Backpacking in Wales: Tips & Trails

Backpacking in Wales: An ultralight backpacker in a national park enjoying a scenic view during sunset

In this post, we'll take a look at:

Backpacking in Wales provides numerous trail options suitable for everyone. The landscape is diverse, the paths are easy to follow, and you’re near some of the most breathtaking natural views on the planet.

In this post, we delve into the world of ultralight backpacking in Wales, offering you the essential information for your upcoming journey.

Among other topics, we will outline the best 5 trails in two different categories: day hikes spanning fewer than 30 miles and multi-day trips with resupply options available at least every two days.

Key Tips for Backpacking in Wales

  • What to expect: The varied terrain encompasses coastal areas, mountains, and lush valleys, with well-marked paths for straightforward navigation. Engage with welcoming locals, explore cultural highlights. Be ready for adventure opportunities beyond hiking, such as rock climbing.
  • Essential gear: Wales experiences a temperate climate, so rain is common. Pack waterproof gear and dress in layers to adapt to varying conditions.
  • Wildlife: Wales is generally a safe place, yet it’s important to keep in mind that there are occasional sightings of venomous snakes, such as adders. It’s advisable to exercise caution when it comes to ticks, which can transmit diseases, and be ready to deal with bothersome midges, those irksome flies.
  • Wild camping: Wild camping in Wales requires landowner permission. However, Snowdonia National Park does allow wild camping if you adhere to specific guidelines and avoid established areas. In the Brecon Beacons National Park, certain landowners do permit wild camping. If you’re determined to go wild camping no matter the cost, don’t forget to take a look at our post on stealth camping.
  • Best times to go: The best time to go backpacking in Wales is typically during the late spring to early autumn months, specifically from May to September. During this period, the weather is generally milder, and the landscapes come alive with blooming flora. The late spring and summer months offer longer daylight hours, allowing for more exploration of the scenic trails and natural wonders.

Top 5 Day Hikes (Under 30 Miles)

Explore these superb day hikes, ideal for making the most of ultralight gear:

  1. Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) via Llanberis Path (9.1 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  2. Pen Y Fan Horseshoe (9.2 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  3. Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) Via Miners’ Track (8.1 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  4. Y Garn via Devil’s Kitchen Circular (4.7 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  5. Fan y Big, Cribyn, Pen y Fan, and Corn Du Circular (12.5 miles).
    See on AllTrails.

Top 5 Multi-Day Trips

Best multi-day journeys in Wales with resupply options every two days or less:

  1. Offa’s Dyke Path: Chepstow to Prestatyn (170 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  2. Llwybr Llechi Eryri (Snowdonia Slate Trail) (91.2 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  3. The Beacons Ways (99.5 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  4. Snowdon Ultra 50 (46.3 miles).
    See on AllTrails.
  5. Cambrian Way (287.5 miles).
    See on AllTrails.

Annual Weather Averages

Wales experiences a temperate maritime climate, and the weather can vary throughout the year. Here’s a general overview:

  1. Spring (March to May): Spring is characterized by milder temperatures, ranging from around 40 to 60°F (4 to 15°C). The landscape starts to bloom with flowers, making it a scenic time for backpacking.
  2. Summer (June to August): Summer temperatures typically range from 50 to 70°F (10 to 21°C). While this is considered the warmer season, rain showers are still common. Days are longer, providing more daylight for exploration.
  3. Autumn (September to November): Autumn brings cooler temperatures, ranging from 40 to 60°F (4 to 15°C). The landscape features autumn colors, creating a picturesque setting for backpacking.
  4. Winter (December to February): Winter temperatures in Wales range from 35 to 45°F (2 to 7°C). It is the wetter season, and snowfall can occur, especially in higher elevations.

Prior to making your gear selection, review the historical annual weather data for Wales:

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High °F474750545963666663585248
Low °F393840434752555653494440
Rain/Snow (D*)1412111199101111141616
Note: This table is approximate; weather can change with altitude.
D* – Days of rain or snow.

FAQ

Can I have a campfire while backpacking in Wales?

When backpacking in Wales, building campfires requires planning. Fires are only allowed in fire pits at camping sites, and never on protected peatlands, heathlands or moorlands which can burn easily. Use only dead and downed wood from the ground. Contain the fire within stones if there is no provided grill, and fully douse it with water until cold before leaving. Be aware of local burn bans on hot, dry days too due to fire risk. With responsible firecraft skills and adhering to leave no trace principles, backpacks can still enjoy this classic activity safely.

What are some safety tips for backpacking in Wales?

When hiking or backpacking in Wales, prepare for rapid weather changes by packing waterproof, insulating layers and spare dry clothes. Carry a map, compass, GPS device, and fully charged phone to avoid getting lost. Tell someone your plans and check in regularly. Stick to marked trails and avoid dangerous terrain like steep, exposed ridges. Watch for loose rockfall and muddy, slippery trails. Sheep and cattle can become aggressive, so give them space. Know how to identify and avoid irritant plants like giant hogweed. Camp discreetly away from livestock and be mindful of wildlife.

How to deal with wildlife encounters while backpacking in Wales?

When hiking in Wales, you may encounter grazing sheep, cattle, and horses. Move slowly and give them ample space to avoid startling them. Keep dogs leashed and under control. Give nesting birds a wide berth. Stay alert for adders basking on trails and back away slowly if seen. Never attempt to touch or feed wildlife. Make noise while walking to prevent surprise encounters. If an animal shows aggression, retreat calmly.

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