Crooked Valleys and Dragon Breath: The Brecon Beacons, Wales

Moss-covered mountains, swirling mist and snow-shrouded hills: a snapshot of the Brecon Beacons from season to season.

You don't have to travel far in the UK to find a beautiful landscape. Just over an hour from Bristol lies the Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales; 520 square miles of mountains, forests, valleys and lakes. The national park covers three distinct ranges, the Black Mountains in the east, the central Beacons, and the brooding Black Mountain in the west.

In the centre of the park rises the highest peak in southern Britain, Pen-Y-Fan Mountain, ancient and worn smooth having formed beneath glaciers in the Ice Age. The moss-covered mountains swirl mist like clouds of dragon breath over the peaks and into the crooked valleys of sandstone carved out by meandering rivers. Mountain lakes form like giant soup bowls providing an upland habitat for wildlife. In the summer, fluffy white cotton grass covers the tops of the hills while the faint sound of skylarks drifts over the breeze.

When autumn and winter are quiet here; brave the mountains in the snow for an eerily silent experience, or strain your ears and you might hear the soft patter of snowflakes as dark heavy clouds hang over the shoulders of the hills.

The green coats of the mountains in summer are spectacular, but it isn't until the hills are under their snowy shrouds in winter that you get to see the truly moody and majestic colours of the Beacons.

@lucygold |

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