Findings from fitness app Strava have suggested that many people around the world will already be set to give up their New Year’s fitness resolutions within the first few weeks of January.
According to seasoned adventurer, ultra-marathon runner and TV presenter Huw Brassington, a big part of the problem is the setting – with many of us ditching the treadmills after only a few uninspired visits to the local gym.
To overcome this and celebrate the launch of its Year of Outdoors this new year, Visit Wales has teamed up with Huw to showcase the country’s best outdoor running locations.
With everyday life so deeply embedded with cars and computers, we can unfortunately often be geared towards becoming inherently lazy. As human beings we’re genetically designed to exercise, but in today’s age, many of us are failing to remember the importance of being active.
As well as the obvious physical benefits, running outdoors has huge benefits to our mental wellbeing. In fact, it has been found to sharpen our memories, help with sleep, anxiety and depression, and even boost our creativity. With stunning views of awe-inspiring landscapes, outdoors trails create an immerse experience, that make exercising feel effortless. Whether you’re going for a light stroll or running for miles – there’s nowhere better to do so than in Wales.
Boasting enchanting nature, fascinating history and extraordinary scenery – it’s easy to understand why Wales is so widely renowned as home to some of the world’s best outdoor trails. What’s not so easy however, is whittling this down to my own personal top five. But here goes…
1. Bae Caerfai (Caerfai Bay, Pembrokeshire)
One word to describe this bay: magic. Situated a stone’s throw from St David’s, the smallest city in the UK, one minute you’re jogging through quaint villages and the next you’re right by the sandstone cliffs overlooking the multicoloured rocks that are distinctly scattered on the Carefai beaches. With unspoilt coastal scenery in both directions, it’s a spot offering escapism to runners of all abilities.
2. Traeth Rhosili (Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula)
For those who dream of magnificent sandy trails through endless beaches, look no further than Rhossili Bay in the Gower Peninsula. In fact, with Rhossili Bay taking the crown of Europe’s best beach back in 2017, I can’t think of many better ways to embrace the outdoors than with these breath-taking views. So, whether you’re after a quick fix or hours testing your limits, this seemingly never-ending 3-mile coastline offers the perfect backdrop.
3. Uwchmynydd, Pen Llŷn
If I’m preparing for a race, I’ll always go to Uwchmynydd. It’s one of my favourite places in the world and a great place for training. Although these locations are where I go to push my boundaries ahead of challenging races, these accessible trails offer something for people of all fitness abilities. When I think of the heart of Pen Llŷn, this is the place that I think of. It’s spectacular. I’ve seen incredible wildlife here, from choughs, to killer whales and dolphins. On a clear day you can see Ireland, Anglesey and the Isle of Man. Adventurers, when you look out to sea, you too will feel at the centre of the world.
4. Castell y Bere, Abergynolwyn
In my opinion this is Wales’ best castle. This remote 13th century stone fortress built by Llywelyn the Great is surrounded by a plethora of trails that will lead you through peaceful valleys against stunning mountain backdrops. What truly distinguishes Wales from the rest of the world is its rich history and Castell y Bere is an amazing reminder of the world that preceded us. Almost untouched since its construction 800 years ago, this picturesque setting never fails to mesmerise me.
5. Crib Nantlle (Nantlle Ridge, Snowdonia)
Finally, my favourite – Nantlle Ridge in Snowdonia. Why? On a clear day at Nantlle Ridge, runners are offered spectacular views across Snowdonia, Ireland and the Isle of Man. With dramatic landscapes of valleys and lakes intertwined with local history and myths, the physical challenges of running will be locked at the back of your mind. I often like to end a challenging run by visiting the Pant Du Vineyard that awaits runners at the end of the trail – bliss!
Feeling inspired to experience the vast offerings of Wales’ best outdoor trails? Head over to https://www.visitwales.com/ to discover more about the Year of Outdoors.