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Usk Valley Walk Guided Trail

An aerial view of the Welsh Town Crickhowell and River Usk
Duration: 7 nights
Type: Guided Trails
Walking Grade: 3

We follow the Usk Valley from Caerleon, the main Roman fortress in South Wales to Brecon. On the first two days, the riverbank forms the core of the route and for the final three days, the towpath of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. It was opened in 1812 with diversions into the foothills of the Brecon Beacons providing variety of scenery and landscape. The canal is rich in industrial history.

Holiday Highlights

  • Follow the Usk Valley; a green artery through the Brecon Beacons
  • The delightful Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal
  • Stay at Nythfa House, Brecon

What’s included

  • High quality en-suite accommodation in our country house
  • Full board from dinner upon arrival to breakfast on departure day
  • The services of an HF Holidays' walks leader
  • All transport on walking days

Trip Notes

Trip notes are detailed, downloadable PDFs for each holiday.

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55 miles with 8-13 miles and up to 1,900 feet of ascent in a day.

You're welcome to check in from 4pm onwards.

We begin amid the ruins of the Roman fortress of Isca with impressive Roman Baths and amphitheatre, before crossing the ancient bridge over the tidal Usk to the official start of the trail. We pass through the Celtic Manor golf course, traverse Kemeys Graig through the western edge of the former Wentwood hunting forest, pass the mansion of Bertholey House and drop down into the valley near Newbridge on Usk. We ascend Cefn Hill for wonderful views of the Usk Valley, before returning to the Valley bottom at Llantrisant.

8 miles (13km) with 1,520 feet (463m) of ascent.

Llantrisant; from where we follow field paths and lanes to the small historic market town of Usk. From Usk we head upstream to Estavarney Estate, which was worked by Cistercian monks from Tintern Abbey during the 13th – 15th centuries. We cross the unusual Chain Bridge to the east bank of the river, passing below Coed y Bwnydd (topped by an Iron Age hill fort), by the imposing mansion of Bryn-derwen and through the National Trust’s Clytha Estate. After a short section of road, our route continues through riverside fields, with ever improving views of Skirrid Fawr, Sugar Loaf and Blorenge.

13 miles (21km) with 700 feet (200m) of ascent.

A day without any walks programmed, giving you the opportunity to explore the local area independently

Re-crossing the river brings us to Llanellen, where some of Cromwell’s soldiers are buried in the small churchyard. From Llanellen, we ascend to the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal and follow the towpath, passing Llanfoist Wharf, where Hill’s Tramroad, constructed in about 1825 from the ironworks at Blaenavon, comes around the side of Blorenge and down four inclined planes to join the canal. (To picture the scene as it was in the early 1800s, read Alexander Cordell’s novel “Rape of the Fair Country”). With Abergavenny and the River Usk below us we continue through Govilon to Gilwern, once the Canal Company headquarters and a busy tramroad terminus. The Usk Valley narrows and the scenery becomes more mountainous across to the Black Mountains. We continue to Llangattock wharf with its impressive lime kilns and tramroad terminus, and then walk down through the village and across the picture postcard bridge over the Usk, to finish our walk at Crickhowell.

13½ miles (21.5km) with 1,261 feet (384m) of ascent.

From Llangattock we enjoy views to Table Mountain and pick out Gwern Vale Manor, the birthplace of Sir George Everest, Surveyor General of India, whose name was given to the world’s highest mountain. Passing the quaint hamlet of Dardy, we ascend a steep track with views of the Llangattock Escarpment. We cross fields, looking down on the Glanusk estate and up the Rhiangoll Valley towards Mynydd Troed and Mynydd Llangorse. Another steep ascent brings us to one of the walk high points, about 1,000 feet above sea level, before we return to the canal, passing the medieval manor of Pen-y-bryn. The canal meanders along and on to the hamlet of Cwmcrawnon, with a flight of five locks. We continue on the tree-lined towpath to the 375 yard long Ashford Tunnel. There is no towpath through the tunnel and we walk over the top. In the days before powered boats, the horses would be led over the top and the boatman would lie on his back and “leg” the boat through the tunnel by pressing his feet against the roof. Our destination is Talybont-on-Usk, with its interesting canal artefacts and canal-side inns or tearoom.

