Brecon Beacons
Overview
 
The Brecon Beacons is a mountain range
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

 in South Wales
South Wales
South Wales is an area of Wales bordered by England and the Bristol Channel to the east and south, and Mid Wales and West Wales to the north and west. The most densely populated region in the south-west of the United Kingdom, it is home to around 2.1 million people and includes the capital city of...

. In a narrow sense, the name refers to the range of popular peaks south of Brecon, including South Wales' highest mountain, Pen y Fan
Pen y Fan
Pen y Fan is the highest peak in South Wales and southern Britain, situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park. At above sea-level, it is also the highest peak in Britain south of the Snowdonia mountain range...

, and which together form the central section of the Brecon Beacons National Park (Parc Cenedlaethol Bannau Brycheiniog). The name is also commonly used to refer more broadly to the entire national park which includes ranges both to the east and the west of the central Beacons.
The Brecon Beacons range, in its truest sense, consists of the mountains to the south of Brecon
Brecon
Brecon is a long-established market town and community in southern Powys, Mid Wales, with a population of 7,901. It was the county town of the historic county of Brecknockshire; although its role as such was eclipsed with the formation of Powys, it remains an important local centre...

.
Encyclopedia
The Brecon Beacons is a mountain range
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

 in South Wales
South Wales
South Wales is an area of Wales bordered by England and the Bristol Channel to the east and south, and Mid Wales and West Wales to the north and west. The most densely populated region in the south-west of the United Kingdom, it is home to around 2.1 million people and includes the capital city of...

. In a narrow sense, the name refers to the range of popular peaks south of Brecon, including South Wales' highest mountain, Pen y Fan
Pen y Fan
Pen y Fan is the highest peak in South Wales and southern Britain, situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park. At above sea-level, it is also the highest peak in Britain south of the Snowdonia mountain range...

, and which together form the central section of the Brecon Beacons National Park (Parc Cenedlaethol Bannau Brycheiniog). The name is also commonly used to refer more broadly to the entire national park which includes ranges both to the east and the west of the central Beacons.

The Brecon Beacons

The Brecon Beacons range, in its truest sense, consists of the mountains to the south of Brecon
Brecon
Brecon is a long-established market town and community in southern Powys, Mid Wales, with a population of 7,901. It was the county town of the historic county of Brecknockshire; although its role as such was eclipsed with the formation of Powys, it remains an important local centre...

. The highest of these is Pen y Fan (886 m); other notable summits include Corn Du
Corn Du
Corn Du is a mountain immediately to the southwest of Pen y Fan and the second highest peak in South Wales, situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Tommy Jones' Obelisk is found on its western flanks, in between the summit and Y Gyrn....

 (873 m), Cribyn
Cribyn (hill)
Cribyn is a mountain in the Brecon Beacons with an elevation of 795 metres.The summit lies on a ridge stretching from Talybont Reservoir in the east, to the A470 road. The ridge line to the west connects Cribyn with the peak of Pen y Fan...

 (795 m), and Fan y Big
Fan y Big
Fan y Big is a subsidiary summit of Waun Rydd in the Brecon Beacons National Park, in southern Powys, Wales. At 719m, Fan y Big lies at the western tip of the Gwaun Cerrig Llwydion plateau...

 (719 m). These summits form a long ridge
Ridge
A ridge is a geological feature consisting of a chain of mountains or hills that form a continuous elevated crest for some distance. Ridges are usually termed hills or mountains as well, depending on size. There are several main types of ridges:...

 which forms a horseshoe around the head of the Taf Fechan
Taf Fechan
The Taf Fechan is a river in the Brecon Beacons in South Wales. It rises just below Pen-y-Fan and joins the Taf Fawr at Cefn-coed-y-cymmer. The river feeds the Pontsticill Reservoir....

 river to the south-east, with long parallel spurs extending to the north-east. The round of the Taf Fechan skyline forms a popular ridge walk commonly known as the 'Beacons Horseshoe'. Many other fine walks exist in this part of the National Park.

