Long distance walkers will be in heaven during a trip to Wales.The country is host to a wide array of beautiful treks through mountains and seaside terrain, including the only path on the planet to cover an entire country’s coastline. Read on to learn about the best long distance hikes in the stunning country of Wales.
1. Offa's Dyke Path
A trail that has been entertaining countless hikers for close to 50 years, the Offa’s Dyke Path is a 177-mile (284.85 km) route that runs the full length of the country and links the north and south coasts. Along the route it skirts Offa’s Dyke, a massive earthwork erected in the middle of the Dark Ages which hugs the boundary between England and Wales and has been shorthand for the border for many a year.
Interesting sites you’ll see en route include the medieval fortifications of Chepstow Castle and White Castle, the ruins of Llanthony Priory and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a World Heritage Site and Britain’s highest and longest viaduct. It was built more than 220 years ago to carry the Llangollen Canal across the valley of the River Dee.
Offa's Dyke Path
Duration: Typically walked in around two weeks, although you can choose to hike smaller sections of it.
Website: National Trails
2. Glyndŵr's Way
A 135-mile (217.2 km) behemoth, which snakes its way around the middle of Wales, Glyndŵr’s Way runs between Knighton, on the edge of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and Welshpool further north. Along the trail, the path winds its way out to Machynlleth near the coast before heading far inland. The walk takes around nine days to complete, although the route is also home to the Rebellion Ultra Marathon, which sees competitors attempt to complete it in no more than 72 hours. Powis Castle in Welshpool and the beautiful Lake Vyrnwy on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park are among the attractions close to the path.
Address: Powis Castle, Welshpool, Powys, SY21 8RF
Price: Adult 12.50 GBP, Child 6.25 GBP, Family 31.25 GBP
Opening Hours: Vary. Check website for details.
Contact: +44 1938 551944 or email [email protected]
Website: Powis Castle
3. Pembrokeshire Coast Path
This path is an epic 186-mile (299.3 km) trek, which hugs the famous coastline of Pembrokeshire in the south-west corner of Wales from Cardigan to Amroth Castle, and runs through the beautiful landscape of the Pembrokeshire National Park. Its location, mile after mile of spectacular cliffs and beaches and the prospect of a visit to the tiny cathedral city of St. Davids bring people to this area time and time again. So much so, in fact, that you may not want your walk to end.
Pembrokeshire Coast Path
Duration: Around 12 days, based on a recommended distance of around 15 miles (24 km) per day. Longer if you decided to factor in the occasional rest day.
Website: Pembrokeshire Coast Path
4. Wales Coast Path
Speaking of which, if you don’t want your walk to end, it doesn’t have to thanks to this monster 870-mile (1,400 km) route. Yes, you read that right, 870 miles (1,400 km)! This is officially the first uninterrupted path on the planet to follow a country’s entire coastline – hence the colossal length. Only the most adventurous of travellers will take it on in its entirety, but then seeing as it follows the whole coast, you can simply pick and choose the bits you most wish to tackle, should you want a taster rather than the full course. Along the way you’ll pass the famous Menai Strait, enjoy views of the huge Cardigan Bay, take in the picturesque Gowar Peninsula – a favoured location for Doctor Who location filming, fact fans – and the big southern cities of Swansea and Cardiff, the country’s capital.
Wales Coast Path
Website: Wales Coast Path
5. Anglesey Coastal Path
A long-distance trek in its own right, the 124-mile (199.5 km) route is also part of the Wales Coast Path and is located on the isle of Anglesey in the north-west corner of the country. Beginning at the official start point of the town of Holyhead, which, ironically, sits on the neighbouring Holy Island and not Anglesey, the route crosses a man-made causeway over to Anglesey which carries road and rail links. The path then completely encircles the island before returning to Holyhead.
Anglesey Coastal Path
Website: Anglesey Coastal Path
6. The Beacons Way
Explore some of the finest landscapes of the Brecon Beacons National Park by tackling one of the shortest routes on this list – the 95 mile (152.8 km) Beacons Way. A relative upstart in the list of British hiking trails, it was only established as recently as 2005 but has already built up a following among hill walkers. The route typically takes around eight days to hike. However, its relatively new status, and the fact it passes through some, at times, challenging terrain means those who embark upon it should be fit and have a working knowledge of navigational skills, especially as there is little waymarking en route. The path takes in the Black Mountains of Pen y Fan and Corn Du, an old Roman road – the Sarn Helen – and the Carmarthen Fans before finishing at the railway station of Llangadog.
Brecon Beacons National Park
Website: Brecon Beacons National Park
7. The Severn Way
A 224-mile (360.4 km) route which follows the course of the River Severn, the longest river in the UK, and whose catchment drains much of the land along the England and Wales border before reaching the sea at the Bristol Channel. Much of the route is in England, but the upper reaches extend into mid Wales where the river has its source. Indeed, the walk begins at the source at Plynlimon in Wales before passing through Welshpool – of Powis Castle fame – and along the Montgomeryshire Canal (pictured), then through Ironbridge, a cradle of the Industrial Revolution and famous for being the site of the world’s first iron bridge. Ultimately, it passes into Gloucester and Berkeley Castle, the scene where King Edward II is thought to have been murdered in 1327, before reaching the Severn Estuary and concluding at Bristol.
The Severn Way
Website: The Severn Way
8. The Llŷn Coastal Path
This 91-mile (146.45 km) waymarked footpath, which opened in 2006, hugs the coastline of the Llŷn Peninsula between Caernarfon and Porthmadog in the north-west of the country. The peninsula is an officially designated area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and, as it’s coastal, is also part of the far larger Wales Coast Path.
A sight to watch out for on your travels is the small isle of Bardsey Island at the peninsula’s tip. The walk itself is thought to follow an old pilgrimage trail towards this island, which has a long spiritual history dating back to the creation of the first monastery on the site by Saint Cadfan during the Dark Ages. Legends also swirl about the island – the fabled King Arthur is rumoured to be buried somewhere on the isle. And its wildlife is also of importance, with many bird species calling it home. Between March and October the island is open to visitors, who can enjoy boat trips and spend a day – and even longer – by arrangement.
The Bardsey Island Trust
Website: The Bardsey Island Trust
Time to create some memories
Walk your way into Wales’ heart and let the country into yours by taking on one of these long distance routes, either in whole or in part. It’s a great way to get to know a place, and you’ll return home with a treasure trove of memories.
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