3 Ways to Experience The Wales Way National Route

Tuesday 10 December 2019

The Wales Way is the way to see Wales. This touring route is made up of three national routes: The Coastal Way, The Cambrian Way and The North Wales Way. Whether you’re up for an adventure, foodie experience or historic encounter, there’s plenty of each on the three routes that’ll take you through the best of Wales.

The Cambrian Way

Rolling farmland viewed from the Sugar Loaf mountain top near Abergavenny.

The Route 

The Cambrian Way is a north-south journey across the middle of Wales, running through 185 miles of mountain passes from the coast of Conwy to Cardiff. Along the way, the largest natural lake in Wales, Brecon Beacons National Park, panoramic views of Snowdonia, and tons of restaurants including a Michelin starred one, will make an appearance.

Don’t Miss

Sgwd yr Eira, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales

The Cambrian Way runs through Brecon Beacons National Park, home to 520 square miles of grassy moorlands, surrounded by a number of mountain ranges including the Black Mountains, the Central Beacons, Fforest Fawr and the Back Mountain (Mynydd Du), and stunning views throughout. The road that The Cambrian Way follows cuts through the center of the park where you can stop for a hike or mountain biking excursion on more than 2000 miles of public footpaths.

For the Foodie

The Penderyn Distillery, Wales. A tasting. A man holding up a glass of whisky, examining it.

See how your favorite Welsh tipple is made during a brewery tour along The Cambrian Way. If you enjoy cider, visit Apple County Cider in Skenfrith, traditional ales and lager at Tomos Watkin Brewery in Swansea or beer at Monty’s Brewery in Powys. Or if wine is your preference, check out the oldest family estate in Wales, Glyndwr Vineyard for their wines and see their resident llamas.

Fans of mushrooms will want to meet Cynan Jones, who grows wild and exotic mushrooms at The Mushroom Garden. And those who like pork based products should visit Moody & Sow, a farm shop that makes fresh sausages, and cures and smokes bacon from their own pedigree free-range pigs. And for a fine dining experience, The Walnut Tree and The Whitebrook are both Michelin-starred restaurants.

For the Adventure-Seeker

Countryside suspension bridge in Betws-y-Coed, forest on hill in horizon

In the north of The Cambrian Way is Betws-y-Coed, gateway to Snowdonia and all things adventure. For the whole family, Zipworld Fforest features every level of ziplining. Plus, see popular viewpoints along Swallow Falls, venture inside a mountain by traversing your way through abandoned mines at Go Below, or take in the views of the national park by horseback riding, mountain biking or hiking on endless trails.

For the History Buff

Gwydir Castle, a fortified manor house dating back to c1500, now restored.

Visit the world’s most famous coal-mining area preserved at Rhondda Heritage Park. Follow the footsteps of mine workers at this living museum while touring with a retired miner. North of the mines is Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Art Gallery, built in 1824 by the Crawshay family who owned Cyfarthfa Ironworks. The home was later turned into a museum and art gallery in 1910 surrounded by 160 acres of parkland and views of Brecon Beacons National Park. Another home to visit is Gwydir Castle. This Tudor courtyard house is now open for day or overnight visits in their bed and breakfast.

The Coastal Way

Man standing on rocks looking out to sea at Porthdinllaen, Llŷn Peninsula, Wales

The Route

Running the entire length of Cardigan Bay, get to know the epic Welsh coast on The Coastal Way. On this 180 mile long route, you’ll journey through Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Gwynedd counties, the smallest city in Britain, two National Parks, and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Don’t Miss

At the southernmost part of The Coastal Way is Ramsey Island, home to the highest cliffs in Wales. This island is a wildlife lover’s dream, accessible via a boat from St. Justinians, in nearby St. David’s. In autumn, see the largest Grey seal colony in Britain and spot seal pups on the beach. In spring, see a variety of visiting and breeding birds like ravens, choughs, peregrines and in summer, blooms of bluebells, pink thrifts and purple heather make a colorful backdrop against views of the Irish Sea.

For the Foodie

Mussels at Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival, Wales

Those with a sweet tooth will not want to leave The Coastal Way without a visit to award-winning producers of chocolate, honey and other sweet treats. Family run Wickedly Welsh Chocolate Company handmakes a range of chocolate including Welsh themed products. And New Quay Honey Farm is another family run business producing honey and homemade cakes and ice cream at their tea room.