The Brecon Beacons are said to be named after the ancient practice of lighting signal fires (beacon
Beacon
A beacon is an intentionally conspicuous device designed to attract attention to a specific location.Beacons can also be combined with semaphoric or other indicators to provide important information, such as the status of an airport, by the colour and rotational pattern of its airport beacon, or of...

s) on mountains to warn of attacks by the English, or more recently to commemorate public and national events such as coronations or the Millennium.

The Brecon Beacons National Park

The Brecon Beacons National Park was established in 1957, the third of the three Welsh parks after Snowdonia
Snowdonia
Snowdonia is a region in north Wales and a national park of in area. It was the first to be designated of the three National Parks in Wales, in 1951.-Name and extent:...

 in 1951 and the Pembrokeshire Coast in 1952. It stretches from Llandeilo
Llandeilo
Llandeilo is a town in Carmarthenshire, Wales, situated at the crossing of the River Towy by the A483 on a 19th century stone bridge. Its population is 1,731.The town is served by Llandeilo railway station on the Heart of Wales Line.- Early history :...

 in the west to Hay-on-Wye
Hay-on-Wye
Hay-on-Wye , often described as "the town of books", is a small market town and community in Powys, Wales.-Location:The town lies on the east bank of the River Wye and is within the Brecon Beacons National Park, just north of the Black Mountains...

 in the east, covering 519 square miles (1344 km², 332 100 acre
Acre
The acre is a unit of area in a number of different systems, including the imperial and U.S. customary systems. The most commonly used acres today are the international acre and, in the United States, the survey acre. The most common use of the acre is to measure tracts of land.The acre is related...

s) and encompassing four main regions - the Black Mountain
Black Mountain (range)
The Black Mountain is a mountain range in Mid and West Wales, straddling the county boundary between Carmarthenshire and Powys and forming the westernmost range of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Its highest point is Fan Brycheiniog at 802 metres or 2,631 ft. The Black Mountain also forms a part...

 in the west, Fforest Fawr
Fforest Fawr
Fforest Fawr is the name given to an extensive upland area in the county of Powys, Wales. Formerly known as the 'Great Forest of Brecknock' in English, it was a royal hunting area for several centuries but is now used primarily for sheep grazing, forestry, water catchment and recreation...

 (Great Forest) and the Brecon Beacons in the centre, and the confusingly named Black Mountains
Black Mountains, Wales
The Black Mountains are a group of hills spread across parts of Powys and Monmouthshire in southeast Wales, and extending across the national border into Herefordshire, England. They are the easternmost of the four ranges of hills that comprise the Brecon Beacons National Park, and are frequently...

 in the east. The western half gained European and Global status in 2005 as Fforest Fawr Geopark
Geopark
A Geopark is defined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in its UNESCO Geoparks International Network of Geoparks programme as follows:...

. This includes the Black Mountain, the historic extent of Fforest Fawr, and much of the Brecon Beacons and surrounding lowlands.

Most of the National Park is bare, grassy moorland
Moorland
Moorland or moor is a type of habitat, in the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome, found in upland areas, characterised by low-growing vegetation on acidic soils and heavy fog...

 grazed by Welsh mountain ponies
Welsh Pony
The Welsh Pony and Cob are closely related horse breeds including both pony and cob types, which originated in Wales in the United Kingdom...

 and Welsh mountain sheep, with scattered forestry
Forestry
Forestry is the interdisciplinary profession embracing the science, art, and craft of creating, managing, using, and conserving forests and associated resources in a sustainable manner to meet desired goals, needs, and values for human benefit. Forestry is practiced in plantations and natural stands...

 plantation
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

s, and pasture
Pasture
Pasture is land used for grazing. Pasture lands in the narrow sense are enclosed tracts of farmland, grazed by domesticated livestock, such as horses, cattle, sheep or swine. The vegetation of tended pasture, forage, consists mainly of grasses, with an interspersion of legumes and other forbs...

