Monday, 2 July 2012 7:38 AM
The Brecon Beacons in south Wales are the perfect place for a short break in the UK, with this spectacular mountain range providing exceptional natural scenery, a number of interesting attractions and fascinating historical landmarks.
This means that whether you want to brush up on your knowledge of the local heritage, work up a sweat by exploring the many walking spots or keep children entertained with family-friendly activities, there will be something to cater to your tastes.
No visit to the region would be complete without seeing the beautiful panoramic landscapes it has to offer, so taking advantage of the many walking routes is a must.
There are plenty of options for both beginners and more advanced hikers, as well as various easy access tracks for those with disabilities. Options include the Taff Trail - a new series of cycling, walking and horse-riding routes in the south of the Brecon Beacons - and the Brinore Tramroad, where you can learn about the area's industrial path along the way.
If you're interested in military history, you can visit local aircraft crash sites, including a World War II Wellington Bomber at Garreg Goch. There have been more than 30 plane crashes logged in the area, which is used by the Special Air Service for its training because of the difficulties posed by the landscape and challenging weather conditions.
Keen to investigate the local wildlife? The Brecon Beacons is perfect for nature lovers, with the region teeming with many different species of plants and animals.
Bird watchers will be particularly pleased, with red kites, peregrine falcons, skylarks, pipits and buzzards never too far from view for those who keep their eyes peeled. If you're lucky you might get to spot salmon leaping upstream at River Usk, witness otters whistling to each other by the waterside or catch a glimpse of common lizards basking in the grasslands.
Once you've explored as much of the countryside as possible, it should be time to enjoy some fun days out - and the Brecon Beacons National Park has a number of intriguing options.
You can learn more about the region's colliery heritage by visiting the Big Pit National Museum, which offers a famous tour that takes you 300 ft underground to see what it was like for the many miners that worked in these conditions. A real miner will guide you through the processes, while on the surface you can explore original colliery buildings such as a blacksmith's forge and stables.
Called the Land of Castles, it's not surprising Wales has many fine examples of forts and strongholds and the Brecon Beacons is no exception. One of the most famous is Carreg Cennen, which is all the more spectacular because of its location - hanging over a limestone precipice. It is accessible through a steep climb from a car park below and offers unparalleled views of the surrounding scenery.
The Beacons are also known for containing many prehistoric monuments, Iron Age forts and Neolithic burial chambers, some dating back thousands of years. Take this chance to explore ancient civilisations and the statues and markers they left behind for future generations.
Looking to get the adrenaline pumping? The Brecon Beacons is a fantastic place for outdoor activities, both water-based and on land. Kayaking and canoeing are popular, with adventurous holidaymakers tackling the fast-flowing water of the River Usk, while anyone who prefers a more sedate pace can try Llangors Lake or Brecon Canal.
The Brecon Beacons is also a haven for caving, with options for both beginners and experts. Its limestone networks are formed when mildly acidic water runs into small cracks in the rock, widening them over centuries to create the stunning interconnecting passages you see today.
Some of the best caves are only accessible if you contact local caving clubs, so make sure you do your research if you don't want to miss out.
If this doesn't take your fancy, there are also horse riding, gliding, golfing, sailing, windsurfing, fishing and many more activities to take advantage of while in the region.
This is just a taste of the many things to see and do in the Brecon Beacons, making it an idyllic spot for a short break in the UK.