The Welsh mountain landscape is a microcosm of the magic many of us seek out of doors. Discover its peak and valleys, waterfalls and cwms, as well as its complex history of tourism in this issue.

The popular peaks in Wales offer an accessible amuse-bouche before you decide whether or not you wish to throw yourself into mountain culture. Perhaps this is why some Welsh mountains are occasionally scoffed at. But what a gateway drug they prove for those who’ve enjoyed their formative outdoor experiences here.

Main image: Under the horns of Cadair Idris | Credit: Jessie Leong

The nooks and crannies of the landscape hold great challenges not to be underestimated, magical mythologies to spark the imagination when the walking gets tough, and, simply put, some of the most beautiful places in the world. This issue is an homage to hiraeth – a Welsh word with no direct translation in English, meaning a deep longing for something, especially one’s home.

Highlights of this issue:

  • Six landscape photographers based in Wales explain its timeless draw
  • Chris Townsend reports on the efforts to save Scotland’s mountain paths from An Teallach
  • Carey Davies backpacks the Lake District‘s classic Langdale Horsehoe
  • Peter Elia experiences a twist of fate in the Caucasus’ Land of Fire 
  • Enjoy a quiet walking weekend in Crickhowell with guidance from Phillipa Cherryson
  • The outdoor apps for weather and photography you didn’t know you needed
  • Our experts map 10 waterside and waterfall walking routes

PLUS: Jim Perrin paints a portrait of Pen Pumlumon Arwystli; learn how to dodge midgies this summer; honest and trusted reviews of the best lightweight waterproof and trail shoes; Sara Huws looks back on the history of tourism to the Welsh mountains; we hear from the Gay Outdoors Club as its members celebrate 50 years of adventure; our reviews of new outdoor books to inspire; and filmmaker Emma Crome talks all things ‘adre‘.

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Welsh mountain - Cymru am Byth

Cymru am Byth: Six photographers who live and work in the mountains of Wales recall their most cherished moments of homespun mountain magic – and why these places, chosen or otherwise, will always draw them adraf (homewards).

“Those of us who choose to live here are accustomed to the long winter of monochrome which surrounds and enshrouds everyday life. But it’s moments like this, for which we endure it, and we love it. In that simple moment, with the sun’s light touching the earth, we’re reminded of the incredible beauty that’s right in front of us, even on the most ordinary days. The moment didn’t last long – less than five minutes or so. But the beauty of it will stay with me. Sometimes, you just need to leave the house…”

An Teallach

A path to change: Mountain paths lead us safely and sensitively into the high places we love but are now badly eroded and need a little love of their own. With funding scarce and land ownership loopholes to navigate, Chris Townsend reports from the lower slopes of An Teallach where he meets some of the people (literally) picking up the pieces.

“I came away from An Teallach with many thoughts. I’d learnt a great deal about path construction. It was much more complex than I’d thought – I’ll never take a good path for granted again – and I was impressed with the dedication and commitment of the workers, both full time and volunteer. Julian’s desire to build long-lasting, environmentally friendly, visually unintrusive paths and the need to so in sympathy with users and the landscape (he was somewhat scathing about some paths built by others!) was heartening. I also understood just why an overall funding plan is needed for hill paths. The path being rebuilt on An Teallach is quite short yet it will require a huge amount of time and effort and cost £300,000. There are many, many hill paths that need the same attention…”

Langdale Horseshoe

Behind the curtain: Carey Davies returns to the magazine for a gauzy, heatstruck celebration of the Langdale Horseshoe, a circuit that combines the genteel majesty of Lakeland with just a little volcanic grit

“In my fortunate life, there are only two scenarios where I find myself setting my alarm for a strange time like 4.25am. One is to catch a flight. The other is that I am up in the mountains somewhere, with evidence pointing to a dawn that I don’t want to miss. We rolled out of our tents at silly o’ clock to see the show. That mackerel sky had partially rolled back, splitting into wide streaks of cloud as it receded, like contrails left behind by some behemoth aircraft. In the clear sky to the east, a blot of blood-red surfaced above the fells, quickly filling out into a claret coin and then a blazing ball of orange. The underside of the clouds was flushed with colours, ranging from a livid bruised purple to a rich marmalade…”

Welsh mountain issue - Azerbaijan

A twist of fate in the Land of Fire: Peter Elia explores the North Trails of the Caucasus Mountains and discovers a land of white capped mountains, verdant valleys and traditional homestays – before the unexpected happens and leads him into a more psychedelic landscape

“Having crossed the canyon, a few more hours of moderate to challenging walking followed through simply breathtaking scenery – deep valleys, forested foothills and never-ending mountains – until we arrived in Griz, another charmingly rustic mountain village populated by a distinct ethno-linguistic community. Griz’s medieval fortress, 8th-century mosque, countless gravestones, and hobbit-like abodes give the place a period drama film-set feel. Thankfully, Netflix and Co. were not in attendance, and nor were any other tourists for that matter. However, when I walked to the village’s plateau to view the tall cliffs and exhilarating valley, I felt an excruciating pain in my left ankle…”

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