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Car-free Guide to the Brecon Beacons National Park

Posted by at 10:27 on Tuesday 30 July 2013

Our guide to travelling to and around the Brecon Beacons National Park without a car.

>> For great places to stay and eat, as well as ideas for days out, see our:
Greentraveller Guide to the Brecon Beacons

Arrive in style on the Traws Cymru T4 bus, the 'route with a view'. Photo © Traws CymruArrive in style on the Traws Cymru T4 bus, the 'route with a view'. Photo © Traws Cymru

A. Travelling to the Brecon Beacons without a car:

Arriva train at Abergavenny railway station. Photo: GreentravellerArriva train at Abergavenny railway station. Photo: GreentravellerBy train:
The main gateway station to the Brecon Beacons is Abergavenny, in the south east of the Brecon Beacons from where there is bus service into the National Park (see below). Abergavenny is reached via a 25-minute train journey up from Newport in South Wales, which has connections (operated by Arriva Trains) from much of the rest of the country, including Swansea, Cardiff, the West Midlands and Manchester. A second gateway station is Llandovery, to the north west, on the Swansea-Shrewsbury 'Heart of Wales' line.

By coach or bus:
Cardiff and Swansea have a range of National Express and Megabus connections. There are regular buses and trains from the two cities into the Brecon Beacons.

The principal long-distance bus service connecting the Brecon Beacons is the TrawsCymru T4 bus from Newtown to Cardiff via Brecon. Touted as the 'Route with a View', it offers free wifi and comfortable leather seats, and puts the Beacons within striking distance of much of South and Mid Wales.

B. Travelling around the Brecon Beacons without a car:

Whilst it is simple enough to take a train to reach the Brecon Beacons, railway travel is not really a viable option for getting around the National Park. However, its rugged terrain and many sites are well-connected by a bus network, which is augmented during the peak summer months.

Other Bus Services:

There is a network of year-round weekday bus services across the park. For timetables and more information see Traveline Cymru before you set out! Key routes for visitors include the following:

30: Brynmawr - Blaenavon - Pontypool - Newport
39: Brecon - Hay-on-Wye - Kingstone - Hereford
X75: Merthyr Tydfil - Hirwaun - Glynneath - Neath - Swansea
X4: Hereford - Abergavenny - Merthyr Tydfil - Cardiff
X43: Brecon - Crickhowell - Abergavenny
X55 – Swansea – Glynneath via Neath 
X63: Brecon - Ystradgynlais - Neath - Swansea
T4: Cardiff - Newtown (see above)

C. Cycling:

The Brecon Beacons National Park is a fantastic cycling destination. Its rugged scenery is complemented by a network of well-maintained roads, and is criss-crossed by long distance trails, bridleways and canal towpaths, meaning even those who don’t want the challenge of rocky upland terrain have plenty of options. The Monmouth and Brecon canal in particular winds through the lovely Usk valley between the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons themselves, and offers easy, flat cycling with wonderful views. Some of the roads and paths do have steep inclines, so it is definitely worth checking this out – and packing lightly – before heading out on your bike. 

Wonderful views from well-maintained roads and paths. Photo © John SannaeeWonderful views from well-maintained roads and paths. Photo © John SannaeeYou can bring your bike on trains, but mainline services normally require you to reserve a space for your two-wheeled friend in advance; local services have more limited space but you usually don’t need to reserve – be sure to check this out with the train company to avoid problems. If you’re arriving by bus, most services do not, unfortunately, carry bicycles, so bear this in mind when planning your trip.

Should you wish to hire a bike upon arrival, the Brecon Beacons Mountain Biking website has an extensive list of cycling providers in and around the Brecon Beacons. For more detailed information, routes and inspiration for your Brecon Beacons biking experience, check out the MTB Brecon Beacons website. They have graded the fourteen major cycle routes across the National Park according to difficulty, from yellow (easiest), through green, blue, and red to black (most challenging). You can also find out what Sustrans is doing for cyclists across the Brecon Beacons and Wales on the Sustrans Cymru website.

There are also five biking centres in the National Park, at Brecon, Crickhowell, Sennybridge, Talgarth, and Talybont-on-Usk. For more information, check out Greentraveller’s guide to cycling in the Brecon Beacons.

Maps and Further Information
The 39 and X43 bus services are complemented by dedicated 'food trails' (leaflets provided), allowing you to hop on and off the buses to sample some of the area's finest local produce.

For further information, useful maps, and more, there are several useful Brecon Beacons visitor information centres around the National Park:
The National Park Visitor Centre (Mountain Centre) at Libanus
Craig-y-nos Country Park Visitor Centre
Llandovery Tourist Information & Heritage Centre

The Brecon Beacons National Park Authority have published useful leaflets for days out and travelling without your car. They also have guides to family walks by bus and more challenging mountain walks accessible by bus.

>> For more information and inspiration for your trip to the Brecon Beacons, check out a diverse range of wonderful green places to eat and stay, and things to do and see, in the Greentraveller Guide to the Brecon Beacons and the Greentraveller Guide to Mid Wales

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