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When we’re ready to travel again, I highly recommend that you add the spectacular coastlines and wild mountains of West Wales and Ireland’s Ancient East to your bucket list. These magnificent Celtic Routes, featuring vibrant seaside villages, bustling market towns and charming rural communities will help you to rediscover your sense of adventure after all this time at home.
DISCLAIMER – This post contains sponsored content and was written in collaboration with Celtic Routes. However, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
About the Celtic Routes
The Celtic Routes is made up of three Irish coastal counties; Wicklow, Wexford and Waterford, and its Welsh counterparts across the Irish Sea – Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.
The relationship between the two Celtic nations of Wales and Ireland has been established through centuries of shared history, in which countless ancient myths and legends have been passed down through the generations.
The connection first began when Irish migrants who settled in Wales in the 5th century left their mark through the Ogham stones that still line the Welsh coastline today. And in return, Wales gave St Patrick to Ireland – or so they say.
With lush rolling countryside, long unspoilt beaches, all framed by dramatic mountain ranges, the Welsh and Irish counties of the Celtic Routes are recognised as being almost mirror images of each other, gazing out across the Irish Sea.
Right now, so many of us are desperate to pack a weekend bag or suitcase and head out on the road again in order to escape that lockdown or WFH grind. Once the lockdown is lifted the Celtic Routes of Wales and Ireland offer space, solitude and scenery in abundance, making them the perfect destination for a safe and socially-distanced adventure.
Now that you know a bit more about the Celtic Routes, let’s take a look at 12 stunning locations from across Wales and Ireland where you can discover the sights, sounds and stories that have shaped these beautiful parts of the world.
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Must See Destinations on the Celtic Routes
Soak up Stunning Landscapes in the Twyi Valley
The Tywi Valley in Carmarthenshire packs in a number of heritage and cultural attractions, set in some of the most breath-taking scenery in Wales. Perched on a 90-metre limestone crag, Carreg Cennen Castle dominates the skyline for miles.
The valley comes alive in autumn with the warm browns of the rolling hills and the oranges from the woodland, making it an ideal spot for a long, peaceful walk. Keep your eyes peeled for Red Kites along the way.
Explore the Fortress on the Hill at Dinefwr
For more epic views across Carmarthenshire, head to Dinefwr, a stunning 800-acre estate just outside the market town of Llandeilo. As well as its panoramic views across the valley, the fortress sat on the hill holds an important place in Welsh history.
Lord Rhys, who ruled part of south Wales from 1155 to 119, influenced many important decisions about Wales from within the fortress. The estate is also home to Wales’ first parkland National Nature Reserve (NNR) and an 18th-century landscape park, enclosing a medieval deer park.
Watch the Sunset at Marloes Sands
If you like your beaches off the beaten path, Marloes Sands is a must-visit in the Welsh coastal county of Pembrokeshire. After a half-mile walk down to the bay, you’ll be met with 1.5km of secluded sands and crystal clear waters.
In the warmer months the beach is popular with surfers and sunbathers alike. When there’s good visibility, you’ll be able to see Stokholm and Gateholm islands in the distance.
Get Lost in Nature at Minwear Woods
Minwear Woods is a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, near Narberth. Close to the Cleddau Estuary, the combination of salt and fresh water provides a varied habitat for wildlife.
Keep an eye out for waterside birds like herons and kingfishers from the viewpoint over the estuary and woodland birds like great spotted woodpeckers and tree creepers.
The woodland also sustains a wide range of flora. In spring, the woodland paths come alive with bright yellow lesser celandine, with patches of bluebells under the trees. In autumn, the burnished colours of the red oaks and beech, plus the curiously-shaped fungi, provide a feast for the eyes.
Go Wild at the Teifi Pools
The source of the River Teifi, one of the longest rivers in Wales, can be found in the north of Ceredigion. Tranquil Llyn Teifi (as it’s known in the Welsh language) and the other Teifi Pools – Llyn Hir, Llyn Gorlan and Llyn Egnant – lie hidden in the hills.
This enchanting group of deep, glacial lakes are the perfect place to truly immerse yourself in the wild solitude of nature. For those who love a taste of the adventurous outdoors, Llyn Teifi offers some of the best wilderness fishing in Wales, as it’s known as a hotspot for wild brown trout.
