Hiking in North Wales

Anglesey Coastal Path, photo by GanMed64 on Flickr

People who go to Wales expecting some nice, relaxing, and above all, flat walks, will be sorely disappointed. However, if you like challenges, rugged terrain infused with history and legends, and jaw-dropping sights, then North Wales will not let you down. The northern regions of Wales are famous for their picturesque towns, but if you’re a traveler with itchy feet and a wish for sore muscles, then you have to take the way of the wild and proceed to do some serious hiking. North Wales is in possession of not only the stunning Snowdonia National Park, but also three of AONB (areas of outstanding natural beauty) in Wales. If you are an outdoors person, hiking in North Wales will be one of the best experiences in your life.

About North Wales

photo by Kirsty Hall

The beauty of North Wales is that it is as ‘Welsh’ as anything, and most of the people you will encounter on your way will be Welsh speakers. Of course, most inhabitants are bilingual, so no need to take any crash courses in Welsh language (although some knowledge of the language would prove to be useful in some of the more remote regions). North Wales is home to some 500 castles, some dating back to the 12th century, some intact but many of them in ruins. When hiking in North Wales, it’s almost inevitable to come across some ancient structure, so make sure you give it due respect (according to the eco-traveling mantra: leave only footprints and take only photos).

Destinations

photo by Shaun Dunphy

The Isle of Anglesey, separated by the mainland by the rather treacherous Menai Strait presents some of the most delightful hiking trails in the country. The large island’s most valuable resource is its craggy and utterly beautiful coastline. The Coastal Path encircles the whole islands and can give you an eyeful of the best of Anglesey: jagged cliffs, sandy beaches, dunes, estuaries, small fishing villages and lively port towns.

Offa’s Dyke path is rather more challenging, not only because of the landscape, but also because of the semi-constant gusts of strong wind. Offa’s Dyke Path was commissioned by King Offa, the 8th century King of Mercia, and although it was hand-dug it is still in great shape. It takes about two weeks to complete the trail, but most people tackle only sections of it.

The Llyn Peninsula has wonderful landscape and miles and miles of hiking trails and difficult walking paths. The 95 miles of coastal path might be too much for one go, but you can take shorter hikes between various stops like the old village of Port y Nant, the equally fascinating Nant Gwrtheryn. The coastal path is a centuries old pilgrim’s way, leading pilgrims to Aberdarom where they crossed to Bardsey Island, ‘The Isle of 20,000 saints’.

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