Cycle route from Brecon Beacons Club Campsite
Jonathan Manning explores the beautiful Brecon Beacons the easy way on this flat ride alongside one of Britain's prettiest canals
Tackle the beautiful Brecon Beacons the easy way on this flat ride which follows the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. The Brecon Beacons are famed for their rugged, wild hills, but this ridecould hardly be gentler. It follows the towpath alongside the peaceful Mon & Brec, as it’s affectionately known, while serving up views down onto the far more urgent River Usk.
This is a route to savour, not rush, with the canal frequently voted Britain's prettiest. It’s worth allowing time to watch narrowboats pass through Brynich Lock, and gaze out over the walls of Brynich Aqueduct, an engineering masterpiece constructed in 1800. It’s hard to imagine that this 200-year old waterway was once an important transport network, shipping coal, lime and iron ore.
With so much water, there’s wildlife everywhere, with dragonflies flitting about, swans paddling, birdsong in the woodland that lines the canal, and red kites and buzzards soaring overhead.
After about three miles, the route enters the small village of Pencelli, where there’s a pub whose garden backs up to the canal. Here, there are three options: continue further along the towpath as the canal meanders through the countryside, before retracing your steps; turn around and head directly back alongside the canal to Brecon; or for the satisfaction of completing a loop rather than linear ride, follow the route directions (listed below) along quiet lanes back to the Club site.
Please note that the towpath is a shared trail (beware walkers and dogs), and that the flat, paved path that heads out of Brecon gives way to grass, which could become muddy after rain. Taller cyclists will also need to duck under the many bridges that line the route.
You can also download the route for this ride from our dedicated Strava page here.
1 From Brecon Beacons Club Campsite turn left at the gates and then left immediately to follow the access road. Follow the footpath sign to Brecon, keeping the road on your right until you reach the A40. Cross four lanes of the dual carriageway, and then cross another four lanes to reach a footpath sign. Head down the steps to the canal, and turn right to head under the tunnel bridge, with the canal on your left. Continue for 2km to Brynich Lock.
2 1.9km – At Brynich Lock go straight across the road and continue along the canal, soon crossing the Usk via the aqueduct. Continue with the canal on your left, until Bridge 162, which you cross before continuing with the canal now on your right. Continue to Bridge 153 in Pencelli.
3 6.2km – Leave the towpath at Bridge 153, climb the steps and turn left at the road, passing the Royal Oak in 60m. After a further 120m, turn left by the red phone box and post box, crossing the bridge to reach a road.
4 6.4km – Turn right at the road and continue for 2km to a T-junction in Llanfrynach, with a church opposite.
5 8.5km – Turn left at the T-junction and stay on the road for 1.2km to reach a T-junction.
6 9.7km – Turn left at the T-junction, signposted to Brecon and the Taff Trail, and continue for 600m to reach Brynich Lock again.
7 10.3km – Turn left at the lock, keeping the canal on your right, and continue to Bridge 165A. At the end of the tunnel turn left up the steps and retrace your way back across the dual carriageway to the Club site.
About the route
- Start/finish: Brecon Beacons Club Campsite, Brecon, Powys LD3 7SH
Distance: 12km /7.4 miles Time: 11⁄2 hours
- Suitable for: All riders – please be careful when crossing the dual carriageways at the start and end.
- Terrain: Paved towpath, mud and asphalt. Hybrid or mountain bikes would be ideal.
- Landscape: Flat, pretty canalside path, views through trees to the River Usk.
- Refreshments: The Royal Oak, Pencelli.