To celebrate National Walking month this May, we have put together our top 5 walks you can do for an adventure-filled day out in Wales, in collaboration with OS GetOutside Champion Tracy Purnell.
We all love a coastal walk; dogs included! Absorbing the fresh sea air, taking in the panoramic views and walking miles of sandy beaches, the coast lifts our spirits and makes us feel close to nature. And when it comes to adventures in Wales, you really are spoilt for choice with beautiful coastlines, impressive mountain ranges, remote moorlands, breathtaking lakes and reservoirs, and landscapes that are steeped in history. All these routes you are about to discover are dog friendly, so you can take your furry companion along for the journey.
1. Three Cliffs Bay to Oxwich Bay, Gower Peninsula
Length: 7 miles | Duration: 2 hours 38 mins | Grade: Easy | Parking: Three Cliffs Bay car park, SA3 2HB
Designated as the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1956, the Gower Peninsula forms part of South Wales’ diverse coastal area with its vast salt marshes and shapely sand dunes. It has an abundance of beautiful dog friendly sandy beaches, striking limestone cliffs, historic caves, vast moorland and breath-taking panoramic views, all of which await you on this protruding picturesque headland.
Three Cliffs Bay is the perfect starting point to a choice of many varied walks. Three Cliffs Bay camping and holiday park offers dog friendly accommodation to suit everyone. The park welcomes caravans, motor homes and tents or if you prefer a little more luxury, why not stay in a glamping yurt or a beautiful converted farm cottage?
If you do not require an overnight stay, there is visitor car park with ample room to park for a day’s exploring. From this location you can mender along the coastal path taking in the sea views up close or if you prefer to observe the landscape from a higher perspective, a stroll along the Gowers Way, a long-distance foot path that will lift you up onto the spine of the peninsula providing you with views of the northern and southern coastline that surround this headland.
Discover the Ordnance Survey Map for the Three Cliffs Bay to Oxwich Bay route
2. Allt yr Esgair Circular, Brecon Beacons National Park
Length: 7 miles | Duration: 2 hours 35 mins | Grade: Moderate | Parking: The Welsh Venison Centre, Middlewood Farm, Bwlch, LD3 7HQ
The Brecon Beacons National Park is a protected area covering 1344km² within South Wales. It consists of breath taking mountain ranges, picturesque canals, beautiful forests, tranquil lakes and reservoirs, and historic towns and villages. Not forgetting its caves, castles, nature reserves and spectacular waterfalls.
Allt yr Esgair is a hill located towards the eastern area of the park. The summit of Allt yr Esgair boasts amazing views overlooking the River Usk, and looking west those famous humps of Corn Du and Pen y Fan can be seen peering over the hills in the distance. The walk starts at the Welsh Venison Centre near the village of Talybont on Usk. The centre encourages walkers to use their car park so don’t feel you have to eat at their wonderful cafe or pop in for some post-walk tea and cake - but we highly recommend their delicious food and fabulous farm and gift shop!
Rhondda Cynon Taf is an area of underestimated beauty. When you think of the South Wales valleys a picture of coal pits and rows of Victorian houses spring to mind. Rhondda Cynon Taf has so much to offer in the way of country side walks and green open spaces. The South Wales valleys are steeped in history and many walks follow heritage trails where you can take a step back in time. The valleys of Rhondda Cynon Taf are nestled between shapely hills, many of which were once dominated by the coal industry with pit heads and mounds of waste coal. Many of these areas have now been transformed, landscaped back to areas of natural beauty. There is such variety and a walk to suit everyone. From country parks to riverside walks, town and heritage trails, forestry, lakes and the more strenuous mountain climbs.
Discover the Ordnance Survey Map for the Allt yr Esgair Circular route
3. Pen Pych Mountain, Rhondda, Cynon, Taf
Length: 6 miles | Duration: 2 hours 40 mins | Grade: Moderate | Parking: Blaen y Cwn Road, Forestry Car Park, Blanencwn, CF42 5DG
Pen-pych sits at the head of the Rhondda Fawr Valley in Rhondda Cynon Taf, Rhondda Valley’s very own Table Mountain. Experience the spectacular views of Pen-pych circular walk. This is such a varied walk, which is steeped in history. It passes by some large dramatic waterfalls, two of which are Nant Carnfoesan and Nant Melyn. You can visit an Iron Age settlement of hut circles, take in views of a former colliery, and stumble across an old disused railway tunnel.
