Seven Natural Wonders of the Brecon Beacons

There are many natural features within Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park which make it unique and define it’s intrinsic appeal to residents and visitors alike.

With this in mind we have come up with our own favourite 7 Natural Wonders which to our mind are extraordinary and make Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) such an outstanding region to live and work within. Take a look here.

Pen Y Fan

The iconic image of Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons). Situated at the heart of Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park and with easy access to the A470, Pen Y Fan is the highest point in South Wales and Southern Britain standing at 886m or 2,907ft. However did you know it’s only the 21st highest in Wales.  Due to it’s closeness to the A470 it is probably the most climbed peak in South Wales.  There are a number of well defined routes to the summit which are open to people with a wide range of abilities and experience.

However, here as elsewhere in mountainous terrain, the weather plays an important part and can change quickly.  This can make it very challenging and in high winds, the summit can be difficult to approach. The mountain and the surrounding area is actually owned by the National Trust . Also famous for its associations with the miliatry and particularly the SAS training course known as the “Fan Dance” Location – SO012215 / Nearest Postcode LD3 8NL

Henrhyd Waterfall

Situated on the southern edge of Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park near the village of Coelbren, Henrhyd Waterfall is nothing if not spectacular.  With a height of approximately 90ft Henrhyd is certainly the highest waterfall in the the National Park and perhaps the most spectacular of falls, in an area boasting so many wonderful gorges and waterfalls of sheer aesthetic beauty. You may have a different opinion as there are so many to choose from.

Henrhyd Waterfall is well worth a visit but is accessible only by walking down a very steep footpath and across a wooden footbridge onto another narrow footpath.  Particular care should be taken as the path is often wet and slippery the closer you get to the Waterfall. However it is well worth it.

A short journey to the east are a number of outstanding gorges, such as the Mellte, where the sport of Canyoning may be experienced in truly spectacular surroundings.  This area of Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park is also the starting point for many memorable Waterfall Walks. This is why it was so difficult to single out Henrhyd when we have other outstanding candidates such as Sgwd Yr Eira and Sgwd Gwladys.

Location – Ordnanace Survey SN854122

Llangorse Lake

Loving every moment here in Wales 💙 #notleaving #sorrymum #wales #llangorselake 💚

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One of the reasons Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park is thought to have outstanding natural beauty is the contribution made to the character of the landscape by the large number number of natural and man-made lakes within it’s boundaries. The extraordinary one for us is Llangorse Lake or Syfaddan in Welsh. The second largest natural lake in Wales, second only to Lake Bala, has a circumference of 5 miles and a total area of 327 acres 153 hectares and is one mile long .

It was created by the movement of a glacier and the remnants of glacial melt after the last ice age. It is famous for it’s history, fishing,( particularly Pike) and a variety of other water sports such as kayaking.  Steeped in history, Llangorse is one of the most mentioned lakes in Welsh Folklore.  At it’s northern end is the Crannog, which is a small island of massive oak planks, behind which was built a dwelling platform from layers of stone.  A virtually complete Dugout Boat was found at this site with radiocarbon dating it to the 9th century.

Other lakes which are absolute gems include Llyn Y Fan Fach and Llyn Y Fan Fawr with it’s legend, of The Lady of the Lake. Location – Postcode LD3 7TR

Dan-yr-Ogof Caves

Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park encompasses some of the most important cave systems in Europe and is just as spectacular beneath the surface as it is above.  The National Showcaves Centre, at Dan-yr-Ogof in the upper Swansea Valley,  Dan-yr-Ogof, has three separate cave systems and is one of the most popular visitor attractions in the National Park.  Most people just think of the Park as having big mountains, jaw dropping landscapes and big skies but don’t think about the unique environment that lies just beneath their feet.

On the opposite side of the valley, situated on the hillside above Craig Y Nos country park, is the headquarters of the South Wales Caving Club.  Nearby is, Ogof Ffynnon Ddu, (the cave of the Black Spring) this cave system is one of the most complex and deepest in Britain.  Here, the largest cave passage in Britain, referred to as the Time Machine can be found within Ogof Darren Cilau.  This particular passage is more than 30 metres high and of similar width.  Another cave worth a visit is Porth Y Ogof.  Porth Y Ogof has the largest entrance of all the caves in the park.

