The book recounts Borrow's personal experiences and insights while touring Wales alone on foot after a family holiday in Llangollen in 1854, and has come to be regarded as a source of useful information about the social and geographical history of the country at that time.
It has been described as "robust, dramatic and cheerful", and the author as "an agreeably eccentric, larger-than-life, jovial man whose laughter rings all through the book".
The author makes much of his self-taught ability to speak the Welsh language and how surprised the native Welsh people he meets and talks to are by both his linguistic abilities and his travels, education and personality, and also by his idiosyncratic pronunciation of their language.
Borrow gives a detailed account of his journey and starts his travels into North Wales from Chester, passing en route through Wrexham, Llangollen, Corwen and Betws-y-coed to Bangor, Anglesey, Caernarfon, Bala, Machynlleth and then south, through Mid Wales to Tregaron and Lampeter, Devil's Bridge, Cwm Ystwyth and Pont-rhyd-y-groes, eventually arriving in some of the industrial areas around the South Wales coalfields, such as Brynamman, Merthyr Tydfil and Pontardawe, before visiting Swansea and Neath and leaving the country via Caerphilly, Newport and Chepstow.
His voice is distinctive and at times a little overbearing, but he provides a unique snapshot of the parts of the country that he visited at that particular point in time.
He never returned to deepen his knowledge and failed to cover the many parts of Wales he left out of this work. In effect, Wild Wales is a tourist's snapshot, albeit a valuable and unique one.
- Borrow, George Henry. Wild Wales: Its People, Language and Scenery. London: John Murray.