Why hiking Wales is one of our best trips for 2020

Jump into coastal adventures, then hit the trails at the speed of sheep.

In Wales’ Snowdonia National Park, summer dusk bathes a slope above Lake Idwal, in the Ogwen Valley.
Photograph by CARL JONES

The simple words painted on a billboard-size wall overlooking a parking lot in Swansea, Wales, read: “More poetry is needed.”

A plea to locals? More likely an exhortation to the rest of the world—because poetry isn’t something I find Wales lacks. A short drive beyond any Welsh city leads to landscapes of imagination: hillsides embroidered with bluebells, lonely castle ruins on windswept crags, rocky coastlines noisy with seal song, valleys that are an encyclopedia of green. (Take a road trip through the Irish countryside’s wild beauty.)

The industrial port city of Swansea is the gateway to the Gower Peninsula, the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) designated by the British government, in 1956. The recognition singles out for conservation exceptional landscapes of “distinctive character.” Wales now has five AONBs, in addition to three national parks.

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