The festive period is a time for eating, drinking and being merry, but, after a while, it can all become too much. The celebrations seem to start earlier and earlier each year and, by the time the big day rolls around, you are altogether fed up of indulging. A great way to break up your winter is a weekend away to Wales. The magnificent scenery is all the incentive you need to work off some of those extra Christmas calories. Wrap up warm, check the weather forecast and embark on a bracing stroll.
For a convenient long walking weekend, head from the capital to Cardiff in Graham’s Vauxhall Astra. Over looking the city, Garth Mountain is just a twenty minute drive from Cardiff’s centre, making it an ideal spot to blow away the cobwebs. Garth, which famously only just meets the required height to be listed as a mountain, offers some great hikes to ease your pampered December body back into some exercise. There are a series of routes you can take that vary in length from forty-five minutes to just over an hour. Along the way there are Bronze age burial mounds to admire and some picturesque abandoned barns. Your efforts will be rewarded if you make it to the top, as you’ll be treated to a stunning panoramic view over the South Wales coast.
There aren’t many short walks that encompass as wide range of geographical features as those in the Brecon Beacons. Caves, gorges, waterfalls and fossil markings can all be viewed whilst trekking in this heather-covered national park. The industrial past of the area is also fascinating to see with quarries, mines and coal seams clearly etched into the landscape. Shoot away from London in Camila’s Fiat 500 and stay in Cardiff or Newport, before embarking on a day of hill-walking. There are six easy, signposted trails that can be undertaken by novice walkers. These walks are all at the one to two hour mark leaving you with the rest of the day to explore one of the nearby cities.
Escape London for the weekend in Ramachandran’s Toyota Prius. Use Swansea as a base for this trip and make the forty-five minute drive to Rhossili for a spot of wintertime walking. You can hike a loop around headland in an hour and half before finishing in Rhossili Village with some warming refreshments. There’s plenty to see in this part of the Gower Penisula, from the shipwrecked remains of the Helvetia, to the Victoria lookout post. Be sure to wear proper walking footwear on this trip as the stones around the tip of the headland are likely to become wet and slippery.
Atop Skirrid Fawr are the remains of St. Michael’s Chapel (a medieval Roman Catholic church) and a Iron Age hill fort. To see these treasures you’ll have to complete a two hour march. The incline up to the peak is reasonably steep, so come armed with a decent pair of boots. The walk begins under the shelter of woodland before emerging out onto the mountainside. As you walk you can enjoy great views out over the surrounding countryside. Use Yann’s BMW Z4 for your weekend’s transportation and stay in either Gloucester or Newport. If you have the whole weekend to play with, make the most of your scenic location and walk up the nearby Sugarloaf too.