Trek into lonesome mountains, or explore a canal by boat or bike—the choice is yours in adventure-blessed Crickhowell.
It is difficult to conceive of a destination more tailor-made for holidaying hikers anywhere in Southern Britain than Crickhowell. This charming village is ramparted by fabled hiking areas the Black Mountains (east) and the Eastern Brecon Beacons (west). Another outdoor attraction dividing these two rugged hunks of upland is the River Usk, along which you’ll find Crickhowell’s well-tended and conveniently central campsite: it’s a short walk to the village’s vibrant, independent high street and atmospheric pubs. The Usk is diverted into the delightfully restored Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal along a part of its course running close to Crickhowell, and this provides another gentle and family-friendly outdoor playground.
The Black Mountains flank the eastern end of Brecon Beacons National Park, a dark, brooding wedge of hills running from Abergavenny to Hay-on-Wye, above to Crickhowell’s east. Campers can cut across the hills from Crickhowell to Stanton to access the road through the heart of the mountains, the Vale of Ewyas, or take an enticing network of hiking trails up to the ridgetop. Campsites hereabouts are simple and small-scale: try tenting up at Llanthony, with its majestic 12th-century ruined priory.
The Eastern Brecon Beacons themselves slot into the Brecon Beacons National Park west of the Black Mountains and north of Merthyr Tydfil. It is the park’s most-visited area, with the highest peak (2,907-foot Pen y Fan) and easy access from towns and villages popular with visitors, like Crickhowell, on the eastern edge. Camping in this wild expanse generally means pitching in the verdant valleys around the edge.
This 36-mile winsome waterway traces the line of the River Usk between Brecon and Abergavenny, and on to Cwmbran - navigable along its entirety and with a towpath perfect for pedalling along. It passes within 1.5 miles of Crickhowell at Llangattock. It shows a side to the Brecon Beacons National Park you otherwise seldom see: tranquil, tree-fringed water and dreamy time-lost villages. Canal-bound campers can find places to pitch near the canal’s northern end.
Pick calm weather for forays into the tempestuous Black Mountains and Eastern Brecon Beacons, though weather in the valley around Crickhowell is more calm. March announces the Crickhowell Walking Festival—a great time to explore the local paths free from summer’s crowds. Otherwise, May and September are often the driest months for long-distance hiking.