Rambles with a Sketchbook Holiday in the Brecon Beacons
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Hills & moorland
Create your own artistic impressions as we walk through some of Wales' most inspirational landscapes. We’ll walk up to 4 miles (6.5km) each day, sketching scenes along our journey. Your sketches may be the finished result or used as a source for further painting or drawing. Be aware that you will be spending a fair amount of time on your feet as you ramble between sketching spots!
- Gentle rambles of up to 4 miles with plenty of stops for sketching
- A variety of inspirational landscapes from the summits of the Brecon Beacons to the thundering waterfalls
- Our professional artist leader will guide and encourage
- Enjoy the sociable atmosphere of sketching in a group
- High quality Full Board en-suite accommodation and excellent food in our Country House
- Tuition from our knowledgeable HF Holidays’ leader, to ensure you get the most from your holiday
- Loan of wooden A3 art boards
- All transport to and from locations on your holiday
Nythfa House is a charming Country House, located on the edge of the market town of Brecon. Spacious public rooms, attractive gardens and indoor swimming pool make it a popular and relaxing place to stay.
Nythfa House has 28 bedrooms. Most are located in the main house, with others in garden annexes.
These rooms are all ensuite and furnished to a good standard. They include:
These rooms are slightly larger and/or have a better view. They include:
Only an extra £15 per person per night
These rooms truly are the best in the house for extra luxury during your stay. They include:
Only an extra £20 per person per night
Choose Your Room: Our new “Choose Your Room” service is available at our UK country houses, providing the option to choose and confirm a specific room for an extra £30 per room. Supplements to upgrade to 'Better' or 'Best' rooms still apply. The choice of room number must be of the same room type as originally booked and is subject to availability.
At the house
|All holidays at our Country Houses are full board accommodation including evening meal on arrival to breakfast on the day of your departure. All of our Country Houses have a well-stocked bar serving local beers, wine and spirits.
√ Start your day with our extensive breakfast.
Just relax and take it easy, or if you'd like to continue to chat with our guides and fellow guests then why not grab a drink or take part in one of our optional evening activities.
All of our bars are stocked with locally sourced drinks so you can really soak up your surroundings.
- Fire procedure is displayed in each room and explained to guests on arrival. Guests requiring assistance at an evacuation are identified at this time and door hanger cards are issued on request. An under-pillow vibrating pad is available on request
- A fridge is available in the first floor lounge for storing medication
- Good signage for fire escape routes
- One bedroom key issued per room (second key available on request)
- Assistance dogs accompanying visually or hearing impaired guests are welcome; dogs must be kept on a lead or harness at all times
- Information can be provided in large print
- Staff has had disability awareness training
You can check in to your room from 2.30pm onwards (better and best rooms from 1pm). Please join us for afternoon tea. All guests are invited – we’ll introduce your leader and welcome you to your holiday.
When we go out into the lovely local countryside, we'll be walking up to 4 miles carrying our equipment as we find the very best landscapes to sketch.
Introduction to Brecon
On our first day we will begin with a discussion on sketching outdoors and choosing a subject. Then we will walk along the River Honddu through the woods, back to the cathedral then along the river Usk to the Boathouse. Brecon is a beautiful town and can provide a great variety of subjects to sketch.
Wide views from an Iron Age Fort
We will start today's ramble from the National Park Visitor Centre in Libanus where there are wonderful views of the Brecon Beacons. We'll walk across the heathland up to the Iron Age Fort of Twyn y Gaer – an impressive vantage point with 360 degree views of the mountains and Brecon town. We will end the ramble back at the visitor centre where there is a cafe for refreshments.
A free day for you to explore the local area or to relax in the Country House. Our Discovery Points help you make the most out of your free day. There’s plenty of maps and a selection of the best local walking routes, as well as weather forecasts and public transport options – plus details about other places to visit.
Elidir Trail – Waterfall country
Today we head downstream following the Nedd Fechan river until it joins the Pyrddin river. We will stop to sketch Sgwd y Ddwili (the Gushing Falls) and the impressive Sgwd Gwladus (Ladies Waterfall). Our walk finishes at the village of Pontneefechan by the Angel pub.
Llyn Cwm Llwch – a mountain lake
We will walk to an idyllic mountain lake hidden away below Pen y Fan, the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons. Our walk starts in a beautiful spot by the river where there might be some ponies and sheep to sketch. Once we come out of the trees the views will open up and we will see the mountains and the surrounding countryside. We will spend some time sketching the stream and the lake with its reflections, a very peaceful place.
Brecon town, canal and river
Our walk today heads for the Monmouth & Brecon canal where subjects include canal boats and bridges with the backdrop of trees & hills. After spending some time sketching in the canal basin we will walk along the towpath then back along the river Usk. In the evening there will be a chance to exhibit your work if you would like to.
Depart after a leisurely breakfast.
Sometimes things happen beyond our control – the weather, traffic jams or changes at the places we visit. If we need to adjust your holiday programme, for whatever reason, your leader will help smooth the way.
