6 stunning places to walk in South Wales for nature lovers this summer

Jun 6, 2024by Alice Ojeda
Stunning places to walk in South Wales, Alice with tea on mountainside

When I was five, we moved from Plymouth to Cardiff in South Wales. I pictured my new home as a sea full of whales, not the landscapes I'd grow up in which have made me who I am today. I love a good walk. I'm also writing as a proud Cardiffian and founder of my small business, Authentic House, making skincare for sustainable living.

When it comes to summer walks in South Wales, I'm going to be picky and share my very best. There'll be some you might know, and a couple I bet you won't! We'll skip overly busy trails too because you only want to queue for the Ystradfellte Four Waterfalls once or twice... So, grab your boots! Here are my 6 stunning places to walk in South Wales for nature lovers this summer.

1. The best South Wales beach walk to reflect and wander, summer or winter

This is my absolute favourite South Wales walk! The wave cut platforms around Cwm Nash (or Monknash) beach go on for miles. Look carefully and you'll find fossil ammonites and shells where the limestone has eroded away. The layered cliffs were a site for many a geography trip. At Cwm Nash, they're crumbling away from an old monastery cemetery. Recent legend even has it that a recent bone poked out!

To get to this beach, park at the Monknash Beach Carpark or take the bus to the Plough and Harrow Inn if you're close (public transport isn't the best). You then walk down through ancient woodland to the beach. Turn right and you can walk at low tide over the rocks and sand all the way to the headland. Climb the stairs there to visit Dunraven Bay for an extra long walk. I'm happy though to turn around at the waterfall.

If you like a circular walk, look out for the precarious ladder on your way down the beach. That way you can walk back on the clifftop - if you dare go up the ladder that is! You'll see what I mean... Also, bring a bag if you fancy as this is a great place for picking up beach plastic. There are big stretches of sand where you can go for a swim in the summer too. You'll also skip the crowds in Southerndown and can bring your dog there too all year round.

2. A gorgeous Welsh beach to walk and swim on the sunniest day in summer

Three Cliffs Bay is my favourite beach for a day in the sun. You'll want to leave this for a really hot day, then start at the carpark by the Three Cliffs Coffee Shop. The small café also has delicious ice cream to return to and free toilets if you've been on a long drive - from Cardiff it is!

To get to Three Cliffs Bay, it's a short walk over the clifftops and down the sandy dunes to a beach that's West enough to have crystal blue waters. Depending on the weather, the sea can be entirely still or you'll sometimes have waves to whoosh in! If you're pitching up for the day, which I recommend, it's worth settling in the first, smaller beach before the rocky divide. It's more sheltered there and you can find a nice rock to rest your back on for some holiday reading or a nap.

 3. Tintern Abbey and Offa's Dyke Path walk

Pencil this walk in as a must for the end of summer. Tintern Abbey has towering Gothic ruins that were much loved by the Romantic poets and are still a tourist spot today. We parked in the abbey car park, but you can also park for free closer to Abbey Mill.

From there, you take the Old Wireworks Tramway Bride to the other side and turn right to follow the old train track along the River Wye. Here's where we got lost, but here is a Tintern walking guide and I have a suggestion for you on maps later. Either way, eventually you'll turn left and up the hill to follow the Offa's Dyke path. It's thought to have been built by Offa, the king of Mercia in the 8th century to mark the border with Powys.

If you love old forests and forest bathing, this is the walk for you. You'll also pass the Devil's Pulpit with a beautiful view onto Tintern Abbey where the devil is said to have tried to tempt monks. You continue on Offa's Dyke before turning left down the hill to Brockweir. Then there are easy signs to walk back to Tintern via the riverbank. When we went, there was a poetry walk telling the story of pollution and the River Wye.

4. The most beautiful Wye Valley walk for an easy stroll and picnic

This walk is technically on the border of Wales and England, but as you can start in Chepstow and it's one of my favourites, I'm going to include it in my best places to walk in South Wales. Chepstow is a beautiful town with a towering Norman castle and you can park or take a train there if you want to see it too.

You can also park for free on Mopla Road where it meets the Offa's Dyke Path, where this walk begins. Follow the Offa's Dyke Path across fields until you reach a wood. Then, leave it and go under the wooden bridge and down through forest to walk by the River Wye.

