I’ve recently hiked the Beacons Way trail in the Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales. And I’m here to tell you all the top tips for this awesome long-distance trail.
I’d visited the Brecon Beacons before but only covered a small section including the popular places and hikes but this long-distance trail took me from east to west exploring some of the hidden spots of the national park and was full of beautiful surprises along the way.
The route takes you over hills and mountains, down into valleys, through beautiful woodlands, (filled with bluebells and wild garlic when we hiked), across fields and there’s even a section alongside a canal. There’s a great mix of scenery to keep your distracted from those tough hiking days as it might be stunning but you have some miles to do and quite a bit of ascent!
Here I will share a full guide for my adventure including the Beacons Way route, map, GPX, how I planned the trip, wild camping spots and a few other useful tips as well as my wild camping kit list!
If you have any other questions please feel free to message via Instagram @beckythetraveller or pop a comment below.
Beacons Way Walk
About the Beacons Way
The Beacons Way trail starts from Abergvenny/Y Fenni and ends in the small village of Llangadog, close to the River Towy/Afron Tywi.
In total, it’s 99 miles/160 km but let’s face it whenever you’re doing a trail you always clock up a few extra miles so you can say you’ve done an 100+ mile trail!
The short way to explain the route is that it goes from east to west (or you can do the other way) across the Beacon Beacons, hiking over a few hills and mountains on the way. Interestingly, when you look at the route you’ll notice those ascents are fairly regular and go north and south at numerous times on the trail as you skirt across the trail.
Beacon Way route map
This is the traditional Beacon Way route going via the high route over the Black Mountain, which we did on day 6. You can take the low route if the weather if very bad, or you need a rest from hills! However, the difference in ascent in the two routes isn’t that great, you mainly save on distance.
- Low route – 8 km and 537 m ascent
- High route – 12 km and 736 m ascent
Beacons Way GPX
Please find below my Beacons’ Way GPX
*There is one amendment to the route on the final day to Llangadog. The route goes via a farm at Cilmaenllwyd but this is due to be changed soon, heading west to east it’s signposted but not east to west and on the OS map it looks like a road that ends (when in fact, a new road has been built detouring the farm).
I also reference later another tweak I made to the route at Waun Lefrith, this is NOT reflected in the GPX below but if you want further details please get in touch and I’ll happily share the route I did.
Click here for my Beacons Way GPX
Beacons Way stiles
I don’t normally count the number of stiles on my long-distance trails. It’s the kind of thing I think about but normally after day 2 or 3 so too late to start counting, but on this trail I had a trusty stile counter aka Chrissy! We also created a fun stile game where you had to go over each stile in a different way – doing a dance, striking a pose, singing or song or maybe other random things!
The total number of stiles on the entire Beacons Way trail was 47!
We found the most stiles at the beginning and end of the trail. On day 1 and 2 there was a total of 22 stiles and the final day there were 16, which leaves a relatively stile-free walk when you’re hiking the bigger hills in the middle.
Welsh Nuttalls and Trigs
How many Welsh Nuttals and trig points are on the Beacons Way?
As someone who enjoys peak bagging this was one of these factors I looked into when planning the route. The trail covers four mountain ranges, starting on the east The Black Mountains, the Brecon Beacons, Fforest Fawr, and the Black Mountain. (Note the difference between Black Mountains in the east and Black Mountain in the west, it’s easy to get these mixed up!)
The Black Mountains on the east of the National Park has a total of 12 Nuttalls but the Beacons Way only goes as close to the range as Skirrid Fawr and Hatterrall Hill, which do have trig points but they aren’t classed as a Nuttalls.
After that, it’s a day or two hiking before you reach the next set of Nuttalls, which also includes the BIG one, aka Pen y Fan, which is the highest point on the route in the Brecon Beacons. These are the Nuttalls you tick off:
- Gwaun Cerrig Llwydion
- Fan y Big (Small shelter)
- Pen y Fan
- Corn Du
In addition, you can add a few detours to include Waun Rydd, Cribyn (photo above – you can see the two paths one that does up and over and the other that goes around), Craig Gwaun Taf on this section, but I’ll leave that up to you to plan or not plan into your route.