 in the valleys. It is known for its remote reservoirs, waterfall
Waterfall
A waterfall is a place where flowing water rapidly drops in elevation as it flows over a steep region or a cliff.-Formation:Waterfalls are commonly formed when a river is young. At these times the channel is often narrow and deep. When the river courses over resistant bedrock, erosion happens...

s including the 27-metre Henrhyd Waterfall
Sgwd Henrhyd
Sgwd Henrhyd in Powys, Wales, is the tallest waterfall in South Wales with a drop of . It lies on National Trust land on the southern edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park....

 and the falls at Ystradfellte
Ystradfellte
Ystradfellte is a small village in Powys, Wales, in the Fforest Fawr area of the Brecon Beacons National Park.Because of the geography and topography of the area the village of Ystradfellte is not visible from the nearest main road, the A4059 Hirwaun to A470 stretch.Ystradfellte comes under...

, and its caves, such as Ogof Ffynnon Ddu
Ogof Ffynnon Ddu
Ogof Ffynnon Ddu is a cave located under a hillside in the area surrounding Penwyllt in the Upper Swansea Valley in South Wales...

. The Brecon Beacons Mountain Centre
Brecon Beacons Mountain Centre
The Brecon Beacons Mountain Centre is the popular name for the National Park Visitor Centre managed by the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority. It is also known simply as the Mountain Centre, and also as the Libanus Visitor Centre. It is situated near the village of Libanus some 8km / 5mi...

 was opened in 1966 to help visitors understand and enjoy the area.

Activities in the Park include walking
Walking
Walking is one of the main gaits of locomotion among legged animals, and is typically slower than running and other gaits. Walking is defined by an 'inverted pendulum' gait in which the body vaults over the stiff limb or limbs with each step...

, cycling
Cycling
Cycling, also called bicycling or biking, is the use of bicycles for transport, recreation, or for sport. Persons engaged in cycling are cyclists or bicyclists...

, mountain biking
Mountain biking
Mountain biking is a sport which consists of riding bicycles off-road, often over rough terrain, using specially adapted mountain bikes. Mountain bikes share similarities with other bikes, but incorporate features designed to enhance durability and performance in rough terrain.Mountain biking can...

, horse riding, as well as sailing
Sailing
Sailing is the propulsion of a vehicle and the control of its movement with large foils called sails. By changing the rigging, rudder, and sometimes the keel or centre board, a sailor manages the force of the wind on the sails in order to move the boat relative to its surrounding medium and...

, windsurfing
Windsurfing
Windsurfing or sailboarding is a surface water sport that combines elements of surfing and sailing. It consists of a board usually two to four metres long, powered by the orthogonal effect of the wind on a sail. The rig is connected to the board by a free-rotating universal joint and comprises a...

, canoeing
Canoeing
Canoeing is an outdoor activity that involves a special kind of canoe.Open canoes may be 'poled' , sailed, 'lined and tracked' or even 'gunnel-bobbed'....

 and fishing
Fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

, rock climbing
Rock climbing
Rock climbing also lightly called 'The Gravity Game', is a sport in which participants climb up, down or across natural rock formations or artificial rock walls. The goal is to reach the summit of a formation or the endpoint of a pre-defined route without falling...

, hang-gliding, caravan
Travel trailer
A travel trailer or caravan is towed behind a road vehicle to provide a place to sleep which is more comfortable and protected than a tent . It provides the means for people to have their own home on a journey or a vacation, without relying on a motel or hotel, and enables them to stay in places...

ning, camping
Camping
Camping is an outdoor recreational activity. The participants leave urban areas, their home region, or civilization and enjoy nature while spending one or several nights outdoors, usually at a campsite. Camping may involve the use of a tent, caravan, motorhome, cabin, a primitive structure, or no...

 and caving
Caving
Caving—also occasionally known as spelunking in the United States and potholing in the United Kingdom—is the recreational pastime of exploring wild cave systems...

