A Guide to Wild Camping in the Brecon Beacons National Park
A Guide to Wild Camping in the Brecon Beacons National Park

A Guide to Wild Camping in the Brecon Beacons National Park

Wild camping in the Brecon Beacons National Park is one of the best outdoor experiences you can have in Wales. The area contains 4 mountain ranges—the Central Brecon Beacons (Bannau Brycheiniog), the Black Mountain, Fforest Fawr and the Black Mountains Range—offering a tonne of beautiful spots to pitch tent.

The vast number of hills, mountains and waterfalls means that a wild camping trip in the Brecon Beacons is much more than just setting up camp under the stars. You’re spoilt for choice in terms of hikes and walks and sleeping on site allows you to beat the crowds to the trails.

In this guide to wild camping in the Brecon Beacons, I’ll provide you with all the information you need for a successful trip based on my personal experiences. I’ll clue you in to the legality of Brecon Beacons wild camping, how to choose a camp spot, the best time of year for it and recommend some great places for you to camp in.

Can you wild camp in the Brecon Beacons?

The short answer is yes, you can wild camp in the Brecon Beacons National Park. However, this requires a little explaining as there are a couple laws and regulations you should know about. 

It is legal to wild camp in the Brecon Beacons national park only when you have the permission of the landowner.

Around 70% of the Brecon Beacons is private lands. Therefore, the vast majority of the park is off limits for wild camping unless landowners allow you. Roughly 14% of the Brecon Beacons belongs to the National Park Authority who do not allow wild camping.

A green and white tent pitched beside a lake at dusk.
Llyn Y fan Fawr

Realistically, do you actually need local landowners permission?

It may be illegal to wild camp in Brecon Beacons National Park without landowner permission. But, the fact is, nobody is going to be around to stop you. The park does technically have wardens, but they don’t patrol looking for wild campers.

I’ve wild camped in fairly well-known spots not too far from roads and have never had an issue. The main thing is to behave properly.

  • Don’t pitch up in small fenced off areas
  • Don’t pitch up near to any houses
  • Don’t light fires
  • Don’t leave litter

You can check out the Leave No Trace site for more info about wild camping etiquette.

The best time of year for wild camping in the Brecon Beacons

So now you know the legality and etiquette of Brecon Beacons wild camping, when’s the best time to plan your trip for? Ideally, you’ll want to wild camp in the Brecon Beacons during the summer. Late June through to early September is the driest and warmest period of the year.

The drier and warmer months are the best for a number of reasons:

  • There’s less chance you’ll get caught in a typical Welsh downpour
  • Clear skies at night means lots of stars. The Brecon Beacons National Park is a fantastic place to stargaze thanks to little light pollution
  • It’s warmer at night. During summer the average nighttime temperature is between 4 °C – 10 °C while in winter it hovers around freezing
  • You’ve got more chance of catching a sweet sunset/sunrise
  • It’s the optimal time of year for hiking in Wales
Mist hanging close to he top of a mountain. Another mountain is in the background. It is Fan y Big mountain.

The worst time of year to go wild camping in the Brecon Beacons is October – February. These tend to be the wettest months in Wales and it rains consistently. From personal experience, I don’t recommend wild camping during this period.

Unless the weather forecast is dry and clear with a high degree of certainty, I recommend waiting until later in the year.   

I wild camped at Llyn y Fan Fach a November weekend. The forecast was cloudy with a low chance of rain, so I took a chance. This was the wrong move to make as it ended up being bad weather. It rained most of the day and night and there were high winds too.

The next morning everything was shrouded in fog. I called off my planned hike and didn’t get to enjoy any views for my efforts.

How to choose a wild camp spot in the Brecon Beacons National Park

Picking the right camp site can make or break your Brecon Beacons wild camping experience. There are a few things to consider when choosing a wild camping spot here.

These include the terrain, how popular the area is, and how far you pitch up from a water source and from where you park your vehicle.

Craig Fan Ddu ridge line. Bright sunshine lights the scene with a yellowish glow.

I typically plan a wild camping trip around a specific activity such as stargazing or hiking—usually hiking. This means that when I’m deciding on a wild camp spot, I’m normally looking at locations not too far from hiking trails.

There are plenty of activities to base your camp spot on in the Brecon Beacons. For example, along with all the hiking trails, the national park has several impressive waterfalls and lakes, and a few interesting, historical dams.

The terrain

Once you know the area you want to camp in, it’s important to have an idea of how you’ll get there and what the terrain is like. This is where your map comes into play.

If you’re using an app like All Trails or OS Maps, then look to see if there are existing routes marked out. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to plot your walk route from where you’ll park to your potential camp spot. It’s always a good idea to have a physical map as backup too.

To decide on a potential spot, look for flat terrain using the contour lines of the map. The further apart the lines, the flatter the land and vice versa.

Much of the national park is flat area, typically wild moorland and not craggy. This is ideal. Although, keep in mind that flat terrain can be boggy. This is especially true in the Brecon Beacons after a wet period.

The ideal spot is on flat ground that is shielded from high winds but not in a ditch. A ditch might seem good for wind protection, but if it rains, your tent can flood.

Mountain peaks and a ridge line. The peaks are Pen-y-Fan, Corn Ddu and Cribyn.

Grass is the best underfoot to pitch on as it’s soft and easy to get your pegs into the ground. However, depending on where your camp spot is, heather might cover much of the grass. I don’t recommend pitching up on heather if you can avoid it.

Spongey heather will flatten under your weight and can be quite comfortable, but it might be a struggle getting your pegs to stay in the ground. If you’re in an area with lots of heather coverage, then I recommend looking for a grassy break.  