And then in the Fforest Fawr range there are two more:
- Craig Cerrig-gleisiad
- Fan Llia
There’s one extra Nuttall that you can easily include here – Fan Fryncych* (a 1.8 km out and back detour with 50 m of ascent) But the bonus of doing this one is you have some stunning views of Craig Cerrig-gleisiad which you’d miss if you stay on the tradition Beacons Way route.
Following here, you are then on to the home straight in terms of the mountains and route and there are a final six Nuttalls in the west Black Mountain section of the trail. Five of these are included on the trail (see below), providing you’re doing the Beacons Way high level route, then there’s one bonus extra (Garreg Lwyd*) which you can add on.
- Fan Hir
- Fan Brycheiniog (Small shelter)
- Picws Du
- Waun Lefrith
- Garreg Las
Total number of Nuttalls – 11
Total number of Trigs – 5
*These are the two extra Nuttalls that I did on the route.
There are also two small wind shelters that we came across in the mountains, there’s one on Fan y Big and one on Fan Brycheiniog. Neither have a roof but they do offer some great protection from the cold on windy days so a great place to stop to have lunch.
How many days does it take to complete?
There’s less traditional Beacons Way guides for the number of days to complete the trail and you’ll realise as I tell you about the route that’s mainly down to the limited accommodation options on the way.
If you’ve read my long-distance hiking guides before you’ll know I aim to split the route up into manageable days for what I’m comfortable hiking. Here you can see roughly the number of miles/km and how many days it’ll take you to hike. Also, for this trail remember it’s not just distance in miles but there’s over 6500 metres of ascent to hike up (and down).
- 8 days = 12 miles/20 km per day
- 7 days = 14 miles/23 km per day
- 6 days = 16.5 miles/27 km per day
- 5 days = 20 miles/32 km per day
- 4 days = 25 miles/40 km per day
How to get to the start and finish of the Beacons Way?
Both the start and finish of the Beacons Way have a train station, which is a thumbs up in terms of a linear walk but keep reading before you plan your trail!
We opted to travel by car from Nottingham to the start, we liked the idea of travelling by train but with prices of £80+ for us each (£160 in total) it worked out that driving was cheaper, yes, even with the price increase in fuel!
Parking options for Abergavenny/Y Fenni are limited, especially if you’re planning to do the trail in 6+ days. There’s long stay car parking, at £21.50 for up to 6 days, we’d have been happy to pay but our hike would be 6.5 days so the risk of paying plus receiving a £50 fine for being late did not appeal. Fortunately we found street parking, away from residential properties then walked to the start.
This all sounds relatively straightforward, the main challenge we found was getting from the finish at Llangadog back to Abergavenny/Y Fenni. Llangadog has limited trains, if you miss the 16.59 the next one isn’t until 19.43. They don’t go direct to Abergavenny/Y Fenni which means you have to detour via Swansea or Cardiff, which roughly takes between 3 hours 20 minutes to 3 hours 50 minutes. (Costs between £19.00-£37.50).
We were fortunate in that we had a friend join us for the final day and she drove us the 1 hour 10 minutes back to the start. But as you can see it’s worth planning your transport before you decide on this trail.
- Fuel costs – Nottingham to Abergavenny (return) £40
- Fuel costs (for our friend) £20
Total travel costs = £60
Taxis and baggage transfers
Along the route you might come across some of the ‘Taxi Point’ posts, each one with a specific number for the location, we found no. 4 and no. 5 on our walk. These were set up as ‘Walkers meeting points’ to help with picking people up from the various locations in the Brecon Beacons; however, on return I spoke to a taxi company to find out where the remaining locations were but he said they aren’t used and people simply use the location via Google maps instead!
Whilst researching taxis I also found details for baggage transfer services, if you don’t fancy carrying all your kit with you then this is a great way to enjoy the hike without having to carry all your own kit.
Visit the website for Brecon Beacons taxi and transfer services here.
Our Beacon Way hike
Who did I do the hike with?
