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LDPs Regional Summary

Wales

Walking Routes & Trail-miles: 102 main routes / 9489 miles - 38 waymarked / 3650 miles

Areas: Monmouthshire, 'Glamorgan' (11 unitaries), Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, Gwynedd, Isle of Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Wrexham, Powys

National Parks: Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire Coast, Snowdonia

Principal AONBs: Anglesey, Clwydian Range, Gower, Lleyn, Wye Valley (part)

World Heritage Sites: Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd (Beaumaris on Anglesey, Conwy, Caernarfon and Harlech castles, and the towns of Conwy and Caernarfon); the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape; Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal

Heritage Coast: Conwy: Great Orme; Gwynedd: Lleyn; Isle of Anglesey: Aberffraw Bay, Holyhead Mountain, North Anglesey; Ceredigion; Pembrokeshire: Dinas Head, St. Bride's Bay, St. David's Pennisula, South Pembrokeshire, Marloes and Dale; South Wales: Gower, Glamorgan

European Long Distance Paths (E-Routes): None.

National Walking Trails: Glyndwr's Way/Llwybr Glyndwr, Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Offa's Dyke Path (part)

Resident population: 3 million

Regional Trails Summary - Wales

The 'Land of My Fathers' offers a wide scenic range from the rugged peaks of Snowdonia in the north across the central mountains and moorlands to the angular Brecons Beacons in the south. There is a fine coastline with some superb long and unspoilt beaches, while an ancient earthwork, Offa's Dyke, traces much of the English border. There are many rivers and lakes, and a rich heritage, both human - with Wales' famous sons, and industrial - in the remains of its past mineral and coal industries.

With such a wealth of walking opportunities it is not suprising that Wales includes three National Trails, Offa's Dyke Path, Glyndwr's Way/Llwybr Glyndwr and the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, in all some 500 miles of quality walking along rivers, across hills and on the coastline. As a border route, Offa's Dyke Path is shared with England.

The Welsh mountains perhaps provide the highlights for the walker. Snowdonia National Park in the north west is a dramatic landscape of hard volcanic rocks cut by past glaciers to leave soaring peaks and sharp edges, with quiet cwms and lakes below, and there is much evidence of slate and mineral industries. In the south there is a long broken band of Devonian Old Red Sandstone whose north-facing ridgeline forms the flat-topped peaks of the Black Mountain, the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains, again hewn out by the ice. North of this is the moorland mass of Mynydd Epynt and the huge expanse of the Cambrian Mountains, a series of dissected plateaux covering much of central Wales, with its watershed where the Severn and Wye rise quite close to the western coasts of Cardigan Bay. In the north east of Wales the Clwydian and the Berwyn ranges, separated by the Dee valley, arc around towards central Wales. Between the Clwydians and Snowdonia is another moorland mass, Mynydd Hiraethog. South of the Beacons are the South Wales Valleys with their intervening ridges providing plenty of ridge-walking opportunities. These finally drop away to the populous coastal lands of the Vale of Glamorgan and the sea.

Wales offers splendid upland and mountain walking, nowhere more than in Snowdonia, where rather than waymarked trails, there are many enthusiasts' routes (listed below), as befits the challenging terrain. The other major mountain ranges have much to offer. The Cambrian Way traverses many of the main Welsh upland ranges in its epic journey of some 287 miles between Cardiff and Conwy, truly one for the mountain connoisseur. The Beacons Way (Brecon) is the main official trail of this National Park, traversing its three ranges, the Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountain. The Clwydian Way circles through the Clwydian Range while the North Berwyn Way traverses this group. The Pererindod Melangell is a linear walk on the Berwyn's fringes.

In South Wales the many ridgelines between the vales provide good walking with distant views. In Caerphilly the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk circles above this valley. The Taff Ely Ridgeway Walk follows another line of hills in Rhondda and Caerphilly. The multi-user Taff Trail uses old railway lines, canals and forest tracks between Cardiff and the Brecons. Other routes in South Wales provide ridge walking or elevated viewpoints; these include the Sirhowy Valley Ridgeway Walk, Ogwr Ridgeway Walk, Coed Morgannwg Way and the Sky to Sea Walks.

The Welsh coastline now benefits from the Wales Coast Path running from the mouth of the River Dee to Chepstow, some 870 miles distant.  The Path is split into eight geographical areas: North Wales & Dee Estuary, Isle of Anglesey, Menai, Llyn & Meirionnydd, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Camarthenshire, Gower & Swansea Bay, South Wales Coast & Severn Estuary. Several existing promoted routes have been incorporated into the Coast Path: the Dee Way to Prestatyn; the North Wales Path continues to Bangor; Anglesey Coast Path; the Llyn Peninsula Coastal Path between Caernarfon and Portmadog; the Meirionnydd Coast Walk heads, via Harlech, to Aberdyfi; the Ceredigion Coast Path covers the coastline from Borth all the way to Cardigan; the Pembrokeshire Coast Path goes around St David's Head to Amroth; the Gower Coast Path; the Valeways Millennium Heritage Trail takes in the Glamorgan Heritage Coast.

