TOP 5 WELSH WILD PLACES
Daniel Start chooses his favourite spots from his new book, Wild Guide Wales.
PORTH IAGO LLYN PENINSULA
Time stands still on this wonderfully rural peninsula and this is one of its best little beaches. West facing, sheltered, with golden sands, clear waters and an ancient hillfort lookout above. You can even wild camp here, included in the honesty box fee you pay as you pass through the farm. Head east along the coast path to find two super-secret sandy coves that face each other across a narrow bay at Porth Widlin. Or a dramatic walk west along the coast leads to the popular white-sand bay of Porth Oer, or Whistling Sands, where there’s a little shop and café. Further along coast, the small island headlands of Dinas Bach and Dinas Fawr have sea caves to explore. FIND IT: A mile and a half north east of Rhoshirwaun on the B4413.
KLONDYKE WOODS CONWY
Look for Tylwyth Teg (Fairy Folk) in the magical mossy woods above Klondyke, an eerie mill ruin slowly returning to nature. The abandoned buildings are named after the catastrophic Canadian Klondike gold rush as this was where swindler Joseph Aspinall created a hoax copper mine in 1918 to extract vast sums from gullible London investors. Even more consumed by the progress of lichen, moss and fern
ABERCWMEIDDAW BINOCULARS, MACHYNLLETH
These fascinating double-bore test tunnels can be reached by a short scramble near the edge of the old quarry. They were cut through the rockface by a machine patented by George Hunter in 1864 and form the appearance of huge binoculars staring out of the mountainside. Walk up beyond the pit along the main path to discover the manager’s house ruins in the woods. Paths also connect up to the slate remains at site of Abercorris mine; the steep footpath passes a quirky miniature recreation of the famous buildings of Italy! FIND IT: Right turn about a mile north of King Arthur’s Labyrinth on the A487. are the earlier mining endeavours at Clogwyn-y-Fuwch, reached on a path through the ancient oaks. Dating from 1790, these were some of the first slate mines in Snowdonia, and adventurers can uncover a vast set of chambers up the hillside. Continue your walk up to Llyn Crafnant, a mesmerising but lesser-known lake with a hidden shoreside café. FIND IT: Follow signs for Llyn Crafnant opposite Fairy Falls inn in Trefriw B5106; follow to forestry car park.
SCWD DDWLI AND HORSESHOE FALLS, BRECON BEACONS
The graceful arc and large pool of Ddwli falls on the Nedd Fechan river is probably the easiest and most satisfying of over 20 spectacular waterfalls which run through ancient woodland along the Mellte and Nedd rivers. Walk downstream to reach Horseshoe Falls which is also great fun and has a big, deep jump. Turn right after a mile to find Lady Falls with a graceful column of water in a wooded amphitheatre. A bushwhack upstream leads to the imposing Einion Gam, falling 21m high into a canyon, very rarely visited yet with a huge plunge pool, best in the morning sun. FIND IT: Entering Pontneddfechan from B4242, follow road left at the Dinas Inn 1 ¾ miles, then left to Pont Melin-fach bridge. Car park on left after ¾ mile.
ABEREIDDY BLUE LAGOON, PEMBROKESHIRE
This iridescent pool was once a quarry but it has long since breached to the sea, and the old wheelhouse now provides three platforms for leaping into the deep abyss below – a famous rite of passage for local swimmers and visitors alike. Walk east along the spongy, flowered coast path to Traeth Llyfn, a superb secret beach. Keep on going to find the old tramway leading down to the huge brick loading hoppers in Porthgain harbour, home of the famous Sloop Inn and gastro fish and chips at the Shed, a converted wharf shed on the sea front. FIND IT: Abereiddy is signed from the A487.