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Backpacker Magazine – June 2010

Hiking Wales: Plan Your Trip

Use our guide to make your Wales hiking adventure a reality.

by: Steve Howe



Season May to September is best, but always pack for rain, wind, and cold. Average summer high: 65˚F. Spring is drier than fall.

Flights Birmingham and Manchester offer the closest major airports (with direct flights from the U.S.). Alternatively, fly into London (less than four hours away by train).

Entry
Valid passport required: travel.state.gov

Travel info visitwales.com 

Phone Emergency? 999 is the Welsh version of 911. Cell coverage: T-Mobile and AT&T will work in Wales with international roaming. Otherwise, rent a GSM phone (cellularabroad.com or telestial.com).

Guidebooks and websites
General The Rough Guide to Wales, by Mike Parker, Paul Whitfield, and Catherine Le Nevez ($20; roughguides.com)
Brecon Beacons National Park Walk the Brecon Beacons, by Bob Greaves ($15; walkingdemon.co.uk). Info: breconbeacons.org
Offa’s Dyke Path Offa’s Dyke Path South—Sedbury to Knighton and Offa’s Dyke Path North—Knighton to Prestatyn, both by Ernie and Kathy Kay and Mark Richards ($20; aurumpress
.co.uk). Info: nationaltrail.co.uk/offasdyke
Pembrokeshire  Coast Path National Trail Guides, Pembrokeshire Coast Path, by Brian John ($20; aurumpress.co.uk, or available used from Amazon). Info: nt.pcnpa.org.uk
Snowdonia National Park Hillwalking in Snowdonia, by Steve Ashton ($20; cicerone .co.uk). Info: eryri-npa.gov.uk

Maps Do not underestimate the need for highly detailed maps—and the ability to use them—while hiking in Wales. Bad weather, confusing trail junctions, and livestock paths can complicate navigation. Get the Ordnance Survey “OS” Explorer Maps (about $12.50 each) with a scale of 2.5 inches to the mile. You can buy them at regional tourist offices, some outdoor shops, and online at leisure.ordnancesurvey.co.uk. The best atlas for getting around Wales is the Philips Navigator Cymru/Wales ($11; philips-maps.co.uk). Garmin users can also get an entire collection of digital maps on SD or MicroSD card: TOPO Great Britain, Southern England & Wales ($140; garmin.com).
Tracklogs Download digital maps, GPS data, and turn-by-turn directions for all the hikes listed here at backpacker.com/wales

Camping Most hikers use established campgrounds that have easy trail access (search by region at walestouristsonline.co.uk). Dispersed, or “wild,” camping is not allowed in most parks; ask permission on private land. 

B&Bs It’s the Welsh version of hut-to-hut hiking. Many inns will even shuttle gear ahead to the next lodge. Plan on $45 to $60/night.

Money Some U.S.-issued ATM cards may not work. Check with your bank before traveling.

Getting around Rent a car for flexibility, but use public transport if you’ll be mostly on trails. A Britrail Pass allows you to hop on trains anywhere in Wales, England, and Scotland ($535 for a 15-day, standard-class pass; britrail.com). Buses are best for accessing trailheads. In Snowdonia, the Sherpa Bus (snowdoniagreenkey.co.uk) runs most of the summer, accessing trailheads throughout
the region. Find schedules at traveline-cymru.co.uk and nationalexpress.co.uk.




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