Walking in Wales
Isle of Anglesey
Most of Anglesey's 125-mile coastline is classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, making it one of the most important wildlife habitats in the whole of the British Isles. The rocky cliffs, quiet sheltered coves and open wetlands are a birdwatchers' paradise, attracting puffins, guillemots, razorbills, terns and cormorants and many varieties of wading birds and wildfowl. The island also celebrates its human heritage; ancient burial chambers, known as cromlechs, show us that Anglesey has been inhabited from 4000BC. Combine a walking route with a visit to one of the many neolithic and Bronze Age sites dotted around the island, and soak up the atmosphere of this timeless landscape.
North Wales Coast
The North Wales coast has a lot of excellent value accommodation in a variety of seaside towns, making it ideal for long or short walking breaks. And since the A55 has made access easier and quicker, the coast has never been so accessible. Stretching from Prestatyn (also the terminus for Offa’s Dyke and the Dysarth Way) to Bangor in the west, the North Wales Path connects traditional seaside promenades with quieter villages. Get the train from Deganwy to Llandudno town, and then walk back around the Great Orme and alongside Conwy Sands for great views, which will include Liverpool Bay, Anglesey, and Snowdonia’s range. Or, take the train to Abergele, roll your trousers up, and paddle your way back to Rhyl. Llanfairfechan is a good place to disembark. Follow the coast path alongside the Lavan Sands Nature Reserve, before heading inland to see Aber Falls.
Elsewhere on the path, inland views provide tantalising glimpses of a turbulent past with Gwrych Castle near Abergele, Conwy Castle dominating its estuary and Penrhyn Castle near Bangor. If you’re using public transport or getting a lift one way, always travel away from your start point and walk back to avoid any last minute dashes to catch buses or trains. The North Wales coast shouldn’t be rushed. That’s what the A55 is for.
Snowdonia Mountains and Coast
The Snowdonia National Park contains some of the most dazzling mountain scenery in the UK. With their reputation for rough rocky outcrops, vertiginously sheer cliffs and scooped glacial cwms, the mountains have shaped the livelihood of the people who’ve lived here. If you wish to explore the land but don't know where to start, it would be worth contacting expert guides who can help you orientate yourself initially with Snowdonia. Only a short distance away from this spectacular land of mountains you can discover breathtaking coastline. The Llŷn Coastal Footpath provides you golden opportunity to experience the coastal landscape by following this winding route.There are small coves and wide expanses of sand, rugged cliffs and small harbours waiting to be discovered.
Morning on the Llyn Peninsula is spectacular. Almost anywhere you stay, the sea is there when you open the curtains. The pointy mountains are an extinct range of volcanoes and you’re never far from them. Families with children come here because you can pretty much count on being able to go walking from your front door. You don’t have to travel far, and if you did want to travel, to Portmeirion, say, or to Caernarfon for the shops and castle, Llyn’s a small place and the journeys are short. You can feel cut off without actually being cut off.Llyn’s popular beaches,offer some of the best surfing in the whole of Wales. And there are also big, quiet stretches of sand like Porth Oer, known as Whistling Sands because the dry sand squeaks as you walk on it.
North Wales Borderland
The North Wales Borderlands is culturally Welsh but it is also strongly influenced by its proximity to England. The region is easily accessible and has its own special flavour making it the ideal destination for a holiday or short break. Best of all, the North Wales Borderlands is forging a reputation for quality accommodation and fine cuisine – sourced wherever possible from fresh local produce.A variety of walking routes that can suit every mood, interest and ability can be found. Rambling along the pathways on our shoreline and riversides will allow you to explore the Dee Estuary, for example, and its internationally important population of wading birds or the wooded slopes in and around Llangollen. Or perhaps you might like to follow the famous Offa’s Dyke National Trail, a 177-mile route from Prestatyn to Chepstow.
The Berwyn Hills in northeast Wales are ideal if you like to notch up high-level moorland miles, or meander along waymarked woodland trails. The most popular high-level route is on the Berwyn Ridge, which is now fully open to the public. This high ridge gives spectacular views across Snowdonia.
On the more relaxed days, you can explore historic abbeys, wander through wooded valleys or walk to a famous waterfall that is higher than Niagara. Whether you’re following in historic footsteps along the Offa’s Dyke Path, using the forestry centres as a walking base or taking the road less-travelled in the Berwyn Hills, there’s much more to this quiet countryside than first meets the eye.
