National Walking Month

To celebrate National Walking Month, we asked some of our authors to suggest walks featured in their books which anyone can enjoy. Read on to find out more. 

Walking the Valleys by Peter Finch and John Briggs

Walking the Valleys  is a collection of fifteen walks around the South Wales Valleys. Author Peter Finch suggests trying these interesting urban rambles which feature in the book alongside John Briggs’s lively photographs.

Aberdare: ‘Four and a half miles circular walk around Aberdare, Queen of the Valleys.  A splendid walk that takes in the canal, the remains of the iron industry, the chapels and the bustling and once choir-filled town.  Ups and downs throughout and thoroughly invigorating. End up at the Cynon Museum, best in the valleys.’

Walking the Valleys is available from Seren for £14.99

Gelligaer to Bargoed: ‘Six and a half miles from Pengam rail station to Gilfach International (smallest rail platform in south Wales) via townscape and open moor.  Pass through an historical vortex –  Roman remains, standing stones, Celtic crosses, Welsh castles, reclaimed coal tips and rushing rivers.  Start at one rail station and finish at another.’

The Edge of Cymru: A Journey by Julie Brominicks

In her book The Edge of Cymru, Julie Brominicks recounts her year-long walk around the edge of Wales following the Wales Coastal Path and Offa’s Dyke Trail. Here she suggests some easily accessible sections of the route which made an impact on her

Porthmadog and Criccieth are both well served by connecting trains and buses making the coast path between them easily accessible for non-drivers like me. This is a dreamy walk. Even the fascinating steam trains, boats, traffic and noisy high street of Porthmadog seem to be tolerated by the surrounding mountains which speak of something else, stronger but silent. Afon Dwyryd is particularly poetic. In all seasons and weathers its light is nuanced, its estuary waters shift. There is intrigue in the shingly marsh at Borth-y-Gest and the labyrinthine paths and secretive inlets that follow. Less so along the beachy stretch from the headland to Criccieth but this stretch is good for being brisk. And Criccieth has a lot more going on than sweet tea-rooms, should you care to look.’

A photo with a strong blue sky. Underneath is a promenade bathed in strong yellow from a fading sunset. A couple walk along the prom, next to a rocky beach.

‘Meanwhile for drama with minimum effort, Llanilltud Fawr to Aberogwr is a spectacular walk largely atop an undulating clifftop plateau with less climbing than you might expect for such rocky theatre. These cliffs consisting of uplifted Triassic and Jurassic rock which is rare in Cymru, have a tendency to topple, leaving exposed rock the colour of honeycomb, and rubble like bombed cathedrals, fossils and the occasional dinosaur on the beaches. The views are expansive, the walk remote, and the wooded valleys strange unexpected islands of wildlife. Perhaps I’ve been lucky but late light here on each occasion I’ve visited has been an other-worldly chiaroscuro.’

‘A few precious (or should I say precious few) parts of the coast are accessible for all. The Millennium Coastal Park at Llanelli, in essence a well-designed modern promenade, is a glorious landscaped swirl incorporating wildflower planting, ponds and new woodlands. Meanwhile the promenade at Tywyn though old-school in its ruler-straightness is no less accessible. Much of my childhood was spent on Tywyn prom, whose salt-sticky handrail is as familiar to my skin as the foam creaming up the beach like a Guinness top. A stretch of coast path at Aberporth is also noteworthy – whilst only a mile long, it is fully wheelchair accessible giving users access to a lofty vantage point over the bay. 

Walking to me, is opportunity to think, breathe, gain perspective. Yet often I feel it is perceived as a radical act. It seems I don’t ‘go for a walk’ in the expected way. I’m not mad about kit and dislike guidebooks, am not very good at directions and enjoy not knowing much where I am. Furthermore I don’t drive and I’m glad. For me, something is lost by driving some place to have a walk. Walking to me is less pastime more intrinsic, and it never ceases to puzzle me that to engage in the oldest and most reliable way of travelling can cause people so much surprise!’.

The Edge of Cymru: A Journey is available from Seren for £12.99

Real Dorset by Jon Woolcott

Real Dorset is the latest addition to the Seren Real Series of psychogeographic guides. Whilst writing the book, Jon Woolcott explored much of the county on foot and suggests visiting these note-worthy places.

‘At events for Real Dorset, I’m always asked to name my favourite place in Dorset, or sometimes a favourite walk. It’s like picking your favourite child. Each time I choose a different place. Variety is Dorset’s wonder, from the high chalklands of Cranborne Chase to the flat clay of Blackmore to the folded valleys of the west. But my (new) favourite walk is where the land drops swiftly to the sea, around the Valley of the Stones in the south.

Dorset has few stone circles or dolmens – but most are gathered together around the Valley of the Stones, an ancient natural quarry formed by glaciation from which the stones for the monuments were dragged. These are all easily accessed from the South Dorset Ridgeway, which some have speculated was once a processional route between the megaliths. Walking from the sensationally ugly Hardy Monument, built for Nelson’s captain (‘Kiss Me Hardy’) you can find The Hellstone, a dolmen dramatically reconstructed by the Victorians, The Grey Mare and her Colts, a long barrow covered mostly now by earth, and the remote Kingston Russell Stone Circle. Close to the Hardy Monument itself, is a new stone circle, built only in 2018 and which aligns to the midsummer sunrise. Aside from the stones, the views are magnificent and the walking generally easy and flat. Take a sandwich, watch the stones, feel the ancient power.

Map: OS Explorer OL15 (Purbeck and South Dorset). By car: park in the National Trust car park at the Hardy Monument. By public transport: First Bus run services along the coast which stop at Portesham.’

Real Dorset is available on the Seren website: £9.99

Edging the City by Peter Finch

If you’re still hungry for some walks but fancy yourself more of an urban explorer, check out these suggestions from Cardiff poet Peter Finch. During lockdown, he decided to walk to Cardiff border, as Covid restrictions confined people to staying within their local authority. Walking the edge allowed Finch to view the city as never before, and you can too on these routes.

The Peterstone Gout Diversion
Peterstone Wentloog to the Gout and back (via the golf club)

An easy circular three mile ramble on Cardiff’s weirdly flat out of this world coast land.  Pills, drainage reens, sea-operated sluices, the remains of a medieval harbour, site of the great flood of 1607 and a golf club that will let non-members into the clubhouse.  ‘

Graig Llysfaen
Breath-taking views from this slide along Cardiff’s protecting ridge.  Start at the Ty Mawr, take in a cold war communications tower, Cardiff’s most northerly extremity in a farmer’s field and the magnificent trees of the Coed Coesau Whips. Start at the Ty Mawr and finish at the Maenllwyd Inn.

Edging the City is available on the Seren website: £9.99

We hope you enjoy exploring the walks suggested by our authors. If you end up following one, remember to tag us in on social media @SerenBooks. Happy National Walking Month!

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