The Brecon Beacons National Park covers 520 square miles of South and Mid Wales. It gets its name from the Central Beacons mountain range which dominates the skyline. Reaching a peak of 886 metres at Pen y Fan, this is the highest point in southern Britain. Most of the Park is bare, grassy moorland grazed by Welsh mountain ponies and sheep, with scattered forestry plantations and pasture in the valleys. It is known for its remote reservoirs, waterfalls, and caves, as well as being an International Dark Sky Reserve and including a UNESCO World Heritage site at Blaenavon. While the Park is not a biodiversity hot spot, it is home to some interesting wildlife including ravens, wheatears, ring ouzels, and merlins. Alongside this, you can find an amazing red kite feeding station as well as a recently reintroduced population of European beaver!
Average rating: 5.0 (very good)
Average cost: access to the Park and its walking trails are free. This means costs typically depend on food, accommodation, transport, and parking. Entrance to the Red Kite Feeding Centre costs around $7.
Best time to visit: you can visit year-round but the best – and warmest – months are May to September. There’s a good guide to the weather in the Park here.
How to get there: the easiest way to get to and around the Park is by car. Public transport is available and the main train stations are Abergavenny, Merthyr Tydfil, and Llandovery. If you are getting public transport check out this guide and take a look at the Explore Wales Pass for discounted tickets.
Typical activities: bird watching, hiking, mountain biking, walking
Number of reports: 1
Last update: 2021
WILDLIFE IN Brecon beacons
According to reports submitted to WildSide, the most popular species that can be seen here are:
Beaver – 0% OF WildSide Users (0/1) REPORTED SIGHTINGS
European beavers were once widespread across Wales. However, hunting for their fur, meat, and scent glands, meant they became extinct in Wales in the Middle Ages, and in the rest of Britain by the end of the 16th Century. After successful reintroductions in Scotland and England, the Welsh Beaver Trust is working to bring these ‘ecosystem engineers’ back to Wales.
While there are no fully free-living beavers in Wales, there are some in a 13-acre enclosure in the Brecon Beacons. The Eligro Nature Reserve was established in 2013 to restore natural wetland habitat and reintroduce lost species. Since then, over 1,500 native trees and a whole host of wildflowers were planted to help re-establish the wetland habitat. Beavers and water vole were also introduced and have bred successfully. The area is fenced as is required by law for beaver populations in Wales. You can visit the Reserve to look for the beavers although being nocturnal they can be hard to spot! Still, it’s impossible to miss the changes they make to the land around them through their industrious dam-building activities.
Red kite – 100% OF WildSide Users (1/1) REPORTED SIGHTINGS
The red kite was once regarded as vermin and was exterminated in England, Scotland, and most of Wales by the end of the 18th Century. In 1903 the first Kite Committee was formed in Wales to help protect the remaining birds. Over a period of 100 years, conservation efforts have meant that today, there are over 300 breeding pairs in Wales!
They can be seen throughout the Brecon Beacons although the best place is undoubtedly the Red Kite Feeding Station at Llanddeusant. Opened in 2002 by a local partnership with support from the Brecon Beacons National Park and the Welsh Red Kite Trust, the station provides food at regular times throughout the year. There is a viewing hide that provides up-close and personal encounters with hundreds of diving and wheeling birds. While the facilities are basic, sightings are all but guaranteed and the station gets rave reviews on TripAdvisor.
Photo credit: AlanJohnPhoto under a Creative Commons licence from Pixabay