Step Back in Time at Cardigan Castle
Cardigan Castle is the first stone castle ever built by a Welshman in the 11th Century. With other 900 years of history contained behind the castle walls, it overlooks the River Teifi in the coastal town of Cardigan in Ceredigion.
It was also the birthplace of Wales’ annual cultural festival the Eisteddfod, which was first held here in 1176. Visitors can stay and dine at the castle or explore its many twists and turns for a day.
Discover Legends at The Piper’s Stone
This Bronze Age stone circle sits on a hillock at Athgreany in Wicklow. Made up of 16 grey granite boulders, there is one larger outlying stone – the piper – with the remaining smaller stones forming a circle of about 22 metres in diameter.
According to a local fairy tale, these are the dancers, representing a group of revellers who were daring to dance to the piper’s tune on the Sabbath when God turned them all to stone as punishment. Myths and legends aside, this is an idyllic spot for an autumnal walk, or in fact any time of year!
Find Serenity in Spectacular Surroundings at Glendalough
Carved out by glaciers during the last Ice Age, Glendalough or Gleann dá Loch, meaning ‘Valley of the Two Lakes’, combines unfiltered beauty with heavenly tranquillity. Undoubtedly one of the tourism jewels in the crown of Ireland’s Ancient East, if not indeed all of Ireland, you won’t have to wander too far to discover the peacefulness and spirituality that drew monks here centuries ago.
Glendalough is one of those spots where I bring anyone and everyone who comes to visit me in Ireland. There are lots of great hikes around the valley if you want to stretch your legs and find the best views. Stop at Casey’s Bar & Bistro or The Wicklow Heather for a hearty meal and maybe even a Guinness (or two).
Road Trip Around the Ring of Hook
If you’re short on time, this one-hour drive is the ideal way to take in the main sights along the long finger of the Hook Peninsula in Wexford. Around every other bend on the Ring of Hook is a quiet beach, a crumbling fortress, a stately abbey or an acclaimed seafood restaurant.
Make sure to stop at the beautiful Hook lighthouse, one of the oldest lighthouses in the world. If you like things a little more spooky then take a tour of Loftus Hall, one of the most haunted places in Ireland where it’s said the devil once appeared.
Explore the Grounds of a Gothic Country House in Wexford
Wells House & Gardens has a history that goes back over 400 years. This Tudor gothic country house in Wexford was built in the late 17th century but wasn’t opened to the public until 2012.
The grounds boast 450 acres of enchanting woodlands and gardens making it a perfect spot to spend the day rambling around its rich and varied grounds. You can also tour the house and discover the real lives of past residents through the eyes of a Victorian tour guide.
Visit a Waterford Coastal Gem
The popular beach of Kilfarrasy in Waterford is sheltered by cliffs that are thought to be around 460 million years old. The unusual rock formations and rock islands on both sides of the beach attract a lot of attention from geologists and rock poolers alike. It’s also a great spot for some coastal foraging.
Pilgrimage to an Ancient Fishing Village
Beautiful Ardmore, an ancient fishing village in Waterford, has history in abundance. Visit and you’ll be transported back as far as the 5th century when its monastery, Ireland’s oldest Christian settlement in fact, was founded by St Declan.
You’ll also find an 8th-century oratory and a 12th-century 29m-high round tower, which served as a belfry and place of refuge. Make sure you find time for the 4km cliff walk that starts and ends in the village, where you’ll pass St Declan’s Well, where pilgrims have paid tribute for hundreds of years on July 24th, the Saint’s feast day.
How do I get there?
Your Celtic Routes adventure is accessible by car, driving along the coast of Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion before crossing to Ireland.
After exploring Wales’ Celtic Routes offering, you can catch a ferry from Fishguard in Wales to Rosslare in Ireland.
Fly direct from Cardiff, Bristol or London airports to Dublin, hire a car and then drive south to Wicklow, Wexford and Waterford.
*As of 19th October, Ireland is in a six week lockdown due to the coronavirus. Travellers arriving to Ireland from the UK will be required to quarantine for 14 days on arrival. This is being continually reviewed and for the latest updates in both Ireland and Wales visit: