Inntravel’s self-guided walking holidays in Wales are all about immersing yourself in glorious natural landscapes. Walking at a pace that suits you, stop as often as you like to admire the views of rugged mountains and lush green valleys – you’re not part of a group, and have nothing but the day's essentials to carry (we take care of your luggage, as well as providing step-by-step route notes and all the other arrangements).
The fact that Wales boasts three national parks is testament to the wealth of natural beauty crammed within its borders. Our Welsh walking holidays focus on two of these protected areas: the Brecon Beacons in the south and Snowdonia in the north, both of which boast their own unique charms.
Which you choose will depend partly on how much walking you wish to do. Despite being an area of lofty peaks, Snowdonia lends itself to quite leisurely walking, with nostalgic railway lines which can whisk you into the hills. For something slightly more demanding, choose the Brecon Beacons, where you can follow towpaths on some days and on others head into the hills for sweeping views.
Walking in the Brecon Beacons
Places to visit
What makes a walking holiday in the Brecon Beacons special is the variety. The hills are well known (don’t miss the chance to climb Pen-Y-Fan, the highest peak in southern Britain) and their wild slopes contrast greatly with the tree-lined canal in the valley below. Along the canal is a string of pretty villages and handsome market towns which all add extra interest to the walking routes.
Where to stay
Inntravel’s walking holiday in the Brecon Beacons leads from Abergavenny to Brecon via Crickhowell. All three are attractive small towns where you stay in charming accommodation converted from historic buildings with plenty of character.
Abergavenny is something of a foodie destination, and hosts an annual food festival in September. Among the local produce to look out for is Angiddy, a mould-ripened soft cheese; Pant ys Gawn, a creamy goat’s cheese with a lemony flavour; Blorenge honey and, of course, locally reared lamb, which is delicious on its own or as part of dishes such as cawl (broth).
A holiday in Snowdonia is about much more than walking. There are castles, slate and copper mines, Italianate Portmeirion, plus not one but two scenic railways: the Welsh Highland Railway and the Snowdon Mountain Railway.
Where to stay
Part of the charm of a walking holiday in Snowdonia is staying in small guesthouses. With just a handful of rooms each, they have an intimate atmosphere, and you’ll enjoy warm, attentive service from your hosts.
Slate is hugely important in the heritage of Snowdonia, and the insightful National Slate Museum near Llanberis is well worth a visit. Near the coast, Harlech Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site pictured above, is another must-see.
What time of year you choose for your walking holiday in Wales depends on your priorities. For the warmest temperatures, travel in summer (June to September). However, these are also the busiest months, so if you’d prefer less bustle, you should travel in spring or autumn.
Spring is a wonderful time of year in the Welsh hills, with flowers by the wayside, blossom in the trees, and lambs gambolling in the fields.
Similarly, autumn is also a very attractive time thanks to the turning leaves, which are particularly spectacular along the Brecon & Monmouthshire Canal.
Preparing for your Welsh walking holiday
When you book a walking holiday with Inntravel, we take care of all of the arrangements – we book the accommodation, organise luggage transfers and provide maps and step-by-step directions for each route – leaving you with just three main things to do in preparation for your holiday in Wales.
First, go for some longish walks in the weeks running up to your holiday, especially if you’re not a regular walker. You could also try going for a walk on two consecutive days – it’s one thing to walk several miles every other Sunday, it’s another thing to walk several miles for several days on the trot.
Second, get used to any new equipment before you go away. If you’ve bought new walking boots, break them in beforehand. If you’ve invested in walking poles, get used to using them. If you’ve downloaded a phone app with the intention of using GPS navigation, make sure you practise using it.
Third, read through the route notes as soon as you receive them so you’re aware of any special items we recommend that you take with you, can ask us to answer any queries that arise, and have time to make any bookings for restaurants or visitor attractions that are best done in advance.
What to pack
Whatever time of year you are visiting Wales, you should be prepared for wet weather! That means waterproof trousers as well as a rainproof and wind-resistant jacket. Take a variety of thin, polyester or nylon layers for your top half, plus a fleece or a wool jumper for warmth. For your legs, walking trousers are the best option; you could buy some which convert into shorts in case the weather is warm. As for your feet, it’s down to personal preference whether you take boots or specialist walking shoes, but bear in mind that your feet are more likely to stay dry in boots, plus boots have the advantage of providing ankle support.
It is advisable to carry a few first-aid essentials with you, plus plenty of water (especially in warm weather), some high-energy snacks, a whistle, a torch and a compass (make sure you know how to use it!).
The weather in Wales can be changeable, so always check the forecast in the morning before setting out, particularly on days when you are heading into the uplands of Snowdonia or the Brecon Beacons, and adapt your plans if need be.
If it’s warm enough for short sleeves, don’t forget to apply plenty of sun cream. Always heed any warnings in the route notes about paths to avoid, and if you are exploring solo and there is a choice of routes, tell the hotelier which one you are intending to take and when you expect to be back.