Wales Coast Path
Wales Coast Path (Llwybr Arfordir Cymru in Welsh) is a National Trail which follows the entire coastline of Wales, the first country in the world to have such a trail. It officially opened in May 2012, and offers a 870-mile (1,400 km) walking route from Chepstow in the south to Queensferry (near Chester) in the north. In 2011 the path was voted by National Geographic magazine as the second-best coastal destination in the world.
The whole path is accessible to walkers from the many towns and villages along the coast and, where practical, some sections are suitable for cyclists, families with pushchairs, people with restricted mobility, and horse riders. Be aware that most of the trail is really suitable only for walkers with other types of use restricted to specific sections. Plan carefully if you are thinking of using anything more than your feet.
HistoryThe trail was formed by joining together facilities and resources from sixteen local government authorities, two national parks and the Wales Natural Resources department. Some areas already had established paths, such as the Pembrokeshire Path, the Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path and the Llŷn Coastal Path. New sections of trail joined these together to complete the entire route. It was opened on 5 May 2012
LandscapeThe path takes you along some stunning cliffs and long sandy and stony beaches as well as some wide river estuaries. The path goes through two national parks, the Snowdonia National Park and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park; as well as four Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, Clwydian Range and Dee Valley, Anglesey, Gower Peninsula, Llŷn Peninsula and ends at the edge of the Wye Valley AOAB.
Eat and drinkAs many of the towns along the way are tourist destinations there is ample opportunities to sample pub lunches and fish and chips. And do not miss the chance to taste Welsh lamb. Keep an eye out for Laverbread too, which is made from seaweed.
SleepCheck the town pages along the route listed below for hotels, bed and breakfast guest houses and caravan/camp-sites. A number of interesting places to sleep are mentioned in the itinerary below, including a couple of lighthouses converted into hotels.
BuyThis is not a destination for a shopping trip but there are plenty of towns along the way to pick up every day supplies, even the smallest of welsh villages seam to have a Spar shop. There are many craft shops to browse along the way and plenty of seaside shops to get your bucket and spade. Probably the most practical thing to purchase would be a Welsh wool jumper or stock up on some quality woollen walking socks.
Flora and faunaThe rocky coast line and large river estuaries provides excellent birdwatching opportunities, with good chances of seeing cormorants, puffins and many waders. There are also a number of locations with the possibility of observing osprey and red kites. If you are lucky you may also see bottlenose dolphins, otters and grey seals.
ClimateFor its latitude Wales has a mild climate. The winter can be a little cold and windy for hiking and at any time of the year be prepared for rain.
There is generally a town or small village at least every 10 to 20 miles along the coast so not need for serious hiking supplies, a small rucksack with drink water and snacks should be enough for most stretches.
The route is quite convoluted in places so you are strongly advised to acquire a set of Ordnance Survey maps covering each section of the path you intend to hike. Due to the trail being built from a number of paths the way markers vary along the way.
When planning places to stay, check with the hotels if they are prepare to transfer your luggage from the previous or to the next hotel. There are also a number of companies that provide luggage transfer services.
By footIf 870 miles is not long enough for you, a circular walk can be made by adding the Offa's Dyke Path which connects with both ends of the coastal path providing a full circle of the country.
By planeThe closest (but still a drive) main international airports are Birmingham International and Manchester Airport. Cardiff and Bristol also have some European flights while Anglesey Airport just has a domestic service to Cardiff.
By carFrom England the M56 will get you to the northern end of the trail while the M4-M48 Severn Bridge will get you to the southern end.
By trainCardiff and Swansea are on the mail line from London. Aberystwyth and some of the west coast towns can be reached from Birmingham and Shrewsbury, while the north coast towns can be reach via the North Wales Coast Line from Manchester and Crewe.
- National Express provide a service to Chester.
By boatTo Holyhead there are ferries from Dublin and Dún Laoghaire; and to Fishguard from Rosslare. A number of towns with harbours have private moorings.
The walk does not need to be done in a single expedition.
