Trace the footsteps of legendary kings, druids, and Norman conquerors across the mystical landscapes of Wales, exploring the dramatic southwest coast and the rugged, misty mountains of the north. In Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, follow the undulating coastal path over limestone cliffs, into fishing villages, and past some of the most beautiful beaches in the British Isles. Travel north to Snowdonia to hike the romantic mountain landscapes where many tales of King Arthur unfolded. Encounter an Iron Age hill fort and prehistoric dolmens; and venture into imposing medieval castles and abandoned slate quarries. Get acquainted with Welsh culture present and past, from the hip, modern streets of revitalized Cardiff to the timeless villages of the isolated Lleyn Peninsula, where English is a second language and age-old traditions are held fast.
Hike two spectacular portions of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, one of the most dramatic coastal hiking trails in the world.
Summit Snowdon mountain and take in 360-degree views that reach as far as Ireland.
Ride classic railways, from a rack-and-pinion mountain train to a narrow-gauge steam train through the Welsh highlands.
Watch a sheepdog directing its herds at a local farm.
Itinerary - 10 Days
Day 1 — Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
Arrive in Cardiff and meet up in the afternoon for a stroll along the waterfront at Cardiff Bay. See the Wales Millennium Centre and the Norwegian Church Arts Centre, as well as Cardiff Castle, built on the remains of a Roman garrison and Norman fortifications. Park Plaza Cardiff (D)
Day 2 — Tenby/St. David’s
Head west along the coast to Tenby, a medieval and Norman walled town flanked by wide beaches. Here, we join the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail, which follows the shores of southwest Wales. Our afternoon hike takes us along one of the most spectacular portions of the trail, tracing limestone cliffs past beautiful bays and beaches and pre-historic standing stones. Then travel north to St. David’s. (7 miles hiking, 3–4 hours) Warpool Court Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Ramsey Island
Take a boat ride to the islands of Ramsey and Grassholm, reserves owned and managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Explore Ramsey Island with a ranger, and learn about the endangered species, such as choughs and peregrines, that breed here. Following an afternoon hike along the coast, cruise by the uninhabited isle of Grassholm to observe one of the largest gannet colonies in the world and look for dolphins in the surrounding waters. Back on the mainland, visit historic St. David’s Cathedral. (3–4 miles hiking, 3 hours) Warpool Court Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Pembrokeshire Coast Path
Set out on a remote section of the coastal path, following the northern edge of the county through rugged and magnificent landscapes. See an ancient burial chamber, look out over the gorgeous surfing mecca of Whitesands Bay, and opt for a climb up Penberry Hill. Our hike ends at a local farm, where we’re invited to watch a traditional sheepdog trial. (10 miles hiking, 6–7 hours) Warpool Court Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Snowdonia
Travel north today, stopping to see the Pentre Ifan Burial Chamber, a remarkable dolmen that predates Stonehenge. Continue to Machynlleth for a visit to a nature reserve, featuring osprey and red kites; we’ll observe these regal raptors on an easy hike. Settle into our hotel in Betws-y-Coed, a village set among waterfalls at the edge of Snowdonia National Park. Craig-y-Dderwen Riverside Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Snowdon
Rising 3,560 feet over Snowdonia’s glacier-carved landscapes, Snowdon is the highest peak in Wales. Climb to the summit and take in an extraordinary vista that, on a clear day, includes the mountains of Ireland. You may opt to descend (or ascend) by rack-and-pinion railway. Stop in at the historic Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel for refreshments after our hike, and explore the collection of photos and climbing gear used by the famed mountaineers who have passed through the hotel. (6–7 miles hiking, 2,378' ascent, 6–7 hours) Royal Oak Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Llanberis/Cwm Idwal
At the National Slate Museum near Llanberis, get a glimpse into the importance of slate mining in the history and politics of Wales. Then join a local naturalist on a hike to Cwm Idwal, fantastic glaciated hanging valley where Arctic flora grows among great slabs of rock. (4 miles hiking, 3 hours) Royal Oak Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Porthmadog/Beddgelert/Caernarfon
In the maritime town of Porthmadog, board the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway to Beddgelert, passing through the beautiful Pass of Aber-Glaslyn. Go on a hike to Llyn Dinas, a lake associated with the legend of King Arthur. Later, continue by steam train to Caernarfon. (6 miles hiking, 1,400' ascent, 3–4 hours) Seiont Manor Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 9 — The Lleyn Peninsula
Head to Lleyn Peninsula, an isolated finger of land jutting into the Irish Sea where Welsh culture has flourished over the centuries. Hike up to the evocative ruins of Tre’r Ceiri, a Celtic Iron Age hill fort, and take in incredible views. Descend to Nant Gwrtheyrn, a Welsh language school, to learn about the region’s heritage and culture. (4 miles hiking, 3 hours) Seiont Manor Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Caernarfon
Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Caernarfon Castle, built by Edward I to suppress Welsh rebellions against the English. After lunch, drive east to the English town of Crewe, where trains connect to London and Cardiff. (B)
National Geographic Active Expeditions are unique, active itineraries for intrepid travelers that combine spectacular places, cultural interaction, and physical challenge. You'll explore fascinating, off-the-beaten-path places with top guides, and wherever possible, meet National Geographic experts in the field.
We will be hiking 3 to 7 hours per day (3.5 to 10 miles) on moderate to steep grades at low elevations. Vehicle support is provided, and participants always have the option to rest a day and ride to the next hotel. We will stay 9 nights in ideally located inns and hotels that reflect the local character.
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