The Wye Valley and Brecon Beacons in Britain are two stunning areas less than 20 miles from one another. Each has its own distinct identity, and both are extremely popular tourist destinations – perfect for ladies embarking on an active girls weekend in the great outdoors.
The Wye Valley follows 58 meandering miles of the River Wye to form some spectacular limestone gorge landscapes and dense wooded backdrops. There is a healthy abundance of wildlife, such as horseshoe bats, peregrine falcons, kingfishers and goshawks horseshoe bats. The region was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1971 and is one of the UK’s finest and most treasured national parks, forming the perfect backdrop for a whole host of Wye Valley activities.
In contrast, the Brecon Beacons National Park is a grassy, heather-clad mountainous region situated just above South Wales’ historic coal mining region. This dramatic landscape, shaped by glaciers in the last Ice Age, was designated a national park in 1957. Here you’ll find South Wales’ highest peak, Pen y Fan, where invigorating outdoor activities reign supreme.
Here is our pick of the best activities each area has to offer:
Wye Valley Activities
The River Wye was voted by WWF as the public’s favourite river. And canoeing the Wye Valley is an experience not to be missed. For experienced boaters, taking to the rapids on Symonds Yat provides all the exhilaration needed. While those hens looking for a more sedate day out can take a lazy cruise and take in all the stunning scenery on show.
Several activity outfits will offer equipment and take you to a starting point upstream, before you meander your way down the river unescorted. Otherwise, there are a range of courses helping you to develop your skills.
Cycling provides an excellent way for a group of ladies to explore the Wye Valley and nearby Forest of Dean regions. Several cycle routes have been set up through Forest Enterprise sites. Otherwise, Sustrans have opened a riverside cycle route that follows a disused railway line.
Over in the Forest of Dean, more experienced MTB thrill seekers can kit up and go hell for leather through several blue and red marked downhill trails. There are also several hire companies offering a range of bikes and suggested routes.
3. Gorge Walking
Gorge Walking is an exhilarating, if slightly crazy, activity involving walking, scrambling, climbing, abseiling and leaping your way down a river’s raging rapids. Best suited to the more adventurous, you’ll be provided with a wet suit, helmet and buoyancy aid and guided along the way by an experienced activity instructor.
The River Wye is the perfect setting to provide a wild and wet day out and there are several experienced operators providing half and full day activities. Just make sure you pack your nerves along with your wet suit!
4. White Water Rafting
Sticking with the water for a minute, White Water Rafting allows you to get amongst the rapids, but this time from the safety of a semi-immersive raft. You’ll still get just as wet though as you and your team of rafters attempt to navigate your way down some of the bumpiest and fastest sections of the River Wye.
There are courses for those wanting to improve your skills and this is an excellent team building activity.
5. Birds of prey experience day
This experience may suit those wanting to get close to nature. The International Centre for Birds of Prey is the oldest birds of prey centre in the world.
A day out here will offer official flying demonstrations, in addition to the Experience Day. This offers the chance to get up close to various birds. The Hawk Day presents a mixture of hawks, buzzards, kites and owls, while the Falconry Day gives you the opportunity to learn how to fly a falcon.
Brecon Beacons Activities
Little can match the great outdoors for enjoyment than striding along the peaceful open ridges of the Brecons, perfect for a group of friends looking to explore the great outdoors. This is the highest mountain range in southern Britain and holds a huge range of interlinked trails to explore. Pen-y-Fan, at 520 metres, is the highest peak and the horseshoe route here is truly spectacular.
There are walks for all levels of ability with a wealth of diverse landscapes to immerse yourself in, such as the northern red sandstone uplands for which the Brecons is best known, or the wooded gorges, sink holes and stunning waterfalls further south.
2. Welsh Games
For those looking for some serious fun, Welsh Games are the area’s premier group activity. Compete against your friends in nine hilarious, fun-filled activities that will have you all in hysterics.
Using various large inflatables, life-size dragon suits and even a ride on sheep, you’re in for a hugely entertaining afternoon as you celebrate all things Welsh.
And just to add to the fun, come along in fancy dress in what is one of the most popular of all Brecon Beacons activities.
3. Horse riding
Horse loving ladies will adore the 600 miles of bridle paths and tracks accessible within the Brecon Beacons, which provides some of the best riding in the UK. The varied terrain consisting of moors, hills, fields and lanes all contribute to a fantastic riding experience.
Add to this a vast array of cosy pubs and you have a perfect day out suited to all levels of experience and ability. A large variety of trekking centres offer various hacks and rides.
4. Rock climbing & Abseiling
Rock Climbing is massively exhilarating and a good way to make the most of the outdoors, for those hens with nerves of steel! With a vast array of steep escarpments, crags, quarries and cliffs, the Brecon Beacons hosts a vast range of rock climbing and abseiling opportunities. What’s more, in sheltered areas you can climb all year round too.
Various experienced specialists run single day activities or courses in both rock climbing and abseiling to suit all abilities.
If you enjoy a treasure hunt, you’ll love Geocaching. This is a great way to explore the Brecon Beacons. There are over 180 Geocaches (like a hidden treasure box) hidden across the Brecon Beacons. All you need is a handheld GPS device and access to the Geocaching website.
This orienteering activity is a fantastic way to take in the beauty of the Brecon Beacons, as you navigate your way around some stunning views or places of historical importance, such as a WWII bomber crash site or the monument to Little Tommy Jones.
So, there you have it. Two stunning areas of beautiful landscapes filled with some excellent and varied activities catering to the adventurous. Mountain verses river, but who can doubt that both will have you heading back time and again?