Porthdinllaen, Llŷn Peninsula
The Tŷ Coch sits bang on the beach of one of Britain’s prettiest seaside villages, with a great selection of local ales. Porthdinllaen itself is a National Trust-run hamlet from which cars are banished, so to reach it you’ll have a gentle romp along the beach, clifftop or the iconic Nefyn and District golf course. You’ll have a drink in hand, Yr Eifl’s peaks spread across the bay, your feet in the sea and all will be well with the world.
Llangollen History Trail, Dee Valley
Medieval churches, castle ruins, views over the Dee Valley and (mostly) easy walking – there’s much to recommend on the Llangollen History Trail. With luck you may see otters by the Horseshoe Falls – and if not, you can watch kayakers shoot the rapids from the terrace of the Corn Mill in Llangollen, or watch the Llangollen Railway steam train chuff into the station across the river.
Yr Wyddfa, Eryri (Snowdonia)
The most popular route up Yr Wyddfa (that’s the Welsh name for Snowdon) is the nine-mile (14.5km) Llanberis Path, which tracks alongside the Snowdon Mountain Railway to the summit. You could also park at Pen y Pass to pick up the Pyg and Miners tracks, although it’s essential to pre-book parking - or better still, catch the Sherpa'r Wyddfa bus service to your starting point. For post-walk beer, the Pen-y-Ceunant Tea House has local beer and bags of character.
The Golden Road, Pembrokeshire
Walkers have stridden the Preseli Hills for millennia. The Golden Road, a Neolithic trade route, takes you into a moorland littered with Neolithic hut circles and standing stones. It’s from these hills that Stonehenge’s bluestones were hewn. The goal is Foel Cwmcerwyn, the highpoint of these hills. The Tafarn Sinc runs it a close second: built of corrugated iron, the pub was rescued by its own community after a worldwide fundraising appeal. By the way, you’re not far from the Gwaun Valley and the legendary Dyffryn Arms – or Bessie's as locals call it, in honour of its estimable landlady
Abereiddi to Porthgain, Pembrokeshire
A full list of wonderful Pembrokeshire coastal pub walks would be so vast as to crash the internet, so we’ll (reluctantly) settle for just one. Head up past the Blue Lagoon for a two-mile clifftop amble to the tiny harbour at Porthgain. To conform with the strict ‘pub walk’ criteria, enjoy local beer and pub nosh at the Sloop Inn, or bend the rules and have gourmet fish ‘n’ chips at The Shed. On the walk home, work off excess calories by climbing the steps down to Traeth Llyfn – it’s a marvellous and, because of its location, seldom visited beach.
We’re on the trail of Dylan Thomas, to discover the heron-priested shores and wooded hills that inspired the poet’s work. Dylan's Walk is a good circular walk, which ticks off all the essentials, including the Dylan Thomas Boat House, his writing shed, and the churchyard in which he was buried in 1953. Be sure to stop for a reverential pint at Dylan’s favourite local boozer, Brown's Hotel. It’s what he would have wanted.
The hills behind Cardiff
Head north of the capital beyond the M4 and it gets very rural, very quickly. The most prominent lump is Garth Hill, at the foot of which is the Gwaelod-y-Garth Inn, a popular start/end point for a short, steep circular walk up the Garth Mountain. There’s also a longer version of the walk that begins on the valley floor in Taffs Well. Across the other side of the valley, Caerphilly Mountain is good for circular strolls.
Tintern’s famous 13th century abbey was one of the UK’s finest, until Henry VIII came along and trashed it in the 1500s. The abbey’s original cider mill gradually morphed into The Anchor pub, which is our starting point for circular walks along the River Wye and Offa’s Dyke path, and up into the hills opposite. This is border country, so the best views of Tintern – from the Devil’s Pulpit – are actually on the England side. Nothing like international travel to broaden the mind and stimulate a thirst. It’s a very dog-friendly part of the world, too – so there are plenty of canine options.
Glamorgan Heritage Coast, Vale of Glamorgan
The 14-mile (23km) Glamorgan Heritage Coast is less well-trodden than Pembrokeshire or Gower, which makes it a bit of a local secret. Fossil-studded cliffs drop down into quiet bays, with a rural hinterland sprinkled with ancient churches and hamlets. Llantwit Major is a great option for a post-walk pint, with lots of cafes and pubs, including the oldest public bar in town, the Old Swan Inn.
Cors Caron, Ceredigion
Bogs don’t have the look-at-me glamour of mountains, but they’re incredibly rich in wildlife. The Cors Caron National Nature Reserve is one of the most pristine raised peat bogs in Britain, bustling with dragonflies, lizards and otters, while red kite, hen harrier, curlew and skylark patrol the skies. There are waymarked trails to suit all levels (including wheelchair users), while long-distance walkers and cyclists can zip off on the 20-mile (32km) Ystwyth Trail that runs down to Aberystwyth. Your local boozer is Y Talbot, a proper heart-of-the-community inn in the middle of Tregaron.
Beautifully set in the Black Mountains, Crickhowell is a proper upscale market town. There’s no shortage of walks from here, ranging from flat strolls along the River Usk and Monmouthshire & Brecon canal, or stiff hikes up Crug Hywel and on to Pen Cerrig-calch, the mountain that provides the glorious backdrop to the Green Man festival. Back in town, there are plenty of pubs, too, including archetypal coaching inn The Bear and the dog-friendly pub-hotel The Dragon Inn.