Back Of Brecon

A Classic Town Walk

Exploring Brecon Town

GRADE is easy walking, uneven in places, and a few  areas unsuitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs ( an alternative route  is available for avoiding the Usk Bridge steps).

This circular walk explores the back streets of Brecon and their rich history.

GRADE is easy walking, uneven in places, and a few  areas unsuitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs ( an alternative route  is available for avoiding the Usk Bridge steps).

This is a good introductory walk for getting your bearings around the town. It can be completed in one hour, but allows for stopping and looking at points of interest. You will get a good sense of the history of Brecon, see buildings and places of interest you may wish to return to, and note the starting points for scenic walks that will take you outside the centre itself. 

Lion Yard – Start at Visit Brecon – This was once the site of the stables of the Golden Lion Inn.  Fifty horses would be accommodated at any one time and the stagecoach from Gloucester stopped here.  In winter, dances and banquets were frequently held in the Guildhall nearby. 

Alexandra Road- Crossing the main car park, go up two sets of steps and you will come to Alexandra Rd.  From 1866 to 1962, the railway line to Neath used the land now occupied by the inner ring road.  Turn right on to Lon-y-Coed Lane and continue, walk past Mount St Junior School and on the left you come to the King Charles Steps. 

King Charles Steps – The name commemorates the king’s visit to Brecon in 1645 when he was trying to raise troops for the Civil War. Turn right at the bottom of the steps and walk a short distance. As you cross over the road and continue for a short distance you will see a small white iron bridge over the River Honddu: this leads into Priory Groves.  

 Priory Groves and Brecon Cathedral- As you follow the footpath that curves upward, with the Cathedral on your left, you will encounter what was Brecon’s first water supply.  In the 1840s there was a serious cholera outbreak which unsurprisingly ended its use.  Take the path which leads you to Brecon Cathedral graveyard.  Walking through the graveyard, you can find a memorial to a French soldier, kept prisoner here in 1797 after an invasion in Pembrokeshire. Walk through the graveyard which will lead you to Priory Hill; please cross with care! Face downhill and two roads down on the right is The Postern. 

The Postern – There are two interesting landmarks in this old street: the old primary school and the old goal. This street was the site of the viaduct that carried the railway over the Honddu. Follow the road round and up the incline to Castle Square.

Castle Square- The Castle of Brecon Hotel was built in 1805 to satisfy British tourists who could no longer take the Grand Tour of Europe on account of Napoleon’s activities on the continent. Visiting ruins and mountains became popular pursuits. Behind the big gates opposite the hotel is the Archbishop of Wales’ residence. Within the grounds is Ely Tower, famous in 1483 for imprisoning the Bishop of Ely, whose talks with the 3rd Duke of Buckingham initiated the downfall of Richard III and the victory of Henry VII in 1485.

Red Footpath- Continue through Castle Square, crossing Castle Bridge, bearing right on Market Street which will lead you to the Usk Bridge. The studs in the road at the traffic lights mark the site of the bridge gate. Cross the road on the town side of the bridge and go down the steps ahead of you to the red footpath. The red footpath follows the route of
the town walls, which were partially demolished by the town’s citizens to stave off a siege by Oliver Cromwell’s men in 1649. When you come to the end of the footpath, take the middle road, Canal Lane, which will lead you to the canal basin.

Theatr Brycheiniog and the canal basin- The canal basin disappeared when the canal was taken over by the Great Western Railway in the 19th century, but in the 1990s it was re-established. The Theatr Brycheiniog was built here probably on account of the success of the annual Brecon Jazz Festival, at its height in the 1980s and 1990s. Continue for a short time along the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal and then cross the pedestrianised bridge onto Gas Works Lane.

Gas Works Lane- The town’s gas supply was provided from here until
the late 20th century and much money was spent in decontaminating the site to allow housing, namely Elliot’s Place. Entering the Watton, notice the 24 trees planted to commemorate the 24th Regiment of Foot, (South Wales Borderers) famous for the defence of Rorke’s Drift in 1879. Turn right and continue along the Watton, heading out of Brecon towards the barracks.

Borderers Way- Aptly named, this area backs onto the barracks, built in the early 19th century. Troops were dispatched to Merthyr Tydfil during unruly times, perhaps most notably during the 1831 Merthyr Uprising, which amongst others involved Dic Penderyn. As you follow the footpath into Brecon, where the fire station is now was once the site of
the railway station; it had three routes from Brecon. Continue where you will pass the Markets Tavern, which is so called because the Brecon Livestock Market was situated here until the supermarket was built in 2000.



REFS: Grid: SO045286   POSTCODE:  LD3 7BA

STARTING POINT: Visit Brecon office 

TIME:   1- 1.5 hours

FACILITIES: There are toilets opposite Visit Brecon, in the cathedral and in Theatr Brycheiniog

Contact Details

About Us

 Visit Brecon is funded by Brecon Town Council. Staff and volunteers provide a comprehensive information service for visitors to Brecon and the surrounding area. 

Contact Us

P:  +44 (0)1874 620860


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A: 11 Lion YardBrecon, Powys LD3 7BA, Wales, UK

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