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Footpath work on the Brecon Beacons mountain range

A view of Corn Du mountainside in the Brecon Beacons showing the steep slope and footpath erosion.
The footpath between Corn Du and Pen y Fan | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

Over 500,000 walkers tread the footpaths of Pen y Fan every year, with numbers more than doubling in the last five years. This, coupled with the harsh climate in the central Brecon Beacons, means the footpaths are subject to erosion that needs to actively managed. Our team of rangers and volunteers use traditional techniques to maintain and protect this living landscape to ensure that everyone can enjoy their visit.

How is the erosion repaired?

Back in the 1980s, before we started repairing the footpaths, the slopes of Pen y Fan were covered with vast erosion scars.

Since then, the team has embarked on an ambitious programme of upland path repair. They’ve created 15km of stone pitched paths within the 70km footpath network that criss-crosses the central Brecon Beacons, built 400 drainage ditches, introduced 500 culverts and re-vegetated an area as large as 30 football pitches.

Regular ranger visits

Our rangers are up on the mountain on a regular basis keeping up with repairs. In summer you’ll find them closer to the peaks, working on the high sections of path, and in winter, on the lower slopes, closer to the car park.

Their aim is to control the erosion on the footpaths using traditional techniques to prevent further loss of soil. It’s a cyclical process and you’ll find the team continually have to balance re-visiting sections of footpath, which need to be re-done every five years, and starting work in new areas.

What methods do we use?

The paths are constructed using a traditional method called stone pitching, which has been in use since Roman times. Individual stones are placed upright in the ground and stabilised by being packed tightly with smaller stones and soil.

Once the path is constructed, the surrounding areas are landscaped, banks sloped and the whole area re-vegetated.

How much does this cost?

Every year it costs around £100,000 in constructing and maintaining the footpath network in the central Brecon Beacons.

In recent years, there’s been an increase in walkers so there’s an urgent need to repair additional sections of footpath. We’ve re-launched the Brecon Beacons fundraising appeal campaign to carry out this essential work in what may be the busiest tourist season ever in the Brecon Beacons.

How you can help?

If you’re passionate about the Brecon Beacons mountain range and want to help maintain the footpaths leading to Pen y Fan, you can do so by donating to our Brecon Beacons appeal. Your support will help fund much needed erosion control allowing us to keep this special place accessible to all.

Joining the team as a volunteer

Throughout the year there are opportunities to get involved with the footpath maintenance project. If you’d like to find out more about volunteering with the team, you can email the team:

A view of walkers on a steep hillside on the Cwm Llwch horseshoe trail, Brecon Beacons, Powys, with rolling hills and woodland in the far distance.


Everyone needs nature, now more than ever. Donate today and you could help people and nature to thrive at the places we care for.

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