I grew up mostly in the Cotswolds and my dad would occasionally drag us kids, possibly kicking and screaming, across the River Severn to the huge yellow walls of the Brecon Beacons National Park. After ignoring the area for much of my adult life, I’ve totally fallen in love with trail running there over the past couple of years as the hills have become my training ground for the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB).
The 500 square miles of the Brecon Beacons may seem like a soft touch to those lucky souls who live in the Lake District or Highlands, but to anyone who lives below Birmingham (ie. more than half of us), they’re the largest lumps around. The SAS train in the Brecon Beacons. It’s no Telly Tubby Land.
The Lure of the Beacons
I love that nowhere else looks quite like the Brecon Beacons, the sheer, north-facing escarpment resembling huge natural battlements, striking fear into would-be invaders from the north. I love that in the week – and even at weekends, if you know the right places – you can still have the hills all to yourself. I love that it almost always starts off being hostile – foggy and rainy, testing your mettle – but almost always bequeaths a rewarding wow moment, as clouds part to reveal the great walls, covered in frost, or splashed by late-afternoon sun.
“My favourite panorama is from Fan y Big, looking west along the ridge, seeing the three big lumps ahead of me, sheer drops to my right and endless green and lumpy countryside stretching north below…”
I love the huge green views, stretching for miles. The sense of wildness in the weather. I’m in awe of the stoic ponies and sheep who survive in all temperatures here – and it really can get a bit Arctic. And who doesn’t fall in love with a place with hill names such as Fan y Big (stop it) and Lord Hereford’s Knob?