I have hiked long-distance trails solo but for this adventure I was joined by my friend Chrissy, also from Nottingham. She’d never done a long-distance trail before but had done plenty of ultra events so her legs were used to some big miles! In fact, the weekend prior to our trip Chrissy hiked the Isle of Wight Ultra, a 100+ km walk around the island.
We met each other visually via Instagram before bumping into each other in the Peak District one day then realising we lived within 10 minutes of each other, how bizarre but also brilliant!
For more of Chrissy’s adventures you can follow her on Instagram @chrissyraider
We initially opted to complete the trail in 6 days but tweaked it to 6.5 as it made sense to drive and start the trail on the same day, which meant a shorter day.
- Day 1 – Abergavenny/Y Fenni to Hatterrall Hill (16 km and 716 m) – Wild camp
- Day 2 – to Table Mountain (25 km and 1,075 m) – Wild camp
- Day 3 – to Bwlch (23 km and 711 m) – Star Bunkhouse
- Day 4 – to Pen y Fan (26 km* and 1,359 m) – Wild camp
- Day 5 – to Glyntawe (32 km and 938 m) – Eco-Camping Wales Campsite
- Day 6 – to Feel Fraith (20 km** and 1,024 m) – Wild camp
- Day 7 – to Llangadog (31.5 km and 590 m) – Home
*We also added an extra 10 km loop on Day 4, so we walked 27 km, as we were too ahead of schedule for wild camping!
**On day 5, we skipped a section of the route after chatting with a guy in the pub and Jeremy from our campsite. See details below.
Detour skipping Llanddeusant
The reason we did this is because it takes you down from the mountains to a small town called Llanddeusant, where the only thing you’ll find is accommodation, since we were wild camping we had no need to stop there. The second factor is that the detour takes you downhill, then almost immediately back up hill on the opposite ridge. And the third factor is that it includes 2.5 km of road walking, which we aren’t a fan of!
Here’s what we did instead: From Waun Lefrith (photo above), we detoured off-path across the Access Land to trig at Carreg Yr Ogof where we re-joined the Beacons Way. In terms of distance our detour across was 2.2 km. If we had stayed on the Beacons Way we would have hiked 3 km downhill, 2.5 km on road then 2.7 km back uphill again.
In summary, we skipped 8.2 km of the official route and replaced with a 2.2 km off route section. It’s up to you what you do whether you’re a purist in terms of the trail or not. As you can see, I’m not, and I love making my own decisions on the trail. Any questions please get in touch via the comments below.
- Total distance = 173.5 km
- Total ascent = 6,413 m
The Beacons Way has a mix of signs on the route; however in places you see them regularly and other times you can go a full day without seeing one. The general rule for the signposts is that you’d find them in the low level areas but once you reach the mountains they are no-where to be seen.
There is also no official start or finish sign for the trail and the first Beacons Way signpost appears about 4 km into the walk.
The other important point, is that not all of the Beacons Way goes via footpaths, during the second half there were numerous times where the route heads across Access Land but there’s no obvious path, well unless you count those sheep trods that appear and disappear just as quickly!
On the entire trail, I think I missed 2 or 3 turnings, on day one we were walking down a road and missed a signpost hidden behind and bush and I remember on day four we overshot the turning for Fan y Big as you are on a well-established path, crossing a stream (photo below) and the Beacons Way takes you on a less-trodden path going back on yourself. Easy to miss when you are focusing more on the views!
Firstly, I was carrying both the Brecon Beacons Ordnance Survey maps along with my compass.
- OS Map – OL12 Brecon Beacons Western Area
- OS Map – OL13 Brecon Beacons Eastern Area
- Silva Expedition 4-360 compass
I also had the GPX of the route downloaded on my Suunto 9 watch and along with that for navigation I used the OS App on my phone. And in additional to all that I used the signs, when I saw them.
The main sections of the route that had hidden or non-existent paths were in the Black Mountain section.
Overall, I didn’t find the trail too difficult to navigate; however, if this is your first long-distance trail or you are new to map reading I’d recommend maybe going on a map reading course beforehand.