By carThere are points at convenient distances where you can park a car allowing you to use the two car one direction hiking technique. Unfortunately in the UK, even in remote locations, most parking is pay and display. This is not particular convenient for hikers as you have to make a good estimate of the time of your walk as well as indicating to car thieves the length of time you are to be gone.
By trainThere are many points where trains are available.
Listed below are a very small selection of things to see and do. Places to stay and where to find food are generally listed in the town articles along the way, a few that are not in villages but on the route are listing here.
Start at Welsh border to Prestatyn : 29 miles (47 km)
Wales/England borderChester/Flintshire border
Flint castleRuins of 13th century castle
Dee Estuary - Point of Ayr RSPB nature reserveSee in the Curlew and Oystercatcher
Point of Ayr lighthouseBuilt in 1776 at the northernmost point of mainland Wales at the mouth of the river Dee.
Prestatyn to Bangor : 60 miles (97 km)
Prestatyn central beachBlue Flag beach
Start of Offa's Dyke Path
Abergele beachBlue Flag beach
Rhos on Sea beach
Llandudno Pierlength 700m Opened 1877
Great Orme LighthouseFortress style built in 1862, now a hotel
Conwy bridgesSuspension bridge built by Thomas Telford and tubular railway bridge built by Robert Stephenson.
Conwy castleMedieval castle with chance to walk the ramparts to get a great view of the town and river.
Anglesey Coastal Path : 124 miles (200km)
- Menai Bridge town.
Beaumaris Pierlength 170 m Opened 1846
Beaumaris Castleone of the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe
Trwyn Du LighthouseBuilt 1838
Llanddona beachBlue Flag beach
Red Wharf BayBay and harbour with sandy and rocky beaches.
Benllech beachBlue Flag beach
Amlwch lighthousetower situated on the outer pier of Amlwch harbour
Church Bay beachBlue Flag beach
Holyhead Mail Pier LightBuilt in 1821
South Stack LighthouseBuilt in 1809, it stands impressively on a rocky island just off the coast. Reachable by steep steps and bridge.
South Stack Cliffs RSPB reserveEllin's Tower view point ad visitors centre. Good chance of seeing Puffins, Razorbills, Guillemots, Kittiwakes, Fulmars, Peregrine and Choughs nesting on the cliffs.
South Stack CafeSimple but welcoming place to get a coffee and cake.
Holyhead Mountain Hut CirclesSite of village dating back to Middle Stone Age, visible remains of circular Iron Age dwellings.
Porth Dafarch beachBlue Flag beach
Trearddur BayBlue Flag beach
Valley Wetlands RSPB reserveReed-fringed lakes. Chance to see tufted ducks, pochards, shovelers, gadwalls and grebes.
Barclodiad y GawresNeolithic burial chamber
Llanddwyn Island LighthouseTower built in 1873
Llanddwyn beachBlue Flag beach
Britannia Bridgedesigned and built by Robert Stephenson
Bangor to Caernarfon : 11 miles (18km)Menai Strait.
Menai Suspension BridgeDesigned by Thomas Telford, completed in 1826. Point to cross into Anglesey.
Caernarfon to Porthmadog : 91 miles (146km)
Caernarfon CastleImpressive medieval castle that dominates the town and harbour.
Dinas Dinlle beachBlue Flag beach
Abersoch beachBlue Flag beach
Marian y De beach
Criccieth CastleCastle on headland between two beaches
Porthmadog to Machynlleth 69 mile (111km)Meirionnydd.
Harlech Castlemedieval castle, constructed atop a spur of rock close coastal flats and sea.
Barmouth, Abermaw beachBlue Flag beach
- inland Penmaenpool and Dolgellau
Barmouth Bridge900 yards (820 m) maily wooded bridge with single rail track and foot crossing of the Afon (river) Mawddach.
- Llwyngwril - Tonfannau
Tywyn beachBlue Flag beach
Machynlleth to Cardigan: 65 miles (105 km)
Ceredigion Coast PathCeredigion border
Ynys-hir RSPB reserveWelsh oak woodland with wet grassland and saltmarshes. Visitors centre and viewing points.
Dyfi FurnaceRestored mid 18th century charcoal fired blast furnace used for smelting iron ore.
