Wales is a weird and wonderful world that offers some of Europe’s finest adventure travel. What really sets Wales apart from the rest of the UK is the fact that so much is crammed into such a small space. For adventure hungry travellers, that want to fit in as much action as possible, there really isn’t any better place to go. From the monstrous mountains to the wild and vast ocean, from the rolling hills to the open roads, the only problem you’ll find is knowing where to start with it all.
1. Surf the Gower Peninsula
The Gower Peninsula offers some of the greatest surf in Europe. On a good day, waves easily reach over-head high and, with the right wind conditions, you can even get barrelled. North Gower is ideal for all levels of surfers and has long stretches of safe sandy beach, which is perfect for beginners. If you’re looking for surf lessons, head towards Llangennith or Rhossili as there are surf schools aplenty.
South Gower is ideal for the more experienced surfer and with its exposed reefs and hollow shore breaks, it really is world class. The real beauty of South Gower, however, is the local surrounding villages. Mumbles is a picturesque little fishing village complete with some of the best independently run restaurants in the UK.
Local Tip – After a solid session at Langland Bay, head to the Langland Bras and watch the sun go down with a cold beer. Life doesn’t get much better!
2. Go Mountain Biking at Afan Forest Park
Cycling is one of those things that takes-over your life. Over the years I’ve travelled all over the UK in quest of the ultimate cycling routes, but nothing has ever topped Afan Forest. For those that love to get off road, this is the ultimate place to go. It’s home to 14-and-a-bit miles of pure adrenalin fuelled cycle routes. Admittedly some are more intense than others, but this means that there is something for all level of rider. Afan Forest is no secret, at least not within Wales, so make sure you allow plenty of time to explore this mountain biker’s dream.
“Top 10 Place to Ride” by What Mountain Bike magazine.
“The 9,000 acres of Afan Forest (Afan Argoed) is a paradise for mountain bikers – recently described as one of the 10 best places to ride before you die” – The Guardian
3. Rock Climbing at Three Cliffs bay
Three Cliffs is one of Wales’ best kept secrets, so don’t go telling everybody about it! Nestled away amongst South Gower’s greenest forests, Three Cliffs is only accessible by foot and is literally a hidden paradise. The walk from the tiny, unassuming car park takes you along a breathtakingly beautiful winding river, where wild horses run free and sand dunes are constantly morphing into different shapes. A castle towers above the river and casts long, dramatic shadows over the golden sands. I promise I’m not making this stuff up! All this before you even get to your destination, no wonder it’s one of the UK’s favourite climbing destinations.
As you may have guessed, Three Cliffs gets its name from the three peaks which cut a dramatic silhouette into the horizon. These cliffs offer some of the UK’s best rock climbing and you will find something for all experience levels. Obviously, it’s not suggested that you approach any of the climbs alone, but there are typically plenty of instructors on hand that will provide equipment and advice. Three Cliffs really does offer some outstanding climbing, and the views simply cannot be topped!
4. Seal Watching on the island of Worm’s Head
For those that love animals and want to experience them in the wild, Rhossili offers some of the best wild seal watching in the UK. It’s not that the seals are bigger or better, but simply because it’s such an adventure getting to where they live. “Worm’s Head” is a narrow island which is home to a huge wild seal colony, and is only accessible when the tide is low. A causeway opens up between the mainland and the island, allowing a short (but very exciting) window of time to hike over to the tip of the island and find the seals. There are hundreds of seals and it really is incredible to see them play and fooling around, jumping in and out of the ocean – I personally think they just like showing off!
For obvious reasons hiking at Worm’s Head can be very dangerous, and many adventurers have been swept away by the tide whilst crossing the causeway. The key to staying safe is to speak to the coast guard staff that are situated at the base of the causeway. They will offer up-to-the-minute tidal times and advice for your seal watching adventure.
5. Mountain Hiking in Snowdonia
It sounds like something out of The Lord of the Rings, and is quite simply one of the most beautiful mountains in the UK, if not the world. Snowdon is Wales’ highest mountains and stands at a whopping 1,085 metres (3,560 ft) above sea level. Its beauty is protected and has been designated as a national nature reserve due to the exceptional flora and fauna. Although not compulsory, Snowdon is also known for its outstanding and challenging rock climbing. In fact, Edmund Hillary trained at Snowdon in preparation for his ascent of Mount Everest in 1953.
As well as breath taking views and world class hiking, Snowdon also hosts a series of huge lakes which flank the sides of the mountains. It really is one of the most beautiful adventures you’ll ever have and a ‘must’ for anyone that loves to get outdoors.