Walkers who dismiss the Clwydian Hills are missing a treat. This short 20-mile range of undulating hill and moorland may not be mountainous, but the views on offer are impressive. Separating the luscious Vale of Clwyd from the Dee Estuary, this open, expansive ridge is often called the north-eastern rampart of Wales.
When you reach the summit of Moel Famau (Mother Mountain), the highest point on the range at 1,818 feet, you realise just what the Clwydian Range has up its sleeve. The 360-degree views capture most of north Wales on a clear day. You can see Snowdonia to the west, Liverpool and its bay to the north, with the vast Cheshire Plain round to the south and east. This spot was chosen to erect a large folly to mark the golden jubilee of George III in 1850. The huge Egyptian style pyramid was designed to tower 150 feet above the summit, but unfortunately a wild storm damaged it ten years later.
The final section of The Offa’s Dyke National Trail is routed across the Clwydian Hills, further proving that walkers should take this area seriously. Loggerheads Country Park Visitor Centre provides the perfect place to start exploring the area, and Denbighshire County Council have designed several circular walks in the area that link up with Offa’s Dyke. Hey presto! – and the magic of moorland appears right before your very eyes!
Cardigan Bay’s long sandy coastline is dotted with pretty fishing villages like Aberaeron and Llangrannog. It’s one of two sites in the UK with a resident population of bottlenose dolphins. The coast between New Quay and Cemaes Head has been the area of greatest observer effort over the years, with dolphins often sighted from land in sheltered waters near New Quay, Ynys Lochtyn, Aberporth, Mwnt, and the Teifi Estuary.Take a dolphin-spotting cruise to Cardigan Island, or keep a sky-wards eye when you’re walking to see a red kite hovering overhead.
Mid Wales is reserved especially for you. No crowds, no hassle, no pressure. You enter a gentle heartland where the scenery is spectacular, the roads are quiet and the vibrant towns welcome you with open arms. Serendipity is never far from you so keep an eye out for events that flourish in even the smallest village and prepare to be startled by the red kites that circle in the sky in search of their prey.
The most easterly peaks in the Brecon Beacons are the Black Mountains where you’ll find tiny villages and churches set in a rolling green landscape of picturesque hills and valleys. Don’t mistake the area for the Black Mountain however; the Black Mountain (singular) is a spectacular wilderness environment in its own right, but the Black Mountains (plural) are a little less demanding for the laid-back walker.The Black Mountains have long narrow valleys and isolated farms reminiscent of Bruce Chatwin’s novel On the Black Hill, which was based in the Crasswell area near Hay Bluff. The mountains rise above 2000ft. If you don’t want to climb the highest, Waun Fach, you can walk instead along the long, heath-covered ridges that cross the area – all of them have wonderful views.
Nowhere are the beautiful beaches and imposing headlands of Wales more accessible to the walker than in Britain’s only coastal national park, Pembrokeshire. This remote corner of the south-west is home to the longest of the three National Trails, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path – a 186 mile long meandering odyssey that hugs the surf between St Dogmaels and Amroth.
The walking is enthralling, with most of the miles on narrow cliff-top paths that run over headlands and down to the sea. The trail passes through some breathtaking scenery. From rugged headlands that jut stubbornly out into thunderous seas, to narrow crescents of bone-white sand, lapped upon by a cerulean ocean. Sea birds fill the skies whilst porpoises, seals and even dolphins vie for your attention in the waves.
The bluestones of Stonehenge come from Pembrokeshire’s Preseli Hills, and were hewn from the rugged tor of Carn Menyn. Close to Carn Menyn runs the Golden Road, an ancient track that would have been a main trade route between Wessex and Ireland when bears and wolves still roamed the valleys.Nearby, Iron Age earthworks and burial cairns adorn a loftier summit. A stone circle named Beddarthur (Arthur’s Grave), draws attention to the legend of the Mabinogion. Arthur and his knights crossed the ridge and fought Twrch Trwyth, the magic boar, on Cwmcerwyn.History and legend aside, walking in the Preseli Hills makes a refreshing interlude from the stunning coast path. The views from the tops seem to go on forever.
Carmarthen's hills and moors rise to over 2,500 feet stretching northwards to include the southern end of the Cambrian Mountains and eastward to include the Carmarthen Fans in the west of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Carmarthenshire's remote and tranquil environments are a stronghold of the 'bird of Wales' the red kite, which has recently recovered from the brink of extinction.
