Graihagh Jackson - Cottage in Snowdonia National Park
List Words : Graihagh Jackson | 13 March

5 wild Welsh walks

From ancient castle ruins and mountainous heather-strewn paths to sandy shores – Graihagh Jackson discovers five of Wales' wildest walks

1. Offa's Dyke

This walk could easily put off the lily-livered. It's a blister-inducing 177 miles long, winding through eight counties and crossing the Welsh-English border innumerable times. It follows Britain's longest monument and would take two weeks of continuous stomping to complete.

However, there is a less daunting hiking challenge: Vale of Clwyd to Prestatyn is a mere 20 miles and traverses through lavender-set hills and pastoral lands. Thousands of wildfowl and wading birds can be spied in the River Dee estuary at the start of the walk, and further on knock-out views of western Snowdonia can be seen from the Vale's peak. The walk concludes on Prestatyn's sandy beach.

2. Coed-y-Rhaiadr

This Brecon Beacons forested hideaway is a sight for sore eyes. Welsh for 'waterfall woods', it is not short of rolling streams guarded by rocky shores. Greenery lines the banks, hiding the maroon leaf litter scattered across the forest floor.

Hidden away among the trees are Roman ruins, castles and other ancient earthworks. A beautifully isolated patch, this spot is perfect for walking and, weather permitting, a chilly wild swim too.

3. Pembrokeshire Coastal Path

Walking the full 186 mile Pembrokeshire coastal path is no easy task – its 35,000 feet of ascent and descent is said to be equivalent to climbing Everest.

The route twists and turns its way through steep limestone cliffs, undulating red sandstone bays, volcanic headlands and flooded glacial valleys. The Angle peninsula is a pretty wild section of the walk, where the brunt of Irish Sea storms attack. It's also home to the rare cushion starfish. Alternatively, Borough Head has some great cliff-top walks blanketed in spring flowers at this time of year.

4. Snowdonia National Park

Some of the biggest, boldest mountains are found within the Welsh borders in Snowdonia National Park. Snowdon itself is a prime destination for most, although at 1,085m it is definitely not a simple saunter to the top.

However, there are numerous other mountain ranges that are equally as beautiful: there is the slate valleys of Blaenau Ffestiniog; glacial plains of Cader Idris and seaside strolls of Llŷn and Cymdeithas y Beibl.

5. Worm's Head

This unusual rocky feature resembles a serpent semi-submerged in water, winding its way out to sea from the beautiful Rhossili Bay. It's called Worm's Head, meaning 'dragon' when translated from old English.

The walk is only a couple of miles long that races against the tide, so check the tide times before setting off. If you have sharp eyes you'll be able to spot the submerged Helvetia oak barque wreck and seabirds nesting on the cliff face.

(All photographs by Graihagh Jackson)

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