Wales has long been recognised for its stunning rural scenery and beautiful country walking spots.
But now a Welsh urban specialist has catlogues the most walker-friendly urban areas in the country as more people take to the city streets on foot.
Dr Ben Reynolds, a specialist based with consultancy Trilein Regneration in Swansea, has compiled a list of the top five walking towns and cities in Wales, Cardiff, Llandudno, Machynlleth and Tenby.
The towns that made the grade were judged on criteria, including the width of pavements to make it easier for people to walk, the activity on shop fronts, business on the street and the absence of privatised space, such as mall style developments.
Dr Reynolds said that while the five sites had shown elements of each criteria, there was no example of a perfect urban walking area.
Its a mixture of factors, not one single thing that makes a place walkable, he said "It needs a mixture of different people, homes, shops, businesses and civic institutions which are usually public sector buildings. People living in and around the city centre have to gauge the vibrancy its about how the shops spill out onto the street, whether its a place where people are living, and not just dropping in, going shopping, then leaving again."
The research identified five spots among the top five towns and cities, which included The Hayes development in Cardiff city centre, Mostyn Street in Llandudno and the new Y Maes development in Caernarfon.
David Hughes-Lewis, from the Cardiff Retail Partnership, said that the Hayes development in particular, since going fully pedestrianised, had transformed the area. Without question since The Hayes opened with the pedestrianised area, it has transformed, almost to what it used to be, he said. It used to be that the two-way traffic system with cars, buses and everything else had pushed pedestrians to the background, but it has come back to the fore now. People can walk safely and its a great, bustling and continental environment.
But Machynlleth and Tenby were identified as walking hotspots overall.
Val Hawkins, chief executive of Mid Wales Tourism, said that the towns appeal as a traditional Welsh market town had aided its appeal as a walking destination. Its very much a traditional Welsh market town, and its helped by the fact that theres a lot going on, she said.
Theres a weekly market which is considered one of the best, certainly in Mid Wales, so its got a lot going for it.
Much of the appeal is in the friendly people and theres a few festivals going on and a lot of events, theres a buzz about the place, as well as the Centre for Alternative Technology nearby, so theres a lot for you to walk to.
The urban walking research has been backed by the Welsh Government as part of its 11 Actions for 2011 environmental campaign, and the countrys five climate change champions trialled the routes, to encourage Welsh people to walk or cycle for short journeys. http://bit.ly/o9zyFH