The little market town of Crickhowell is nestled in the Usk Valley on the eastern edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park, making it a honeypot for hikers, rock climbers, mountain bikers and fishers eager to play in this wild Welsh playground. The town boasts a diverse range of independent shops and cafes, the ruins of a Norman castle, and a 17th century bridge that spans the River Usk (bizarrely, it has 12 arches on one side, and 13 on the other). It’s also a great base for exploring the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, a lush green artery that winds its way through the mountains and valleys all the way up to Brecon. The canal is cut off from the rest of the network and you can easily walk or navigate along it over a few days, taking in astounding views of the looming Beacons.
Take a walk along the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal
You can stride out on so many footpaths from Crickhowell, to explore the Usk Valley and Brecon Beacons beyond. This five-mile stroll, which takes you along the canal and past Llangattock Church (one of the oldest churches in Britain) and a giant redwood, is a local classic. Find the walk here.
Peep into tiny churches
If you have a few days in the area, it’s definitely worth seeking out this fascinating trio of churches in the nearby Ewyas Valley. The Church of St Martin in Cwmyoy is a twisted and higgledy-piggledy building due to subsidence in its foundations. Partrishow Church has a spooky mural of a skeleton on its walls that simply won’t disappear despite being whitewashed many times. The Church of St Mary is a tumbledown cottage of a church that has room for only 20 parishioners.
Tuck into local food
Fill up on Welsh lamb or a juicy local steak at the Bear Hotel, a 15th-century coaching inn and a Crickhowell institution that’s always buzzing with locals. Stay in one of its quaint oak-beamed bedrooms as many a weary traveller did centuries ago.