Photogenic Landscapes and Historic Sites in Powys

Sgwd y Pannwr Craig Cwm Sere Tretower Castle Pontsticill Reservoir
At around 2,000 square miles, Powys is by some distance the largest county in Wales, extending almost 80 miles, from the edge of Snowdonia National Park in the north to the slightly less rugged mountains of Brecon Beacons National Park in the south. Away from these two parks, most of the land is still hilly, crossed by winding valleys, with relatively few main roads, and no large cities. Most of the eastern border is also the boundary of Wales, facing the English counties of Shropshire and Herefordshire; Powys also adjoins 11 other Welsh counties.

There are two main extended scenic areas in Powys; one is the Cambrian Mountains in the west, a rather barren and relatively little-visited series of undulating grassy hills, harbouring streams and lakes, including the large reservoir of Lake Vyrnwy in the north, while the second, and most well known is the Brecon Beacons and neighbouring ranges. About three quarters of Brecon Beacons National Park is within the county, with most of the remainder being in Carmarthenshire (west), Merthyr Tydfil (south) and Monmouthshire (east).

The Beacons are the central range in the national park, containing the highest peak in south UK, 2,907 foot Pen y Fan; these hills are bordered by the high plateau of Forest Fawr and the remote Black Mountains to the west, and the slightly lower ridges of Black Mountain on the other side. The park contains the largest area of wild lands in Britain south of Snowdonia, and is crossed by dozens of trails, which climb peaks and follow the valleys, many of which contain streams that form impressive waterfalls.

Historic sites in Powys are not so common, and are scattered all across the country, not concentrated in any particular area. Castles are the most numerous feature, and there are also quite a few ancient stones, including several stone circles.


Brecon Castle - sizeable remains of an 11th century castle, partly converted to a hotel but retaining much of the original structure

Bronllys Castle - a circular tower (the keep) on top of a mound is the only remnant of a 12th century castle, in a village just north of Brecon Beacons National Park

Crickhowell Castle - a wooded motte and three tall tower fragments are the surviving sections of a 13th century castle in the centre of Crickhowell, beside the River Usk

Dolforwyn Castle - atmospheric castle remains on top of a steep-sided hill, surrounded by woodland; near Newtown in the north of the county

Hay Castle - relatively large but poor condition ruins of a Norman castle in the centre of Hay-on-Wye

Montgomery Castle - extensive, photogenic, hilltop ruins, overlooking the town of Montgomery, close to the border with Shropshire

Powis Castle - a spectacular fortified medieval mansion, occupied continuously since its construction in the 14th century. Managed by the National Trust

Tretower Castle and Court - compact but evocative ruined castle beside a complete, unrestored 14th century manor house


Afon Nedd Fechan - river with three large waterfalls, flowing through a deep, forested valley

Afon Pyrddin - cascades and two major waterfalls along a tributary of the Afon Nedd Fechan

Black Mountain Fans - summits along a dramatic ridge above two isolated lakes, on the west side of Brecon Beacons National Park

Caerfanell Waterfalls - 20 or more waterfalls along the Caerfanell River and the tributary of Nant Bwrefwr - in the Brecon Beacons

Cwm Llwch - valley on the north side of the Brecon Beacons, containing waterfalls and a secluded glacial lake

Four Waterfalls Walk - four large falls along the Mellte and Hepste rivers, near Ystradfellte in Brecon Beacons National Park

Nant Llech and Henrhyd Falls - the highest waterfall in south Wales, and a deep valley containing several other cascades

Llangattock Escarpment - limestone cliffs below a plateau rim, site of 18th century quarries; also caves and a lake

Pen y Fan and Fan y Big Horseshoe Walk - spectacular loop hike in the Brecon Beacons, visiting four high peaks

Table Mountain, Pen Cerrig-calch and Pen Allt-mawr - summits in the Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons National Park

Waun Fach, Grwyne Fawr and Nant Bwch - peaks, ridges and valleys in the Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons National Park


Brecon Cathedral - Gothic cathedral, some sections dating from the 12th century; originally part of a priory

Ruined Abbeys

Cwmhir Abbey - low walls from a once great monastic church, in peaceful countryside a few miles north of Llandrindod Wells

Map of Featured Powys Locations