Carmarthenshire's stunningly varied scenery includes Brechfa, Crychan and Pembrey Forests covering thousands of acres criss-crossed by forest tracks and public rights of way. In its agricultural hinterland green patchworks of lowland landscape are watered by rich and fertile valleys.
Carmarthenshire's coast continues eastwards from the end of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path at Amroth. Beautiful beaches are divided by expansive estuaries where the rivers Taf, Tywi, Gwendraeth and Loughor flow into Carmarthen Bay. The silence here is only broken by the sounds of the sea and the wading and migratory birds feeding on the sandbanks. Dramatically poised on a craggy outcrop overlooking the edge of the Black Mountain near Trapp stand the ruins of one of the most romantically situated castles in Wales, Carreg Cennen.
Swansea Bay, Mumbles & Gower
Swansea Bay, Mumbles & Gower is the ideal location for spectacular scenery and fresh air. From dramatic cliff tops over looking beautiful bays to moors and commons scattered with ancient standing stones and hill forts. Swansea Bay's diverse landscape offers a complete range of walks to suit all ages and abilities.For a relaxing, family-friendly option, stroll along Swansea’s fabulous seafront promenade or through Clyne Country Park. Serious ramblers may prefer a more energetic, off-the-beaten-track experience along our coastal paths or across Gower’s stunning countryside.
And we have even catered for those who do not have a car, or prefer to use public transport with four ‘Walking By Bus’ leaflets for Gower - Penmaen, Worm’s Head, Langland and Caswell and Llanmadoc. These leaflets show how you can catch a bus, take a short two mile walk, and hop back on the next bus to come home! Whatever your idea of a walk is, give Swansea Tourist Information Centre a ring on 01792 468321, they’ll be sure to set you off on the right foot!
The Welsh Valleys
The stretch of South Wales known as the Valleys is a great tract of upland, cut through by deep, high-sided valleys. It is about 35 miles from Pontypool in the east to Neath, as the crow flies. Between the two more than a dozen valleys are intertwined, filling the country from the Brecon Beacons to the sea. Roads and railways stick to the valley bottoms, while the many, very good, longer trails make the best of the upland ridges.
At one time this corner of Wales was thick with mines. For a time in the first quarter of the last century it produced a third of the world’s coal. But today, just a single mine, the workers’ co-op Tower Colliery, is still in business. Now the Valleys are reinventing themselves, with walking trails that take you through gritty industrial landscapes and way up to wild hilltops.
Wye Valley & Vale of Usk
The Wye Valley and Vale of Usk, on the border between England and Wales, is a beautiful and varied area which attracts walkers from all over Europe.Most walks take in a water course for some of their length, whether it’s the canal or one of the rivers originating in the Brecon Beacons. This landscape is dense with long distance paths; many walkers pass through on the Offa’s Dyke Path, the north-south traverse of the border country. Some come to sample the best of the Wye Valley Walk (waymarked with the sign of a leaping salmon). If that sounds too energetic, you can browse a good selection of locally-available leaflets and packs to find walks to suit you, whatever your ability or interest.
Vale of Glamorgan
In 1973, the Glamorgan Coast became the first coastline in Wales to be awarded Heritage Coast protection. With stunning views across the Bristol channel to Exmoor, this area is quiet and crowd free.The best place to start exploring is at the Dunraven Bay Heritage Coast Centre, where 14 miles of dramatic limestone and shale striped cliffs, boulder-strewn beaches and sections of wide, white-sanded beaches are just waiting to be explored. It’s possible to walk along the beach here for miles, but watch the tide at all times. Further around the coast near Merthyr Mawr, there are huge exposed sand dunes which are being created by the prevailing winds.In the east, a path from Penarth Esplanade to Lavernock Point, gives views across to Flat Holm in the Bristol Channel, and is where Marconi sent his first radio transmission across water. To the west, the Ogmore and Garw are two parallel coal-mining valleys, separated by hills that offer stunning views.The Vale of Glamorgan is a fertile land separating two of Wales’ biggest cities, Cardiff and Swansea and bordered in the north by the M4. The Valeways Millennium Trail provides the perfect way to explore this intimate and quiet area. Split into 16 short sections, this 72 mile routes shows you farmland and the coast, industrial and prehistoric remains, burial chambers and charming villages.