Water is inseparable from the Welsh landscape - whether it is seeping surreptitiously,flowing peacefully, cascading sublimely .... or coming down in torrents! It is forever changing and refreshing the scene. Whatever your mood there are waterside places in the Brecon Beacons National Park to suit you. This page tells you where to enjoy some of the best.
Craig-y-nos Country Park
40 Acres of beautiful woodland and meadows line the banks of the infant River Tawe at Craig-y-nos Country Park. The park, including two artificial lakes,was laid out by the Victorian owners of Craig-y-nos Castle. Now it is owned by the National Park Authority and is open for the public to enjoy the peaceful surroundings and wildlife. Most of the paths, including a boardwalk over one of the lakes, are accessible by wheelchair.The Country Park is located on the A4067 between Sennybridge and Ystradgynlais, near Dan-yr-Ogof Show Caves. Open daily from 10am. Admission is free,with a pay-and-display car park. Permits are available for fishing in the river.
The River Usk
The River Usk is like a silver thread running diagonally across the National Park, linking the high western moorland where it rises to fertile farmland in the south-east. In winter it can be wild and swollen with the force of mountain streams but in summer its character is calm and gentle.
The Promenade, Brecon
With breathtaking views of the Beacons this is an ideal place for a picnic,or to just sit and enjoy the river.There are boats for hire from the boathouse and a riverside footpath to Fennifach,(about 1 mile upstream).The Promenade is within easy reach of the town. Go down Ship Street and turn right (before the Usk bridge).From just across the Honddu Bridge there is a riverside path, or if driving continue up the road and follow the ‘Promenade’ signs which direct you to the pay-and-display car park.
Bullpit Meadow, Crickhowell
The Meadow, on the upstream side of the Usk bridge, is best reached by a ten minute stroll from the town centre.(There is no parking by the river).There are attractive views back towards the town with Crug Hywel, the hill from which it takes its name, beyond, and across the river to the dramatic Llangattock escarpment. A footpath follows the riverbank upstream for over a mile.
Castle Meadows, Abergavenny
Castle Meadows is a wide expanse of grass and trees following the river for 1/2 mile from the castle to Llanfoist Bridge. Although just outside the National Park there are good views of the Sugar Loaf and the Blorenge. Access is by foot down Mill Street,opposite the Information Centre and bus station.
The reservoir winds elegantly between low,forested hills, following the course of the infant River Usk which feeds it.There is a parking area by the dam, with good views of the water,a picnic area and a circular route around the lake for walkers and mountain bikers.
This is the largest of four reservoirs in the valley of the Taf Fechan. An attractive car park and picnic site on the west bank can be reached by a minor road from Merthyr to Talybont.The Brecon Mountain Railway runs steam trains along the eastern side giving superb views up the lake to the mountains.
Just south of the village from which it takes its name, this is one of the National Park’s most impressive stretches of water and is an important site for winter wildfowl. The road down the valley gives access to the lake at a number of points, including the dam where the overflow makes a dramatic sight in winter and the southern end where there is a bird hide.
A pair of lay-bys beside the A470 north-west of Merthyr Tydfil give access to picnic sites on the grassy slopes above the lake.There are also car parks on the minor road on the opposite side of the lake. (Lake shore access is restricted to fishermen).
Set high up on the Blorenge this pool is a favourite local beauty spot and view point.The superb panorama includes the Black Mountains, across the Usk Valley, and the Central Beacons, 16 miles away to the west.Although it may appear wild, the pool was actually constructed around 150 years ago to supply water to Garnddyrys Forge in the valley below. Despite its lofty position Keepers Pond is easily accessible. The car park, just off the B4246 from Abergavenny to Blaenavon,overlooks the pond where there is a path suitable for wheelchair users around the edge.
Mynydd Du Forest
Deep in the Black Mountains the forest stretches up the Grwyne Fawr Valley. The Forestry Commission provide a number of picnic sites along the stream; ideal places to find peace and shade on a hot day.The most popular spot is Yr Eithin, at the upper end of the forest, from where you can walk the one an a half miles up to the Grwyne Fawr Reservoir.
With its source far to the north, the Wye is already a broad, meandering river by the time it reaches Hay.The Warren, a peninsula formed by a beautiful rocky loop just west of the town, is an ideal place for picnics and bathing. On foot it is best reached down the road opposite the Cinema Bookshop.Turn right onto a footpath by the church, then left along the path above the river.
The largest natural lake in South Wales is set amid gentle farmland with superb views of the Black Mountains in the east, and the Beacons 8 miles away to the south-west. Access is mainly from Llangorse Common,a wide stretch of grassland grazed by ponies, between Llangorse village and the north shore of the lake.Call in at the Lakeside Caravan Park Shop on the north shore for refreshments, permits for fishing and boat launching and details of boat hire. For those not wishing to take to the water, there are pleasant footpaths which can be followed through meadows around the western end of the lake to Llangasty Church. (Paths may be flooded in winter). There is a small car park on the southern shore below the church at Llangasty.
Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal
For 35 miles from Brecon to Pontypool the canal winds its way through the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Although a relic from the industrial age the old waterway and its towpath are now a popular leisure facility and a haven for wildlife. From the busy canal basin by the new theatre in Brecon the canal gently winds its way east through pretty villages and peaceful farmland. Interesting features along the route include the aqueduct over the River Usk near Llanfrynach, the tunnel east of Talybont, the wharf at Goytre and the many Dutch-style lifting bridges.There is plenty of access to the canal and towpath from villages and roads along the route. Most villages have pubs or shops where refreshments can be bought. There are also plenty of opportunities for those wishing to get waterborne, from short trips on a horse-drawn boat to day boat hire and narrow boat holidays. For more information contact the Information Centre at Abergavenny - tel: 01873 853254.
Much of the water that fills Talybont Reservoir begins its journey high up in the mountains at the head of the valley. At Blaen-y-glyn the infant Caerfanell and other tributary streams tumble down from the hills over a cluster of picturesque waterfalls. Most of these now lie within forestry land through which there are pleasant walks to the falls from the Forestry Commission car parks at the top and bottom of the hill.
The sight and sound of water plunging 90ft down the highest waterfall in the National Park can be awesome. From the car park a steep path descends into the almost mystical wooded valley, with occaisional glimpses of the falls through the trees. A bridge takes you across the stream which you then follow up to the pool at the base of the waterfall. Henrhyd Falls are owned by the National Trust and situated just inside the National Park’s southern boundary. From the A4221 a mile south-east of Abercraf turn off to Coelbren, pass straight through the village and then turn left to the National Trust car park.
Waterfall Country is one of the most beautiful and popular parts of the National Park and Fforest Fawr Geopark.The Mellte, Hepste and Nedd Fechan, tributaries of the River Neath, wind their way down steep-sided, tree-lined gorges. Millions of years ago geological faults pushed hard sandstones up against soft shales. Gradually the water has worn away the shales, but left the sandstone, over the edge of which the rivers now plunge in a series of dramatic waterfalls. The humid shade under the dense canopy of oak trees provides the ideal conditions for many rare ferns and mosses. Look out also for birds such as the Dipper which nests in crevices in the rocks and even behind the waterfalls themselves. The woodland of the waterfalls area is all owned by the Forestry Commission who, with help from the National Park provide a number of paths for you to explore this wonderful area. A leaflet showing the walking routes is available to purchase from local information centres or you can order one by post.
For safety's sake
Please follow the waymarked paths at all times.
Wear walking boots with good grip.
Walking, rock climbing or caving accidents call Police 999 Forest or heath fires call Fire 999.