If you saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, you might remember this landscape. The path follows the meanders of the River Wye and there's a perfect bench looking out over the landscape for a picnic lunch. Follow the path until you reach a ruined monastery, then turn right up the hill and right along the road.

On your way, you'll pass Wintour's Leap where a fabled Royalist leapt with a horse to make his escape during the Civil War in 1642. Just past this viewpoint, slip onto a small path to the right which will take you past the quarry. If you watched Sex Education on Netflix, you'll recognise it too!

The path will take you onto the road where you turn right again and straight back onto the Offa's Dyke path which will take you back. For me, this walk is beautiful and easy, but it does involve a scramble over some rocks. If my mother out-law's heartrate monitor is anything to go by, it's not for quite everyone!

5. The Newport wetland walk no one's going to tell you about

This walk on the border between Cardiff and Newport is a best kept secret, and it's close to our home in Splott! Opposite Sluice Farm on Wentloog Avenue is a free parking area. Park there and take the path back over the bridge and towards the coast. Walk there in June, and you might be lucky enough to meet lots of new foals who'll come up to say hello!

When you reach the coast, walk left along the sea wall. It's a bleak and spacious walk with views over the wetlands with swifts and seabirds flying around. You'll also find giant pieces of driftwood and all kinds of washed up things. I remember my mum carrying home a floral planter once!

You can walk this route as far as you like, then turn back home. Bring a friend and enjoy a good, long chat. We normally turn back at the style close to a patch where a mystery gardener has planted daffodils and crocuses in spring.

One thing to bear in mind on this walk is the cows. We've passed them closely on the path and it's been fine, but these days we'll just wander back.

Of all my places to walk in South Wales, what I love about this walk is how accessible it is. It can be just an hour. You can also walk there from Cardiff and take a closer path to the coast just past Parc Tredelerch, but there is a lot of walking next to main roads. It's a hidden gem.

6. An unmissable South Wales walk in Bannau Brycheiniog / Brecon Beacons National Park

The easiest way to climb Pen y Fan, South Wales' highest peak, is from the carpark by Storey Arms, but it's not the most beautiful route and is by far the most crowded. Instead, if you're feeling strong, park at Nant Cwm Llwch carpark and take the Horseshoe Ridge walk. This takes you up Pen y Fan from the stunning back route.

On our walk, we got lost (again!) and had to climb Pen y Fan twice. Save yourself the ache and descend via the lake where you'll find brave folk swimming. I also saw leeches in there, so brave in many ways! You'll then descend by a wooded river that looks like a fairytale in early summer where you can have a rest. (Pack a thermos. You'll thank me!) Then you follow the lane back to the carpark.

This isn't a walk for the faint-hearted but, with a good picnic and starting early, it's the most epic of all the places to walk in South Wales I've shared here and so, so worth it.

And lastly, how to navigate South Wales walks

If you've gotten this far, you'll know we tend to get lost a lot! That's part of the frustration, and joy of walks, but of course a good map is useful. For Cwm Nash, Three Cliff's Bay and the Newport wetlands, you'll be able to find your way with Google Maps.

I know the Chepstow Wye Valley walk by heart now, but we originally found it in a walk book, along with the Pen y Fan and Tintern Abbey walks. You could definitely chance them on my directions or find an old walk book, but my friend suggested a really useful new app today over cake and tea at the Penylan Pantry (a good Cardiff haunt for planning your adventures!)

Komoot is an app that works like a search engine for walks, and it gives you Google Map-like directions, but on trails. I haven't tried it yet, but definitely will! AllTrails is another great option that gives alerts when you go off trail. Let me know if you try either of them. 


And there you have my 6 stunning places to walk in South Wales for nature lovers this summer. Of course, there's way more to explore and I've only shared my crème de la crème (or hufen y cnwd) of walks here. What are your favourite walks in South Wales and around the UK? Share them with me in the comments.

If you enjoyed my post and it's got you planning your next summer hike or swim in South Wales, share it with a friend you'd love to go with. For more tips and ideas for anyone who loves being in nature, protecting the planet and creating a sustainable home too, make sure to subscribe to my Ideas Book newsletter.

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