Along the way, you’re likely to come across a distillery like Dà Mhìle Distillery in Ceredigion, a vineyard like Cwm Deri in Pembrokeshire, or brewery like Bluestone Brewing also in Pembrokeshire. And passing through market towns and fishing communities, have a meal at Pizzatipi for wood-fired pizzas, Tafarn Sinc a pub with the highest elevation in Pembrokeshire, or at The Shed Bistro for fish and chips.

For the Adventure-Seeker

Four people in wet suits, helmets and life jackets on the coast of Pembrokeshire, England, Coasteering.

The Llŷn Peninsula portion of The Coastal Way is home to several beaches, repeatedly visited by surfers and water sport enthusiasts because of its Atlantic waves. Porth Neigwl Beach, also known as Hell’s Mouth is one beach frequented by surfers and Porthor to the north as well. If you don’t surf, it’s still worth a visit to walk along the Whistling Sands of Porthor, where you can hear whistling sounds every time you step on the sand.

Adventurers also won’t want to leave Wales without putting on a wetsuit and helmet for coasteering along the coastline of the Llŷn Peninsula. This is an opportunity to see the coastline from the water through a mix of swimming, bobbing, scrambling and jumping on courses for beginners to experts.

For the History Buff

St Davids Cathedral, Pembrokeshire Coast, graveyards and landscape surrounding

Dating back to the 12th century, Cardigan Castle was the first stone castle built by a Welshman and has withstood 900 years of history. See the remains of the castle, medieval walls, a Georgian mansion, and Regency style gardens with more than 130 types of plants. You can also stay at the castle’s luxury accommodation and enjoy a meal at the castle’s 1176 Restaurant, a contemporary floor to ceiling glass venue offering panoramic views.

South of the castle is another historic site, St. David’s Cathedral. Known as one of the great historic shrines of Christendom, it’s a cathedral settlement located in Britain's smallest city.

The North Wales Way

Caernarfon castle and harbor view

The Route

Covering the northern coast and into Anglesey in the west, The North Wales Way follows an old trading route through the top of Wales. This part of The Wales Way runs 75 miles and and is easily accessible to these five northern Wales towns and points of interest including Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Penrhyn Castle, Snowdonia, and three important castles.

Don't Miss

Beaumaris Castle is a historic 13th and 14th century construction, in a concentric architectural style with double walls and corner towers.

Conwy, Caernarfon and Beaumaris are all castles and World Heritage Sites along the North Wales Way.

Start at the town of Conwy and roam through the narrow streets to Conwy Castle, a medieval fortress still standing for more than 700 years. It’s home to the most intact set of medieval royal apartments in Wales. Next, head to Caernarfon Castle, another medieval castle and location for the investiture of the Princes of Wales. And Beaumaris Castle, an unfinished yet impressive castle built by Edward I which boasts six towers.

For the Foodie

Sample local produce along The North Wales Way and even take home a part of Angelesey with you at Halen Môn Sea Salt, a producer of sea salt from the waters of this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Stop by farm shops like Hawarden Farm Shop or Hooton’s Homegrown for fresh produce and prepared meals, taste Welsh wine at Gwinllan Conwy vineyard, take a brewery tour at Bragdy Conwy Brewery or indulge in fine dining at Sosban and the Old Butchers, a Michelin star restaurant without a menu.

For the Adventure-Seeker

A mountain biker rolling down a rockface on a mountain bike on the ridge in front of the peak of Tryfan, the Ogwen valley.

Deviate a little from the main road of The North Wales Way to Tryfan, a challenging climb up for experienced hikers. And head into Snowdonia National Park for endless outdoor adventures, including mountain biking, zip lining on the fastest zip line in the world, white water rafting, golfing, and endless hiking trails, including some around Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales at 1,085 meters (3,650 feet) above sea level. Attempt to climb all, part of the way or just take the Snowdon Mountain Railway to the summit.

For the History Buff

Apart from the three major castles in north Wales, Conwy, Caernarfon and Beaumaris, history lovers should also visit Penrhyn Castle, a 19th century fantasy castle featuring opulent interiors, fine art collection and spectacular views of Snowdonia and the North Wales coast.

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Man standing on rocks looking out to sea at Porthdinllaen, Llŷn Peninsula, Wales
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