Discover the Ordnance Survey Map for the Pen Pych Mountain route
4. Llyn Brianne, Cambrian Mountains
Length: 10 miles | Duration: 3 hours 57 mins | Grade: Moderate | Parking: SN 8099 5143
Llyn Brianne is a spectacular reservoir nestled in the Doethie Valley Mid Wales, surrounded by the beautiful Tywi Forest. It was named after a stream Nant y Bryniau, which in English translates to stream in the hills. This picturesque body of water is the head of the River Tywi. Beneath the tranquil waters of Llyn Brianne lies the old Fanog farm, which was flooded in 1972 to create the reservoir we see today. On the rare occasion the water levels drop, only then the farm is visible. This area boasts an abundance of wildlife including the rare red squirrel. Travel along the narrow road which winds up towards the dam. The scenic road then meanders on through the beautiful forest alongside the lake.
There are many parking areas around the lake, an ideal place to park up and have a picnic with a view. Take one of the many trails up into the forestry or simply stroll alongside this breath-taking lake. There is so much to see in this area and so many varied walks, spending a few days exploring would be the perfect solution.
If you are looking for a peaceful, idyllic forestry location, then Trallwm Forest Cottages is for you. Set in a wooded haven and surrounded by nature, 3 miles away from the nearest countryside village it’s the perfect getaway for a restful break. There are eight stone cottages within the Trallwm complex, each one accommodating different size families and groups and all are dog friendly.
Discover the Ordnance Survey Map for the Llyn Brianne route
5. Preseli Mountains, Pembrokeshire National Park
Length: 11 miles | Duration: 4 hours 25 mins | Grade: Moderate | Parking: SN 1654 3309
Parking at the lay by, there is room for approximately five cars. Arriving early is advisable to make sure there is a space. The footpath is clearly signposted along a lane on the opposite side of the road. A short walk leads you to a gate, which opens up onto the mountain and moorland. There is an information board, explaining some of the history about the Preseli Mountains. Due to a brave stand by local residents in the 1940’s who opposed plans to turn the mountains into a permanent military training area, the Preseli Mountains are now freely accessible to walkers.
Head for the summit of Foel Drygarn, where you will reach the first OS Triangulation Pillar on this walk. The views from the summit are amazing. The summit is an old hill fort and also has some impressive cairns. Heading west, follow the path down from the summit. The descent is quite steep and rocky. You can retrace your steps along the footpath from which you reached the summit, if unsure about the steep rocky side. It is only a short walk around the foot of the hill to re-join the main path.
The footpath will take you alongside an area of woodland and you will be able to see the next prominent landmark ahead, the large cairns. They dominate this area and look very impressive on the open moorland. Some areas of the footpath can be a little boggy after prolonged rain. After passing Cairn Gyfrwy and Cairn Menyn on your left you will slowly start to descend, opening up the vast views ahead even more. There are wild ponies in this area that can become very curious.
Approximately a mile ahead you will reach a small stone circle, it’s at this point you can decide to continue on the main path or to via off and head for the summit of Foel Feddau. A cairn marks the summit and the views are well worth the climb. You can then re-join the foot path after the decent on the other side. The next landmark to head for is an area of trees, which is on the other side of a boundary fence. There is a gate to pass through to reach this area. Head south once through the gate and then it is a moderate climb to the summit of Foel Cwmcerwyn, to the final OS Triangulation Pillar.
Foel Cwmcerwyn and the Prescelly OS Trig Pillar is the turnaround point. You then retrace the path back to the start, with the option of omitting Foel Feddau and Foel Drygarn. The footpaths are well defined and also have wooden way markers along the way.
Discover the Ordnance Survey Map for the Preseli Mountains route
Check out our list of gear essentials for both you and your dog here.
Have you walked any of these routes? Or have a favourite walk that you'd like to share, whether in Wales or beyond? Comment below or share snaps of your adventures with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Tag them using #mymillets.