Eight unmissable locations for a road trip in Wales

Back to the camperbug blog  April 06, 2020

Wales is home to the mythical King Arthur, the Welsh language, Rugby and has more castles per square mile than anywhere else in the world. You'll love the world-class culinary delights such as Welsh lamb, award-winning cheeses, the diverse landscape, unique culture, rich history and sunny locals. Wales has a great many places to visit, and we've put together a small list for you and, you'll be sure to keep returning again and again. Here are our recommendations for some places you can drive to, walk in and camp at.

01. Hike up to Corn Du, the second-highest peak in Wales

Photo credit: Stuart Herbert on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Set off into the Brecon Beacons National Park and take a strenuous 3-hour hike up Corn Du's (pronounced Corn Dee) 873m height and be rewarded with unmatched views from the top comprising of Cwm Llwch, the Usk Valley and views of the Sugar Loaf peak. Many paths lead to Pen y Fan (pronounced Pen a Van) which is the highest mountain in South Wales standing at an impressive 845m. If you enjoy hiking and eagerly anticipate a chance to stretch your legs on a delightful stretch of wild walking, you can't miss Corn Du!

View from Corn Du, Brecon Beacons, Wales. Image by Barry Marsh on Flickr

The Brecon Beacons is a fantastic location to set up camp and nestle amid stung panoramas, with zero to minimal human interaction. Wild camping is not legally permitted in the national park: however, with the right camping etiquette setting up camp in the wild can be fun, and memorable. An estimated seventy per cent of the park is privately owned so first secure the permission of the landowner. Some landlords are happy to let campers stay in their fields. Facilities vary greatly; with some campsites only supplying a camping area with a stream running through it. If you are camping without the explicit permission of the property-owner, refrain from lighting fires, and aim to camp away from the view of houses, farms, plus roads. Do not park in proximity to livestock. Ideally, you pitch late, vacate the location early, and never stay for more than a single night in one spot. Llyn Cwm Llwch is a fantastic camping spot with access to water: however, you'll have to leave your campervan or motorhome behind at National Trust car park in Cwm Gwdi (cost £3:50). There is a lovely, lesser-known route proceeding up the north of Pen Y Fan, and Corn Du before inclining down to Obelisk raised in honour of little Tommy Jones who went missing in 1990.

Short stop or extended stay - Abergwesyn Pass

Exit Brecon Beacons to drive along one of the most scenic drives in Britain - Abergwesyn Pass. The narrow, meandering path leads across the roof of mid-Wales, encompassing a range of lovely sights including the Cambrian Mountains and the charming town of Tregaron. The magnificent route once served as an ancient cattle herders’ road.

Abergwesyn road. Image by eleanor_bolt on Instagram

You’ll breeze past the tranquil wooded valley of Afon Irfon, marvel at the jagged crags of Esgair Irfon, navigate along the perilous Devil’s Staircase, and have the opportunity to enjoy a cuppa at Llanwrtyd - the self-proclaimed town in Britain. Remote routes lead into dense forests, hillsides and isolated chapels. Navigate gently over the hairpin bends and keep an eye out for menacing rocks, and roving sheep! Be sure to take a breather, pose for some photos, and even enjoy a picnic by Llyn Brianne reservoir.

02. Discover the lovely village of Usk

Image by Photo Monkey on Flickr

The charming village of Usk doesn't fail to soothe the senses with its enchanting collection of open gardens, an elegant crumbling 11-century castle and perhaps one of the most excellent fishing opportunities in Wales owing to numerous salmon-rich rivers including the River Usk.

Usk Reservoir. Image by Andrew Hill on Flickr

To escape the crowds, leave your campervan or motorhome at the Usk Reservoir car park, which is peaceful and out of the way. Strap on your camping gear, food plus cooking equipment and take a forty-five-minute walk to secure a camping spot around the reservoir. Be discreet, and if you don't feel like taking a lengthy stroll, you can stay at the Usk Reservoir car park and drink in the breath-taking scenery.

03. Costal fun at Tenby!

Image by discovercymru on Instagram

Tenby is a delightful coastal town comprising of a charming mix of elegant Victorian houses, quaint cobbled streets, stunning beaches and an unbeatable ambience! Owing to its remote location, the village of Tenby was only made accessible during the Victorian Era. A flood of well-off merchants soon elevated the town's status as a popular holiday destination. Walk the cobbled streets packed with old-world cafes and shops or get pleasantly crisped under the warm sun at any of the towns inviting beaches. Cars are banned during the summer months to keep with the town's laid-back appeal. Try and make a quick stop at the picturesque Caldey Island, which is owned by a group of Cistercian monks.

