Before starting to plan your wild camping Brecon Beacons adventure, make sure you’ve read my wild camping UK guide. Here you will find a broad overview of best practice, gear and going to the toilet outside.
The Brecon Beacons is a fantastic place to go wild camping! Although not as vast as nearby Snowdonia National Park, it is rural enough that finding a spot can be done. From below the Brecon Beacons could be mistaken for gentle rolling hills, but these mountains shouldn’t be underestimated. Their fast-changing climate and, in some areas, featureless terrain, make a tough challenge at times.
There’s a reason why the Brecon Beacons are used a lot for military practices, even by the SAS.
In this wild camping Brecon Beacon guide I will cover all the basics to make your South Wales campout go as smoothly as it can. One thing I would note is that if this is your first-time wild camping, you may wish to head to Snowdonia instead as there are more options and it is generally more tolerated. Don’t let that put you off though. With a bit of common sense and good practice, it is definitely possible to wild camp in the Brecon Beacons!
Is wild camping in the Brecon Beacons legal?
No, it’s not legal to camp in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Unless you first seek the permission of landowners (about 70% of the Brecon Beacons is privately owned)
However, as long as you follow the correct etiquette for wild camping (no fires!) it is widely tolerated. You should not jump fences, aim to be away from roads, not in view of houses or farms and should not ‘hang about’. That means pitching late, leaving early and only staying for 1 night.
I’ve done it lots of times without problems
The only legal place you can camp in the UK is in Dartmoor and in Scotland.
How to choose a wild camping spot in the Brecon Beacons
The Brecon Beacons have the advantage of very little craggy peaks or steep drop-offs which make it easy to find potential wild camp spots.
There are areas that are very boggy so it’s worth keeping this in mind. A flat area with lots of tarns could be a sign of boggy ground. Sometimes these areas are also marked on your map (check the key so you understand the symbols).
To choose a wild camp spot I’d firstly work out a hiking route, deciding how far I was willing to travel to the camp spot. Looking at an OS map (details of the maps I use below under the ‘resources’ heading) I’d plot out this route, marking the area where I’d like to roughly finish for the day.
Using the contour lines I’d be looking for flat spots in this area (the closer the contour lines are together, the steeper the terrain). Ideally with a running water source nearby for drinking and cooking water.
You want to avoid being on the peak where you are most exposed to strong winds. But also not in a ditch or spot that might flood if it rains. Try to be a couple of kilometers away from the nearest road.
Before heading out I usually aim to have 2-4 potential wild camping spots which I can check properly when I get there.
Places to wild camp in the Brecon Beacons
The Brecon Beacons have a number of farmers who are happy for wild campers to use their field. Facilities vary greatly but there are some that have none.
This is a great option for anyone who wants the experience of wild camping without the worry of having to find a place. Or the worry of being moved on (which is definitely something that plays on your mind the first few times you try it).
For a full list of willing farms check out this Brecon Beacon Camping directory.
For wild camping, here are a few suggestions of areas I have considered previously. Rather than use them directly, use them as a suggestion. See how the spaces look on an OS map and then try to work out your own hidden spots.
- Sinc y Giedd
- Black Mountain (not to be confused with the Black Mountains) has plenty of good spots
- Cwm Llwch – field under trees on the river, conveniently placed for hiking Corn Du, Peny Fan, Cribyn and Fan y Big….a farmer may come by in the morning to ask few a few £
- Lots of spots near Maen Llia standing stones
Getting to the Brecon Beacons
Like always, but especially when involving our National Parks, I’d urge you to use public transport if possible to help protect our natural spaces.
The Brecon Beacons are very easily accessible by trains and within a short bus, hike or cycle ride you’ll find yourself in the heart of the mountains. The nest train stations for accessing the Brecon Beacons are Llandeilo and Llandovery (west side of the park) and Pontypool and Abergavenny (east side of the park).
To check times and fares use the National Rail website.
There are also coaches from major cities in the Uk who go to Abergavenny.
To look up local public transport options use the www.traveline-cymru.info website. There are lots of buses operating in the area. Including the famous T4 Cardiff to Newton (passing through the Brecon Beacons), known as ‘route with a view’.
Authorities are also encouraging visitors to hire a small electric eco-car if they plan to get around using a car
Parking in the Brecon Beacons
Parking in the Brecon Beacons is very limited, especially for overnight trips. Many of the car parks in the area have a 24-hour limit and it is not wise to leave your car for long unattended.
Many of the campsites in the area are willing to let you park for a fee. This is a good option for anyone traveling to the Brecon Beacons by car.
Where to base yourself in the Brecon Beacons
If you want to have a base before or after your wild camp I’d suggest using one of the following places. These are also great places to pick up last-minute camping gear or food supplies.
- Hay-on-Wye – a historical town with nice traditional shops and cages. Suggested accommodation: The Swan at Hat (£100)
- Brecon – A bustling market town set in the heart of the Usk Valley. Suggested accommodation: Borderers Guest House (£88) or Bryndu Farm (£24)
- Abergavenny – a larger town on the East of the Brecon Beacons, accessible by train. Suggested accommodation: Llansabbath Country Farmhouse B&B (£98)
Resources for wild camping Brecon Beacons
Make sure you have an OS map and compass with you to help plan and navigate your adventure in the Brecon Beacons. There are 2 maps that cover the area:
For books to inspire you and help with planning check out:
- For hiking, ideas check out Circular Routes in the Brecon Beacons
- Wild Guide to Wales and the Marches (inspiring book with adventure ideas for the region)
- Walking on the Brecon Beacons is also a good guide to have
- Britain’s Best Small Hill’s (a great all-around wild camping guide for suggestions across the UK on where to sleep wild for a night)
For reliable weather forecasts go to:
- Brecon Beacon MetOffice Weather Forecast
- There is also a webcam at the Visitor Centre which is pointed across the valley to Pen y Fan which makes it easy to check the weather in the central Beacons in real time. www.beacons-npa.gov.uk/pages/livewebcams
I’ve also written guides for wild camping in other National Parks in the UK, including:
For a bit of inspiration
If you want to get a feel for what wild camping might be like in the Brecon Beacons then you can watch these videos. The second video shows an especially beautiful spot!
A few top tips
- The Brecon Beacons are often underestimated. From the ground, they can look very gentle but the weather can turn drastically. Always check the forecast, have suitable gear and stay off the peaks if any lighting is predicted.
- Pen Y Fan is the most popular hike so avoid that area if you don’t want crowds. For something more unusual I’d recommend searching out the 3 airplane wrecks (more details here).
- If you want to try an even ‘wilder’ experience, you could leave the tent behind and opt for a bivvy bag instead. Check out this guide to bivvy bag camping for more advice
- Always tell someone where you are planning to go and what time you plan to be back
It’s very important that you understand and follow the leave no trace protocol. This includes not lighting any fires, removing all rubbish with you off the mountain and following toilet etiquette. For more details check out Wild Camping UK
- The Brecon Beacons is used regularly by the military so don’t be alarmed if you get walked in on by a drill….I’ve heard about it happening to friends!
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