. A long-distance cycling route, the Taff Trail
Taff Trail
The Taff Trail is a popular walking and cycle path that runs for between Cardiff Bay and Brecon in Wales. It is named so because it follows the course of the River Taff...

, passes over the Beacons on its way from Brecon to Cardiff
Cardiff
Cardiff is the capital, largest city and most populous county of Wales and the 10th largest city in the United Kingdom. The city is Wales' chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for...

, and in 2005 the first walk to span the entire length of the Brecon Beacons National Park was opened. The 100 miles (160.9 km) route, called the Beacons Way, runs from the foot of Ysgyryd Fawr
Ysgyryd Fawr
Ysgyryd Fawr is the most easterly of the Black Mountains in Wales, part of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The name is often anglicised to The Skirrid or Skirrid Fawr, and the mountain is also known as Holy Mountain or Sacred Hill. The spelling Skyrrid is also encountered in older literature...

 east of Abergavenny
Abergavenny
Abergavenny , meaning Mouth of the River Gavenny, is a market town in Monmouthshire, Wales. It is located 15 miles west of Monmouth on the A40 and A465 roads, 6 miles from the English border. Originally the site of a Roman fort, Gobannium, it became a medieval walled town within the Welsh Marches...

 and ends in the village of Bethlehem
Bethlehem, Carmarthenshire
Bethlehem is a tiny farming village in the county of Carmarthenshire, Wales, lying in the Tywi Valley northeast of Llandeilo and southwest of Llangadog but on the opposite side of the river from the busy London to Haverfordwest road, the A40....

 in Carmarthenshire
Carmarthenshire
Carmarthenshire is a unitary authority in the south west of Wales and one of thirteen historic counties. It is the 3rd largest in Wales. Its three largest towns are Llanelli, Carmarthen and Ammanford...

.

Due to its remoteness and harsh weather, the Park is used for military training. The Special Air Service
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

 (SAS) holds demanding selection training exercises here such as an exercise called the Fan dance
Fan dance (exercise)
The Fan Dance is part of the Fitness and Navigation phase of the selection process of the UK's Special Forces personnel. It has also been used on courses run by the Pathfinder Group and the Infantry Battle School, Brecon, Wales. It is a 24 kilometre long distance march in the Brecon Beacons of...

. The infantry regiments of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 train at Sennybridge, where NCO
Non-commissioned officer
A non-commissioned officer , called a sub-officer in some countries, is a military officer who has not been given a commission...

 selection also takes place.

In 2006 and 2007, controversy surrounded the government decision to build the South Wales Gas Pipeline
South Wales Gas Pipeline
The South Wales Gas Pipeline is the UK’s largest high-pressure gas pipeline. The pipeline passing through Wales was built for the National Grid and links Dragon and South Hook liquid natural gas terminals at Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire with the national gas network at Tirley,...

 through the Park, the National Park Authority calling the decision a “huge blow”.

Mountain Rescue

Mountain rescue
Mountain rescue
Mountain rescue refers to search and rescue activities that occur in a mountainous environment, although the term is sometimes also used to apply to search and rescue in other wilderness environments. The difficult and remote nature of the terrain in which mountain rescue often occurs has resulted...

 in south Wales is provided by five volunteer groups, with the Police having overall command. In serious situations they are aided by RAF helicopters from RAF Chivenor or RAF Valley
RAF Valley
RAF Valley is a Royal Air Force station on the island of Anglesey, Wales, and which is also used as Anglesey Airport. It provides fast-jet training using the BAE Hawk and provides training for aircrew working with Search and Rescue. Unofficially the motto for RAF Valley is 'One Valley, Training...

. The five groups are:


The groups are funded primarily by donations. Their work is not restricted to mountain rescue - they frequently assist the Police in their search for missing or vulnerable people in the community.

