Winter is a time for cosying up in front of the fire with your new pyjama set and a cup of hot cocoa, or following up Christmas festivities, right?
Wrong. Winter here in Wales offers amateur and keener walkers alike a chance to immerse themselves in crisp, clean air and the beautiful snow-capped mountains. Wherever you are in North Wales, there’s likely a mountain range or semi-famous summit nearby.
Grab your boots and your thermals, and get out there to (safely) enjoy the panoramic icy views, and the chill of the Welsh winter wind. Revel in the fresh feeling of activeness that beats the usual seasonal lethargy and over-indulgence.
This guide to winter walking in Wales will tell you all you need to know, from the gentle rambles to the more challenging treks. We’ve categorised these locations by difficulty, not location, to ensure all abilities can enjoy the spectacular trails of Wales.
Beginners Winter Walks
This selection of walks is perfect for families, the elderly, or those just wanting to stretch their legs in the cool winter air..
1) Pwllycrochan Woods
In the heart of Colwyn Bay, this woodland has plenty of footpaths along its four short circular walks. Take in the pleasant views, native trees, and exotic species like the indigenous sweet chestnut. The walks are 0.75 miles to 1.25 miles long and are considered easy and enjoyable.
2) Llyn Dinas
This walk offers a gentle stroll around the small lakes of Eryri and is extremely family-friendly. We recommend walking an out-and-back route as opposed to circular as the latter half of the circle has terrain that isn’t suitable for prams or wheelchairs. Start at Llyn Dinas car park near Beddgelert for the 3km walk.
3) Mynydd y Dref
Although 5km long, averaging around two hours in total, this walk is still doable for most in winter. It starts from the historic town of Conwy to the summit, hence its pseudonym ‘Conwy Mountain.’ There is a nearby car park but we suggest walking here from the town first, then exploring the ancient fortresses of Conwy Castle after.
4) Swallow Falls Trial
Fancy a brisk and beautiful walk? This way-marked 3.3km route is the perfect option for those yearning for fresh air. Located near Betws-Y-Coed, this route starts at the Ty’n Llwyn Viewpoint and passes the MTB trail. Take your camera for some snapshots at the Swallow Falls viewing platform.
5) Caeau Gleision
Nestled in the Clwydian mountain range, Caeau Gleision is a simple stroll boasting wonderful views of the Wirral and Liverpool on one side, and the motherland on the other. Make your way over the landscape of Halkyn, near Holywell, and walk in the footsteps of Roman lead miners…
6) Aber Falls Walk
Your end destination with this walk is the 120m cascading waterfall at the end of the 5km lap. Family-friendly and best walked after heavy rain, this walk shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours and is only 157m high. Rest up on one of the many benches to enjoy the beautiful waterfall.
7) Nercwys Forest
A perfect activity for the kids is this 8km loop around the village of Nercwys, near Mold. It boasts beautiful wildflowers, flora and fauna, birds watching over walkers, and not one but two viewpoints. Great too for dogs – just watch out for the stiles!
8) Loggerheads Country Park
Situated below the poignant limescale cliffs of the Alyn Valley, Loggerheads is popular among all types of walkers. Rich both in wildlife and wild animals, this country park is waymarked by footpaths that emerge from the park. Walking guides are available – but novices should be fine without, even during winter months.
9) Dyserth Waterfall
This well-signposted car park is where the walk begins before it cascades around the rocky trail to the stunning 70ft waterfall. This Rocky chasm is formed by the River Fyddion falling down into the vale of Dyserth. Best viewed after rain, especially with that winter chill that turns the water extra icy.
10) Moel yr Henfaes
Also known as Pen Bwlch Llandrillo, this mountain forms part of the Berwyn Range. At 584m high, this could be classed as ‘moderate,’ but the terrain and gradual ascent make this hike fairly easy.
Moderate Winter Walks
Fancy something more challenging to get your heart rate up? These next ten walks prove more difficult but don’t worry, you won’t be needing your overnight bag or matchsticks just yet.
1) Moel Famau
Considered the king of Flintshire, Moel Famau is a must if you’re in the area. The highest hill in the Clwydian Range is located in Mold and stands at 278m. The walk is extremely enjoyable and the easier of the three routes is suitable for small dogs and children. The other two are more challenging and veer away from the beaten paths. Views from the top speak for themselves – a panoramic sight of the whole of the North Welsh coast, all the way to the Snowdonia Mountain Range.
2) The Great Orme
Another local legend is this Llandudno-based sea giant. For ease, we recommend the shortest route, The Great Orme Nature Trail – a walk that is clearly marked and comes with a leaflet describing some of the Orme’s wildlife. To make a longer, more difficult walk, take one of the Two Great Orme historical trails (4.2 miles and 3.2 miles.)
3) Gallt yr Ogof
This walk is rated moderate due to its 6.5km of undulating terrain. At 576m it should take the average walker around 4.5 hours to complete up and down. Start at Gwern Gof Isaf farm car park before passing Capel Curig and Foel Goch summit.
