15 Welsh river walks to explore

Walking, Nature, The Great British Outdoors

Posted by Kate W on 9th February 2021

16 Welsh river walks to explore

Wales is a country renowned for its spectacular natural beauty and its waterways are no exception. Walk along the banks of one of these rivers in Wales for a tranquil, sight-seeing day out, getting to know this impressive destination during your holiday.

This country is crisscrossed with a network of waterways, from powerful torrents cutting through the landscape to gentle streams perfect for a paddle, all beautiful routes for a river walk in Wales. Trek out alongside the major rivers in Wales, from the popular Usk to the Wye River, or explore the region alongside neat canals in Wales. We’ve sought out a pub walk, a castle walk, and even a few waterfall walks so you can end your stroll by soaking up the beauty of tumbling water – an unforgettable end to any Wales walk.

For a few ideas on where to go for a river walk in Wales, read through our list below. Or, if you’d like to know more about this enchanting country, take a look through our Discover Wales guide.

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River walks in North Wales

Gelert's Grave Walk

Gelert's Grave Walk

Wales is full of myth and legend, and Gelert's grave walk is a short and easy walk along the River Glaslyn that offers up a touching tribute to an ancient prince and his faithful four-pawed companion. The local village of Beddgelert was even named after the pup, Gelert, and played host to travel writers and artists including Thomas Pennant and JMW Turner. Follow this river in North Wales to take in the ancient church of St Mary, keep an eye out for dippers and heron, and see the stone monument of Gelert's grave. Bring your own hound along for a delightful dog-friendly walk.

Distance: 1 mile

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Bryn Llinos, Beddgelert | sleeps 5


Rhaeadr Ddu and Coed Ganllwyd Walk

Rhaeadr Ddu and Coed Ganllwyd Walk

The River Gamlan is a turbulent river, popular with experienced kayakers, that you’ll follow on this winding North Wales river walk. The Rhaeadr Ddu, translated as Black Falls in English, are two magical waterfalls that cascade over two steps, 20 metres from the plunge pool below. The Rhaeadr Ddu and Coed Ganllwyd walk is a circular route which will lead you over a lichen-covered stone bridge and through ancient oak woodland too.

Distance: 2 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Estuary Cliff Top, Dolgellau | sleeps 2


The Cross Foxes and River Dee Walk

The Cross Foxes and River Dee Walk

If you like the idea of a riverside stroll ending with a hearty Sunday roast then this pub walk in North Wales is the perfect choice for you. Soak up meadowland and forest on this circular route before returning along the River Dee. This River Dee walk begins and ends at The Cross Foxes pub near Wrexham, which overlooks the river so you can mull your journey as you dine.

Distance: 5.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Overton Orchard Cottage, Llangollen | sleeps 6


Aber Falls walk

Aber Falls walk

Head out along the Welsh river, Rhaeadr Fawr, in North Wales to take in the tumbling waters of the 37-metre-high Aber Falls. With moorland, forest and the surrounding mountainous landscape to take in, this is certainly an impressive walk in a remote area – perfect for an adventure during your getaway. The Aber Falls route is a well-known place to visit for a Wales river walk as it’s one of the tallest waterfalls in North Wales.

Distance: 5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Sunken Treasure, Conwy | sleeps 2 and 1 dog

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River walks in Mid Wales

The Wye Valley Walk

The Wye Valley Walk

With 136 miles of dense woodlands, rugged uplands and riverside villages to explore, The Wye Valley Walk is an epic route to conquer over a walking getaway that follows the course of one of the most famous rivers in Wales: the majestic River Wye. Of course, this extensive trail can be broken down into many smaller walks and one we’d recommend for anyone with limited mobility is the lovely 3.2-mile Hay-on-Wye to Llowes village stretch.

Distance: 136 miles

Difficulty: Variable

Stay nearby: Glanwye Lower Barn, Hay-on-Wye Town | sleeps 2


The Severn Trail and Halfren Forest

The Severn Trail and Halfren Forest

A second long-distance trail can be found meandering its way through Mid Wales. The Severn Way, which is 224 miles long, begins at the Plynlimon plateau in Wales and crosses the border into England, finishing up in Bristol. Head to Halfren Forest and follow the Source of the Severn to discover where the River Severn begins and for a riverside and forest walk, passing through boggy moorland that’s part of the Pumlumon Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Distance: 7 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Severn Way, Llanidloes | sleeps 2


Machynlleth and River Dyfi Walk

Machynlleth and River Dyfi Walk

Mid Wales is full of immense river walks and we can prove it with yet another long-distance trail you could follow, this time along the River Dyfi. The Dyfi Valley Way is 102 miles of hillside and picturesque views, although for a more manageable day out or afternoon’s walking, we’d suggest a jaunt along the Machynlleth and River Dyfi Walk. It’s a circular route from which you can enjoy the tranquil riverbank walk before venturing into Machynlleth town for a warming mug of after-walk tea.