Distance from a water source

You’ll need to make sure you’ve got enough water when wild camping in the Brecon Beacons. This is especially true for multi-day camps. When deciding on a camp spot, try and choose one that is within walking distance to a water source.

Distance from where you park your car

Ideally you want to be a short walk from your car. By short I mean no more than, for example, a couple of kilometres. A couple of kilometres can easily take an hour to cover if the terrain is challenging. And you want to be able to head back to your car quickly if for any reason you need to.  

Finally, have a couple of camp spots in mind and don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board to pick a different region of the Brecon Beacons if your map shows unfavourable terrain.

The best places for wild camping in the Brecon Beacons

A quick note for transparency: I haven’t wild camped at all of the locations listed below. However, I’ve picked these spots because they offer the features that I look for in a wild camping location.

I’ve mapped each spot and respective places to car park on the map below. Keep in mind that some of the points I’ve marked have limited parking space.

Llyn y Fan Fawr/Fach

A green and white tent pitched beside a lake at night. The Lake is Llyn y Fan Fawr in the Brecon Beacons.
Pitched at Llyn y Fan Fawr at night.

Llyn y Fan Fach and Llyn y Fan Fawr are two beautiful lakes on the Black Mountain in the west of the Brecon Beacons separated from each other by a few kilometres. The tranquil lakes and rugged ridge lines make for some great views, especially during early evening when the sun is beginning to set.

Llyn Y Fan Fawr/Fach are two of my favourite wild camping spots in the Brecon Beacons. I love them because there is a circular hiking trail connecting the lakes. You can start and finish the hike at either lake and the route takes you along the ridges overlooking the bodies of water.

Llyn Cwm Llwch

Llyn Cwm Llwch is another lake in the Brecon Beacons and one of the most scenic places in Wales. The special thing about this wild camp spot is that it’s at the foot of the Central Brecon Beacons. Pen y Fan (the highest mountain in Southern Britain) and Corn Du are just behind creating an epic backdrop.

Llyn Cwm Llwch is one of the more popular places to wild camp in the Brecon Beacons. From the lake you can hike Pen y Fan to enjoy panoramic views of the national park.

Cray Reservoir

A reservoir at the bottom of a valley. There is a small white house in the distance.
Cray Reservoir

Also towards the west of the Brecon Beacons, the Cray Reservoir is a good option if you want to wild camp and stargaze. The Cray Reservoir boasts little light pollution, amazing views and a lack of crowds.

When facing north, you’ll see large hills on the left-hand-side bank of the reservoir. I recommend climbing these hills to pitch. There is a flat section just below the top of the hills. It’s a fantastic place to overlook the reservoir. I took the picture above from this spot.

The hills are a short walk from the main road where you can park your car. However, the hills are steep and the climb is tough.

Twyn Mwyalchod

The sun rising over the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Sunrise at Twyn Mwyalchod

Twyn Mwyalchod is a large hill (642 m) located beside the Upper Nueadd Reservoir. From the hill you have views over the glacial valley in which the Upper Neuadd dam sits. You also have stunning views of the southern region of the Brecon Beacons.  

The hill is a feature of the Pen y fan Horseshoe hike trail. So, you’re pitched in a good spot if you want to take on that challenge.

When conditions allow, Twyn Mwyalchod is a great wild camping spot. However, it is a little exposed, so I don’t recommend it unless the weather is prime.

Can you wild camp in the Central Brecon Beacons?

While I do, of course, recommend wild camping within the park as a whole, I generally don’t recommend wild camping in the Central Brecon Beacons.

‘Brecon Beacons’ is used interchangeably to describe both the Brecon Beacons National Park as a whole and the park’s namesake mountain range: the Central Brecon Beacons.

The Central Brecon Beacons include:

  • Corn Du (873 m)
  • Pen y Fan (886 m)
  • Cribyn (795 m)
  • Fan y Bîg (719 m)
  • Bwlch y Ddwyallt (754 m)
  • Waun Rydd (769 m)
Craig Fan Ddu ridge. Pen y Fn and Corn Du are in the distance.
Corn Du (left) and Pen y Fan (right)

These peaks are what draw the vast majority of people to the national park and so you’re less likely to find a secluded spot away from the crowds.

Also, the summits and surrounding vicinities of these mountains are largely flat and exposed, and rocky underfoot in areas. For example, Pen y fan and Corn Du are tabletop peaks that are completely flat and rocky. Cribyn and Fan y Big aren’t much better shielded from the wind either.

There are saddles (flat sections) between the peaks of these mountains where you could potentially camp weather allowing. But these are bang smack on the hiking trails, so there’d be no escaping the crowds.

Can you wild camp in the Black Mountains?

Although I’ve never camped there, you can wild camp in the Black Mountains. To clarify, the Black Mountains is a mountain range in the east of the Brecon Beacons National Park. It is not the Black Mountain in the west where you’ll find Llyn y Fan Fach/Fawr.

The Black mountains consists of large hills and a couple of mountains. These include the Sugar Loaf (596 m), the Skirrid (489 m) and Waun Fach (811 m). Waun Fach is the highest point and where you’ll find the Dragon’s Back hike.

A mountain and valley.
The Dragon’s Back ridge (left) leading to Waun Fawr.

Tools for wild camping in the Brecon Beacons

 I recommend using the following resources to help you plan your Brecon Beacons wild camping trip.

Maps

Weather

More adventure travel advice on A World Over

With a bit of planning and good luck weather-wise you can have an amazing time wild camping in the Brecon Beacons. So stay safe and enjoy the amazing scenery the national park has to offer.

If you found this guide useful, or have any other feedback on it, then let me know in the comments. I have plenty more adventure travel guides for the Brecon Beacons on my blog here.

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