Usk Valley Walk Guided Trail
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Meadows & hills
Choosing the level of your walks
Our easy grading system shows whether a region offer gentle strolls or more challenging routes to help you choose the right holiday for you. Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we grade our walks 1 to 5 (where 1 is easy and 5 hard). Our challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.
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.
- Follow the Usk Valley; a green artery through the Brecon Beacons
- The delightful Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal
- Stay at Nythfa House, Brecon
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
Day 1: Arrival Day
Day 2: Caerleon to Llantrisant
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.
Day 3: Llantrisant to The Bryn
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 703 feet (214m) of ascent.
Day 4: Rest Day
A day without any walks programmed, giving you the opportunity to explore the local area independently
Day 5: The Bryn to Crickhowell
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. 13.4 miles (21.5km) with 1,261 feet (384m) of ascent.
Day 6: Llangattock to Talybont-on-Usk
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. 11.4 miles (18.2km) with 1,917 feet (584m) of ascent.
Day 7: Talybont-on-Usk to Brecon
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 four-arched 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. 8.4 miles (13.4km) with 1,011 feet (308m) of ascent.
The itinerary may be subject to change at the discretion of the leader with regard to the weather and other external factors
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).