4) Cwm Idwal
Famous for its rock formations and rare wildlife, Cwm Idwal boasts some of the most dramatic scenery in the Snowdonian Range. This 5km walk will take you through an unchartered upland environment into an opening where you’ll see the crystal waters of Llyn Idwal, glistening in the winter sun.
5) Rhos Quarry – Moel Siabod from Capel Curig
Located to the south-east of Capel Curig, Rhos Quarry is a great place to start the six-hour hike up Moel Siabod. You’ll pass the rustic ruined house, the beautiful views of Llyn y Foel, before looking over to the Carneddau and Tryfan. with a 2,800ft ascent and 6 miles long, this walk is more a test of endurance than the ability to scramble.
6) Llyn Elsi
This glorious walk around Llyn Elsi in Snowdonia is only 4km long and ascends only 200m. Those with more time can explore the nearby forest above Betws-Y-Coed. A number of tracks branch off as you climb, but we recommend the main track that winds towards the lake – you’ll get great views of Moel Siabod.
Rich in birds and wildlife, this trek up Penmaenmawr near Conwy town is 9km in total, with an optional extra 1.5 miles. The footpaths are mainly tracks, grassy paths, and lanes, but there is a steep ascent to look out for which offers glorious views of Anglesey, Puffin Island and Maen Crwn.
8) Moel Arthur and Penycloddiau
Following the Offa’s Dyke Path, the circular ascent to Moel Arthur is steeped in legend – allegedly Boudcia’s burial spot in the iron age. Penycloddiau, the route on the way back, is also the most northern hillfort in the Clwydian collection and is one of the largest in Wales at 21 hectares.
9) Penline Gate
This route is a pleasant stroll along the hillsides at the foot of Moel Famau. Start off up the Offa’s Dyke path, take in the views of the reservoirs, and before you know it you’ll have fantastic views of Snowdon.
10) Llandegla Forest Red & Blue Circular Walk
A wonderful 10.8k loop trail in Llangollen, the Llandegla Forest routes are world-famous and offer great bird-watching opportunities. Start off in Llandegla Forest for a moderately strenuous walk that will take around 3 hours.
Difficult Winter Walks
Not the faint-hearted, these walks will test the best of walkers – but offer breathtaking views and wildlife that you won’t be forgetting anytime soon…
1) Bochlwyd Horseshoe
A must for any hiker is this scrambling route in Snowdonia. The 6.6km ascent up 800, will take around 7-8 hours so make sure you pack the right things – click here to find out what you’ll need.
2) Druid Circle from Penmaenmawr
Behind Penmaenmawr is the steep escarpment that backs onto the Carneddau. Begin at the car park off the A55 (LL34 6AP) and begin the steep ascent of 5 hours. Across these 6 miles, you’ll walk up Y Berllan, Graig Lwyd, and the fairly new North Wales Path. The stone circle itself predates the Druids to around 3000BC.
3) Y Garn
This popular walk from Ogwen cottage up Y Garn is 7km long and 900m high – sounds tough right? The scramble itself is actually fairly easy and passes the famous Devil’s Kitchen and parts of Cwm Idwal. The summit boasts views of Llyn y Cwn before you’ll walk along the clear path that joins Glyder Fawr to Y Garn.
4) Offa’s Dyke: Bodfari to Prestatyn
The longest of the walks, 19.5km, is the final segment of the Offa’s Dyke Path. Located in Denbighshire, this popular trail features a river and is used for hiking, cycling, nature trips, and backpacking. Facilities and transport connections are available at the Path’s end in Prestatyn and the White House Hotel and Spa in Rhuallt is an easy and useful resting spot before the final push.
5) Rhaeadr Du
The shortest of our difficult walks, Rhaeadr Du is a great waterside walk that will take you along the turbulent River Gamlan and Rhaeadr Du falls. Start at the recently restored corrugated iron village hall, and it won’t take you too long to climb the 3.2km over fairly flat terrain – just be careful of the water’s edge.
6) Cadair Berwyn
This route can sometimes be easy but can be tough if the ground is boggy and the weather is foggy. Cadair Berwyn is in the Berwyn Hills between Llandrillo and Llanarmon, measuring at 830 metres. The duration of the walk will depend on which route you take, so between 4 and six hours.
7) Brenig & Alwen Reservoir Loop
The Two Lakes Trail is a long and popular route along the Alwen Reservoir in Cerrigydrudion – 21.77km in length to be exact. Although this route looks flat, it ascends up to 400m or so. Visit the Llyn Brenig Visitor Centre for a walk around and a rest on this hefty trail.
8) Carneddau South Ridge Circuit
For a classic Snowdonia day out, this route is the one. Make use of the horseshoe of ridges which begin at Pen yr Ole Wen and climb to Pen yr Helgi Du. With a 1110m ascent over 10.4 miles, this route sounds difficult, but the views are definitely worth the slog.
9) St Cybi’s Church
Last but not least, located furthest away on the Isle of Anglesey, is St Cybi’s Walk. This 12 milelong walk features a steep hill and also a 4-mile long walk for those wanting to spend more time enjoying views than walking.