Updated: Apr 12, 2020
The most unique non-touristy, 5 hidden gems in Wales.
If you enjoyed my post on the 25 must-visit places in South Wales then I thought you might also like this post on some of my most favourite 'off the beaten track' places to also visit. I am and always have been a keen outdoors enthusiast. I have been camping since I was 2 years old, along with brownies, guides, DofE and as a parent myself. Hiking has been a lifesaver to my mental health. In 2018 I decided to use my 40+ years of experience to set my small business aimed at helping others to reconnect with nature and discover their love for the great outdoors.
Read on for my top 5 hidden gems in Wales.
Tourism in Wales
When I was asked if I could list the most unique non-touristy trails or hidden gems in Wales I initially thought, well this is quite hard. Wales is a top tourist destination. It has some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world and is swimming in myth, legend and history.
What can I write about that hasn’t yet been discovered and if there are a few hidden gems left, do I want to advertise them to the world? Then during a Facebook discussion, I saw a great comment from a US traveller. She asked, “If it is possible to do an American style road trip in the UK?”
Apparently, in the States, the US Forest Service allows dispersed camping on any of its land, which makes travel fairly inexpensive.
Well, this got my mind working overtime as this is something I wish the UK was more open to. The freedom to roam. Scotland already has this policy and wild camping is extremely popular. England and Wales, unfortunately, are lacking with the right to roam countryside code, although wild camping is still popular it is more challenging to achieve.
You can read more about What is Wild Camping? in our blog post.
Which is why I created my Adventure Wild blog, to help you find your love for the great outdoors and reconnect with nature by providing ideas, inspiration, tips and tricks. Everything you need to start your own wild camping adventures.
Our home county of Carmarthenshire is the largest in South Wales and spans well into the Brecon Beacons National Park so we have a vast playground of mountains, lakes, rivers and hiking trails on our back doorstep. There are so many possible places we could have picked for this post but here are our best top 5 hidden gems in Wales:
Top 5 Hidden Gems
1. Castell Dryslwyn Castle is tucked away between Llandeilo and Carmarthen in South Wales. It is much less visited than its neighbours of Dinefwr and Carreg Cennen Castle.
Situated on the bank of the Afon Tywi River offering stunning views across the valley to Paxton Tower (a bonus gem). There is also a lovely picnic area at the car park but the walk up to the castle is steep although there is a footpath. Good hiking footwear and clothing is recommended.
2. Llyn Llech Owain Country Park is my second favourite place on this list.
Located in Gorslas, Carmarthenshire. A 180-acre site of scientific interest (SSI). Featuring nature trails, an adventure play area for children and separate toddler playground with smaller features. A forest track providing a longer hike or bike ride around the country park and there is even a rough mountain bike trail for the more adventurous cyclists. Plus a gorgeous cafe to treat yourself after your walk around the lake or time spent in one of the wildlife watching huts.
3. Llyn y Fan Fach is my favourite place on this list. The most touristy mountains in Wales are Snowdon, Cadair Idris and Pen y Fan. They are the biggest 3 in order so understandably extremely popular destinations. Picws Du the peak at Llyn y Fan is small in comparison at 749m compared to Pen y Fan at 886m which makes it a less popular climb, but for me, it is a far nicer one, both physically and routes. The path up Pen y Fan is called the motorway it is so busy and well worn. Llyn y Fan is a true gem.
4. Llansteffan Beach is thankfully not a top tourist destination. That spot tends to be shared between Tenby and Cefn Sidan at Pembrey. Llansteffan is hidden away between the two. There is also a fabulous castle to explore, so two gems for the price of one.
5. Swiss Valley Reservoir. I wanted to add a reservoir to the list as Wales has many and they are generally top tourist places to visit. I chose Swiss Valley as it is tucked away in a major town and you really would know it is there unless you knew where to look. The walk gives you several choices of distance and in fact two lakes to explore. Dogs are welcome if kept on leads as there are often fishers camped along the banks.
Over To You
Now it is your turn to share with us your stories. Do you agree with my list? If you have other gems you would like to share, we would love to hear from you. You can comment below or find us on social media @AdventureAccess using hashtag #AdventureWild.
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