Old park, new name

Dan yr Ogof, at the National Showcaves Centre for Wales, in Bannau Brycheiniog.
Dan yr Ogof, at the National Showcaves Centre for Wales, in Bannau Brycheiniog. Photo/Jim Cornall

If your ability to pronounce the names of some of the hiking hotspots around the UK is lacking – whether it’s Gaelic or Welsh – you’re not alone.

And if the thought of messing them up fills you with fear, then maybe look away – because the Brecon Beacons National Park is now officially known as Bannau Brycheiniog.

The new name, which took effect last month– the 66th anniversary of the Park’s designation – is pronounced ‘ban-eye bruck-ein-iog.’

The name is derived from the plural of ‘ban’, which means ‘peak,’ while ‘Brycheiniog’ refers to the old kingdom of King Brychan. Translated, it means The Peaks of Brychan’s Kingdom.

With the central Beacons mountain range covering only a small proportion of the Park’s geography, and no evidence that burning beacons ever existed on the Park’s summits, it was felt the area needed a title more in keeping with its Welsh heritage.

The change is part of the implementation of a new management plan designed to address the climate and biodiversity emergency and directly addresses problems the park faces.

A series of projects is under way with partner organisations to attempt to halt, and reverse, the impact of climate change in the 520 square mile park. This includes 16,000 hectares of peatland restoration; the planting of 1 million new trees; water quality improvement, including getting rivers to bathing water quality standard; curlew population recovery; the creation of wildlife corridors to link habitats; floodplains to hold water, encouraging diverse plants to thrive in order to store both carbon and nutrients; and sustainable transport solutions.

Bannau Brycheiniog National Park chief executive, Catherine Mealing-Jones, said, “With four million plus visitors to the Bannau each year, we know we can’t put a fence around nature – we have to be proactive. Our new management plan tackles climate change head on as we transition to net zero by 2035. Action will be happening across the Bannau to restore nature’s ability to capture carbon from the atmosphere. 

“We want to create thriving and sustainable places celebrated for their cultural and natural heritage. If we get this right, Bannau Brycheiniog can be an exemplar for other National Parks to follow. Reclaiming our old name reflects our commitment to the Welsh language, but we understand people are used to calling the Park by the name everyone’s used for 66 years so we don’t expect everyone to use Bannau Brycheiniog, at least straight away.”