Review and Video of Hall Farm Barn, Brecon Beacons, Mid Wales
John Sannaee discovers that at Hall Farm Barn, country farm life snuggles up against the drama of the Brecon Beacon peaks to produce a comforting welcome in a breathtaking location, perfect for walkers, families, and those wanting simply to escape and unwind.
>> For contact details and availability, see our full listing for Hall Farm Barn
>> Jane Powell at Hall Farm Barn is a Brecon Beacons National Park Ambassador
Perched high on the slopes of Sugar Loaf Mountain, Hall Farm Barn must be blessed with one of Wales’ most spectacular settings. A narrow gorge gashes into the hillside just yards from the door, separating the broad fields and pastures of Hall Farm from the facing pinewoods. Here you feel that rare combination of the truly wild and the comforts of home, in the hinterland between the Brecon Beacons’ bare high slopes and the verdant valleys below.
Watch our video of Hall Farm Barn:
Stepping into the Barn, your eyes are drawn to the windows, both deep-sunken portholes and dramatic glass doorways: light streams in, and the Barn itself serves to frame the surrounding scenery in myriad tableaux. Jane Powell and her family have given a great deal of attention to detail, large, well-planned living spaces and homely design. Traditional furnishings add depth to this former cattle shed, lovingly restored and converted a decade ago, and there is generous use of wood (including original beams), which still emit a faint but rich timber smell. Sink into ample sofas or make use of an extremely well-equipped kitchen, you will not be disappointed.
Hall Farm Barn has three bedrooms, all with a cosy feel and differing vantage points over the surrounding scenery. Thelarge master bedroom has a sumptuously thick double bed and hillside farm views, the smallest room is a cute little bolthole with a roof-window giving out onto panoramas over the valley, and the third bedroom is a good-sized twin with dramatic views a cross the gorge to the pine forest opposite. If you are coming alone or as a couple, you may also want to consider the cosy little studio across the courtyard from the main Barn: with everything you need, this charming room with its own bathroom is a snatch at only £22.50 per person.
Hall Farm Barn is a self-catering property, but the hosts can provide breakfast, and nearby Crickhowell and Abergavenny provide everything you need – including fresh, local produce at a range of independent stores. If you do fancy a meal out, owner Jane recommends The Bear in Crickhowell, for its welcoming atmosphere where locals and visitors mix over good food and a refreshing drink.
There's something for just about everyone: the setting is certainly romantic, and it has a games room and TV for children – or adults on wet days – so if you can’t get the kids outdoors all day, every day, there’s still enough to keep them entertained. Whilst the Barn is adapted to the needs of almost anyone, its location perhaps lends itself best to walkers and fans of fresh air and the uplifting Welsh mountain scenery. You can take an easy little hike up to the peak of Sugar Loaf mountain from outside the Barn gate, and a huge number of other trails are within easy reach – cyclists too have plenty of options if they don’t mind the occasional steep slope; the Beacons accommodate lovers of the outdoors of all ability levels.
There's a whole range of environmentally friendly products provided in a Barn whose ancient walls were built thick enough to keep out the cold and keep heating consumption down, this is complemented by fibre optic insulation in the attic. In Autumn and Winter, the wood burner in the lounge helps heat the whole property – and all the wood used is windfall. Food provided for breakfasts is locally sourced, and light is provided with LED and low energy bulbs.
Only four-and-a-half miles from Abergavenny (with great railway connections across the UK) and two or so to lovely Crickhowell, Hall Farm Barn is well connected – Jane and co. are happy to pick you up from the station, and there are also hourly buses along the main A40 that runs parallel to the Usk along the valley floor, as well as taxis. It is a bit of a hike from the main road, but certainly doable in good weather if you’re on good form. I arrived by bike (you can lock these safely inside), simple enough along the A40, but the winding lane that snakes up the hillside gets increasingly steep, and I had to push for the last ten minutes; I really felt I merited the dramatic views and scents of wildflower that greeted my every pant!
Come for the walking, be captivated by the views: this was my first trip to the Beacons, and the dazzling array of panoramas from Hall Farm Barn and its approach alone is a revelation. On host Jane’s recommendation I spent my evening slowly watching the sun sink past the mountains into the West and saw the changing colours of what has recently become a European Dark Skies Reserve. Late May is too close to midsummer to truly appreciate the constellations, but the thick, deep indigo of the night itself is something to be marvelled at by city dwellers like me.
A stay at Hall Farm Barn is a true escape: easily accessible by public transport, furnished with every home comfort, it is blessed with some of the UK’s finest walking country quite literally on the doorstep, and its mountainside location gives is not only beautiful, but feels remote, too.
>> For contact details and availability, see our full listing for Hall Farm Barn.
>> Hall Farm Barn is featured in our Greentraveller Guide to Mid Wales.