Food (and water) stops on the trail
Water on the Beacons Way
I will often carry minimal water on trails and then use my water filter from mountain streams on the trail. However, I did find that many of the water sources had completely dried up, especially on the east half of the trail, fortunately this part of the trail also has the most shops/pubs and cafes so I didn’t run out of water at any point but it’s worth carrying extra especially if you’re doing in the hotter summer months.
This is the water filter I use on my long distance trails – Platypus Quickdraw
Food shops on route
If you need to stock up on food supplies these are the general stores on route. Please note that these were in the east section of the trail.
Distances are from Abergavenny/Y Fenni
- Llanvihangel Crucorney (11.5 km) – Skirrid Mountain Garage/newsagents
- Crickhowell (42 km) – Spar and Crickhowell News (newsagents/general store) – Crickhowell News had more choice that the Spar. The Spar is 750 m and Crickhowell News is 1 km off route.
- Bwlch (59 km) – Tuck shop at The Star Bunkhouse and free water refills for Beacons Way walkers.
- Llangynidr (61 km) – Walnut Tree (village shop and cafe) – This shop is about 200 m off route.
- Llangadog (160 km) – The END! – Newsagents/shop
Cafes/restaurants and pub stops
There are the following cafes, restaurants and pubs on the Beacons Way route. This may not be everything but these are the ones we found on the route and also stopped at several of them!
A few things to factor into your planning for food stops is the opening hours, especially if you are hiking on a Sunday as many places aren’t open. For example, The New Inn at Bwlch weren’t serving food on a Sunday night and also the first pub in Llangynidr had a private party so weren’t doing food and the pub in Glyntawe stopping taking food orders at 6.45 pm. Plan and ring ahead is my best advice!
Distances are from Abergavenny/Y Fenni
- Llanvihangel Crucorney (11.5 km) – The Skirrid pub
- Llanthony (22 km) – Llanthony Priory pub* or Half Moon Inn (both serve food)
- Crickhowell (42 km) – Numerous cafes/pubs here – We had breakfast at Latte-da Tearoom*
- Cwmdu (52 km) – The Farmers Arms and Mynudd ddu Cafe*
- Bwlch (59 km) – The New Inn
- Llangynidr (61 km) – Coach and Horses and The Red Lion*
- Storey Arms Centre (A470) (85 km) – Storey Arms Burger Van (serves breakfast, burgers, snacks and hot drinks but it was closed when we walked past it.)
- Glyntawe (109 km) – The Gwyn Arms pub & restaurant*
- Carreg Cennan Castle (144 km) – Castle Tearooms*
- Llangadog (160 km) – The END! – The Lion Inn
*These are the places we stopped for food and/or drinks 🙂
Beacons Way – where to stay?
On our trip we mostly wild camped on the route, this was for two reasons, firstly, we enjoy wild camping and secondly there aren’t many accommodation options on the trail.
We booked one night at the Star Bunkhouse at Bwlch (night 3) and also stayed at Eco Camping Wales (night 5). You can read more about them below. The remaining four nights we wild camped in the hills.
The Star Bunkhouse at Bwlch is a lovely place stop on the route, I first visited in 2017 when I did a mini tour of all the National Parks, you can read my review here, although some of the layouts have changed (sorry I was too tired to take more photos!)
They have six private rooms with shared showers/toilets then a large social area and kitchen downstairs. There’s an option to book the entire place out so again it’s worth booking this in advance to guarantee a bed!
Cost per person = £15.75* (with MTA discount) – See website for prices.
Visit the Star Bunkhouse website here.
Eco Camping Wales
This is a simple but lovely campsite at Glyntawe, it has basic facilities, some flat grass and friendly hosts, what more could you want. Jeremy and Caroline who run Eco Camping Wales are lovely, Jeremy even dropped us off at the pub so we didn’t miss last food orders!
The concept for the campsite is simply to share their messages about reducing our own waste and caring for the environment. They believe that every little helps and I love that attitude. For example, as a small farm up a track they ask all guests to take their own rubbish with them. A brilliant idea for those travelling by car but they did kindly take our very small rubbish bags from our overnight camp. Thank you. They have also turned old unloved caravans into cute and cosy places to stay, the next project is a boat so watch this space for that one!
