The Brecon Beacons are a range of hills located in the south-east of Wales, the highest of which is Pen y Fan (886m) which, together with the summits of Corn Du (873m) and Cribyn (795m), form a high-level ridge walk called the 'Beacons Horseshoe'. In the east is another distinct range of hills called the Black Mountains, and in the west is a remote region known (confusingly) as the Black Mountain. The Brecon Beacons are so named after the town of Brecon and the ancient practice of lighting signal fires (beacons) on the mountains to warn of attacks by the English.
The Brecon Beacons National Park is one of three national parks in Wales, and is centred on the Brecon Beacons range of hills. The National Park was established in 1957, the last of the three Welsh parks (Snowdonia was first in 1951). Most of the national park is moorland, with some forestry plantations, and pasture in the valleys. The whole park covers 519 square miles (1344 kmē), from Llandeilo in the west to Hay-on-Wye in the east. On 22 May 2005, it was announced that the first walk to span the entire length of the Brecon Beacons National Park has opened. The 100-mile route runs from Abergavenny, through Crickhowell and ends in the village of Bethlehem in Carmarthenshire.
Popular activities in the park include walking, cycling, horse riding, sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, fishing, rock climbing, and caving. The Taff Trail passes through the Beacons on its way from Brecon to Cardiff.
The park is known for its waterfalls, including the 27-metre Henrhyd Waterfall and the falls at Ystradfellte, and its caves, such as Ogof Ffynnon Ddu. Welsh mountain ponies may be seen grazing.
Due to its remoteness, parts of the parks are used for military training. The Special Air Service (SAS) is known for holding especially demanding and dangerous training exercises here.
For more information see: http://www.breconbeacons.org/
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Photographs © Chris Mellows and Mike Kelly