11½ miles (18km) with 1,900 feet (600m) of ascent.

We are now in the Caerfanell Valley, crossing over the line of the former Brecon to Merthyr railway, before ascending on field paths to the edge of the Talybont Forest. We return to the canal towpath at Pencelli, and easy walking brings us to Brynich where a fourarched stone aqueduct, built by Thomas Dadford in 1797, takes the canal across the River Usk. The towpath crosses to the west bank at Brynich, where we also pass the last lock. Soon we are on the outskirts of Brecon and the canal ends in the attractive Theatre Basin. The canal is fed by water from the River Usk which flows through a culvert under the streets from a weir half a mile up river from the basin. The official route finishes in the town centre but a short walk to view the weir is worthwhile.

8½ miles (13.5km) with 1,000 feet (300m) of ascent.

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before making your way home. 

Nythfa House

Pretty country pile Nythfa House stands above the traditional mid-Wales market town of Brecon and sits within easy reach of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Having spent its early life as a large private house, the building has been converted into a comfortable country hotel. The interiors look like they’ve evolved naturally over time, staying rooted in the local area and house architecture while being filled with contemporary furniture and colours. As well as 28 rooms and a range of public spaces and an inviting indoor pool to tempt you, there are pretty grounds and a short walk to the streets of Brecon itself. The contrasting countryside close by provides challenges including sweeping ridges, an ascent of the Black Mountains and scaling Pen-y-Fan as well as more subtle strolls through the river-carved landscapes of the Melte Valley, along the trail of a series of awesome waterfalls, or time dawdling through the second bookshops in Hay-on-Wye.


Need to know

Important Covid-19 steps we have taken for guest safety: Please Read

As we slowly reopen in the wake of the Coronavirus lockdown, our country house stays are set to be organised a little differently; extra steps have been taken to keep our guests, house teams and leaders safe while we return to action. We ask all our guests to respect the measures put in place.

Initially the overall capacity of the houses has been reduced. Guests must wear face coverings in public spaces. To adhere to social distancing guidelines, we have taken the necessary steps to space out furniture and seating in public areas. In addition, a one-way system will be in place around the house. Adequate signage will be displayed to support the direction of travel to be followed by guests and house teams.

As a temporary measure, we will not be servicing rooms during a stay. Extra tea, coffee, milk, and toiletries will be made available on request for all guests. It is recommended that guests bring their own toiletries for the duration of their stay. We have removed all non-essential and reusable items from our rooms for the meantime including cushions, hairdryers, bathrobes, bed throws, and printed materials to reduce the number of items that need to be disinfected. Hairdryers will be available on request. Clean towels will be available on request. We will though be increasing the frequency of cleaning in our public areas providing particular attention to frequently touched items including door handles and handrails.

For now, there is no cream tea on arrival day. We have also adapted our food offering to remove all buffets and open food items. Different sittings may be required for breakfast and dinner due to the occupancy and size of the house. Picnic lunches will now be pre-ordered the night before from an order form in the room. The bar in each country house will be open, and we will be offering a table service for drinks. At this time there is no, or only a very limited, evening social programme available. Outdoor swimming pools at those houses that have them will re-open throughout August, except at Freshwater Bay House, where the pool will remain closed for 2020. Indoor swimming pools will remain closed.

For more information and to see all the steps taken, visit our page on how house stays will be adapted.