What to Bring
- Sketchbook – good cartridge paper (e.g.150gm), A4 or 8” square and/or A5 or 6” square (spiral bound or hard back – the smaller ones are fine
- 2B & 4B pencils and a water soluble graphite pencil
- Craft blade for sharpening pencils
- Putty rubber
- Bulldog clips or large elastic bands for holding paper in windy conditions
- A sketching pen
- Blank slide mount or small cardboard mount for view finder (e.g. ½ postcard)
- A rucksack to carry the materials
- Good hiking shoes or boots, hiking sticks if you need them
- A foam seat pad or lightweight stool that you can easily carry
- Protection against weather & insects – waterproofs, sunblock & sunhat, insect repellent, long trousers & long sleeved shirt (to prevent sunburn).
- a set of Caran D’Ache Neocolour water-soluble pastels, or a set of water-soluble crayons (e.g.Derwent Inktense)
- a water brush
- Any other lightweight materials you like to use
Please remember - You will have to carry your equipment and lunch/drink so keep it simple.
*Lightweight wooden A3 painting boards are available for guest loan at the Country House.
Discover the Brecon Beacons
During your stay at Nythfa House you may enjoy visiting the following places of interest, either in your free time, or on your journey to and from Brecon:
Brecon is a quaint market town at the foot of the Brecon Beacons; an area of sweeping high moorland, and beautiful green valleys. The town has a good range of facilities including shops, supermarkets, post office, chemists, banks, pubs and cafés. During your stay you may enjoy visiting Brecon Cathedral or take a scenic cruise from Brecon along the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal. www.breconcathedral.org.uk or www.dragonfly-cruises.co.uk
Big Pit Mining Museum
Travel underground at the excellent Big Pit museum in Blaenavon and discover the life of a South Wales coal miner. Blaenavon is around 45 minutes' drive from Brecon. www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/bigpit
The quaint small town of Hay-on-Wye is about 30 minutes' drive from Brecon, and can also be reached by bus every 2 hours. The town is now famed for its annual literary festival, and extensive selection of second-hand book shops.
Hereford is an attractive city, around an hour's drive from Brecon, whose cathedral houses the famous Mappa Mundi, a 12th century map of the world. www.herefordcathedral.org
Dan yr Orgof Caves
An impressive show-cave, one of the largest in Europe, with fine stalactites and stalagmites. The caves are around 30 minutes' drive from Brecon. www.showcaves.co.uk
Located near the village of Crickhowell, about 20 minutes' drive from Brecon, Tretower Court is a fine Medieval fortified manor house. www.cadw.wales.gov.uk
The vibrant Welsh capital of Cardiff is also around 40 miles or 1 hour’s drive from Brecon. A visit could include the St Fagan’s National History Museum, Castell Coch, or the National Museum. www.visitcardiff.com
Tretower Court image © Crown copyright (2016) Welsh Government, Big Pit image ©Big Pit National Coal Museum
Travel to Brecon
Our address is: Nythfa House, Brecon, Powys, LD3 7NN
The most convenient railway station is at Abergavenny. For train times and route planning by train visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or phone 03457 48 49 50.
The 20 mile journey from Abergavenny railway station takes approximately 45 minutes. Pre-booked taxis cost approx £35 per taxi. Details of our current recommended taxi company and rates will be sent to you with your booking. The return taxi journey can be arranged on your behalf by the Nythfa House Manager.
The X43 bus operates from Abergavenny station to Brecon. Alight at the bus interchange in Brecon. Facing the road, head left along Heol Gouesnou to the traffic lights. Turn right heading uphill along Cerrigcochion Road for around 70 yards, and then turn left into Belle Vue Gardens. Head along the road and turn right at the T-junction (still Belle Vue Gardens). Head up the road to another T-junction and turn left into Cerrigcochion Lane. Walk for about 15 yards and you will see the Nythfa House sign on your right. For bus times see www.traveline.info
Most guests approach Brecon via the A40 from Abergavenny or the A470 from the northwest. These two roads converge at a roundabout on the Brecon bypass. At the roundabout follow the B4601for a mile into Brecon. Turn right at the second mini roundabout, then go straight on at the cross roads with traffic lights. After 500yds turn sharp right into Mount Street, then second left into Belle View Road. Stop at the top of the road at the T Junction then go straight ahead up the drive to Nythfa House.
Travelling from overseas
For most guests, travelling to London Heathrow airport is the most convenient option.
From Heathrow first take the train to London Paddington station. From here there are trains to Abergavenny (1 change at Newport) - allow 3 to 3½ hours. See www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times.
From Abergavenny you can travel on to Brecon by bus or taxi (see above).
Helen is an experienced artist and tutor whose enthusiasm for her subject is infectious; her patient and encouraging way of teaching gives every student the chance to progress without feeling inhibited, whatever their standard. She studied painting with professional artists in the UK and USA, gained a BA Hons in Fine Art at Hertfordshire University and a post-graduate diploma in printmaking. She appeared on Channel 4’s Watercolour Challenge and has worked with the sculptor Andy Goldsworthy. She has taken part in many solo and group exhibitions in London and the South-East and also a touring exhibition in Scandinavia. She has achieved awards in several national art competitions and has work in both public and private collections.
You can visit Helen's website at www.helenhalliday.com
Very knowledgeable about the area as well as about painting. Hard-working and constantly checking that all group members were happily occupied. Very impressive all round.