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Road tripping with Marshmallow: the Brecon Beacons

Natalie
Content Specialist

9.8.2021

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5 min read

Planning holidays in the UK is hard. But planning driving holidays in the UK is even harder. How do you map your route? Where should you stop for a bite to eat? What views are too beautiful to be missed? When it comes to booking a road trip, you just need a little guidance. That's where Marshmallow comes in.

In our new blog series, Road Tripping with Marshmallow, we’ve spoken to those in the know (locals of course!) about the best UK road trips. We’ve mapped out some unforgettable road trip itineraries that you need to try and shared some travel tips to help make driving in new places a little easier.

First up, we’re heading to Hay-on-Wye and a handful of unique Welsh towns dotted around the Brecon Beacons. The best part? This road trip takes you on driving routes beloved by the world’s most famous car enthusiasts. Read on to find out more!


Stop 1: Hay-on-Wye

While its postal address may say Herefordshire, Hay-on-Wye is not an English town. It sits proudly on the Welsh side of the Welsh/English border and is known as the National Book Town of Wales thanks to its 20+ bookshops. If you love reading, or strolling through quirky market towns, Hay-on-Wye is the perfect destination for you.

🛍️  Browse the shops
  • Lose yourself in Hay Cinema Bookshop, an old cinema-turned-bookshop full of winding alleyways made of books.
  • Visit Addyman Annexe, a bookshop packed full of literature and charm.
  • Browse through the stalls at Hay Market on Thursdays (8 am to mid-afternoon). It’s a 700-year-old market ideal for gift shopping.
🤸 Book an activity
  • Hire a bike or tandem and explore the countryside.
  • Get your tickets for the annual Literature Festival in June.
  • Admire Hay-on-Wye’s castle, dating back to the 12th century.
  • Try your hand at glass blowing at Eirian Studio Glass. Prices start from £125 for a half-day course. (Courses may be disrupted by Covid-19 restrictions).

Stop 2: Llanthony

Llanthony might just be small village nestled into the Welsh countryside, but it’s the perfect pitstop to get some fresh air and a taste of historic Wales. 

🤸 Book an activity
  • Let your creative juices flow in one of Llanthony’s art courses (classes may be disrupted by Covid-19 restrictions).  
  • Explore Llanthony Priory, the 900-year-old monastery ruins that’ll take you back to Wales’ past. Admission is currently free. 


Stop 3: Abergavenny 

Known as the gateway to Wales, Abergavenny is an ancient town dating back to Roman times. Abergavenny lies north of the River Usk and west of the River Gavenny, which is why Abergavenny translates to “mouth of the Gavenny”. A fun fact to share on the drive down!

🍕 Grab a bite
  • Try Pizzorante Abergavenny (££) for classic Italian dishes and a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
  • Visit Abergavenny’s food festival for lots of culinary delights (18th-19th September 2021).
⛰️ See the sights

Abergavenny is just a short drive to some of Wales’ most breathtaking attractions, including: 

  • Sugarloaf Mountain, one of the highest peaks in the heart of the Black Mountains (11 min drive).
  • Sugarloaf Vineyards (6 min drive).


Stop 4: Crickhowell

Crickhowell was crowned the overall winner of the Great British High Street Awards in 2018, and people have flocked to visit ever since. And for good reason - there are lots of exciting things to do!

🍕 Grab a bite
  • Book a table at The Bear Hotel for a hearty pub lunch (££).
  • End the night at Treebeards Bar for local craft beers, wine and spirits (££).
⛰️ See the sights

Once you’re in Crickhowell, you can take a few short journeys to get up close and personal with Wales’ natural beauty: 

  • Monmouthshire and Brecon canal (12 min drive)
  • Table Mountain Path (6 min drive)
  • Llangattock escarpment (13 min drive)
  • River Usk and Glanusk Estate (7 min drive)


Stop 5: Ystradfellte

This stop is for the more adventurous road trippers! Grab your walking boots 🥾

⛰️ See the sights
  • Head out on the Ystradfellte Four Waterfalls Walk. It’s a 4.5-mile walk and accessible all year round.
  • Explore the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu, one of the biggest cave systems in the UK, and see amazing wild and plant life including cave shrimps and wood anemone.  

Stops 6 - 7: The Black Mountain Pass

This pass is also known as ‘the Top Gear Road’ after Jeremy Clarkson was filmed driving along it in a Mercedes AMG SLK. This winding road sweeps across some truly magnificent vistas and is a favourite with car magazine test drivers. Thankfully you don’t need a Mercedes to to enjoy the drive or the view!

🐑  Rural driving 

Wales is mostly countryside meaning lots of winding, single-lane roads and farm vehicles. Sheep are also very common. If a flock of sheep is occupying the road, there’s not much you can do except wait it out!

❄️  Winter weather
The back roads of the Brecon Beacons can be quite dangerous when there’s snow, ice or sleet. The A479 gets particularly icy in winter. Our top tip is to take it slow and keep checking the weather forecast before you head out. 

✋ Local speed limits

Some communities set local speed limits that are lower than national limits, something to keep in mind. 

🤩  Take it all in

This road trip takes you through some truly beautiful landscapes, so take your time and enjoy the views! And remember, with Marshmallow insurance, we’ve got your back for your road trip journey. We’re on hand to help in an accident on our app or online. Get a quote from us here.

A big thank you to South Wales’ (and Marshmallow’s) very own Evie Jukes for these great recommendations, and photos too! Let us know your favourite places to visit by car, then share your travel pics with us at #RoadTrippingWithMarshmallow.