Planning a jam-packed summer of staycations? Wales’ wild coastline, remote mountain ranges and peaceful river valleys make it the perfect weekend escape if you’re desperate for adventures without the added air miles.
Seven weekend adventures in Wales
Canoe the Wye Valley
Canoeing is a proper Swallows and Amazons adventure for a sunny weekend. Wye Valley Canoes will kit you out with a gorgeous Canadian canoe, plus waterproof barrels to store all your camping gear in, then send you off down the meandering River Wye with a map and a list of lush camping spots to stop at along the river bank.
Where to stay: Take your camping kit with you in your canoe and camp halfway along your journey.
Stay on a narrowboat
Live life at a more laid-back pace, even if it’s just for a weekend, on your own pootling narrowboat. Black Prince offer ship-shape narrowboats that can be rented just for the weekend from their base in Chirk in North Wales. For panoramic views, guide your boat along soaring Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (for explorers without a fear of heights only) and travel along the Dee Valley to the marina at Llangollen.
Where to stay: on your very own cosy narrowboat! Black Prince’s fleet sleep up to 10 people.
Go castle-bagging by bike
Did you know Wales is home to an astonishing 600 castles? Create your own cycling itinerary around a few of them – you could see how many you could tick off over a long weekend of pedalling. Experienced cyclists should head for the north, where this route is a challenge for a long weekend, ticking off 12 castles. Or go for a more relaxed ride in the south – a personal favourite is the ruined castle at Skenfrith, where you can also go for a swim in the shady river.
Where to stay: Bring your tent in your pannier bags and stay at Castle Knights, where you can camp or glamp in the grounds of Usk Castle.
Surf and swim around Rhossili Bay
Rhossili Bay, often named one of Britain’s most beautiful beaches, sweeps round miles of golden sand before meeting the cliffs that lead to Worm’s Head, a green outcrop which becomes an island at low tide. Grab your surfboard and hike down the cliff path to reach the sea – the surf here is best at high tide, and is often small enough to be beginner-friendly. Or if you’re more of a swimmer than a surfer, seek out Blue Pool Bay, nearby. Reachable only at low tide or via a stiff scramble from the cliffs, the bay is home to its namesake swimming spot, a gem-like tidal pool surrounded by tall rocks and perfect for a plunge. Instructions for finding the pool in my guide to the best places to go wild swimming in Wales.
Where to stay: Independent Cottages have hundreds of cottages available to book all over Wales. This charming little cottage near Swansea is the perfect base for exploring both the Gower Peninsula and the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Climb Cadair Idris
Cadair Idris boasts all the epic vistas of Snowdon without the crowds of hikers. The walk up the Pony Path to the 893 metre summit is steep but beautiful, meandering through forest before climbing past heather to reach the rocky peaks. Myths and legends are thick around Cadair Idris – it’s named after a giant, of course, but there are also hounds from hell whose howls foretell death, and legend has it that anyone foolhardy enough to sleep out on the mountain will either awake a poet or a madman.
Where to stay: Eco Retreats‘ yurts are a wonderfully cosy place to chill out after a day on the mountain.
SUP in Snowdonia
Is time out on the water your favourite way to relax? Head to North Wales to find some inner peace on a Snowdonia lake with a weekend at Psyched Paddleboarding‘s new SUP Wellbeing Retreats. Participants paddle, practise yoga and explore the National Park by SUP board – there’s even a ceremonial gong bath to help you chill. The next retreat is scheduled for 7-9 May 2021.
Where to stay: Accommodation is included in the weekend retreat.
Go whale spotting in Pembrokeshire
Add a hefty tick to your wildlife bucket list by sailing along the glorious Pembrokeshire coast – you may spot orca, minke and blue whales. A boat trip with Thousand Islands will bring you to within sea spraying distance of these mighty beasts.
Where to stay: The laid-back Druidstone Hotel on the Pembrokeshire coast has cosy rooms or a private little roundhouse looking out to sea.