History

Over twenty hill-forts were established in the area during the Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

. The largest, and indeed the largest in south Wales, were the pair of forts atop Y Garn Goch
Y Garn Goch
Y Garn Goch, is a hill in the Brecon Beacons National Park in the east of Carmarthenshire, Wales. It lies near the village of Bethlehem, three miles southwest of Llangadog and four miles east of Llandeilo on the southern side of the broad Towy Valley. It is also commonly known as either Garn Goch...

 near Bethlehem
Bethlehem
Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank of the Jordan River, near Israel and approximately south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism...

 - Y Gaer Fawr and Y Gaer Fach - literally 'the big fort' and 'the little fort'. The forts are thought to have once been trading and political centres.

When the Romans came to Wales in 43AD, they stationed more than 600 soldiers in the area. Y Gaer, near the town of Brecon was their main base. During the Norman Conquest many castles were erected throughout the park. One of the most famous is Carreg Cennen Castle but there are many more.

Local government

The Brecon Beacons National Park Authority is a special purpose local authority which exercises planning functions across the designated area of the park. The park extends across the southern part of Powys
Powys
Powys is a local-government county and preserved county in Wales.-Geography:Powys covers the historic counties of Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire, most of Brecknockshire , and a small part of Denbighshire — an area of 5,179 km², making it the largest county in Wales by land area.It is...

, the northwestern part of Monmouthshire
Monmouthshire
Monmouthshire is a county in south east Wales. The name derives from the historic county of Monmouthshire which covered a much larger area. The largest town is Abergavenny. There are many castles in Monmouthshire .-Historic county:...

 and parts of eastern Carmarthenshire
Carmarthenshire
Carmarthenshire is a unitary authority in the south west of Wales and one of thirteen historic counties. It is the 3rd largest in Wales. Its three largest towns are Llanelli, Carmarthen and Ammanford...

. It also includes the northernmost portions of several of the unitary authority areas which are centred on the coalfield communities
South Wales Coalfield
The South Wales Coalfield is a large region of south Wales that is rich with coal deposits, especially the South Wales Valleys.-The coalfield area:...

 to the south and including the county boroughs of Neath Port Talbot
Neath Port Talbot
Neath Port Talbot is a county borough and one of the unitary authority areas of Wales. Neath Port Talbot is the 8th most populous county in Wales and the third most populous county borough....

, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil
Merthyr Tydfil
Merthyr Tydfil is a town in Wales, with a population of about 30,000. Although once the largest town in Wales, it is now ranked as the 15th largest urban area in Wales. It also gives its name to a county borough, which has a population of around 55,000. It is located in the historic county of...

 and Blaenau Gwent
Blaenau Gwent
Blaenau Gwent is a county borough in South Wales, sharing its name with a parliamentary constituency. It borders the unitary authority areas of Monmouthshire and Torfaen to the east, Caerphilly to the west and Powys to the north. Its main towns are Abertillery, Brynmawr, Ebbw Vale and...

 together with very small parts of Caerphilly
Caerphilly
Caerphilly is a town in the county borough of Caerphilly, south Wales, located at the southern end of the Rhymney Valley, with a population of approximately 31,000. It is a commuter town of Cardiff and Newport, which are located some 7.5 miles and 12 miles away, respectively...

 and Torfaen
Torfaen
Torfaen is a county borough in Wales within the historic boundaries of Monmouthshire. It was originally formed in 1974 as a district of the county of Gwent and in 1996 it was reconstituted as a unitary authority.-Education:...

.

Numerous town and community councils operate within these areas and include those for Brecon and Hay on Wye (town councils) and Cefn Coed; Llanfihangel Cwmdu with Bwlch & Cathedine;
Llangattock; Llangors; Llanthony; Llywel; Pontsticill, Pontsarn & Vaynor; Talybont-on-Usk; Trallong; Trecastle and Ystradfellte (all community councils).

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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