The Brecon Beacons provide some of the wildest scenery in southern Britain. Despite sitting just above the South Wales Valleys, the windswept moorlands and lush valleys feel impressively remote. But it takes more than just mountains to make for great mountain biking. The Brecon Beacons National Park has plenty of natural trails. It also packs in forest tracks, canal paths, quiet lanes, and some great mountain streams to splash through, making the Beacons a top destination for mountain bikers. With a pair of Brecon Beacons Adventure Atlases now available to slip into your pocket, we wipe the mud off our glasses and enjoy a quick spin through mountain biking in the Brecon Beacons.
Resources for Mountain Biking in the Brecon Beacons
The National Park Authority has helpfully created a website for this exact purpose. mtb Brecon Beacons features a range of suggested routes, graded from beginner to expert. The 2010 editions of the route maps are available to buy online. The site also provides background information, such as a list of bike hire centres and guides. There is also a cycle Brecon Beacons site for those who prefer sticking to roads and cycle paths, and a travel Brecon Beacons site with info about bus services to the area. A special Bike Bus service runs from Cardiff through the summer months – route details are given in the Beacons Bus Timetable.
The new Brecon Beacons Adventure Atlases will be a handy companion for mountain biking and other outdoor activities in the Beacons. The detailed Ordnance Survey Explorer mapping makes it easy to plan and follow a route along bridleways, other byways and traffic-free cycle routes. Other useful amenities are shown, including car parks, pubs and cycle hire shops. The Brecon Beacons East Adventure Atlas covers the Black Mountains and Central Beacons, while the Brecon Beacons West Adventure Atlas covers the Fforest Fawr and Black Mountain. The booklets overlap in the middle and both maps show Pen y Fan, Brecon and the Visitor Centre at Libanus. The map booklet fits into a pocket just like a standard OS sheet map, but is easier to use in the mountain winds or with full finger gloves on.
Where to ride?
Talybont-on-Usk (East atlas page 33) is a very popular destination for those seeking to explore the area. Routes head south and west on the Taff Trail, the dismantled Brinore Tramway, or into the Talybont Forest. Keep heading up the valley past the Talybont Reservoir to the Taf Fechan forest and you will reach the famous Gap road. This track takes you into the high uplands, peaking at 600m between Cribyn and Fan y Big before dropping back down on a long descent towards the shelter of Brecon.
Another popular area for mountain biking in the Brecon Beacons is around Talgarth (East atlas page 11), located at the foot of the Black Mountains in the north west of the National Park. Pedal south or east of Felindre and you will find scenic mountainside routes and wide forest tracks. Bike hire is available nearby.
The Mountain Visitor Centre at Libanus (West atlas page 34), south west of Brecon, provides another handy start point. There are some flat trails and lanes around the Visitor Centre, ideal for youngsters and beginners. Head west for more challenging routes, joining more good trails in the area south of Sennybridge. The geological heritage of the western part of the National Park was recognised with its designation as Fforest Fawr Geopark.
Ok, that’s enough writing for now, it must be time to get out on our bikes!