Top Ten Walks in Wales

If you’ve read any of my other blog posts you’ll know that I’m something of an outdoors enthusiast. So living in Wales is ideal for me – there’s so much to do, from climbing to surfing; coasteering to kayaking. And hiking – most definitely hiking!

 

Wales is a bit of a walker’s paradise with wild moorlands, rugged mountain peaks and scenic coastal trails. And hiking is definitely the best way to get off the beaten track and explore the hidden beauty of the Welsh countryside.

Here, in no particular order, are the top 10 walks to try on your holiday in Wales:

  1. St David’s Head, Pembrokeshire

I plan to spend our next Bank Holiday weekend, coming up in just a few weeks’ time, exploring this section of the Welsh Coast Path. This spectacular stretch of coastline boasts golden beaches, ragged sea cliffs and an abundance of wildlife including seals and puffins!Pembrokeshire - Tenby (2)

  1. The Happy Valley Trail, Llandudno

This path through Happy Valley is an adventurous trek which leads to the Great Orme summit, a massive chunk of limestone rising out of the sea. You can reach the summit by cable car or tram but how much more satisfying to join the famous Kashmir goats in a scramble to the top?

  1. Isle of Anglesey Coast, Anglesey

The beautiful Isle of Anglesey is a walker’s haven, criss-crossed with tranquil lanes and paths. The coastal path is not for the faint hearted, climbing 4,174 metres during its journey, but is undoubtedly the best way to experience the wild coastal beauty first hand.

  1. The Branwen Walk, Snowdonia

Snowdonia - Harlech CastleHarlech castle is so impressive that they wrote a song about it: ‘Men of Harlech’. This walk through Snowdonia National Park is steeped in history and legend, taking in the mighty medieval fortresses, the town of Harlech, beach and dunes as well.

  1. The Dylan Thomas Walk, Laugharne

Track a ‘heron priested shore’ en route around the estuary where you’ll find the boathouse where Wale’s most famous poet wrote. With luck you’ll avoid ‘the pale rain over the dwindling harbour’, as you explore the ruins of medieval Laugharne Castle.

  1. Mount Snowdon, Snowdonia

There are many paths up Wales’ highest peak including the Pig and Miner’s path which both turn into motorways on a sunny day. If you’re feeling lazy you could hop on the Snowdon Mountain Railway Line and stop for tea and cake at the summit café.

  1. Pen y Fan, Brecon Beacons
Queues to pose on the summit of Pen y Fan!
Queues to pose on the summit of Pen y Fan!

The name Pen-y-Fan roughly translates as Top Spot. The regulars call the four-mile circular walk from the Storey Arms Outdoor Centre to the top of the highest peak in the Brecon Beacons National Park ‘The Motorway’, but the spectacular views bring them back for more.

  1. The Taff Trail and Cardiff Bay, Cardiff

Arguably the most popular walk in South Wales, the Taff Trail follows the River Taff all the way from Brecon, through the Brecon Beacons National Park, down to the Bristol Channel at Cardiff Bay.

  1. Rhossili Bay and Worms Head, Gower Peninsula

So called because of the resemblance of the rocks to the head of a dragon, the Worms Head walk is spectacular but requires careful planning. It is only possible to cross the causeway to Worms Head for 2.5 hours between tides. Never be tempted to swim the causeway if you are cut off; many people have lost their lives in the attempt.

  1. Elidir Trail, Brecon BeaconsBrecon Beacons (4)

The entrance to a fairy kingdom is reputed to be somewhere along the Elidir Trail, a tranquil walk which meanders among cascading and gushing waterfalls in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Want to experience some of these spectacular walks for yourself? Why not visit Wales with adeo travel! Explore North Wales with our Mountains and Medieval Fortresses tour or try our brand new Small Group tour: Castles, Coast and Celts

Top Five Reasons to Vacation in Scotland!

There are literally hundreds of good reasons to choose to Scotland as your vacation destination so you’ll understand my concern when I was asked to compile just FIVE for this blog post!  Well, you may call it cheating, but I’ll call it creative thinking when below I have listed five categories under each of which there could be dozens of other reasons, but you get the idea…

1. Scottish Festivals and Cultural Events

Edinburgh Military Tattoo - Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Military Tattoo – Edinburgh Castle

Whether it’s a traditional Highland Games event where kilted competitors toss the caber or dance a Highland Fling to the tune of the bagpipes or the stunning celebrations of seeing in the new year at Hogmanay, Scotland knows how to put on a show!  Nowhere is this more apparent than during the month of August at the Edinburgh Festival where the city comes alive with street entertainment, theatre, musical, visual arts and comedy events.  Not forgetting of course the internationally renowned spectacle of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo which takes place to the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle itself.

2. Scottish Scenery and Wildlife

Puffins on Isle of Mull
Puffins on Isle of Mull

If the aim of your vacation to escape the hum-drum of life then there is nowhere better in the world to get close to nature!  One of Europe’s last remaining wildernesses, the Scottish Highlands, islands and coasts are a landscape lovers haven – rolling hills, unspoilt golden bays, shimmering lochs and heather-strewn glens in abundance.  And these landscapes, the invigorating air and the chilly coastal waters provide perfect unspoilt habitats for some wondrous wildlife from the red squirrel to roaming wild deer, from circling eagles to nesting puffins and from tiny seals to magnificent whales.

