Hear about travel to Wales in the United Kingdom as the Amateur Traveler talks to Pip Jones from pipandthecity.com, walesbucketlist.com, and the Travel Goals Podcast about her home country.
Pip says, “Wales is so overlooked in comparison to England and Scotland. A lot of U.S. visitors just head straight to London and either stay within London or go to places like Oxford, the Cotswolds, but Wales actually has a lot of beauty in a relatively small space. We’ve got mountain ranges. We’ve got award-winning beaches, green valleys, gorgeous castles. We’ve got over 600 castles. We’ve also got postcard-pretty market towns and we’ve got our own language as well.”
Wales is a small country but there is a lot to see. Pip does not try to show us all of Wales but gives an itinerary for some of the best bits. It takes roughly 5 hours to drive from north to south of wales.
Pip starts us in Cardiff, the capital city. Cardiff Castle is a must-see for the city. For Doctor Who or Torchwood fans, there are tours of filming sites in Cardiff. But with a week she would only dedicate a day or even half a day to Cardiff. It has a small city center. It is called the “20 minutes city” because you can walk from one end to the other in 20 minutes. There are lots of little boutique shops and Victorian arcades in the city center.
Then she recommends we rent a car in Cardiff and head to Brecon Beacons National Park. One of the highest mountains in Wales is in the park. It is called Pen y Fan. you can hike it or get a hiking tour if you don’t want to hike it alone. Brecon attracts a lot of people interested in outdoor activities like hiking or mountain biking. It has waterfalls just as you will find on the Four Waterfalls Walk. You can also do gorge walking (also known as canyoneering).
From there we head to one of the most remote and sparsely populated parts of Wales, the Cambrian Mountains. Pip recommends you base yourself in the Elan Valley. The Valley has a series of Victorian dams. There are great walks and bike paths or you can take a mountain biking tour in the area tailored to your experience. Base yourself in a small town like Rhayader which has some great pubs.
Nearby Devil’s Bridge was reportedly built by the devil, who was tricked out of the soul he expected in return by a local little old lady. There are a series of waterfalls by the bridge. Try the chocolates at Sarah Bunton Chocolates and stay at Hafod Hotel. There is also a steam train ride that goes all the way to the Victorian seaside town of Aberystwyth which is worth a visit.
The tallest mountain in Wales is Mount Snowden which is 3500 feet tall. There is also a mountain train on Snowden. It is in Snowdonia National Park. It has become very popular recently so Pip would recommend going very early (sunrise) or in the shoulder, season to avoid the crowds at the summit. For a proper mountain, Pip would recommend Plynlimon instead which is further south.
North Wales has reinvented itself as an adventure travel center in the UK. You can take a zipline over an abandoned quarry or go trampolining in an underground slate mine. You can also go surfing.
Another great seaside town is Llandudno. Pip also recommends taking the historic tram up the Great Orm.
Of the 600 castles, her favorite is Castell Coch which was means the “red castle”. It was built more recently, well after the days of castles.
We talk about Welsh culture and where you can experience it including men choirs and rugby games. Whether you come to walk the Wales Coastal Path, cheer on Wales at Six Nations Rugby or just appreciate the rugged landscape, there is much to fall in love with in Wales.
This episode is sponsored by Sawyer international. We talk about their charity programs which are distributing water filters in 80 developing nations.
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Brecon Beacons National Park
Pen y Fan
Four Waterfalls Walk (Ystradfellte)
Big Blue Adventures
Mountain Bike Wales
Hafod Hotel – Devil’s Bridge
Sarah Bunton Chocolates
17 unique experiences in Wales
Best Surfing Beaches in Wales
Snowdon Mountain Railway
Wales Millenium Center
Six Nations Rugby
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Wales Coast Path
Welsh cakes recipe
One week in the Cambrian Mountains Wales – Wales Bucket List
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