7 Amazing Things to Do In and Around Brecon

7 Amazing Things to Do In and Around Brecon

I should really call it Brecknock. Brecknock of Brecknockshire. For that was before - before Brecon, Breconshire and Powys. And to be frank - its old name, probably reflects the character of this small Welsh market town. A town which is more than worthy of an afternoon, a day or days depending on mood and time available. For this is a place where distractions can keep your interest; where around every corner there is another point of curiosity.





  1. Brecon Town

  2. The Cambrian Way Long Distance Walking Path

  3. The Brecon Beacons

  4. Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal

  5. Taff Trail

  6. Havard Chapel at Brecon Cathedral

  7. The Elan Valley



1. Brecon Town


Brecon has its roots in the river Usk which slumbers through it. A pretty wide river more known in the Welsh south, but where here in Brecon, you could spend a rather pleasant walk along the Promenade, past the trees and old town and onwards...



If you venture on up, along the steeper lanes, out the residential back of this town - gold glistens. The views. The views are stunning. A quiet slice of the Welsh mountains. The Brecon Beacons.


But the town has more than enough to interest people - little shops, wanders and intriguing turns. Places to stop and spaces to seek out. There's the Regimental Museum and the opportunities to stop and have a bite,


2. The Cambrian Way


And for those who are intrepid, of hard walking stock - the Cambrian Way - the long distance walking path can take you onwards to a discovery of much more of the beautiful mountains of Wales.


The Cambrian Way take you on a journey along the mountainous spine of Wales from coast to coast - some 300 miles! And Brecon is somewhere near the middle...


3. The Brecon Beacons National Park




So whether it's camping, glamping, climbing, hiking, exploring or simply seeing the beautiful splendour of this part of Wales in daylight or increasingly under the staggering dark skies - there are loads of things to have a go at!


Brecon can be an entry point for accessing this amazing landscape or somewhere to stay before getting yourself out into the wilds of the Welsh countryside once again.


For more information, head over to the Brecon Beacons National Park site to have a look for yourself.


4. The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal aka The 'Mon and Brec'


Of Canal Boats, Industrial Heritage and Water

There is much to see here in the old market town of Brecon, but most notably down here on canal-side. For once where cruisers and boaters now glance past, industrial employ and dirty honest labour used to harbour. For what was once the longest waterway in the world, is now a delightful amble under quiet skies and curious intrigue.


There is enough here to fill-in-the-gaps of coal and iron. There are useful story boards which complete the questions of what and why. Old lime kilns. Warehouses and bridges. A wonderful bench which besides resting tired limbs also begs the sitter to look underneath one's own backside to see the map of where this great transport system departed for.


But take your time, take in the wildlife and the locals who will happily chatter about modern life and the past... Overtake the mallards if you can as you saunter past. And if time allows or the moment avails itself, sit, un-wind, pause and take in the pleasant place. A Canal for now. A Canal for all.






5. The Taff Trail


The Taff Trail is a uniquely Welsh walking and cycling trail which runs from Cardiff, the Welsh capital to Brecon. In so doing, it follows its path along its namesake the river Taff and then beyond...



From Cardiff Bay, past Castell Coch, from Pontypridd to Aberfan, from Merthyr Tydfil to the scenic and mountainous Brecon Beacons and thence along the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal to its finish. Or beginning - if you wish?! Along its route, past waterways of all kinds - reservoirs like Talybont as well as the remnants of Welsh heritage like the Taff Railway and legacies left behind at Aberfan.

 

It is a wonder of physical endurance or slow pilgrimage. But for those who discover it, worth a trip or two. Sample a section at Brecon.


6. The Havard Chapel at Brecon Cathedral


Reflect on the Regimental Chapel of the South Wales Borderers, the 24th Regiment of Foot

There is an overwhelming and important link between Brecon and the British Army. A history of pivotal battles and conflicts. A relationship that can only exist between a place and the men of that place who leave to fight in foreign lands for something more than themselves. For Brecon - that history is with the Royal Welsh Regiment - formerly, and more commonly known as the disparate regiments such as the South Wales Borderers and the 24th Regiment of Foot. The barracks remains an ever-present cornerstone of this stone. The Museum here is a reminder of that...

 


But for a more moving and fascinating discovery, head up to the Brecon Cathedral. It is well worth a walk from town (up hill) but other methods of transport are available. The cathedral, manned by knowledgeable volunteers, offer not just a look at an ancient building with a clear ecclesiastical past, but a memorial to their military heroes. The Havard Chapel. Significant because it demonstrates not just their past, but its ongoing relationship. For this is a chapel for now. Marvel and wonder at this place, for Brecon, really does on close-up reveal some rather undiscovered and unknown secrets.


The Havard Chapel at Brecon Cathedral is one of those memorable sites that lives long in the memory. The regiment chapel of the South Wales Borderers, the 24th Regiment of Foot. Its legacy is in the memorials and the colours which so brightly and nobly carry the past in this great military history.


The Havard Chapel was once a private chapel named for the family of Havards from Pontwylin. The 24th Regiment of Foot involved in such military incursions such as the Indian Mutiny in 1857 and the events at Isandlwana as well as Rorke’s Drift in the Anglo-Zulu War were based at Brecon Garrison. Men were recruited for the 24th Foot from Monmouthshire, Herefordshire and Brecknockshire (Breconshire). The nine Victoria Crosses of the 24th Foot of Zulu are celebrated here in dignity.


In 1880, the 24th Foot were re-designated as the South Wales Borderers. During the Boer War at the turn of the 20th century, the regimental colours for the South Wales Borderers were held in care and security whilst the went abroad to foreign climes.


When the Great War came to Brecon, the regular British army in the name of the South Wales Borderers ordered them to on to the Western Front. The 1st Battalion to France and Belgium. The 2nd to China, then Gallipoli, then France. The Territorials of Brecon to India, Aden and to India once more. And then the volunteers of the Service Battalions – to the Western Front, Salonika and more…


All in all, the South Wales Borders lost 5,777 men in the First World War. And a look around this tragic and wonderful place brings you back to those names of the Great War. For in 1922, the Havard Chapel was officially dedicated as the South Wales Borderers’ Regimental Chapel. A place to remember, to honour, to grieve and be proud.


And then for the succession of the Second World War – the loss of 79 officers and 946 men of the battalion. All linked to this place. To Brecon. To this Chapel.


The memorials that lie in Havard Chapel are more than just stone and marble. They remember men. They honour individuals. And moreover, a connection between a place, a safe place and people who left to fight – some who returned, and some who never did.






7. The Elan Valley


And if you fancy going out for the day from Brecon a little further afield, consider heading up to the Elan Valley near Rhyader for amazing sculptural Victorian reservoirs, walks and more unique Welsh landscapes...








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