Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales


13.3 km, loop


4.5 hours



submitted by: Craig Taylor

pictures by: Craig Taylor

Why you should do this route

The Horseshoe hike is undoubtedly one of the most popular in all of the Brecon Beacons National Park. And while this might lead you to believe that you won’t have the views to yourself, the thickness of the trails and the size of the peaks mean that you will never really feel overrun with people. Popularity is a sign of quality, after all — and this is one truly beautiful walk. 

How to follow the route

The walk itself starts and ends at the foot of the valley that is cast out beneath the epic peaks of Corn Du, Pen y Fan and Cribyn. If you start early, watching the sun creep over the western ridge and illuminate these sleeping giants is quite a sight to behold — as is watching them go to bed at night. Whatever time of day you start, however, you’re going to head up the trail along the western ridge known locally as ‘the Gap’. This seemingly endless trail takes you from the valley floor to the foot of Cribyn. From there, it’s a relentless slog up one seriously steep slope to summit your first peak of the day. 

If you feel like the trail is too steep (or slippery if it’s raining), you can also take the path which skirts along the foot of the hill, avoiding Cribyn entirely. 

From there, it’s up to Pen y Fan. At this point, you walk along the ‘Saddle’, an epic trail that straddles the two peaks. If the clouds are clear, the views are amazing, casting generous sights over Brecon, the Black Mountains and Pontsticil Reservoir.

From the summit of Pen y Fan, you walk along an equally stunning ridge over to its nearby neighbour, Corn Du. From here, a whole new valley emerges out of the landscape, casting views down over Wales’ best preserved glacial lake, Llyn Cwm Llwch, and across to the eastern edges of the park. And these sights signify something else, too — that you’re done with the brutal uphill stretches for the day. Three peaks are now behind you. All that’s left is a slow and steady downhill descent along the western ridge, back to the now-dried-out Upper Neuadd Reservoir and to the car park where you started it all. 

Additional information

The trail itself is well-maintained the whole way round. There are no trail markers along the way whatsoever, however, so it’d be good to take a map/use a GPS app on your phone. 

The hike itself will take you around four hours to complete, and good footwear is a must. You should also pack a rain jacket (and potentially rain trousers), even if the weather forecast is not predicting rain. 

One final tip: You won’t have any phone signal from the moment you enter the park to the moment you first get up Cribyn. This means that if you plan on following a GPS track on your phone, you may want to ensure your maps are stored offline/accessible without data before you go.

Navigate with Outdoor Active

Do it yourself

Start of the trail


Follow right side of the trail

51.84648, -3.401712

Go left

51.874917, -3.408076


51.881827, -3.419493

Pen y Fan

51.884053, -3.436841

Corn Du

51.881642, -3.443791

Go left

51.854353, -3.425666

Turn right and go straight until you arrive at starting point

51.852044, -3.407402