Stunning landscapes, prehistoric sites and locations of legend. Explore them all along the best walking trails in Wales. Here’s our guide to six of them.
Preseli Hills Walk
It may come as a surprise that the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park features a hilly inland area, but the astonishing beauty of that area probably won’t. The views from the peaks of the Preseli Hills extend up to the mountains of Snowdonia, out over the stunning southwestern coastline of Wales, and out far across to the shores of Ireland.
The trail of the Preseli Hills Walk is believed to have been trodden since the Stone Age and weaves past an impressive selection of the many prehistoric sites strewn among the area’s hillsides and valleys. Its route passes through Pantmaenog Forest, by the Bronze Age burial cairn of Foel Feddau, up over the stony crown of Carn Bica where you can gaze down upon the standing stones of Bedd Arthur, and close to the iron age hill fort of Foel Drygarn. The Preseli Hills Walk is one of the best walking trails in Wales for anyone seeking a combination of sublime natural beauty and the chance to explore fascinating remains of the prehistoric past.
Llangollen Canal Path
Llangollen Canal Path is a gentle stroll with a spectacular final stretch. Its entire 6-mile length comprises of towpath and therefore remains consistently level. Follow the sleepy flow of the canal as it drifts through the idyllic pastoral landscape of Llangollen, then ready yourself for the main event: crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Pontcysyllte is huge. This World Heritage Site is the longest aqueduct in Britain and the highest canal aqueduct on the planet. Incredible views of the Vale of Llangollen line the entire length of its walkway.
The Trotting Mare Caravan Park is one of our top 100 and lies only a few miles east of Llangollen. This adults-only park has its own pub and is situated in a wonderful country location.
Cwm Idwal Walk
Cwm Idwal Walk is a 4-mile trail that circumnavigates its namesake, Cwm Idwal, an amphitheatre-like valley gouged from the side of the rocky Glyderau mountains by glacial activity thousands of years ago. One section of the walk offers an amazing view of Llyn Ogwen: the legendary home of the Lady of the Lake and King Arthur’s sword, Excalibur.
Of all the walks in Wales, this is one of the best for getting a chance to spot rare plants. Cwm Idwal is the southernmost place in the British Isles where Arctic plants grow and one of the few habitats of the elusive Snowdon Lilly, a plant only found on Snowdon and its surrounding mountains.
Four Waterfalls Walk
The Four Waterfalls Walk leads deep though the heart of Waterfall Country, a region of the Brecon Beacons national park famous for its many beautiful waterfalls. The winding woodland trail passes four of the best in the area. The first waterfall on the route is Sgwd Clun-Gwyn: a two-tiered, picture-perfect curtain of white water. Next is Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, which resembles a little woodland cousin of distant Niagara. Sgwd y Pannwr is the third. Its many cascades tumble into a large plunge pool. The tall Sgwd yr Eira is the last. This waterfall offers a special opportunity to pass behind its curtain.
Occasional challenging sections add a sense of adventure and excitement to the four-mile route. The Four Waterfalls Walk also includes an option to explore an underground cave. Batman fans might want to make the short journey to Henrhyd Falls, the location used for Batman’s cave in The Dark Knight Rises.
Dinas Emrys Walk
Dinas Emrys, a wooded hill in northwest Wales, is said to be the dwelling place of the mythical Welsh dragon. Legend has it that many centuries ago, the semi-mythical King Vortigern made several failed attempts to build a castle atop its summit. Finally, he sought the advice of the wizard Merlin, who revealed that a fight raging between a red and a white dragon beneath the surface of the hill was causing of the repeated collapse of the king’s half-built castles. Vortigern then ordered a hole to be dug through which the dragons could escape. After its completion, the white dragon flew away, leaving the red dragon to reside peacefully within Dinas Emrys.
Along the Dinas Emrys Walk, you’ll pass through oak forests and by waterfalls until eventually reaching the top of the hill. Once there, you’ll find amazing panoramic views of rocky mountains and lush green countryside. You’ll also have the chance to explore what remains of a real medieval castle that was once a stronghold of the Princes of Gwynedd. And don’t worry about the dragon. Nowadays you’re much more likely to see it fluttering on the Welsh flag.
Rhossili Headland Walk
Even within its Gower Peninsula Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty surroundings, Rhossili Bay stands out. If you want the opportunity to stand back and admire this natural masterpiece of golden sands and rugged cliffs head out on the 3.5-mile Rhossili Headland Walk. You might also consider including a visit to Worm's Head, a tidal island that lies off the headland. You can find information about the best times to make the crossing at the local coastguard lookout. After you’ve finished gazing in awe at Rhossili Bay, why not head down into it? Its beach is just as fantastic to relax on as it is to look at.
South Wales Touring Park/Llwynifan Farm is another of our top 100 parks. It’s located northwest of Swansea and is the perfect base for exploring the Gower Peninsula.
These six trails can each be walked within a day. If a longer hike through the Welsh countryside takes your fancy, you’ll find just what you’re looking for in our guide to the National Trails in Wales.
Enjoy your walk!