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.
Walk through slate quarrying history and discover the gorgeous Talyllyn and Dysynni valleys beneath the shadow of Cader Idris. Your walk starts at Abergynolwyn, a former slate village centred around the Railway Inn, taking in the romantic ruins of Castell y Bere before circuiting Foel Caerberllan hill. You can walk the first section, or spice it up by catching the Talyllyn Railway steam train for a short hop up to Nant Gwernol. You can download a .pdf of the walk on the Talyllyn Railway's website.
Porthdinllaen, Llŷn Peninsula
The Ty 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 golf course. You’ll have a drink in hand, Yr Eifl’s peaks spread across the bay, your feet are in the sea and all is well with the world.
Maenclochog circuit, 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. There’s a good circular walk on the Discover Carmarthenshire website (.pdf), which ticks off all the essentials, including his Boathouse home, 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.
Monknash to Nash Point, Glamorgan
The only snag with starting at the Plough and Harrow is that you may not be able to drag yourself away from a perfect country pub that’s been there since 1383. But it’s worth heading down the Cwm Nash valley to discover the finest bit of coast no one knows about: a long beach beneath cliffs studded with fossils. If the tide is in a cliff path still gets you to Nash Point, where a tea-hut waits before your return inland… perhaps via the Horseshoe Inn at Marcross.
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 walk. Across the other side of the valley, Caerphilly mountain is good for circular strolls with the Black Cock Inn never far away. Head north, and another ridgeway walk passes the Rose and Crown up on Eglwysilan Common.
The River Monnow gives the county its name and, for much of its length, marks the border between Wales and England. This is glorious walking country, and The Bell at Skenfrith has taken full advantage by creating a series of circular walks that come with maps and local lore. Pick a route, do the walk, and return to the Dog and Boot bar, where local ales and ciders come with free dog biscuits (for your dog, to be absolutely clear).
Offa’s Dyke Path, Powys
The long-distance Offa's Dyke Path runs for 177 miles (285km) along the 8th century border, so you’ll have developed a decent thirst by the time you reach its approximate mid-point. Best place to rehydrate is the Monty's Brewery visitor centre in Montgomery. They brew the path’s official beer, Best Offa, and make a donation from each pint to help pay for the path’s upkeep.
This circular Spirit of the Miners walk (.pdf) heads up into the hills from Talybont, offering fabulous views of the Dyfi Valley and Cader Idris. The start/end point is guarded by two leonine pubs: take your pick from the White Lion and the Black Lion (or ‘Y Blac’ as it’s known following a smart refurb).