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Travel to Crickhowell
Crickhowell (population about 2000) is a small, pretty and sheltered thriving Georgian market town and is set between the lower slopes of Table Mountain and the River Usk and arguably the most beautiful valley in the National Park. It has a back-drop of Llangattock Mountain with its great limestone crags. These rocks are popular with climbers and below is the extensive network of caves known as Agen Allwed, which covers 12 miles. Access is restricted to caving clubs. It is a lively, friendly community with a strong identity, excellent individual shops and many superb restaurants. There are first-class primary and secondary schools, a myriad of businesses and organisations, hotels, bunkhouses and guest houses. Although in the heart of beautiful countryside, travel to and from Crickhowell is easy.
Crickhowell Castle was built by the Normans and is located in the town centre. It is thought that it begun life as a motte and bailey castle with timber buildings in the 12th century. It was then rebuilt in stone in 1272. Apparently as the castle has fallen into ruin, locals have robbed some of the stone to build surrounding houses so that now only two towers remain. It is also known as Alisby Castle.
Crickhowell is mostly renowned for its 17th century bridge that spans the River Usk. It is unusual in that when viewed from its eastern end you can see thirteen arches, but when viewed from the western end of the bridge, there are only twelve.
There are many excellent walks on the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons. Horse riding, fishing, and canoeing can all be arranged locally. The River Usk, which flows past the village, is renowned for the good trout and salmon fishing.
The attractive town centre has several shops, a Post Office and a garage. There are some excellent pubs and restaurants in Crickhowell including the Bear Hotel, first recorded date being in the late 15th Century. The Bear was the "Pub of the Year in 1999" and always retains a high standard. Just outside the town is the Nantyffinn Cider Mill Restaurant, an Iron Age Camp and a Castle with a motte and bailey.
Crickhowell is approximately 7 miles from Abergavenny the nearest railway station and 13 miles from the market town of Brecon. London is 2 hours, Birmingham 1.5 hours, and Cardiff just 40 minutes. The nearest bus and railway station is Abergavenny, (6 miles). The nearest airport is Cardiff International (45 miles)
It is believed that Crickhowell has existed since at least the Iron Age when settlers built the hill fort on Crug Hywel also known as Table Mountain. This dominates the landscape at 1,480 feet (451 metres) above Crickhowell. The area was also influenced by the Romans who built forts within the area.
Castell Dinas, north of Crickhowell, are the remains of a castle built in the early Norman period, although before that it was another iron age hillfort. The standing ruins that remain are the northern gate tower that is thought to date from around late 1233. Much of the site is now what looks like grass covered rubble which was once walls and a masonry hall keep. The site is 3 miles southeast of Talgarth at grid reference SO 179 301.
At Tretower, a few miles north of Crickhowell just off the A40 is the fairly intact round tower of Tretower Castle and Court. This site contains examples of several buildings from the 12th century castle to a medieval dwelling. This site is a good example of how the transition was made from castle to residential dwelling. Tretower Court is a late medieval defended house which reflects the fashion of wealthy landowners in the 1300-1700 period. Tretower Castle was built much earlier in the 11th century and started out as a motte and bailey castle. Modifications were made adding stone walls, the keep and the great tower until it was abandoned in the 14th century in preference for the Court.