Brecon Beacons vs Wye Valley Activities – All The Adventure You Can Handle!
The Brecon Beacons and Wye Valley are two stunning areas less than 20 miles from one another. Each has its own distinct geographical beauty, but both are hugely popular tourist destinations perfect for getting outdoors.
Brecon Beacons National Park is a grassy, heather-clad mountainous region situated just above South Wales’ historic coal mining region. This dramatic landscape, shaped by glaciers in the last Ice Age, was designated a national park in 1957. Here you’ll find South Wales’ highest peak, Pen y Fan, and a whole host of cracking outdoor activities reign supreme.
In contrast, the Wye Valley is condensed to 58 miles of the River Wye to form some spectacular limestone gorge landscapes and dense ravine woodlands. This is home to an abundance of wildlife, such as peregrine falcons, goshawks, kingfishers and horseshoe bats. Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1971, this stunning area forms one of the UK’s finest and most treasured landscapes.
What is for sure is that each area plays host to a huge array of outdoor activities that will have you returning time and again. Here is our pick of the best of what’s on offer.
Brecon Beacons Activities
Little can match the great outdoors for enjoyment than striding along the peaceful open ridges of the Brecons. This is the highest mountain range in southern Britain and holds a huge range of interlinked trails to explore. Pen-y-Fan, at 520 metres, is the highest peak and the horseshoe route here is truly spectacular. There are walks for all levels of ability with a wealth of diverse landscapes to immerse yourself in, such as the northern red sandstone uplands for which the Brecons is best known, or the wooded gorges, sink holes and stunning waterfalls further south.
For those visiting the area within a group on a stag or hen weekend, Welsh Games are the area’s premier group activity. Compete against your friends in nine fun-filled activities that will have you all in hysterics. Using various large inflatables, life-size dragon suits and even a ride on sheep, you’re in for a hugely entertaining afternoon as you celebrate all things Welsh. And just to add to the fun, come along in fancy dress in what is one of the most popular of all Brecon Beacons activities.
Horse lovers will adore the 600 miles of bridle paths and tracks accessible within the Brecon Beacons, which provides some of the best riding in the UK. The varied terrain consisting of moors, hills, fields and lanes all contribute to a fantastic riding experience. Add to this a vast array of cosy pubs and you have a perfect day out suited to all levels of experience and ability. A large variety of trekking centres offer various hacks and rides.
Rock climbing & Abseiling
Rock Climbing is massively exhilarating and a really good way to make the most of the outdoors. With a vast array of steep escarpments, crags, quarries and cliffs, the Brecon Beacons hosts a vast range of rock climbing and abseiling opportunities. What’s more, in sheltered areas you can climb all year round too. Various experienced specialists run single day activities or courses in both rock climbing and abseiling to suit all abilities.
Caving & Potholing
The Brecons are one of the most exciting caving areas in the UK. A variety of caves and potholls suiting all levels of experience are accessible within the national park, including four of the five longest limestone cave systems in the country.
There are many outdoor activity centres specialising in caving. Just remember to bring your torch!
If you enjoy a treasure hunt, you’ll love Geocaching. This is a great way to explore the Brecon Beacons. There are over 180 Geocaches (like a hidden treasure box) hidden across the Brecon Beacons. All you need is a handheld GPS device and access to the Geocaching website.
This orienteering activity is a fantastic way to take in the beauty of the Brecon Beacons, as you navigate your way around some stunning views or places of historical importance, such as a WWII bomber crash site or the monument to Little Tommy Jones.
Wye Valley Activities
Not to be outdone, Wye Valley activities are equally world class. Here’s a rundown on the best of what’s on offer.
The River Wye was voted by WWF as the public’s favourite river. And canoeing the Wye Valley is an experience not to be missed. For experienced boaters, taking to the rapids on Symonds Yat provides all the exhilaration needed. While those looking for a more sedate day out can take a lazy cruise and take in all the stunning scenery on show.
Several activity outfits will offer equipment and take you to a starting point upstream, before you meander your way down the river unescorted. Otherwise, there are a range of courses helping you to develop your skills.
Cycling provides an excellent way to explore the Wye Valley and nearby Forest of Dean regions. Several cycle routes have been set up through Forest Enterprise sites. Otherwise, Sustrans have opened up a riverside cycle route that follows a disused railway line.
Over in the Forest of Dean, more experienced MTB thrill seekers can kit up and go hell for leather through several blue and red marked downhill trails. There are also several hire companies offering a range of bikes and suggested routes.
Gorge Walking is an exhilarating, if slightly crazy, activity involving walking, scrambling, climbing, abseiling and leaping your way down a river’s raging rapids. You’ll be provided with a wet suit, helmet and buoyancy aid and guided along the way.
The River Wye is the perfect setting to provide a wild and wet day out and there are several experienced operators providing half and full day activities.
White Water Rafting
Sticking with the water for a minute, White Water Rafting allows you to get amongst the rapids, but this time from the safety of a semi-immersive raft. You’ll still get just as wet though as you and your team of rafters attempt to navigate your way down some of the bumpiest and fastest sections of the River Wye.
There are courses for those wanting to improve your skills and this is an excellent team building activity.
Birds of prey experience day
Moving away from the river, a Birds of Prey Experience Day may suit those wanting to get close to nature. The International Centre for Birds of Prey is the oldest birds of prey centre in the world. A day out here will offer official flying demonstrations, in addition to the Experience Day. This offers the chance to get up close to various birds. The Hawk Day presents a mixture of hawks, buzzards, kites and owls, while the Falconry Day gives you the opportunity to learn how to fly a falcon.
For many, a day spent Fly Fishing on the river forms the perfect combination of relaxation, tactical awareness and skill. The banks of the River Wye provide the perfect setting suitable for trout, salmon, grayling and sea trout.
There are various operators running individual casting lessons, guided days and coaching in rivercraft.
So there you have it. Two stunning areas of beauty filled with some excellent and varied activities. Mountain verses river, but who can doubt that both will have you heading back time and again.
Article was shared by Jamie Weber from West Country Games.
Image Source: Pixabay