I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful country. We have amazing beaches and beautiful mountains, the best of both worlds really, thats why me and Jon love nothing more than getting out and about and going for a walk in our local area, with the Opie Dokes of course! And we have found a few great places to walk that are just a stones throw or around a 15 minute drive from our home in Neath Abbey, so I thought I would put together a little guide about our favourite places to go for a wander in South Wales and our tips for making the most of your adventure in nature.
- Pontneddfechan Waterfalls – This is a huge walk just 15 minutes drive from our house. There are 4 waterfalls if you take the full walk but we like to just do the first or second falls. The first falls is a relatively easy walk, mostly flat and takes about 25-30 mins. Opie loves this falls as there is lots of low land by the water, and a little island of pebbles he can run about. The second falls is a bit of a harder walk up quite a steep muddy hill, another 25 minutes from the first one, but it is beautiful to see.
- Langland Beach – Langland is one of the most beautiful beaches the gower coast line has, with some cute beach huts lining the edge. The walk from the beach will take you up onto the cliff and all the way around the coast to the next beach along. It is part of the Wales Costal Path and again is relatively easy and well defined with a nice solid path all the way. The scenery is great and so beautiful looking out across the sea or around the cliffs.
- Aberavon Beach – This is our local beach, it isn’t anything fancy, it has a steel works on one end but it is a lovely place for a nice quite walk, either on the beach itself or along the top. Again Opie loves that he can have freedom to run about as fast as he wants, and for me and Jon there is always the promise of chips and a sausage or an ice-cream cone, depending on the weather!
- Gnoll Park – This is Neath’s big park, with its own (manmade) waterfalls, lake, forest, play parks, huge green fields and even a ruin (although of what I don’t remember!) If you live in Neath you will have no doubt spent lots of time in the Gnoll, whether with your parents, on a school trip, for a fun day or just with your friends, I spent many early teenage weekends in the park with a picnic! And now me and Jon loving going there for a stroll with the pooch, or using it as a photoshoot location for our family shoots.
- Neath Abbey Iron Works and Waterfalls – Now this one is a little different as it is super local to our house and we never actually knew it existed before we moved to Neath Abbey. The river runs right past the end of our garden and one day we decided to check out some the walking paths on our road which led us down to the river and to the awesome Iron Works ruins (sorry we don’t have pictures will try get a few next time we go) There are numerous paths around the river and forest area and if you keep following them you will eventually come to a small waterfall too, literally 5 minute walk from our front door, its lovely!
Tips for what to wear and what to take
- Sensible Shoes! – Now if your just doing the beach walks they are fairly simple and on a nice path for most of it so you can get away with sandals, but the waterfalls and park walks can get super muddy! The Pontneddfechan waterfall one is especially muddy, even when its been dry for days the path can still be really wet and muddy in place, so I advise a good pair of walking boots if your planning to go to the 2nd falls or further or a pair of wellingtons would be fine if your just planning on going to the first falls. I’ve been fancying both the floral Hunter Boots and Hunter Wellingtons above for keeping my feet dry and me not covered in mud spray!
- A Lightweight Waterproof Jacket – Even if it looks like its going to be sunny all day, we are in Wales, so the weather can turn easily and you don’t want to get caught in a downpour 2 miles along a walking route. So I would advise you take a lightweight waterproof coat or a pac a mac is a great alternative. I’m currently lusting after the Seasalt Parka and the Joules Floral Waterproof Jacket – who says I can’t be stylish whilst walking Opie! If your walking the beach or park you can always take an umbrella too, but the waterfalls walk through the forest isn’t suitable for brollies!
- A Rucksack – As we usually have Opie with us we usually need to carry his water bowl, bottle of water, poop bags, treats and tennis balls (just the usual you know!) so I use my fox print rucksack as its easy to sling on my back and go, it doesn’t get in the way of my hands, if I stumble I know I can save myself and I don’t mind it getting dirty, which it frequently does! Plus of course taking some drinks and snacks for yourself is always a good idea too, or go all out and take a picnic with you and make a day of it. I find ASOS always has a great range of backpacks and I’m loving the 2 above, although you may want to find a waterproof one of those too!
- A Water Bottle and Snacks – Yes you could just buy a bottle of water to take with you but having a refillable bottle is a lot easier and a lot more eco friendly. Plus there are tons of pretty bottles out there if you want something a bit nicer than a plain plastic one, plus these are great for taking to work or just having in the house to make sure you are getting your daily recommended intake of water. I found the ones above in Paperchase!
- Clothes you don’t mind getting dirty – You wouldn’t believe how many people we see trying to walk to the falls in the summer wearing white trousers, maxi dresses, heels!!!! and just completely inappropriate clothing, it is shocking. I think a lot of tourists to the area think that because it is a tourist attraction there are going to be nice tarmac paths all the way there, which sadly there isn’t, yes there is a nice clear path that is well maintained but it is all natural paths (except the few bits of decking to get across dangerous areas and the man made steps to get up some of the steep bits!) stones, rocks and soil! So wear appropriate clothing for walking and getting dirty, because you will get it dirty!
So there you have our tips for walking in Wales. Do you have any tips of places you love to visit or things you always take with you? I’d love to discover more places to go venturing with Jon and Opie so hit me up with your suggestions!