Cost per person = £12.00*
Visit the Eco Camping Wales website here.
On the route, we also walked past two other campsites both in Llanthony which was around 22 km so if you hiked a full day this would be a great night one stop.
- Llanthony Court Farm Camping (£5* per person)
- Riverside Camping Treats (£5* per person – cash only)
I didn’t research any other campsites but feel free to get in touch if you have stayed at one or own one and I’ll add it to the list.
*Prices correct at time of writing
Wild camping on the Beacons Way
My preference is to always camp up high on Access Land when I’m on long distance trails, although with UK weather that’s not always possible to find a suitable spot. During our trip the weather started warm and got cooler (and windier) throughout so our first two spots were high up, whereas our second two spots were more sheltered. Oh and we did get some rain, including heavy rain on day 6 but luckily that didn’t hang around long.
I had roughly researched potential places where we could wild camp and we kept pretty much to my plan, making a few tweaks to the exact wild camp spots at the time. For example, the day we finished around Pen y Fan/Corn Du the winds were gusting at 50 mph so with 3-season tents staying high wasn’t an option, it wouldn’t have been much fun and potentially the wind could have damaged the tents so I found a sheltered spot away from the wind for that night.
If you’ve not wild camped before then you can read my wild camping guide here.
Wild Camping Kit List
Here’s the kit took for the Beacons Way walk. Pop any questions in the comments.
I used an Osprey Kyte 36-litre backpack for this trip.
I used an Osprey pack liner and these ultralight Osprey dry sacks to keep my gear organised and easy to find.
Here’s my wild camp set up. I checked the weather beforehand and it looked like it would be cool at night but not dropping below zero which is why I opted for this kit.
- Summer tent – MSR Hubba NX (1.3 kg)
- Sleeping mat – Thermarest X-Lite – (350 g)
- Sleeping quilt – Thermarest Corus Quilt (Comfort level 0 degrees) – (560 g)
- Silk sleeping bag liner – Silk liner – (130 g)
- Pillow – Thermarest Air Head – (145 g)
Total weight of tent and sleep system = 2.5 kg
Read my review here on my MSR Hubba NX. It’s a brilliant lightweight tent for 3-season camping trips.
- Cooking pot + stove (Jetboil Stash) – 230 g
- Titanium mug – 54 g
- Titanium Spork – 21 g
- Medium-sized gas – 385 g
- Swiss army knife – 119 g
- Lighter – 10 g
Cooking gear weight = 0.8 kg
Clothes + other kit
Hiking clothes + footwear
Here’s the kit I took/wore on my trip.
Footwear + waterproofs for summer trip
- Hiking shoes – Salomon XA Pro 3D v8 (non-Goretex)
- Waterproof jacket – Salomon lightweight waterproof jacket
- Waterproof trousers – Salomon Bonatti
Hiking clothing for trip
For my long-distance hikes, I have one set of clothes for hiking and one for when I get to camp to sleep in.
- Red t-shirt (wear)
- Thin grey hoody (wear)
- Mid-layer thin hoody
- Warm lightweight down jacket (for camp)
- Hiking shorts (wear)
- Sports bra (wear)
- Underwear x 3
- Socks x 3 (camp socks 2 x hiking socks)
- Thin beanie
- Thermal top (camp/sleeping)
- Thermal bottoms (camp/sleeping)
Other hiking gear
- Hiking poles Leki – (used for 80% of the trip)
- Watch + cable (Suunto 9)
- Water bottle – Salomon soft flask
- Hydration bladder with lid (Platypus)
- Water filter – (Platypus)
- Toilet kit – trowel, wipes, tissues, bag for rubbish – 277 g
- First aid kit – 239 g
- Head torch + cable – 97 g (LedLenser rechargeable torch)
- Compass – 38 g
- OS Maps – Brecon Beacons (western area) OL12 + Brecon Beacons (eastern area) OL13
- Foam sit mat
- Phone + cable
- Power bank (Anker 359 g)
- Toiletries – Toothbrush, toothpaste, hanky + lip balm
- Suncream (Premax), sunglasses + bug spray
I bought the Anker power bank and have used on numerous trips, it holds between 8+ charges for my phone and I also use for my watch as well. On this trip, we’ll stop at a Bunkhouse on the third night so I can recharge it back up here which means it will comfortably last for the trip.
