A Weekend in Wales
Updated: Sep 10, 2020
I've said before that one of my favorite pastimes is getting away for a hiking mini-break, and in the current climate, it's become even more essential for gaining some positive headspace. We had to cancel several trips abroad this year due to Coronavirus and lockdown, and even though the borders to most of Europe are now open to UK residents, I'm a little reluctant at the moment to go abroad. Both my husband and I have memories of the Brecon Beacons from when we were children, and honestly I love Wales - I love the people, I love the accent, I love the countryside, so we were super hyped to get away for a weekend of hiking and natural beauty.
Drive from Hertfordshire to Brecon Beacons: About 3.5 hours
£100/night for 2-person Shepherd's Hut (AirBnB)
Our glamping hut was adorable, and we felt super safe and secluded (the only neighbors we saw were sheep, a horse, and a couple of chickens). Our AirBnB hosts were extremely thorough on cleaning protocol, and we brought our own towels, bedding, etc. We initially were looking at staying at a campsite, but the private bathroom in the hut eventually won us over - it just felt a bit safer in terms of controlling levels of sanitation and social distancing.
TO SEE AND DO:
Henrhyd Falls: If you're looking for an easy, quick walk (about 10 minutes from the car park) to a beautiful waterfall, this is the one for you. Henrhyd is the tallest waterfall in Wales, and overhangs a cave that was used for the filming of the Batcave in Dark Knight Rises. Swimming is allowed on warm days, but the car park is quite small so definitely best to get there early!
Pen Y Fan: Welsh for "top spot", Pen Y Fan is the highest peak in the Brecon Beacons, at 886m (just under 3k feet). We originally planned to do the Horseshoe Ridge Walk, which summits four peaks, but the weather was decidedly not on our side on the day we decided to hike. We got up early to set out, but were greeted by a constant pounding of rain on the roof of our hut. The weather app said we'd have some clear weather between 10 am and 1pm, so we made sure to get to the trail head for that time. Unfortunately, the weather was so dicey that we only ended up summitting two of the peaks - Corn Du and Pen Y Fan. Even through the mist and the rain (by the time we got to the top, we couldn't see 10 feet in front of us!), it was a great hike. We will definitely be back again for the views and to do the full loop!
Four Falls Trail (Sgwd Yr Eira): A pretty easy loop trail (but with lots of stairs!) that circles around some of the area's most beautiful waterfalls. This trail was a bit more crowded than the others we did, but it was a Saturday in July - so I'd recommend going either early on in the day, or on a weekday if you're able to. It's completely free to do (barring the £4 car park fee) and the trails are incredibly well signposted so a great option for those who want a nice dose of the outdoors, without needing to climb one of the peaks to do it! A word of caution though - if you've got proper hiking boots, I would recommend wearing them, as the paths down to the falls can be a bit rocky and muddy in places.
Llangorse Lake: An incredibly picturesque spot in the North of the Beacons, Llangorse Lake is the perfect spot for a picnic or a paddleboat (pedalo) ride. It's also home to the "sword in the stone" Excalibur replica, as South Wales is rumored to be one of the possible locations of the legend of Camelot.
Wild Ponies: Even just driving around the national park, it's easy to find Welsh Mountain Ponies grazing around the hillside amongst the many, many sheep. They're classified as a rare breed, and are not at all phased by the humans and cars that drive along the mountain roads.
Is Wales on your bucket list? Would you climb Pen Y Fan, or the four peaks loop? Let me know!