Wild walks that are a stroll for toddlers

Boardwalks are a great idea, aren’t they? You can explore the boggiest of bogs, the marshiest of marshes and the pondiest (not a real word) of ponds. While pushing a buggy. In your favourite slippers, if you so wish. Here are some wild strolls that’ll take you deep into the wild, but not the mud.

  • Children on a trip to Newport Wetlands RSPB Reserve
    Newport Wetlands RSPB Reserve, Vale of Usk

    From a wildlife point of view, autumn and winter are the best times to visit here for the overwintering wildfowl. But actually, the birds aren’t the main draw for very young children, who prefer the adventure playground and excellent RSPB shop. The walks are easily done with pushchairs (there’s just one short zig-zag climb) and the seafront section has great views of the Severn Estuary. Take binoculars, and see if you can spot the spires of Cardiff’s Principality Stadium pricking the horizon.

  • Waterfalls and pool at Pwwl y Wrach near Talgarth in the Brecon Beacons
    Pwll y Wrach near Talgarth, Brecon Beacons by Paula J James

    The ‘witch’s pool’ – there’s a name guaranteed to pique the interest of little ones – was carved by a waterfall where the River Enig plunges down a wooded gorge.  An easy-access path leads from the car park into the heart of the reserve, where a network of dirt paths should be easily managed by little feet.  It’s especially lovely here in spring, when wood anemones poke like white stars through a yellow carpet of lesser celandines. Later on, bluebells fleck the woodland floor with shimmering blue and the heady scent of wild garlic fills the air. 

  • This little nature reserve is so hidden in the folds of a deep valley, you’d hardly know it was there.  A boardwalk winds through the woodland and joins up with compacted earth paths, which are all easy to navigate. A couple of facts to amuse children while on the walk: the timber from here was once sent to Yorkshire to make clogs, and dormice live among the trees. And if your kids are into Horrible Histories, pop into the nearest pub, the Skirrid Inn. This used to be a courthouse and jail, and behind the bar you can still see the beam from which hundreds of prisoners were hanged. 

  • Welsh Wildlife Centre in Cilgerran, Pembrokeshire
    The Welsh Wildlife Centre in Cilgerran, Pembrokeshire

    There are plenty of boardwalks and flat trails around the Teifi Marsh nature reserve, where you can spot a huge variety of native birds and beasts. The resident water buffalo aren’t native, but they do a marvellous job of grazing the marshes on behalf of other animals. Inside the visitor centre, there’s a learning-through-play section with wildlife colouring, drawing and quizzes.  They do damned good home-made cakes, too. 

  • If you can tear yourself away from beaches at Red Wharf Bay, Corsydd Môn's network of wetland nature reserves now has two new boardwalks, providing easy access to Cors Erddreiniog and Cors Bodeilio, a fragile ecosystem where some of our rarest plants and butterflies thrive. Note for young visitors: the ponds are home to medicinal leeches, so paddling may not be such a great idea.

  • Cors Caron National Nature Reserve in Tregaron, Ceredigion
    Cors Caron Nature Reserve in Tregaron, Ceredigion

    We asked TV naturalist Chris Packham about his favourite spots in Wales, and he got very excited about Cors Caron's vast bog. Why? Because although bogs aren’t as LOOK-AT-ME dramatic as mountains, they do attract an amazing variety of wildlife. They can, however, be somewhat boggy, which is why the 1.5km boardwalk is a sensible way to explore this wetland nature paradise when you’re wheeling a buggy. The 6km surfaced path along the edge of the reserve is easy to stroll, too. 

  • A puffin with outstretched wings on Marloes Peninsula in Pembrokeshire
    A puffin, Marloes Peninsula in Pembrokeshire by Drew Buckley

    The wildlife sanctuary islands of Pembrokeshire are a bit of a no-go zone for pushchairs, but you can enjoy them from the mainland with this gorgeous clifftop walk, which follows easy grassy paths. You can spot dolphins, porpoises and plenty of seals in the waters below, and enjoy great views of Skomer and Skokholm islands. Nature note for youngsters: distant Grassholm gleams white, but not because of snow. It’s thousands and thousands of tons of ‘guano’, as we experts like to call bird poo.  

  • A deer at Dinefwr Park
    Dinefwr Park, Carmarthenshire by Paula J James

    Stately home, 12th-century castle, deer park, nature trails - we’ve done it all with a pushchair (it’s a bit of a shunt up that last hill to the castle, mind). But for gentler strolls, we’d go for the long level boardwalk to mill pond, or a tractor-trailer tour of the estate. In any event, you won’t miss stunning valley views and massive trees that are well over 700 years old – which means they were already big when Owain Glyndŵr was busy besieging the castle in 1403.

More information on wildlife in Wales