If you live in or have visited Wales, there’s a good chance you’ve bagged some trigs points on well-trodden paths. You’ve might have scaled Snowdon, pootled up Pen y Fan or galloped across Gower – and, if so, you probably weren’t alone. With good reason, these spectacular spots certainly draw the (maddening) crowds – so, where to go if you want to get away from it all?

Trails book author Rebecca Lees shares some quieter corners of south Wales (with fingers crossed you don’t all flock there at once …)

1. North Pembrokeshire
2018 is the Year of the Sea in captivating Cymru, and the stunning 870-mile Wales Coast Path gives everyone a chance to notch up the steps (many sections are wheelchair and buggy friendly). Pembrokeshire is ever-popular but many people head to the south coast, to Tenby, Saundersfoot and Stackpole. Go north to Newport Sands and you’ll find a beautiful stretch of sandy beach that’s not overcrowded, even in the height of summer. Walk from the Parrog harbour to Dinas Head, enjoying a series of charming coves and deserted beaches along the way. It’s a pleasant 2.5-mile stroll to the village of Cwm yr Eglwys, at the foot of Dinas Head, and a heartier eight-mile hike in total if you continue right around the head and back to the Parrog.

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Newport Sands

2. Fan Gyhirych, central Beacons
At ‘just’ 725m, or 2,370ft, Gyhirych is not the highest of the ‘fans’ – but, oh my goodness, it’s my favourite. With the twin peaks of Pen y Fan and Corn Du visible east on a clear day, and Fan Hir stretching to the myths-and-legends lakes of Llyn y Fan Fawr and Fach west, Gyhirych is a wonderfully bleak oasis of isolation onto which few venture. The easiest access is via a wide, stony track from the Heol Senni road (grid ref. SN8963 2217), which forks nicely up to neighbouring Fan Nedd if you’ve time to tackle another trig. But the fun way is straight up from one of the lay-bys along the A4067 (grid ref. SN8684 1932). Short but knee-achingly steep, it should take between 45 minutes and an hour if you’re fit. To return to the lay-by, drop onto the wide track south of the summit and circle down through the forestry where, if you’re super lucky, you’ll catch sight of deer!

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Fan Gyhirych

3. Twm Sion Cati’s cave, Carmarthenshire
Heard the one about the outlaw who hid in a cave from the Sheriff of, er, Carmarthen? Yes, we’ve our very own Robin Hood and you can find his shelter high on a wooded hillside near Rhandirmwyn, Llandovery. Start from the RSPB’s Gwenffrwd Nature Reserve, where the car park has an honesty box, and follow the well-marked trail along the River Towy, looking out for the steep steps up to the cave after about half a mile. You’ll need to be slim to squeeze your way through the slanting entrance but, once inside, you’ll be rewarded with the most intricate graffiti you’ve ever seen! Continue around the nature reserve for a two-mile circuit or head into the Doethie Valley and to the breathtaking Llyn Brianne reservoir and its magnificent dam, a circular walk of about six miles.

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Twm Sion

4. Cwm Ivy, Gower
As with Pembrokeshire, Gower’s north coast is no less spectacular than the beautiful south but quieter – possibly because there’s a bit of a trek from the car parks to the beaches and apparently ‘a bit of a trek’ isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. Park in the National Trust car park at Cwm Ivy (where another honesty box awaits), head downhill and follow the Wales Coast Path alongside the saltmarsh, which is being allowed to revert back to its natural state following the collapse of a tidal wall. At the estuary, loop around in the direction of the lighthouse – Europe’s last remaining iron one – and return along the stretching, golden Whiteford Sands.

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Whiteford Sands

5. Cwm Nash, Glamorgan Heritage Coast
Ok, another coastal one, but it is the Year of the Sea, remember – and this one has a surprising twist. The 14-mile Glamorgan Heritage Coast is a treasure, revealing plunging cliffs and secluded beaches dating back to the Carboniferous and Jurassic periods. The beaches at Ogmore and Southerndown are far from quiet spots, but head east of Dunraven Bay and you can soon be striding out on your own – or, at least, with only one or two other walkers to nod hello to. Follow the Wales Coast Path for about 2.5 miles and bear away from the sea into Cwm Nash, a Rivendell-esque wooded vale with clear, gushing waterfalls. You can either return along the coast or detour to Monknash for a well-deserved pitstop in the picturesque village inn. Once back at Dunraven, take a stroll around the walled gardens and climb into the folly to pretend to be king of the mighty castle that once guarded the bay.

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Glamorgan Heritage Coast

Rebecca Lees blogs about all things hiking and writing at Girl on the Trail. Her fourth trails book, Quiet Walks for Quiet Minds, will be published by Sigma Press in 2018. When not seeking out the quiet places in the south Wales landscape she grew up in, Rebecca runs PR agency Chatterbox Communications.