental consciousness. The area boasts the tallest, roughest, toughest peaks in South Wales engulfed in the boundless terrain, swooping escarpments, huge vistas, impressive tarns (lakes formed by glacial formations) and the barren moorlands.
The sudden transition from the tranquillity and the breathtaking scenery of the Brecon Beacons to the coal bearing valleys legacy of the industrial revolution is almost instant.
Merthyr Tydfil used to be the largest town in Wales with a legend dating back to 480 when Saint Tydfil was slain by pagans. In her honour the town was renamed Merthyr Tydfil, with Merthyr being a modern Welsh translation of Martyr. With the growth of the iron industry, several wars and the rapid expansion of railways meant the town grew until its peak in 1861. By the 1930’s following World War I the area and industry was in decline. All that remained of the Dowlais ironworks finally closed in 1987 marking the end of 228 years of continuous production from one of the many, many sites.
Close by is Port Talbot, the home in 1952 of one of Europe’s biggest steelworks and the then largest employer in Wales. A chemical plant in 1960 and deep-water harbour renovation in 1970 meant the area was good for the community but a ruin within the landscape.
Herein lays the importance of maintaining rural South Wales with the Brecon Beacons being the saviour of tourism and the Gower Peninsula by Swansea offering wonderful holiday spots for the beach lovers and coastal walkers.
The Brecon Beacons National Park offers a consistent character of wave upon wave of open hillside and crystal clear mountain air. The terrain dips, rolls and rises fluidly like a giant green sea. Walking routes in the Brecon Beacons are uncomplicated with wide open spaces and vast skies above, easy to navigate but ruthlessly draining with slow steady climbs that seem endless.
The Black Mountains is the first of the four main mountain ranges in the Brecon Beacons, a lofty range of hills along the Welsh/English border. The Brecon Beacons are the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park and to the west are the moors and plateaux of Fforest Fawr. The loneliest of mountain ranges is at the far west of the Brecon Beacons, Black Mountain; a daunting wilderness for the very brave explorer.
In comparison to its northern counterpart, the Snowdonia National Park, the Brecon Beacons is more reliable than the lucky-dip landscape of boulder strewn slopes, jagged pinnacles, boggy moors and woodland valleys.
Whilst Mount Snowdon and the Snowdonia National Park may sound like the preferred choice for the more adventurous the Brecon Beacons beholds rarer of treasures; the Welsh waterfalls. The Welsh waterfalls are almost as endless as the mountain ranges and can be found in the ancient woodlands and forest pathways in and around the Brecon Beacons.