Top 10 Tips for family activities in the Brecon Beacons.
As regular readers know, we spent a week in the Brecon Beacons recently. It’s a place we love to visit, and we’ve stayed there a lot over the years, getting to know the area really well. Whilst we do a lot of this kind of thing…
…we do understand it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (though if you’re keen to start a bit more hill walking and exploring there’s few places finer than the Brecon Beacons. They’re easily accessible, well kept paths, and plenty of variation whether you want a gentle saunter on a flat path around a reservoir, or to push yourself to scale the heights of the highest peaks).
So here’s our experienced-visitor round-up of the best activities for families in the Brecon Beacons:
We’ve not tried them yet, but have red-penned this site to do so on our very next visit. Brilliant range of experiences, letting you do the stuff you don’t normal get the chance to do (we want to do the foraging, and also would love the helping out at a hedgehog sanctuary). Best of all, for every experience booked a percentage of the profit is given back to a local charity or good cause.
Dan Yr Ogof Showcaves (for those who want to know, that’s pronounced Danneer Oh Goff).
A full day out packed with stuff to do – not just caves, there’s a Dinosaur park, a Shire Horse centre, a playbarn – perfect trip for a wet day out
Drover Cycles. Brilliant for exploring the area on foot or by bike – these are the people to call. They’ll help with guided and self-guided trips from 2 days to 2 weeks, and they also do not-so-plain old bike hire too. Hire your bikes for a day, and they’ll deliver them to you for free; either at your accommodation, or to the start of your chosen trail. Brilliant service.
These are the people to call if you’re looking for something a little more action-packed. An award-winning activity provider, you can do canyoning, climbing, caving, gorge walking, canoeing, white water rafting… Great for families, everything is organised for you (they cover accommodation, transport, meals as well as the activities), so it’s just a case of turning up and being ready to say yes.
Seriously a Must not Miss – Big Pit is a great day out (and another good one in wet weather!).There’s a multi-media tour of a modern coal mine, fascinating exhibitions AND the world-famous Underground Tour. Go 300 feet underground with a real miner and see what life was like for the thousands of men who worked at the coal face.
Best of all? It’s FREE! Just a £2 parking fee. Brilliant. (NB Children must be 1m tall to go underground)
Dolaucothi Gold Mines (pronounce it Doll-oh-Cothy ;) )
Another good one in wet weather (yes, Wales, we love you, but you ARE wet…) – did you know there was gold in Wales? No, neither did we. But we’ve visited Dolaucathi a number of times, and never fail to learn something from the brilliant guides. plus the above-ground activities are really good too. Guided tours take you back to experience the conditions of the Roman, Victorian and 1930s underground workings – these mines give a really fab potted history experience. The children are always fascinated (and LOVE panning for gold themselves…).
It’s a slight drive out of the National Park to the mines, but with a family ticket at only £13.60 it’s one of our top tips for sure.
You can’t NOT go to the castles when you visit Wales – if you’re an English Heritage member, then your membership counts over the border at CADW properties in Wales too (if you’re not, then look at getting an Explorer Pass). There’s nowhere better for a family with active children than a wild castle to explore and play in (our personal favourite is a noisy game of Block… other visitors seem to find it amusing to walk around a wall and find me desperately trying to hide myself and a large dog behind it…). Our top tips for castles to visit? Don’t miss Carreg Cennen, Tretower Court, and Blaenavon Ironworks
Brecon Mountain Railway. Brilliant vintage steam train through beautiful scenery into the Brecon Beacons National Park along the full length of the Taf Fechan Reservoir to Dol-y-Gaer. You can get off and go for a meander along the reservoir, visit the workshop where old steam locomotives are repaired, make use of the picnic site…. for us, the highlight of our last trip was the sheer number of red Kites we spotted along the route.
Don’t miss out on Hay on Wye while you’re visiting the area – world famous for its second-hand and antiquarian bookshops (Currently there are approximately 30 major bookshops in the town), we lost hours meandering around. We allowed the children to choose one book each – oh, the anguish. The decision-making (and the choices… who knew?). But in the process we all fell in love with Hay on Wye, and can’t wait to go back again to do some more exploring. And Book buying. An absolute Must Not Miss it Richard Booth’s bookshop – easy to slip past it’s small antiquarian facade, once you step inside you’ll find yourself moving slower, breathing deeper, smiling wider. And staying for a ve-e-e-ry long time indeed.
Okay, so this one’s not actually an activity… but you simply can’t visit Brecon and not take a trip out to the Llanfaes Ice Cream Parlour on the outskirts fo the town. Please don’t drive past – stop, go in, buy one. With over 40 different flavours, you’ll be spoiled for choice and may need a second visit to try some more (I think we went three times in a week, and on the third time the boys all had triple scoops….). Our top favourites? Raspberry & Almond, Salted Caramel, Blueberry Cheesecake, Lemon Cheesecake, Marshmallow Ripple, Toffee & Fudge…