Hill walking in the Brecon Beacons – a popular family day out

The Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales offers a wealth of options for family walks and is a popular destination with BCH Camping customers.
Established in 1957, the park stretches from Llandeilo in the west to Hay-on-Wye in the north east and Pontypool in the south east. There are four main regions; the Black Mountain, Fan Brycheiniog, Fforest Fawr, and the Brecon Beacons hills at its centre.
There are many activities that families can enjoy throughout the area; cycling, horse riding, sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, fishing, rock climbing, caravanning, camping and caving. For family walks, the options are endless.
Hill walking in the Brecon Beacons National Park is particularly popular, so we’ve put together a guide to a handful of those walks. They are in no particular order, and there are of course plenty of other options available to a family keen to stride off into the hills.

Pen y Fan

At 886m, Pen y Fan is the highest peak in South Wales. The mountain and surrounding area are owned by The National Trust who are working hard to combat the erosion caused by eager climbers.
There are many ways to climb Pen y Fan, but the most popular and gentle option in the company of little people is the walk starting from the Storey Arms or Pont ar Daf. The latter is a four mile circular walk starting at approximately 440m which makes it very manageable.
The route from Pont ar Daf is slightly easier than from the Storey Arms. The path is a wide track for most of the way which makes it easier to keep an eye on wandering children – or grandparents! It begins almost a kilometre south of the Storey Arms on the A470. On this route you can avoid the summit of Corn Du if preferred, although this is one of the more interesting sections of the walk.
These two routes are extremely popular and, as such, can become very crowded. There are more interesting and challenging routes up Pen y Fan for older families such as the horseshoe walk from Cwm Taf Fechan, the 4.6km walk from the Nant Cwm Llwch car park, the ridge walk via Cefn Cwm Llwch or via Brecon’s Way from the east.

Sugar Loaf, Monmouthshire

Sometimes referred to as The Sugar Loaf, this is the southernmost of the summit peaks of the Black Mountains, with a height of 596m. Located north of Abergavenny, the Sugar Loaf provides stunning views across the south-eastern section of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
The mountain is a haven for upland wildlife including Skylarks, House Martins, Swallows, Red Grouse, Buzzards and the occasional Red Kite. The open moorland of the Sugar Loaf is a registered common that sprawls across two counties. The largest part lies in Monmouthshire, with the rest in Powys.
The circular walk starts from the small car park at the viewing point, reached by a narrow lane from the A40 a few miles west of Abergavenny, and should take no longer than two hours. It is suitable for children, but care should be taken at the summit where there is a minor ridge with a steep drop to the north.
There is a 360 degree view across the River Usk to the south and into the heart of the Brecon Beacons to the north west. Once you’ve had enough time to enjoy the views, you can retrace your steps back to the start.

Keepers pond and the Blorenge

Blorenge, also called The Blorenge is a 561m mountain overlooking the valley of the River Usk in Abergavenny. Keepers Pond, or Pen-ffordd-goch pond, at 475m, provides great views across the Usk Valley towards the Sugar Loaf and the Black Mountains.

The pond is located within the Blaenavon World Heritage Site. It is a popular site for picnics, with benches and seating. It’s a great spot for watching dragonflies in the summer and birds all year round.
There is a 2.5km walk that winds its way across the moorland onto the Blorenge. It can be found at the end of the path around the pond, across the small footbridge and to the right. The surface is mainly cropped grass with short sections of stony and rocky ground. There are also two minor roads close to the car park offering easier strolls further afield.

Keepers Pond is clearly signposted, 3km north of Blaenavon, at the peak of the winding B4246 road between Llanfoist and Blaenavon.

Craig y Cilau, Monmouthshire

The towering rocky crags of Craig y Cilau are often overlooked as a family hill walking destination, yet the area has so much to offer.
Soon after you start the walk from the National Park car park on Llangattock Hillside, the views over the Usk Valley are breath-taking. You can see the town of Crickhowell in the valley below, and the distinctive shape of the Sugar Loaf to the east. 
The area was once a limestone quarry. It is now a peaceful haven for nature with buzzards and ravens competing with the sound of sheep. The tramway winds its way around the ridge into Craig y Cilau National Nature Reserve. The path is covered in stones and tree roots but leads out onto a mossy woodland where woodpeckers can be spotted during spring.
The wood eventually leads onto a bog full of wildflowers. It is advisable to wear wellies at this point! At the western edge of the reserve, you can loop back to the woods following a footpath through farmland.
The whole of this fascinating area is readily accessible, and you can easily spend a couple of interesting hours exploring the old quarries above the car park. 

A successful family walk relies on first class preparation!

As well as all the usual clobber associated with a family day out, you should ensure that you have adequate clothing, footwear and backpacking essentials to make a day in the hills go smoothly. The staff at BCH Camping are ever-ready to offer advice so please do get in touch if we can be of any help.