From rugged coastlines to the stunning peaks of Snowdonia, there’s no shortage of spectacular scenery on the walks in Wales, and it’s easy to admire the view from the extensive array of hiking trails on offer. Whether you fancy tackling the highest point in Wales, or want to check out some of the country’s more remote settings, there’s something for everyone here.
The Golden Road, Preseli Hills, Pembrokeshire
Photo: Gareth James
The Preseli Hills can be found in Pembrokeshire and are a lesser-known hiking alternative to the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. The Golden Road hiking trail is a fantastic route for a gentle, undulating hike offering fantastic views from the spine of the Preseli Hills. On a clear day you’ll be rewarded with vistas of Cardigan Bay, Snowdonia, and even the Emerald Isle glistening in the distance.
The route itself is thought to date back to Neolithic times and offers other historical features such as quarries (where stones are believed to have been removed and taken to Stonehenge), and an interesting Iron Age fortress. It’s a seven-mile route and begins at Bwlch Gwynt, not far from Foel Eryr or the ‘Place of the Eagle’, where you’ll find a Bronze Age burial cairn and wild ponies grazing peacefully.
The Snowdon Horseshoe, Snowdonia
Photo: Steven Brace
No list of one-day walks in Wales would be complete without a mention of it’s highest peak, and it’s a challenge that never gets boring with six different routes to the summit, all offering varying levels of difficulty and length.
We love the classic Snowdon Horseshoe route, a circular trail that delivers the most spectacular views and a challenging traverse along the knife-edge ridge of Crib Goch. Head out early to beat the crowds, but don’t attempt it in windy or poor conditions as the exposure on the ridge is fairly extreme. You’ll need a head for heights and all the suitable gear for this tough but rewarding seven-mile hike that starts at Pen-y-Pass.
Cadair Idris via the Minfford Path, Snowdonia
Photo: Michelle Rousell
The lesser-hiked but equally beautiful Cadair Idris mountain (893m) can be found at the southern end of Snowdonia National Park and makes for one of the best one-day walks in Wales. On approach, you’ll see the handsome Llyn Cau tucked neatly at the foot of the mountain and the views only get better from there on in.
The route begins at the Minfford car park and crosses through some fairy-tale style woodlands complete with the mystical tumbling falls of Nant Cadair. You’ll soon reach the shores of Llyn Cau for a picture-perfect lunch before beginning a steeper ascent to the summit, where you’ll be treated to fantastic views reaching as far as the Cambrian Mountains. You’ll follow the ridgde to head back down, and complete the tough, six-mile hike.
Holyhead Mountain, Anglesey
Photo: Stuart Madden
The rolling countryside and rugged coastline of Anglesey is made ever more picturesque by the perfectly placed, white-washed lighthouse that sits atop a small island just off the coastal path. The Holyhead Mountain walk combines the dramatic scenery of a coastal walk with the varied terrain of hill walking and takes you four and a half miles from the crashing tides of the Irish Sea up to Anglesey’s highest point at the summit of Holyhead Mountain (220m).
The trail begins at a small car park at the Breakwater Country Park, where you follow the path heading south-west towards the cliffs. Nature-lovers should keep their eyes peeled for grey seals, puffins and other unusual species of bird.
Cwm Llwch Horseshoe Walk, Brecon Beacons
Photo: Simon Hurst
A sensational ridge walk that tackles the summit of Pen y Fan (886m), with spectacular views and interesting geological features along the way. It’s a lesser-known alternative route to the highest point in the Brecon Beacons and involves a little bit of scrambling on the first section of the route up to the Craig Fan Ddu ridge, where you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the glacial valley, Port Talbolt and the coast beyond.
After a scenic lunch atop Pen y Fan, make your way to the summit of Corn Du before beginning your descent past interesting features such as the Tommy Jones obelisk and the well-known Llyn Cwm Llwch. The walk begins at the car park of the Old Pump House, from where you can see the full route, and is a challenging eight-mile hike.
What to take with you
For any of the above walks in Wales you’ll need to come prepared with plenty of water, snacks to keep you going, your map, compass and directions, plus a first aid kit, waterproofs and some extra layers, just in case.
The Vaude Brenta 30 backpack is a large and lightweight sporty daypack that is perfect for carrying all your hiking essentials, with an aeroflex system in the back allowing for a circulation of air and an easy-adjust system. With three external pockets, attachments for trekking poles and comfortable, perforated foam shoulder straps, it’s makes an excellent daypack for all your hiking adventures. In fact, it’s been our editor’s go-to pack for the last two years.