1. The other mountain hike: Cadair Idris, Gwynedd
At the opposite end of Snowdonia National Park to Snowdon, mystery-steeped Cadair Idris might be the next-most popular mountain traverse in Wales, but the walk appears comparatively deserted. Idris himself was a giant, poet, philosopher and one-time ruler of Meironydd, the historic term for the surrounding hilly region. The ridge’s name means ‘Chair of Idris’ and has numerous associated legends. Purportedly, those who spend the night up here wake up either as a poet – or mad.
The view from the top encompasses the Mawddach valley falling away to the coast at Barmouth and, more magically yet, the glacial crater lake of Llyn Cau that the ridge enfolds. The summit, Pen y Gadair, is just under 900 metres but feels higher. Out-and-back routes are all around the 10km mark.
Insider tip: A little-taken route leads from Cadair Idris down to Llyn Cau, arguably Wales’ most beautiful mountain lake.
Cadair Idris © ieuan/Shutterstock
2. The coastal hike: Aberporth to New Quay via Llangranog, Ceredigion
People usually pick out the Pembrokeshire Coast Path as the standout section of the coastal path that wraps around the south, west and north of Wales, but the stretch through Ceredigion gives it a run for its money.
The Aberporth-Llangrannog-New Quay leg is heritage coast, recognised for its outstanding natural beauty and history. Linking three small, quaint coastal settlements, the 15km walk combines expansive sandy beaches, mesmeric rock formations and the island fort of Ynys Lochtyn.
Insider tip: One of Britain’s best coastal pubs, the Pentre Arms Hotel, provides beachside refreshment at Llangrannog.
Llangrannog © Rodney Hutchinson/Shutterstock
3. The river hike: Tintern Abbey and the Devil’s Pulpit
Wales is better known for its rugged scenery, but the gentle woodland-and-river-scape hugging the border with England has captivated visitors for the better part of a millennium.
Tintern Abbey, an impressively preserved twelfth-century Cistercian monastery, is nestled alongside the River Wye, which forms much of the boundary between Wales and England. The walk above the abbey to the Devil’s Pulpit inspired William Wordsworth to verse, and a lookout in the forest overlooking Tintern commands breathtaking views over the river valley.
You can extend the walk by incorporating a section of the long-distance Offa’s Dyke Path.
Insider tip: Brockweir, the next village along the Wye, offers wayfarers a beautiful twelfth-century pub, the Brockweir Inn.
Tintern Abbey © matthi/Shutterstock
4. The forest hike: Hafod Estate, Ceredigion
Many hikes are picturesque, but the Hafod Estate in the hills above Aberyswyth was actually designed to be so. In the eighteenth century, when picturesque – an architectural and artistic style striving to tread the line between the beautiful and sublime – was all the rage, estate owner Thomas Johnes laid out grounds in the remote forests here in accordance with its principles. He did a decent job, constructing two precipitous woodsy trails splashed through by crashing mountain streams and waterfalls. Today there are five walks on the estate ranging between 2km and 6km.
Insider tip: North along the B4574 is another beauty spot popular since the eighteenth century, the river gorge at Devil’s Bridge.
Hafod Estate © ieuan/Shutterstock