Situated in the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park in Powys mid Wales, Crickhowell offers plenty of outdoor activities from canoeing and kayaking to rock climbing and even pony trekking. There are also some fabulous walks, and the annual Crickhowell Walking Festival, which spans over nine days, includes hikes through the Black Mountains, and more comfortable walks alongside the river Usk. With a Norman castle, an 18th century stone bridge and a town centre full of Georgian buildings, Crickhowell offers many historical monuments and attractions to visit, and the famous Big Pit Museum is only 10 miles south of the town.
The town of Crickhowell lies along the banks of the River Usk in Powys, Mid Wales. Found in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park, many refer to it as 'the glittering jewel of the Vale' with its beautiful countryside and views across the National Park, it certainly is a jewel and much more.
There is a vibrant and lively town centre, with many buildings on the High Street having been renovated and redesigned during the Georgian period. There are wonderful shops and many restaurants. Crickhowell's shops are mostly small, individual, and family owned stores. You'll be sure to find everything you need right here in the town centre, from your everyday essentials, to gifts, souvenirs and postcards!
Crickhowell has existed at least since iron-age settlers built a fort on the top of Crug Hywel, or Table Mountain as it is now known. The area was known to the Romans who built forts within the region, and the Normans built a motte and bailey castle, the remains of which still exist. A well-known feature of the town is the early 18th century bridge spanning the River Usk – thirteen arches can be seen from one end of the bridge, whilst strangely twelve are visible from the other side.
Apart from the town's castle, Porth Mawr is possibly one of the most famous monuments in Crickhowell. A yellow brick gatehouse, it was built circa 1480 in the heart of the town, and thus is one of Crickhowell's oldest buildings. It was home to two families, the English Rubert family, and the Welsh Herbert family. However, these days only the gatehouse remains, having been redesigned during the 19th century.
It might be of interest to mountaineers and pub quiz competitors to know that Sir George Everest, after whom Mount Everest is named, was born at Gwernvale Manor near Crickhowell! A street in the town, Everest Drive, was named to commemorate the life of George Everest who passed away in 1866.
As a popular tourist town, Crickhowell has an abundance of attractions and activities for all the family. If you're looking for outdoor activities, then you can try your hand at mountain biking, rock climbing, fly-fishing, paragliding, canoeing, kayaking, and caving. If that is not enough for you, then the nearby Llangorse Lake, just 9 miles from Crickhowell, offers fishing opportunities as well as enjoyable walks.
There are two horse-riding schools within the area, the Golden Castle Riding and Livery Stables, and the Wern Riding School. The British Horse Society approves both and whilst the Golden Castle Stables offers cross-country courses and riding lessons, the Wern Riding School has a selection of trail rides.
The Big Pit Museum will be a huge hit with children, giving them a once in a lifetime experience of just how conditions were down in the depths of a coal mine. Travel 300ft down the shaft with a real miner to understand just how the men worked. The world famous tour lasts just under an hour and will leave children fascinated and exhilarated by their hands-on experience of the mining world. The Big Pit Museum is 10 miles south of Crickhowell and can be easily found from the A4077 road.
For further historical visits, try visiting the splendid Abergavenny castle, with its romantic ruins just waiting to be explored.
The Crickhowell Walking Festival, which comprises nine days of fabulous walks, including treks through the Black Mountains and peaceful strolls through the Brecon countryside, takes place each year.
The Brecon Jazz Festival, showcasing many new jazz talents, takes place in the nearby town of Brecon.
Castles and Forts
Crickhowell Castle overlooks the Vale of Usk. It was originally a motte and bailey settlement, constructed by the Normans during the 12th century. The bailey would have occupied the area where the present playing field now sits, and would have housed livestock and the castle's workers. A shell keep was added to the top of the motte, as well as walls, towers and gateways, making for an impressive structure during medieval times. Although the castle suffered severe damage from Owain Glyndwr's army during the Welsh rebellion of the early 15th century the ruins remain a conspicuous feature of the small market town to this day.
Walks, Cycle Trails and Other Activities
There are many walks in this beautiful part of Wales and both the Beacons Way and the Usk Valley Walk pass within a mile of Crickhowell as they wend their ways through the Black Mountains and the Usk Valley. The Crickhowell Walking Festival, which comprises nine days of fabulous walks, also includes treks through the Black Mountains and peaceful strolls through the Brecon countryside.
Accommodation and Services
There is a wide range of accommodation in Crickhowell. Hotels include, amongst many others, The Manor Hotel, the birthplace of Sir George Everest mentioned above, and Llangattock Court, a splendid mansion built circa 1700. Not only are there hotels, but there are an abundance of bed and breakfasts, guesthouses and luxury self-catering cottages. Camping sites can also be found both in the direction of Abergavenny and Llangorse Lake.