Starting at the Wales/England border and running westwards for 75 miles/120km to the tip of Anglesey, The North Wales Way is one of three Wales Way touring routes created to guide and inspire visitors. Each ‘Way’ has been designed as a fluid experience, not a route that’s set in stone, with plenty of diversions off the main path that allow you to explore further and deeper.
This four-day journey shows off some of the most memorable landscapes and inspiring sights on and around The North Wales Way, including dramatic mountain passes, craggy coastal cliffs, historic architecture and green river valleys.
Begin your journey at medieval Flint Castle, sitting at the shore where the River Dee widens on its way to the sea. The first castle Edward I built this side of the border, it marks the doorway into North Wales.
Flint is slap bang on National Cycle Route 5. Which means you can ride east to Chester along the banks of the River Dee – or start pedalling west along the North Wales coast. The region has some of North Wales’ best beaches whether you like a gentle paddle or want to make the most of the surf. Stop when you get to Holyhead, though, or you’ll get very wet. www.sustrans.org.uk
Next, take the scenic A494 across the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to Ruthin described as “the most charming small town in Wales”, then the A525/A542 over the Horseshoe Pass to Llangollen and on to Chirk. With heather-hued mountain summits, dramatic Iron Age hillforts and historic sites like Dinas Bran Castle, Valle Crucis Abbey and Chirk Castle, the route is packed with picture-perfect vistas. Also take some time to explore the romantic, peaceful Ceiriog Valley, a hidden gem of a valley heading west from Chirk Castle, where the River Ceiriog descends to the River Dee from 1,800ft/548m above sea level over a series of tumbling waterfalls.
Suggested overnight: Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog.
Retrace your steps to Llangollen, then drive along the lush Vale of Clwyd to the coast for Kinmel Dunes Local Nature Reserve, home to abundant birdlife, rare maritime plants and even the occasional seal.
Follow the A55 coast road past Colwyn Bay and down the A470 along the Conwy Valley to a National Trust showpiece – Bodnant Garden with its manicured lawns, bloom-filled terraces, wild dingles and towering trees. Cross the river to drive along the winding B5106 to Conwy then climb the Sychnant Pass, one of North Wales’s spectacular but lesser-known landmarks.
Suggested overnight: Conwy or Penmaenmawr.
Follow the coast to Bangor, before getting a taste of the Snowdonia National Park with a drive inland along the A5 – a historic route engineered in the 19th century – up the brooding Ogwen Valley to Capel Curig. Continue on the A4086 down the primeval, boulder-strewn Llanberis Pass with Snowdon at your side to Llanberis and Caernarfon, returning to Bangor.
It’s worth stopping for a walk on Bangor’s delightful Victorian pier for some lovely views of the Menai Strait before driving over the Britannia Bridge to the Isle of Anglesey. Head to white-painted St Cwyfan’s (‘The Church in the Sea’), sitting on its own little island accessible only at low tide. It’s a peaceful, picture-perfect spot, on the north-west coast near Aberffraw. Then it’s on to the iconic South Stack Lighthouse near Holyhead (bring binoculars for the stunning views and prolific birdlife), before a walk on the Wales Coast Path between Bull Bay and Cemaes Bay.
Suggested overnight: Bull Bay or Cemaes Bay.
Make your way back to the mainland and drive along the Menai Strait through Caernarfon and on to the wild and wonderful Llŷn Peninsula. Fringed with towering sea-cliffs, idyllic bays and breezy headlands this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is brimming with coastal splendour.
Suggested overnight: Abersoch.