The major Welsh rivers provide some excellent, sometimes quite challenging, riverside routes. The Wye Valley Walk links Chepstow, close to the confluence with the Severn, to the source high on the access moorland of Plynlimon. Nearby, the Severn's source is the start of the Severn Way itself on its 210-mile journey to the sea. The Dee Way traces the Dee from its wide estuary to its moorland origins high above Llyn Tegid, with the separate Dee Valley Way providing for alternatives between Llangollen and Corwen. The Usk Valley Walk follows the Usk from Caerleon upstream and high into the Brecons.

There is moorland walking on Conwy's Hiraethog Trail and the Brenig Way, leading from peaceful Denbighshire to Llyn Brenig.

In this land of music, the Ann Griffiths Walk in Powys is named after a prolific and influential 18th century hymn writer; while St Illtyd's Walk in South Wales has a religious theme - remembering Illtyd, an early saint held in high veneration in Wales. St Winefride's Way is a pilgrim's trail in North Wales. The Cistercian Way links the Cistercian abbey sites in a long 650-mile journey making a full circuit of the country.

Wales' 'famous sons' include the renowned author and poet Dylan Thomas. The Dylan Thomas Trail visits places near his home on the Cardigan coast and locations that inspired 'Under Milk Wood'. The explorer famous for meeting Dr Livingstone is remembered in the H M Stanley Trail in Denbighshire. While not quite in the same league, the Mal Evans Way remembers a respected Ceredigion Rambler.

Industrial history is covered by the Iron Mountain Trail visiting the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape World Heritage Site, marking the town's early leading role in the UK's iron and coal industries. The Four Valleys Path visits the slate mining valleys of north Gwynedd, while the Gower Way includes an historic former mining area. In Wrexham, Mines, Moorland and Mountains includes old mining sites.

Historic boundaries and ancient routes provide themes for the Gower Way as it crosses the past lordship of Gower, while the Landsker Borderlands Trail explores the rural area on the Pembrokeshire/Carmarthenshire border - Landsker being an old Norse word for frontier. The Sarn Helen follows an old Roman route across west Wales, while Wat's Dyke Heritage Trail follows a linear earthwork in the Welsh Marches, paralleling Offa's Dyke Path that has a similar theme. Remembering past border skirmishes the Three Castles Walk links border castles in Monmouthshire and the whole county is circumnavigated on the Monmouthshire Way. Circuits of towns or administrative areas provide the themes for the Bridgend Circular Walk and the Torfaen Trail.

Two long routes start in Wales, but most of their length is in England. The Gloucestershire Way starts in Chepstow, as does the Great English Walk, which begins its 620-mile journey to Berwick-upon-Tweed on the Scottish borders. The Wysis Way links Offa's Dyke Path at Monmouth and the Thames Path in Gloucestershire.

Three routes mainly aimed at horseriders are shared with walkers, the Radnor Forest Ride mainly in Powys, as are the Ceiriog Trail and the Epynt Way, where the MOD welcomes walkers, horse riders and cyclists to a circuit of the wild Mynydd Epynt plateau both also in Powys.

Enthusiast's walking routes abound with some demanding terrain on offer, almost all rated very challenging.  David Irons provides Around Idris, Around the Carneddau, and Around the Rhinogs, each circuiting its named range. He also offers the Snowdonia Challenges, a group of three comprising: the Heart of Snowdonia 24 Peaks Circuit that climbs 24 peaks with 20,000ft of ascent, the Snowdonia Five Ranges Round visiting the highest summit in each principal mountain range in Central Snowdonia, and the Welsh 1000m Peaks Marathon that includes the Carneddau's tops and Snowdon. Tony Hill offers the Carneddau Challenge Walk and the Glyderau Challenge Walk, while Richard Hill provides the Black Mountains Traverse Challenge that does 'just what it says on the tin'. Derek Fisher provides the Brecon Beacons Traverse that includes the Black Mountains. Offa's Hyke is a charity challenge from Michael Skuse that aims to help a childrens' hospice. Gerry Jackson offers the Taith Torfaen that climbs Blorenge, Coity Mountain and other Torfaen hills. Snowdonia is well represented with yet another five challenges, John Merrill has the Snowdon Challenge Walk, to the top and back by different routes. The Snowdonia Round links hostels and includes several summits. Ed Dalton has the Snowdonia 24hr Circuit including the horseshoe, the Glyders, Carneddau and Moel Siabod, as well as the Snowdonia Panoramic Walk on the Carneddau, Snowdon and along the Nantile ridge. Both Ed Dalton and Peter Travis offer the Welsh 3000s, crossing the main Snowdonia summits with some exposed scrambling, and if that challenge is still not enough, the Welsh 3000s Double Crossing (28 summits) certainly should be!