Tea & coffee-making facilities, TV, Hairdryer, Toiletries, Wi-Fi

Stay in the smartly presented rooms in the main house or in one of the handful of garden rooms across the grounds. With 28 rooms, Nythfa House has plenty of space and there’s a range of Good, Better and Best Rooms to choose from. Opt for Rooms 6 or 7 in the main house for delightfully decorated, spacious places to stay, each with sumptuous views over the garden and Brecon Beacons. Room 21 is a quirky ‘Better’ room up in the eaves, with a separate sitting space and cosy bedroom, just mind your head on the low ceiling. Look out for the fresh floral designs in the pretty garden rooms too, which have their own small deck.

All ‘Good’ rooms are ensuite and furnished to a high standard. There are also several ‘Better’ and ‘Best’ Rooms that are either larger or have a desirable view, a more luxurious mattress and larger television – upgrade your stay for just an extra £15-25 per person per night. You can choose a specific room for an extra £30 per room, subject to availability. Upgrade supplements still apply.


Free Wi-Fi, boot room and drying room, extensive garden, indoor swimming pool, lounge, library and board games to borrow

After a day exploring cascade country or the Beacons, come back to the house and its specially tailored walkers’ facilities. At the front of the house there’s a pretty garden to pause in, with a putting green and croquet lawn attached. Duck into the conservatory to enjoy views out over the gardens from under the twisting branches of an old vine. Across the way in a separate building is a good-sized indoor swimming pool with floor-to-ceiling windows at one end. Whether you relax in the lounge, or get together with other guests for a board game or great conversation, make sure to make time for the cosy bar, and try a dram of award-winning whisky from the local Penderyn distillery, which uses water from the Brecon Beacons National Park. There’s also a Welsh gin that’s wonderfully well regarded.

Food & Drink

As at all our country houses, holidays are full board, from afternoon tea served as a welcome treat through that evening’s meal to a hearty breakfast on the day of departure. Lunch is a chance to stock up on our famous picnic snacks. Food at Nythfa House is varied and tasty and has a strong emphasis on ingredients from the area and seasonal produce. Once a week the dining room in the converted barn hosts a Local Food Night, when, over a sociable evening, you might try a five-course feast of regional flavours. Make a beeline for the big bay window table to try Cawl Cennin, a leek broth, served with a Welsh Rarebit finger, followed by Tatws Pum Munud, a speciality Welsh potato dish, or double roasted Welsh lamb. The kitchen offers up an Asian influence as well courtesy of the towns Gurkha community, and you might enjoy Nepalese momos (dumplings) or fillet of sea bream marinated with Nepalese spices for an alternative take on local tastes. Whatever, round your evening off with South Wales marmalade sponge with lashings of Penderyn whisky custard.


For accessibility and assistance information, please contact our expert team on 020 3974 8865

Brecon - Autumn 2008.jpg

Getting to Nythfa House

Find out more about this location including travel details and room types.

More Information

What to Bring

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong type of clothing!” goes the adage. Come prepared for all eventualities and you’ll walk in comfort as well as safety. Britain’s famous for its changeable weather, so here’s our advice on what to wear and bring.


  • Waterproof walking boots providing ankle support and good grip.
  • A waterproof jacket and over-trousers
  • Gloves and a warm hat (it can be chilly at any time of the year)
  • Rucksack
  • Water bottle (at least 1 litre capacity)
  • A small torch (everywhere in winter, year round in mountains)
  • Sun hat and sunscreen
    Denim jeans and waterproof capes are not suitable on any walks.


  • Several layers of clothing, which can be added or removed
  • Specialist walking socks to avoid blisters.
  • A first aid kit inc plasters– your leader’s first aid kit doesn’t contain any medication
  • Sit mat (insulated pad to sit on when you stop for a break)

You might also want

  • Walking poles, particularly useful for descents.
  • Insect repellent
  • Flask for hot drinks
  • Rigid lunch box
  • Gaiters
  • Blister kit (eg Compeed) just in case
  • Waterproof rucksack liner

Guest Reviews

7 nights
Guided Trails
Walking Grade:

7 nights from 0pp

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