Discover Wales by foot this autumn

Autumn has arrived in Wales. It’s time to venture into the crisp mornings and cool afternoons along wooded paths and winding riverbanks, admiring nature’s stunning display. 

Over the river and through the woods

No matter where you’re walking in Wales, you’ll discover the same beauty that inspired William Wordsworth to write more than two hundred years ago:

The sounding cataract haunted me like a passion: the tall rock, the mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood, their colours and their forms, were then to me an appetite; a feeling and a love…

Gorgeous colours and picturesque scenery still beckon wanderers yearning for an escape from the everyday and into the magical Wye Valley where Wordsworth wrote. And with three National Parks and hundreds of quaint country villages, there are endless alternatives for an autumn walk in Wales.

The Wye Valley Walk, Chepstow

Wye Valley in autumn near Builth Wells, close to Wye Valley Walk

Builth Wells, Mid Wales close to the Wye Valley Walk
With Wordsworth’s poetry as your muse, a walk through the picturesque Wye Valley will rejuvenate your senses. The 136 mile Wye Valley Walk starts at Chepstow Castle and passes through meadows, woodland, orchards, hills, mountains and moorland before it ends at Hafren Forest.

If you’re adventurous and fit, try a twelve-day trip and complete the whole walk. You can camp along the way or book a restful night at one of the many guesthouses en route. An interactive map of the walk with accommodations and services is available at wyevalleywalk.org

For shorter excursions, linear and loop walks are available, offering less challenging terrain with the same views. The Chepstow Riverside Walk can be done in about 30 minutes and is a great option with easy access for all types of travellers.

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Brecon Canal

Canal boats at Llanfoist Wharf, Brecon Canal
Llanfoist Wharf, Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal
The Brecon Canal towpath enchants autumn walkers. Still canal waters reflect jewelled leaves of red and gold. Bright painted boats pass aqueducts and bridges, and the wild and rural Brecon Beacons cast a storybook glow upon the towpath walk. The 35 mile canal towpath begins in Brecon and traverses the Usk Valley through villages, under bridges and across an aqueduct until it rambles into Five Locks in Cwmbran. Trees and wildflowers line the path, making it a haven for birds and butterflies. It’s a mild and easy walk, so take it in small sections depending upon how much time you have. Be sure to stop along the way to sample a local pub.

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Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire

Aerial view of the National Botanic Gardens and surrounding countryside
National Botanic Garden of Wales, Carmarthenshire by Clint Budd
At the National Botanic Garden in Wales, the wooded valley of Pont Felin Gat displays ancient woodland flowers and culminates in a dramatic waterfall built 200 years ago. A leisurely stroll through Pont Felin Gat can be done in about 90 minutes or less.

If you’re still yearning for more scenery, take in the rest of the Botanic Garden, housed in the 568-acre historic Middleton Hall estate. Walled gardens, formal borders, endless varieties of flora, and a garden café provide a colourful day out.

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Llanwrst: Conwy River to Grey Mare’s Tail Waterfall

Grey Mare's Tail waterfall
Grey Mare's Tail waterfall, North Wales by Jason Edwards
If you’re looking for a storybook moment, there’s no better place for an autumn walk than over the Conwy River via the Llanrwst Bridge and past the picture perfect Tu Hwnt I’r Bont Tearoom. It’s easy to imagine Hansel and Gretel playing cheerfully inside the vine covered stonewalls of this 15th century cottage turned tearoom. The fairytale characters wouldn’t fear being tossed into the oven at Tu Hwnt i’r Bont, however. The chef prefers timeworn recipes for delightful scones and handmade Bara Brith, spiced traditional Welsh bread made with dried fruit. The walk begins at North Llanrwst Station and though it’s mostly paved, it traverses some challenging terrain along country lanes, pastures, mountain bog and forested paths as it climbs toward the Grey Mare’s Tail Waterfall. Start in the morning and allow at least half a day to complete the walk. You’ll have lovely views of the Conwy River and chances to stop at Gwydir Castle, the church at Llanrhychwyn and the 6th century St. Rhychwyn’s church, rumoured to be the oldest in Wales. Finish with a hot tea and some comfort food at Tu Hwnt i’r Bont. From there you can make your way back to the railway station, stay for an overnight in Llanrwst, or hop to neighbouring Betws-y-Coed a sweet little town full of tea rooms and guesthouses. A shorter, easier walk  follows the riverside path near the Llanrwst car park and train station. With Snowdonia National Park nearby, the entire region boasts walks of various levels.