Head off-piste into the mountains and there are lots of intriguing ways to explore The North Wales Way off the beaten track. Go igam igam (zig-zag) and create your own custom-built road-trip.

The A5 gateway

As an alternative gateway to North Wales, the A5 does the job nicely. It crosses the border near Chirk Castle, heads up through Llangollen (take the Horseshoe Pass road for a scenic diversion), and on to Snowdonia. The stretch after Capel Curig through the Ogwen Valley is one of our best roads, cutting between the Carneddau and Glyderau ranges, which includes the knife-edge spine of British climbers’ favourite peak, Tryfan.

A4086 road with traffic trails at twilight and Snowdon Horseshoe in background
Capel Curig, Conwy County, North Wales

Vale of Clwyd

Starting just inland from Prestatyn, the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty stretches south as far as the Berwyn Mountains. There’s a chain of heather-clad peaks crowned with hillforts, dotted with medieval towns like Rhuddlan, Ruthin and Denbigh.

Castell Dinas Brân, Bryniau Clwyd
Golygfa o Gastell Dinas Brân, Bryniau Clwyd
Yr olygfa o Gastell Dinas Brân, Bryniau Clwyd
Dinas Brân Castle, Denbighshire, North Wales

A lap of Snowdon

For a tour of Snowdonia's highest peaks, there’s a spectacular circuit from Bangor to Capel Curig, across to Beddgelert, up to Caernarfon and back to Bangor. This forms a 50-mile (80km) square that’s bisected by the Llanberis Pass, where the Pen-y-Pass car park is the most popular starting-point for a walk up Snowdon.

The Menai Strait

There are two bridges onto Anglesey: you can cross on Thomas Telford’s 1826 original masterpiece, or the slightly more modern Britannia alternative. The latter is quicker, and has better views of the former (and of the Swellies whirlpools below). Either way, it’s worth diverting along the Menai Strait to visit gems like Beaumaris Castle, Llanddwyn Island, and that small town with the very long name which all Welsh people are obliged to recite on request.

Golygfa o'r awyr o gastell Biwmares, Ynys Môn
Beaumaris Castle, North Wales

The Anglesey coast

A circular­ tour of our largest island is around 75 miles (120km) on the main roads – that’s a pleasant half-day excursion. If you walk on the Coastal Path you’re looking at 12 days to cover the 130 miles (200km). Highlights include South Stack lighthouse and cliffs, sea arches at Rhoscolyn, dunes at Aberffraw, the Cemlyn nature reserve, and dozens of beaches.

Aerial view of South Stack Lighthouse on mountains, surrounded by sea
South Stack Lighthouse at sunset
South Stack Lighthouse, Anglesey