Particular care should be taken when visiting many of the caves and it is advisable to be accompanied by a qualified caving instructor/guide.

Read more about our caving experiences here.

Limestone Pavements

Limestone pavements

Not the same as the pavements you find on the side of the road. More than 10,000 years ago, ice carved the landscape exposing areas of smooth limestone in what is now the National Park. Over time, rain has partly dissolved the limestone creating a pattern of blocks and fissures.  These fissures are called Grykes and support communities of rare plants, lichens and mosses.  This habitat is known as Limestone Pavement and is one of the most scarce habitat in all of Wales. There is a thin band of Limestone running from East to West across the South of Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park.  Particularly on high ground, the limestone is exposed no the surface and forms a network of small scattered pavements, totaling about 20 hectares.

Limestone pavement is a prime example of a non renewable resource, which once lost, is lost forever and cannot be replaced.  In Wales, much of our limestone pavements enjoy some form of legal protection and disturbance is a criminal offence.  It is right that in this age of growing conservation awareness, we should seek to conserve what is left. One of the best examples in Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) can be found in the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu National Nature Reserve above Penwyllt.

This lies in the heart of the Fforest Fawr Geopark designated by the UNESCO in 2005. The Geopark is the only example in Wales and one of only five in the UK, and covers much of the western Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons). Location – Postcode SA9 1GQ

Read more: Seven man-made wonders of the Brecon Beacons

Rivers – Afon Mellte

There are many rivers and tributaries of famous rivers, such as the Wye and Usk, that flow within the boundaries of Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park.  One river that has along it’s course a number of picturesque and spectacular waterfalls, is the spectacular river Mellte (Afon Mellte).  The Mellte is formed by a confluence of two other rivers, the Afon Llia and the Afon Dringarth.  It then flows south through the village of Ystradfellte and on to Pontneddfechan, where it joins with the Nedd Fechan to become the river Neath (Afon Nedd).  The Mellte derives it’s name from the Welsh word Mellt,(the Welsh for lightening) due to it’s tendency to rise rapidly after heavy rainfall.

At Porth Y Ogof the river disappears as it crosses the Carboniferous Limestone outcrop and runs underground for a quarter of a mile to reappear at the Blue Pool.  After the resurgence and down stream of Porth Y Ogof you are in waterfall country, the most significant of which are Sgwd Clungwyn, Sgwd Clungwyn Isaf and Sgwd Y Pannwr; (White Meadow Fall, Lower White Meadow Fall and Fall of the Woolen Washer).  Much of the river is accessible to walkers by various footpaths.  It also provides sport for canoeists and is extensively used for gorge walking and the extreme sport of canyoning.  A large part of the river and it’s valley gorge is a site of Special Scientific Interest.

Fan Hir Escarpment

In the far west of Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park is the Black Mountain, (not to be confused with the Black Mountains situated to the east of the park) of which the high level escarpment of Fan Hir (Long Peak) is a dominant feature.  Fan Hir is a great introduction to the beauty and grandeur of the Park in this quieter section of Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons).  In our opinion the Fan Hir Ridge walk is one of the best and most spectacular in the Beacons. The walk, which starts near the village of Glyntawe, takes in almost the entire escarpment edge, with stunning views. It is the longest of it’s type anywhere in Britain.

From it’s summit, Fan Brycheiniog, some 802 metres above sea level, on a good day you can expect views as far as Exmoor, across the Bristol Channel, Cardigan Bay, the Gower Peninsular, Pembroke Coast and Snowdonia.  This area was mainly formed by glaciation during the last Ice Age, more than 10,000 years ago, and you will see many examples of the effect of glaciation on the landscape.  None better than Llyn Y Fan Fawr, a classic Welsh Cwm or glacial lake, which lies directly below the summit of Fan Brycheiniog.

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