I’m a big believer that to really see a country, you have got to explore it on foot. Taking unexpected paths will lead you to hidden treasures and amazing adventures!
My recent trip to the Welsh countryside was even better then I had hoped for. I had been wanting to explore an area that wasn’t a popular tourist destination and when the opportunity came to visit good friends in Wales, I knew I had found my newest hiking and touring destination.
I’m listing my top 5 discoveries that you have got to try if you ever find yourself wanting to experience the unexpected.
- Crickhowell (Curg Hywel)- This charming little village in southeastern Powys is magical escape from the hustle and bustle of larger cities. There are pubs, darling shops and numerous guest accommodations for a delightful stay. We stayed at Porthmawr Country House, a gorgeous 14 bedroom country estate, a 5 minute walk into town. Walking in this area is a must, we loved discovering the remains of a 13th century castle and strolling beside the River Usk to see the famous 13 arch bridge over the river.
- Table Mountain (Crug Hywel) If you are looking for a hike that will take you back through time, this is the one you need to do in Wales. Table Mountain got it’s name from the flat top of the mountain where ancient iron age settlers built a fort. Some of the ancient ruins can still be seen at the summit of this mountain. The hike itself is relatively easy and will take you through sheep pastures and gentle rolling hills. The most difficult part is the last quarter mile when the trail turns steep and I mean steep. The views at the top are so worth the climb!
- Big Pit National Mine . This “hike” took me over 300 feet underground and I traded my backpack for a helmet, cap lamp, belt, battery and ‘self rescuer’ . The tour itself was led by an experienced minor into the deep tunnels and coal faces that were in use since 1880. If you are claustrophobic, this tour is not for you. Some of the tunnels are only about 4′ 1/2′ feet tall and 3 feet wide. I have to admit I had a few moments where my heart started to race and all I could think about was how to get out of there. It gave me a whole new sense of appreciation for those men who spent a lifetime working in dangerous and dark conditions at the turn of the 18th centuary.
- Cardiff Castle. This castle was built upon the original remains of a Roman Fort that dated to approximately 50 A.D. Over time it was added onto from the time of the Normans to the last owner, the 4th Marquess of Bute, who’ upon his death, gifted the castle to the city of Cardif. You can explore different parts of the Castle complex, from the Roman Wall, to the apartments of the last family to live in the castle at the height of Victorian interior design. In the open living areas you will see rooms rich with murals, gilding and elaborate wood carvings, stained glass and marble, created by art-architect William Burges. It is an extrodinary opportunity to see over 2000 years of castle preservation.
- Dan-yr-Ogof Caverns/Caves Wales has a plentitude of ancient caverns and Dan-Yr Ogof is one of the finest. There are actually 3 different caves you can walk through at this center, Dan-yr-Ogof, Cathedral Cave and Bone Cave. Each cave offers a unique underground experience. In Dan-yr-Ogof and Cathedral Cave you walk through passageways for just under 1 mile to see formations carved out millions of years ago, and 40 foot high waterfalls. My favorite was Bone Cave where people from the Bronze Age lived over 3000 years ago.
Wales is a trip well worth taking. It is filled with unexpected treasures. Take chance, go on an adventure and fill your spirit with the joys of discovering new places!