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In my opinion, the Brecon Beacons is the most underrated national park in Britain. It’s easy to find yourself up on a peak with a vast mountainscape at your feet. Or to wander up a lonely path and meet no one but a sheep. I say easy, because the mountains are very accessible.
Not only are these some of the top reasons to photograph this unique area of southern Wales, but it also means that with a bit of exploration, you can find a completely unique point of view and create something nobody else has.
01. Porth Yr Ogof Cave
I’m a big fan of caves. They’re moody, mysterious, and if you can find one with enough light – extremely photogenic. Porth Yr Ogof is one such cave. A river runs into its gaping mouth and disappears into darkness.
This is one cave where you’ll need a torch. The light in the entrance quickly disappears and you don’t want to step foot into the gushing river! This photograph was taken without being able to see what I shooting at all. I kept checking my Sony’s LCD screen and adjusting for composition. If I had had a brighter torch, I might have played around with some light painting and I would encourage you to give it a try. The cave is located within Brecon Beacon’s waterfall country. So you’ll want to make a side trip to the falls. More on that later.
02. Y Grib Ridge
The Brecon Beacons National Park isn’t renowned particularly for its ridges, but there are a couple of note. The Y Grib ridge snakes its way up towards the summit of Waun Fach and is a masterpiece of nature. For best effect, visit at sunset when the rays coming in the form the west break over the banks of the ridge.
My favourite thing about this location is its potential. At the foot of the ridge is an ancient iron age fort, Castle Dinas. Wandering around the ruins gives you ideas for shots left, right and center. A little further on and you’ll begin to notice trees, bent over time by violent winds, clinging to the sides of the ridge. They have such character and are quite unique to this part of the Beacons. They remind me of scraggly trees on Dartmoor and strike a great pose.
03. Gospel Pass
Gospel pass makes the third spot on this top photography in the Brecon Beacons list. It is the highest road in Wales, which may be surprising to anyone who knows that Snowdonia’s mountains are much higher than the Brecon Beacons. As you would expect of a road with such a title, the views are astonishing and have endless opportunities for photography.
There is no bad time to visit the northern end of Gospel pass. Here the road meets the great mountains of Hay Bluff and the curiously named, Lord Hereford’s Knob. Sunset and Twilight both suit this landscape, as does the winter. Visit after snowfall to capture a total wonderland. Beware, the road does get quite icy, so you might have to hike up from the town of Hay-On-Wye.
04. Sugarloaf Mountain
There is no mountain quite like Sugarloaf. Sitting in the middle of a series of great valleys and hills, The Sugar Loaf offers outstanding 360-degree views. A rising or setting sun is the best way to photograph from this mountain. Visiting in autumn is another great plan, as the green bracken covering its volcano-like slopes turns a vibrant orange.
05. Wild Horses
While this can’t technically really be called a top photography location, it’s still worth knowing. Wild horses roam much of the Black Mountains. You’re most likely to catch them on the less well-trodden paths without bogs. Haterall Hill is where I found this guy, as the morning fog began to lift (who knew horses could howl eh?).
06. Waterfall Country
The Brecon Beacons is famous for its waterfall country. This top photography spot has so much to offer in only a ten-mile radius. Henryhd Falls is the largest. Visit in November after rainfall for the biggest waterfall possible, but expect crowds. This is one of the prime tourist locations in the Beacons so if you’re shooting on film you might have to wait a while for the crowds to die down. Best to catch the falls early or late if that’s your plan as the late morning to early afternoon is the busiest.
If you can handle the crowds, early afternoon in summer does have a perk. The rainbow. For a short while from around 3-5 o’clock the sun is positioned directly behind the falls and (if a cloud isn’t overhead!) provides perfect conditions to catch a rainbow. Oh, and did I mention you can walk behind the waterfall?
07. The Black Mountains (Mynydd Du)
As well as being a great place to spot wild horses, The Black Mountains (or the Mynydd Du) are also a top landscape photography spot. Not to be confused with the Black Mountain in the west (also called the Carmarthen Fan), these eastern mountains must be some of the greenest in the world. In summer, these oversized hills are lined with lush bushes, grasses and shrubs.
08. The Carmarthen Fan (The Black Mountain)
Bannau Sir Gaer, Waun Lefrith and Fan Foel are a formidable trio. Catch them at the right angle (from the west) and they line up in a beautiful formation. Pictured here is Banana Sir Gaer, also known as Picws Du. As the first mountain I climbed, it has hold of my heart and I hope it is easy to see why. This towering goliath will blow you away.
In terms of shooting, your main decision is to shoot from above or below. From above, the full height of the mountain is visible. From below, you can play with reflections and dainty white flowers (in summer) on the Lake, Llyn Y Fan Fach.
09. The Central Beacons
If you’ve heard of one mountain in the Brecon Beacons, its likely to be Pen Y Fan, the tallest. And with good reason. Pen Y Fan and the rest of the central beacons sit in a huge photogenic ring.
Most photography opportunities are of the mountains within this immediate range as anything else can be hard to get a proper look at from here. Because of this, I advise finding somewhere to pitch up a tent. That way you get two chances to score lucky with a great sunrise or sunset. You also have plenty of time to scout around for an interesting composition. This is a sight you’ll want to be making the most of.
10. Craig Y Fan Ddu
I’m actually a little reluctant to include this top location within the list, as its a personal treasure I happened across whilst walking the Beacons Way. That being said, it’s fair game, so make the most of it! Sunrise is the only real time to capture this outrageous view. The sun poking its head over one of Waun Rydd’s sloping arms is a sight to remember.
Hiking up a mountain for sunrise may seem daunting, but that is another asset of this location. It’s a relatively short distance from the car park and can easily be walked up within half an hour. This is one of my all-time favourite spots in the Brecon Beacons. You never quite know what you’re going to get, but it’s bound to be stunning.
So that’s it, 10 top photography spots to adventure out into the Brecon Beacons. If you’ve enjoyed the list or have somewhere to add to it, why not leave a comment below? I’m always on the lookout for more gems in this wonderful national park.
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