Image by imo_r_on Instagram

Pembrokeshire is an excellent location to enjoy wild camping in Wales. The history, views and the coastline is terrific, and wanderers can secure a spot overlooking the sea with ease. Lively campsites are buzzing with shops and bars with quieter campgrounds sprinkled across the town. Family sites like Meadow Farm and its stunning views across Tenby and Caldey Island are widespread; however, they tend to get busy during the holiday months.

Short stop or extended stay - Black Mountain Road

Black Mountain road has earned a reputation as one of the best driving ways in Wales. The driving path extends over 19 miles, rises an asto9nishing 493 metres above sea-level, and contains four hairpin turns. The swooping mountain route rests in the western region of the Brecon Beacons National Park and is often called the “Top Gear road” after Jeremy Clarkson was filmed conquering its sharp hairpins. The road is best explored from north to south and provides magical views of the Welsh countryside.

Black Mountain Pass. Image by joshholman on Instagram

The adrenaline-pumping experience consists of speedy and tight sections, sharp turns, exhilarating bends, and blind corners. The rolling landscape provides unobstructed panoramas of the curving road ahead and contains several laybys to hop out of your campervan or motorhome and drink in the spectacular views. Stroll through a remote path to stumble across thundering waterfalls or make the most of the excellent wild camping locations plus numerous excellent hiking and cycling routes. Keep an eye out for tractors and dawdling sheep!

04. Discover the magnificent Glamorgan Heritage Coast

Image by Andy Gocher on Flickr

Take a walk on the nine splendid miles that make up the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, and you'll be blown away by the awe-inspiring beauty that blankets Wales. Crunching shingle underfoot, waters whispering up to the shore and views from towering cliffs are often overlooked in favour of more touted locations. There are plenty of surfing and parasailing locations as well!

Image by jon_smith321 on Instagram

The Heritage Coast Campsite is a lovely location to sit back and take in the views. With easy access and routes to Monknash Beach, the quiet campsite is ideal for surfers, walkers, and cyclists. It may get a little busy during the holiday seasons and doesn't quite provide the same serenity as wild camping; nevertheless, the location is perfect for exploring the surrounding areas, and areas of historical importance. For a touch of extravagance, purchase fresh-made breakfast baps and local produce stocked daily.

05. Abergavenny blends old world charm and modern appeal

Image by Richard Szwejkowski on Flickr

Aptly named the 'Gateway to Wales' the market town of Abergavenny holds an eclectic mix of new and old. Offering an ideal opening for exploring the Brecon Beacons and the Blaenavon World Heritage Site, Abergavenny is something of a food mecca and hosts the famous annual Abergavenny Food Festival. Be sure to drop in at the Skirrid Mountain Inn at the village of Llanfihangel Crucorney. The public house is said to be the oldest in Wales, serving ales and beer since Norman times. Stay clear of the first floor if you're easily spooked! The first floor served as a courthouse where criminals were tried and hung! Eek!

Keeper's Pond. Photo credit: Kent Wang on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA

For a spot of wild camping stop overnight at Keepers Pond in Blaenavon. Set approximately fifteen minutes away from the town of Abergavenny, the site is often busy during the day yet offers striking views of the area, peppered with grazing sheep and wild horses. It is an ideal base for strolls around the pond and walks through the moorland.

06. Fall in love with Machynlleth and the Dyfi Valley

Image by janbx on Instagram

The Dyfi Valley is a heaven of gold-sand beaches and dunes. Placed on the southern region of Snowdonia National Park, the district is well-known to stun visitors with expansive landscapes and thriving wildlife, many areas of which are declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The town of Machynlleth fondly referred to as Mach sits prettily at the opening of the Dyfi estuary and hosts many weekly markets and fairs. The city once served as the 'Ancient capital of Wales'. The Centre for Alternative Technology makes for an intriguing visit, and the centre is active in promoting green technology within the UK and around the globe. The town holds many independent shops that sell anything from organic food to local arts and crafts.

