Get away from the tourist hotspots and you can discover some truly amazing places in Wales - although reaching some may be a challenge.
1 - Rhinogydd
Rhinogydd is challenging enough to compare to some Alpine routes
These hills are formed from the oldest pre-cambrian rocks, aged and weathered into some real badlands. While the main summits in the southern section are most popular for the range, they see very little traffic. The badlands of Craig Wion however see only the most masochistic (or lost) of hill walkers. While only a few kilometres long, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got more than a few hours to traverse this difficult terrain. You’ll invariably end up at a couple of sheer drops, wonder where you go next and the wise will stop and have a coffee while they think. Usually the way ahead is a combination of sideways and backwards, with a good dose of forwards.
Even then, you’ll need to make sure that you don’t lose your foot (or even an entire leg) into some of the cracks in the rocks that are usually well hidden by knee deep heather. Find a good one, and you’ll only have your head still showing. Walk it anyway you wish – just get to the other end - but perhaps best completed as a full traverse from Trawsfynydd to Barmouth.
Crib Goch or Middle Earth? Watch out for orcs (and fell runners)
While it may well be one of Wales’ best known mountaineering outings, it really does stand out on it’s own rather than being a typically Welsh scene. If you were to ask someone who didn’t know the area where it was, they’d most probably think it was one of the locations from Lord of the Rings. Should be walked in combination with Y Lliwedd to form the iconic Snowdon Horseshoe.
Beautiful coastlines, stunning beaches - and it's not even raining!
You can sit in places on the Welsh Coast on a warm summer day, and believe you are anywhere in the world. Granted, it’s not quite 30˚, but who wants to be active in those sort of temperatures?
Sitting at Nant Gwrtheyrn with azure seas or with a beer at the Ty Newydd at Porthdinllaen, who’d want to be anywhere else! What’s more, you can walk between the two, so you earn your refreshments at the Ty Coch. Either is best walked in one outing along the Wales Coast Path, or just walk the Wales Coast Path from Nant Gwrtheyrn to Porthdinllaen.
Some parts of yr Elen look like they belong on a film set - or another planet
This is one of the long Carneddau cymoedd – winding its way from Bethesda up towards the cliffs of Carnedd Llywelyn and yr Elen. The going is tough, with the path to an old quarrying prospect being barely follow-able by now, fading into some challenging bogs in places.
Yet the scale of the place is somewhat larger than many other similar valleys in the area. The walk in certainly is, as the cwm spirals in on itself with the final surprise of Ffynnon Caseg only apparent as you are upon it. Best used as an approach for the easy scramble up Yr Elen’s NE Ridge. There’s even a few surprise waterfalls from the slopes above – definitely a hidden gem.
A huge amount of stone was moved to the top of the hill at Tre’r Ceiri – or Town of the Giants
Nestling on a hilltop next to Yr Eifl on the Llyn Peninsula, is Tre’r Ceiri – or Town of the Giants – a well preserved Iron Age hillfort. Most hillforts are mere grassy mounds, but Tre’r Ceiri has ramparts up to 4 metres high, buildings as well as the original gateway. You don’t need much imagination to see how people lived here, though you might wonder how much effort was needed.
Dave Roberts co-founded the Walk Eryi blog in 2004, with the aim of providing walking enthusiasts with new routes that were off the beaten track and could show the beauty of his native Snowdonia. Walk Eryri has since evolved into Mud and Routes; a hub for a plethora of routes for all areas of Great Britain and all the team continue to passionately blog about their adventures.
Dave has been exploring the hills for over 30 years, and is also a qualified mountain leader.