The Premax suncream is great for long-distance hikes, it’s non-greasy and it comes in a 50 ml bottle and at factor 50 it offers great protection from the sun. Check out and order here – Premax website.
Food for the hike
I reviewed the shops and pubs before we set off so we could plan what food we needed to carry, where we could resupply and where we could eat out. Here’s the plan for our food and meals:
- Day 1 – Lunch in Abergavenny. Carry own dinner (Wild camp)
- Day 2 – Carry own breakfast, lunch and dinner (Wild camp)
- Day 3 – Breakfast and buy lunch in Crickhowell and dinner at pub in Llangynidr (Star Bunkhouse) – Resupply extra snacks + 2 more lunches also at Crickhowell.
- Day 4 – Carry own breakfast, lunch and dinner (Wild camp)
- Day 5 – Carry own breakfast and lunch. Dinner at pub in Glyntawe (Campsite)
- Day 6 – Carry own breakfast, lunch and dinner (Wild camp)
- Day 7 – Carry own breakfast and lunch (Home)
In summary, the total food I needed to carry during entire trip was 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 4 dinners and snacks for the duration. I set off with 6 x breakfasts, 3 x lunches and 4 x dinners, plus snacks for 3-4 days. This meant I needed to do one resupply on the hike to buy extra lunches and snacks.
Here’s the food I took from the start.
- Peppermint tea bags x 6
- Coffee sachets x 6 (Raw bean coffee)
- Porridge sachets x 6
- Freeze-dried meals x 5 (Firepot + Summit to Eat) – (4 dinners plus 1 for lunch for end of trip)
- Snack bars/breakfast bars x 10
- Tin of mackerel (emergency lunch)
- Mini cheddars x 6 (Aldi ones!)
Top tip – Base Camp Food have a range of different freeze-fried food, instead of buying one brand you can select different meals from their range of brands, including Summit to Eat, Firepot and Expedition Foods.
More questions about the Beacons Way
How easy was it to find water sources on the trail?
I’d looked on the map beforehand and found several streams and springs high up in the hills but at the beginning of the trip I found that the majority of these were completely dried up, especially in the east of the Brecon Beacons.
In the end, we collected water from streams lower in the valley and I used my water filter. As well, as this small tarn that we wild camped by one night.
In the Black Mountain we had no problems finding water as the sources seemed to be much larger but I can imagine in the summer months water collecting could be an issue so make sure you carry extra to keep hydrated and collect when you see it rather than waiting for somewhere closer to your camp spots.
Read my review of the Platypus Quickdraw which I used for both of us on the hike.
What wildlife did you see on the route?
I loved all the wildlife we saw on the Beacons Way, the number of wild ponies was insane, I lost count on how many we saw, most of them were in the Black Mountains section at the beginning including lots of baby ponies too, so cute!
Then of course, there were plenty of sheep and a few cows, but not many for those who worry about hiking where there are large fields of cows.
From large animals we saw plenty of small ones too, I love spotting and identifying beetles, we saw a few different species, including a Dor Beetle and a very cool Oil Beetle which was huge (compared to other beetles!) But my love of beetles went out the window when we saw a Slow Worm, absolutely beautiful creatures (and no they aren’t snakes or worms, in fact, they are legless lizards!)
And finally, to end the final days of the trip on a real high we saw so many Red Kites in the Black Mountain (in the west). At first it was one or two, then I lost count on how many we saw, they flew so close to us but I failed to get any good photos, but I don’t care, I saw them close up and that was the main thing!
Beacons Way Guidebook – There’s also this guidebook I found on the route – Beacons Way it has limited reviews but you may find it useful in addition to other sources (ie this awesome post!!).
Facebook group – There’s a Facebook group for Beacons Way Walkers, it’s not very active but you should have your questions answered if you have any.
Let me know if you have any more questions about the Beacons Way hike in the comments below. And let me know if you’re planning to do the Beacons Way walk too!
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