Image by gwaliafarm.co.uk

Set a smooth 25 minutes' drive from Machynlleth, Gwalia Farm rests around a lake and gives campers beautiful views of Snowdonia. Facilities are kept lowkey to impact the local ecosystem as little as possible. The site only accepts adults presenting visitors with an excellent chance of watching otters, glow worms, frogs, newts, buzzards and dragonflies. The campground is spread out over a working organic farm and does not provide facilities for cars on the pitch, so make sure to pack in your camping equipment. While camping outside a campervan rental or motorhome hire may not be everyone's cup of tea: however, the wild swimming spots, dark skies, excellent vistas, and tranquillity make it worthwhile.

Short stop or extended stay - The mountain of Cadair Idris

Cadair Idris (translates to Chair of Idris in Welsh) is considered Snowdown’s twin and rests in the southern end of the Snowdonia National Park. Regarded as one of Wales’s most iconic mountains in Wales, Cader Idris is said to be the mythical chair of giant Idris Gawr – a blend of historic King and legend. Hike or climb to the top to behold jaw-dropping, bird’s-eye views of the beautiful Welsh landscape and the glittering sea beyond. There are a number of paths varying in difficulty leading to the summit, offering some of the most diverse trails in Wales.

Llyn Cau, in the crater of Cadair Idris

The four main paths are Foxes Path (the most direct) , Pony Path, Minfordd Path, and the Llanfihangel y Pennant Path. The weather is exceptionally unreliable so if your visit coincides with a blanket of mist, op for a scenic drive around the vicinity. If you’re planning to camp overnight, beware the legend given rise by King Idris Gawr proclaiming all overnight lodgers will wake the following morning either as an accomplished poet or a madman! If you’d like to use Gwynedd as a base to explore Wales, speak to Gwynedd campervan owners on Camperbug.

07. Rock out at the Green Man Festival

Image by greenmanfest on Instagram

2018 marks the 16th year Green Man festival is in action, and you're invited to join in the festivities that cater to revellers of every age! Set against the gorgeous backdrop of the Brecon Beacons, you'll have ample opportunity to rock out to a great lineup, savour local cider and beer plus taste a variety of Welsh delights! Unwind amongst a warm and relaxed crowd and learn a smattering of Welsh while you're at it!

Image by greenmanfest on Instagram

08. Marvel at diverse habitats in Coed Felinrhyd and Llennyrch

Image by pwd.photo on Instagram

Coed Felenrhyd and Llennyrch encompass stretches out over whopping 765-acres, sweeping from Llyn Trawsfynydd in the east to the Dwyryd rivers in the west. The woods are home to a surprisingly diverse collection of habitats and wildlife. Make time to discover the open grassland, boggy woodland, and upland woods, all brimming with wildlife, and plants. The rengion stands as a reminder of the once magnificent ancient Atlantic Oak woodlands that extended from Portugal to northern Scotland. Placed above the Vale of Ffestiniog, the forest is bordered by thundering waterfalls of the Afon Prysor gorge in Snowdonia National Park. Hop out of your campervan or motorhome rental to explore the rugged uplands, enjoy a picnic by a glittering pool, or sit back and take in the beautiful views of towering Snowdon to the south. Enter Coed Felenrhyd & Llennyrch through several permissive paths, or via two public rights of way. The area is perfect for bird watching so don't forget to take your field glasses.

Image by shrinkwrapped on Instagram

Watch ravens soar alongside cliffs, marvel at migrant birds or view dippers in the rushing waters of the river. Spot otters hunting by the river or see badgers and swift foxes in the woods. Catch a glimpse of cuckoos flutter over trees, and common lizards blending into the immediate background. The humid atmosphere is ideal for fungi, plants and trees. Observe liverworts, mosses, and lichen flourishing by streams or stroll through a sea of bluebells. The woods are rich in plant life including maple, birch, red oak, wild garlic, hazel, hemlock, holly and rowan. Coed Felenrhyd and Llennyrch create a beautiful setting to enjoy a scenic walk along the walking paths and waymarked trails. Bring Fido along as dogs are welcome for a walk; however, it is best to use a leash to ensure the safety of tree routes and ground flora. Camping on the premises is not permitted :however, there is a car park to leave your van while you get lost in the magical woodlands!

We wouldn't mind shouting from the rooftops about how incredibly picturesque the country of Wales is. Appreciate the beauty first-hand on your next road trip across Wales!

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