Hiking the Llanthony circuit in the Brecon Beacons

Last Sunday, I took on the Llanthony circuit, a challenging hike in the stunning Brecon Beacons in South Wales.

I joined the Cardiff Social: 20s & 30s Meet Up group who organised the hike. It is a 15 kilometre trek that begins and ends at Llanthony Priory. It’s a hike with stunning views, heather coated hilltops, wild ponies and lush meadows. It shows off the Brecon Beacons at its best. 

Looking back on the initial ascent, its steeper than it looks!

Once you leave the priory ruins behind, the walk begins with a surprisingly steep ascent through sheep fields which I was not ready for! I needed to recover before we began the rest of the walk.

First glimpse of the hills as we climbed

But once the initial steep incline was over the path levelled out. It was still a hill and hard going (at least for me) on a narrow tortuous path but much easier than the first stretch. Especially with frequent stops to take photos and admire the view!

The valley floor reveals itself

We feared the arrival of rain but the weather remained perfect for hiking. It was warm enough for t-shirts and shorts and just cool enough that the walking was bearable. 

Walking along the side of the valley
Almost there
At the top!

The view from the top of the ridge was absolutely stunning, we could see for miles! I really couldn’t get enough of it. We stopped here for our lunch.

View of the other side of the hill
I made it to the top (somehow)!
The top of the hill stretches on into the distance
Wild Welsh ponies

I was not expecting to meet a herd of ponies at the top. As a horse lover, I was very excited by this! 

We begin hiking through the heather
So many trees!

We did have a struggle finding the path back down to the valley floor as it was hidden by a jungle of ferns. It was a direct steep descent down the hill that required all our attention (hence no photos). 


Once we reached the bottom of the hill we walked through beautiful lush meadows. A welcome respite after the challenging descent.

Nearly back to the priory

The fields were uneven and still sloping so the final stretch was still quite tiring especially with our hill climbs behind us. We left the fields and met the road which guided us back to the priory, ending our circuit. I was thrilled to see the priory again! And too exhausted to take photos at this point. But we did it!

As a very unfit person, who currently isn’t doing regular exercise (apart from ambling around nature reserves and fairly relaxed kayaking), I found the Llanthony curcuit to be a massive challenge and even a struggle at times. I was one of the two unfittest people in the group! I was at the back of the group for most of the hike. However, this group did include half marathan runners, regular hikers and TA members so I was at a bit of a disadvantage! 

But I was immensely proud of myself for sticking at it and completing the whole walk. The first ascent nearly put me off continuing but that was the worst part. Once we got back to the priory, it was the most wonderful feeling of accomplishment! The exhaustion and aching joints the next day was entirely worth it. 

The views were absolutely breathtaking. Soaking in the wilderness, chatting to like-minded people and challenging myself beyond my comfort (and fitness) zone made it a special day to remember. I much prefer the Brecon Beacons to Snowdonia, which is too barren for my liking. I can’t wait to return and try some more hikes through these wild hills. I have truly fallen in love with Wales.

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