YnyslasBeach and nature reserve
Borth beachBlue Flag beach
Aberystwyth Cliff RailwayOpened in 1896 a 237 m length track rising 130 m
- inland Devil's Bridge, Ponterwyd
New Quay HarbourBlue Flag beach
Llangrannog beachBlue Flag beach
Tresaith beachBlue Flag beach
Aberporth beachBlue Flag beach
Cardigan to Amroth : 186 miles (299 km)
Pembrokeshire Coast Path
St. Dogmaels Abbey
Poppit SandsBlue Flag beach
Carreg Coetan Arthur Burial ChamberNeolithic burial chamber
Strumble Head LighthouseOn St. Michael's Island just of the mainland.
Newgale beachBlue Flag beach
- just off coast the island of Skomer
Broad Haven North beachBlue Flag beach
St. Ann's Head LighthouseBuild 1841 at the entrance to the Milford Haven waterway.
Dale beachBlue Flag beach
Lydstep beachBlue Flag beach
Saundersfoot beachBlue Flag beach
Coppet Hall beach
Amroth beachBlue Flag beach
Amroth to Llanelli : 68 miles (109km)Carmarthenshire
Cefn Sidan beach
Burry Port Harbour LighthouseBuilt in the 1830s, restored 1996
Llanelli to Port Talbot : 97 miles (156 km)
Whiteford LighthouseCast-iron lighthouse built in 1865
Port Eynon beachBlue Flag beach
Caswell BayBlue Flag beach
Langland BayBlue Flag beach
Bracelet BayBlue Flag beach
Mumbles Pierlength 255m Opened 1898
Port Talbot SteelworksOne of Europe's largest steelworks, the merger of a numbe of factories dating back to 1901.
Port Talbot to Chepstow : 109 mile (176 km)
Glamorgan Heritage Coast.
Trecco BayBlue Flag beach
Ogmore CastleRemains of 12th century castle
Dunraven Bay and ParkAmazing rock formations below the cliffs.
Nash Point LighthouseBuilt 1832, still active.
Penarth Pierlength 200 m Opened 1895
West Usk LighthouseBuilt in 1821, now a hotel.
Newport Transporter BridgeBuilt in 1906, one of only eight of this type of bridge still working in the world.
Newport WetlandsRSPB reserve and visitors centre
Chepstow CastleThe oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain with the building started in 1067
Offa's Dyke PathPoint where the end of the Wales coast path meets Offa's Dyke path
When it’s less urgent than a 999 call, contact the local police in England and Wales on 101. This number should be answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Some parts of the path run along the tops of cliffs. Be careful of undercutting erosion near the edge. Also when at sea level be aware of tide changes to avoid being cut off as the tide comes in.
There are no dangerous wild animals in the U.K. but be aware of livestock in field, some cows and bulls can get annoyed and have been know in rare cases to injure. The only plant to be careful of is the stinging nettle, which for most people is only an annoying irritant.
Don't refer to the Welsh as "English".
Many of the pubs and hotels will have Wi-Fi service.
- Offa's Dyke Path is a popular walking route through the border regions of England and Wales. The dyke itself (Clawdd Offa in Welsh) has partially disappeared in places, although in the parts where it is preserved. All of Offa’s Dyke Path follows legally defined Rights of Way for all walkers and is clearly signed with an acorn symbol. Some, but not all, sections are also available for horseriders and cyclists.
- Snowdonia National Park, stunning maintain, and glacial valley landscape.
- Brecon Beacons National Park the Black Mountain as well as a vast array of moorland, forests, valleys, waterfalls, lakes, caves and gorges.
- Pennine Way 429 km (268 miles) walk running the spine of England from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders
- Coast To Coast Walk a 190-mile long-distance walking trail in England which crosses the North of England from St Bees in Cumbria on the West coast to Robin Hood's Bay in North Yorkshire on the East coast.
- Cumbria Coastal Way - from Lancashire to the Scottish boarder.
- South West Coast Path - 630 miles (1,014 km), running from Minehead in Somerset, along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, to Poole Harbour in Dorset.
- E9 European Coast Path Portugal to Estonia.