3. Scottish Castles

Eilean Donan Castle, Scottish Highlands
Eilean Donan Castle, Scottish Highlands

From castellated baronial manor houses to imposing fortified towers, few countries can offer the vast array of contrasting castles that Scotland has to boast.  Eilean Donan Castle, on a tidal island in the glassy waters of Loch Duich has become a Scottish Icon in itself having appeared in many films, most notably Highlander.  The dramatic ruins of Urquhart Castle near Inverness on the weather-beaten shores of Loch Ness offers an excellent look-out point for some nessie-spotting whilst Dunottar Castle, reputedly Scotland’s most haunted fortress clings to cliffs near Aberdeen overlooking the wild waters of the North Sea.  Possibly most famous however is the stunning Edinburgh Castle, once the royal seat for Scottish Kings and Queens; perched atop a volcanic rock in the heart of the city the castle offers stunning vistas and is still home to the Scottish Crown Jewels to this day.

4. Scottish Food and Drink

Scotch Whisky Dram
Scotch Whisky Dram

With its rich rural and coastal landscapes it is not surprising that Scotland produces its own quality foods such as beef, local game and the freshest of seafood. Traditional Scottish dishes are hearty affairs such as Aberdeen Angus steak, Cullen Skink, (a thick seafood broth), and Abroath Smokies (haddock smoked over woodchips for a distinctive flavour).  Not to mention Haggis, not a wild-animal as some cheeky locals will have you believe, but minced offal and oats cooked with onion and seasoning and served encased in a sheep’s stomach lining – perhaps not everyone’s ideal dish but should be tried at least once during your stay!  And of course if it’s a cold night there is no better a way to warm up by an open fire than with a nip of Scotland’s Water of Life – a “wee dram” of Whisky.

5. History, history and more history

Callanish Standing Stones - Isle of Lewis
Callanish Standing Stones – Isle of Lewis

The castles mentioned above are, of course, a stark reminder of Scotland’s turbulent past but there is so much history besides.  Why not visit the Scottish Borders to see the famous abbey ruins of Melrose Abbey, where Robert the Bruce’s heart is buried or the intriguing Rosslyn Chapel whose intricate carvings have been connected to the Knights Templar, freemasonry and the Holy Grail, most notably in Dan Brown’s the Da Vinci Code.  In Stirling you’ll find the towering Wallace Monument and the site of the Battle of Bannockburn, history that was brought alive in the 90s movie Braveheart whilst at Culloden Moor you can remember the infamous battle between Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Highland armies and the English forces.  And if this centuries-old history isn’t quite old enough for you then you can always travel to the Scottish Isles where you’ll find the beautiful Callanish Stones (Isle of Lewis) dating back to 3000BC or head to the Isle of Orkney to see the Neolithic dwellings of Skara Brae (predating the Egyptian Pyramids) the ancient tomb of Maes Howe and the Ring of Brodgar all built long before Stonehenge.

Scotland is a truly spectacular destination and the above five pointers are just the tip of iceberg – for further suggestions for your own voyage of discovery through Scotland ask your adeo Travel vacation expert and they’ll be happy to help.

Forget St Valentine for Romance, think St Dwynwen!

People keep telling me that love is in the air at the moment as we approach Valentine’s day; but with the shops bursting with garish pink cards and florists trying to sell me bucket loads of roses at twice the usual price, for me, it’s just not happening…  Cupid seems less the god of love and more a plump little cherub attacking me with his bow and arrow and trying to steal my wallet!  So where do we turn for a bit of true romance instead of this plastic impersonation?  My suggestion is the lovely land of Wales!

Welsh Love Spoons
Welsh Love Spoons

In Wales we have an ancient tradition of the giving of love-spoons.  It may not at first sound particularly romantic, presenting your potential love interest with a kitchen utensil, but it is the thought and effort that goes in to them that provides the romance.  The age-old tradition is thought to have originated when sailors were at sea and would spend their lonely hours on board the ships meticulously carving and shaping these spoons from bits of wood whilst they lost themselves in thoughts of their loved-one at home.  Developing over the years from simple designs, many became skilled to achieve incredibly intricate carvings with a wealth of specific features which symbolized different meanings in their own relationships; everything from hearts and flowers to anchors, chain-links, wheels and key-locks can appear on a love-spoon.  After months of work the spoon would be presented to the loved-one, usually as the symbol of the start of a serious relationship.

St Dwynwen
St Dwynwen

Love-spoons are still given in Wales today and if you visit friends here, you will often see one hanging on the kitchen wall.  If you want to see carving in action let us know and we can point you in the direction of a fabulous family-run love-spoon workshop and gallery in Pembrokeshire, South West Wales.

Welsh myth is also bubbling with romance!  Forget St Valentine, we have St Dwynwen with St Dwynwen’s day celebrated on January twenty-fifth each year.  The legend goes that the prettiest daughter of a 5th century King, Dwynwen fell in love with a Prince named Maelon but the King had promised her marriage to another suitor.  Frustrated that he couldn’t be with his love Maelon forced himself upon her and she ran in to the woods to escape; as she fell asleep beneath the trees she was visited by an angel who granted her three wishes and told her that Maelon had been turned to ice for his wicked behaviour.

Llanddwyn Island, Anglesey
Llanddwyn Island, Anglesey

Dwynwen wished firstly that she would never marry, as her father wished her to, and that God would protect and meet the wishes of all true lovers.  For her third wish, she forgave Maelon and wish that he be thawed.  Dwynwen became a nun and a recluse setting up her own chapel on the remote island of Llanddwyn off the coast of North Wales and living out her days alone but for rare visits from star-crossed lovers.

So for a truly romantic trip, why not tour Wales; the nation’s majestic landscapes of dramatic mountains and untouched coastlines dotted with ancient castles offer the perfect romantic back-drop.  From Cardiff or Pembrokeshire, make your way to Anglesey in North Wales before walking hand-in-hand with your loved one across to the remote tidal island of Llanddywn and to the ruins of the very church where St Dwynwens stayed, and here you can present her with your love-spoon.  How’s that for romantic?  And not a tacky love-heart shaped box of chocolates in sight!