Distance: 3.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Dyfi View, Aberdovey | sleeps 7 and 2 dogs


River Usk, Monmouthshire, and Brecon Canal Walk

River Usk, Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal Walk

Near Brecon, this walk passes by a river and a canal perfect for watery scenery as you explore the Brecon Beacons National Park. Along the River Usk, Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal Walk, you can look out for birds darting between the trees, watch boats float by and soak up views of the Usk Valley and the Black Mountains, with glimpses of Talybont valley and its stunning reservoir too.

Distance: 4.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Lime Tree Lodge, Gilwern | sleeps 2 and 1 dog


Powis Castle and the Montgomery Canal Walk

Powis Castle and the Montgomery Canal Walk

There’s a varied network of canals in Wales to navigate on a walking holiday, and the Montgomery Canal Walk is one of our favourites as you get to spot the beautiful, pink-hued Powis Castle cared for by the National Trust. It begins with a stroll through a deer park, unfortunately dogs cannot join you on this section, before covering terrain that includes tarmac, grass/muddy fields and stiles.

Distance: 4.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Offa's Dyke View, Welshpool | sleeps 5 and 1 dog


Dolaucothi Parkland Walk

Dolaucothi Parkland Walk

Mid Wales’ River Gothi winds through the Dolaucothi Park set in the Cambrian Mountains, a beautiful site and the home of gold mines that dates back to the Romans. Keep an eye out for kingfishers and otters who are sometimes spotted along this Wales river. You’ll pass over a bridge, a couple of stiles, and through an ancient walled garden and grotto that’s been long-since reclaimed by nature and is now grazed by sheep.

Distance: 1 mile   

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Clear Water Cottage, Cilycwm | sleeps 4

Mid Wales cottages


River walks in South Wales

­­Henrhyd Falls and Nant Llech walk

­­Henrhyd Falls and Nant Llech walk

Begin your South Wales rambles with a stroll to one of the magical waterfalls that flow through the valleys of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Stroll along the Nant Lech river, whose name means 'slab stream' possibly in reference to the sandstone it cuts through, and take in the magnificent Henrhyd Falls. For the full force of the falls, visit the Henrhyd Falls and Nant Llech walk after heavy rain and bring sturdy boots; the ground may be slippery.

Distance: 3.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: Waters Edge Apartment – Ystradgynlais, Ystradgynlais | sleeps 4


The Taff Trail at Cardiff Bay

The Taff Trail at Cardiff Bay

For a taste of seaside and river on your walk, join The Taff Trail at Cardiff Bay and go for a walk along this easy and accessible city route taking local sights including the Roald Dahl Plas and the Millennium Centre on this River Taff walk. The Taff Trail actually runs for 55 miles from Cardiff Bay to Brecon, but this cityscape is a delightful place for a short and sweet riverside walk soaking up Welsh culture near the south coast.

Distance: 0.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Flower Mill Bunkhouse, Cowbridge | sleeps 6 and 1 dog


Penllergare Valley Woods Walk

Penllergare Valley Woods Walk

Listen out for the sounds of nature on a forest walk through the picturesque Penllergare Valley near Swansea. The Afon Llan is the river in South Wales that runs through the woodland and there’s a waterfall, lake and bridges to navigate on a waterside walk through this Victorian landscape. It’s a community woodland complete with a coffee shop for that much-needed cuppa after your Wales river walk.

Distance: 1.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Bwthyn Derw - Oak Cottage, Gower | sleeps 4


Clytha Short Circular Walk

Clytha Short Circular Walk

This timeless Monmouthshire estate offers up a rich history and wealth of wildlife to encounter on a river walk in Wales. It’s an idyllic River Usk walk taking you past a few local landmarks including an old milk churn dock, views of Clytha Castle, and the ruins of St Aeddan's Chapel. Delve into local heritage, through woodland and farmland, on the Clytha Short Circular Walk.  

Distance: 3.8 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Cwtch Cottage, Usk | sleeps 2


Bryngarw Country Park

Bryngarw Country Park

One final, beautiful woodland walk you might like to escape to in South Wales is the Bryngarw Country Park River Walk. This parkland actually hosts a few trails to explore, including cycle trails, and it’s a wonderful place to visit for a family walk. There are even play areas, BBQ and picnic areas, and formal gardens to discover.

Distance: 0.8 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Pentre Farm, Porthcawl | sleeps 7

South Wales cottages


Go walking in wild Wales

Uncover more beauty spots all across the country on a walking holiday to Wales, and enjoy the Welsh rivers, rugged mountains and golden beaches throughout the region.

Find a cottage with sea views so you can wake up each morning to crashing waves, pick out a farmhouse stay filled to the rafters with warmth and heritage, or retreat to a hot tub cottage and soak your muscles after days on your feet.

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.