Barefoot walk your way to an Iron Age adventure at Castell Henllys

Barefoot Trail

Barefoot walk your way to an Iron Age adventure at Castell Henllys

A new barefoot walking trail – among the first of its kind in Wales – gives you the chance to walk in the footsteps of Celtic warriors at Castell Henllys Iron Age Village.

Designed and created by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, which owns and manages Castell Henllys, the 150m woodland walk is the first dedicated Barefoot Trail to open in a UK National Park.

Meandering along the pretty River Nant, the trail includes eight different surfaces for walkers to feel under their shoeless feet; from crunching flint gravel to squelching clay, from tree stumps to wood chips.

The trail officially opened on Monday 16 May, with children from a local playgroup and nearby Eglwyswrw, Newport and Ysgol y Preseli schools among the first to try it, along with groups from Clynfyw Care Farm and Kinora Mental Health Drop-In Centre.

Rebecca Evans, the Park Authority’s Interpretation Officer, said: “The Barefoot Trail is a real treat for all the senses and gives Castell Henllys visitors an opportunity to take their time and really notice what’s around them. When you take off your shoes and allow yourself to just feel the textures beneath your feet, you also tune in to the sights and sounds of nature such as the birds and the flowing water.”

The trail begins under a willow tunnel and finishes with steps down to the river so that walkers can clean their feet before putting their shoes back on.

National Park Authority Chairman Cllr Mike James was among the first to test the new trail. He said: “It was certainly a first for me to walk barefoot like this. The trail is a real adventure playground and adds a real special something to Castell Henllys, where the fort in itself is a tremendous attraction, where you can follow in the footsteps of the original inhabitants from 2,000 years ago.”

The trail route and each surfaced section were created by a team of trainees who are working with the National Park Authority as part of the Skills in Action project, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Skills for the Future scheme.

The project included raising the level of the existing riverside footpath which was prone to flooding, with the trainees working under the leadership of Castell Henllys Warden Dylan Evans, with additional help from the North Warden Team.

The trail also includes an accessible footpath that is suitable for wheelchairs and buggies, so people can miss out any sections they don’t wish to walk through. This also allows those who prefer to keep their shoes on a chance to enjoy a stroll along the river bank.

The materials used in the walkway have been sourced locally, either from the local quarry, the National Park Woodland Centre at Cilrhedyn, or a local allotment.

After the trail, visitors can carry on up to the Iron Age Village or return to the Visitor Centre, which includes a riverside café, picnic site and children’s play area.

For more information about Castell Henllys visit www.castellhenllys.com.