Keen walkers are always looking for new destinations for their walking boots. One area that is often overlooked is that covered by the Clwydian Way in North Wales. This 122-mile trail was inaugurated to celebrate the millennium, and gives an enjoyable nine-day walk, which with days off to explore the locality can provide a wonderful two-week holiday.
Everyone has heard of Snowdonia and its wonders; but the Clwydians are nearer to main population centres, much less crowded and just as stunning. In addition the Clwydian Way intersects some lovely towns. These include the historic hilltop market town of Ruthin, St Asaph which is the smallest city in the UK, Denbigh with its walkable castle walls and world-famous Llangollen with its canal, steam railway, castle and abbey. More detail can be found on the official website, www.clwydianway.co.uk.
The weather in the region is of course changeable, although Ruthin is known for its sunnier micro-climate due to the sheltering effect of the Clwydian range above the town. Walkers will need a good breathable waterproof jacket. Those from the tried and trusted Berghaus range are great, make sure it is lightweight and packable as you may not always be wearing it. Fleece works well as a mid-layer, but have a look at Merino such as that from Icebreaker. After all, Welsh conditions are good for sheep so you can’t go too far wrong wearing this non-itchy, non-smelly and lightweight wool. Don’t forget a hat, either; Marmot provide the essential quick-dry, pack to nothing beanie as well as sunhats and visors for warmer days.
Much of the trail is well surfaced, but good broken-in walking boots are a must. Haglofs Scandinavian-inspired boots and walking shoes are ideal for the conditions which can vary from well-formed gravel or steps to muddy and slippery riverside grass.
There’s no need to rough it at night on the Clwydian Way; there are plenty of bed and breakfasts and hotels that are well used to visitors arriving on foot wearing walking boots. All will provide the essential hot bath, comfortable bed, drying space and hearty breakfast. There are some idyllic spots to stay in tiny villages, as well as in the towns such as Denbigh and Ruthin which are set in stunning scenery. You will hear a lot of Welsh spoken in the town but be assured that English visitors also get a very warm welcome, as these borderlands areas are well used to traffic back and forth. With no tent to carry, your rucksack can be smaller; Patagonia and Columbia have brought out new lightweight ranges to ease the strain on the shoulders.
So get those walking boots ready and take a trip to North Wales – and let us know what you think about this lesser-known part of the country.