Wales Coast Path

This article is an itinerary.

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.

Understand

This path runs through eleven nature reserves. As well as providing impressive coastal landscapes there are also a number of historic castles and bridges to see and explore along the way. The welsh coast has over 30 beaches designated Blue Flag quality.

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.

History

The 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

Landscape

The 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 Drink

As 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.

Sleep

Check 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.

Buy

This 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 brows 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.

Great Cormorant in flight at edge of River Mawddach estuary.

Flora and fauna

The 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.

Climate

For 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.

Prepare

Wales coast path logo

Hiking footwear is recommend as well as some waterproof sandals or equivalent for sand and rock pool areas. Waterproofs are recommend even if the day looks sunny and dry, it rains a lot in Wales.

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.

Get in

By foot, by car, by train between Conwy and Llandudno Junction‎
By boat: Holyhead-Dublin ferry passing the South Stack lighthouse on Anglesey
By time machine: the TARDIS often vists Cardiff Bay

The north trail-head is at Queensferry between Chester and Flint on the North Wales border; The southern end is at Chepstow just before the border with England.

By foot

If 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 plane

The 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 car

From 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 train

Cardiff 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.

By bus

By boat

To Holyhead there are ferries from Dublin and Dún Laoghaire; and to Fishguard from Rosslare. A number of towns with harbours have private moorings.

Get around

Listing Key
See museums, castles, etc. View viewpoints
Do pleasure rides, beaches, sports Buy shopping
Eat restaurants, snack outlets Drink bars and cafes
Sleep hotels, hostels, campsites Go car parking, rail stations, etc.
City towns and villages Vicinity near route locations
Red warning or points of concern Other

The walk does not need to be done in a single expedition.

By car

There 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 train

There are many points where trains are available.

By bus


Walk

There are many types of accommodation along the route, including inns, B&Bs, camp-sites, hostels and self-catering facilities.

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 coast path start

Just over the border from Chester along the Dee estuary

  Wales/England border (On the Dee river side). Chester/Flintshire border
River Dee, Queensferry
  Blue Bridge, Queensferry.
  Flint castle. Ruins of 13th century castle
  Dee Estuary - Point of Ayr RSPB nature reserve. See in the Curlew and Oystercatcher
  Point of Ayr lighthouse. Built in 1776 at the northernmost point of mainland Wales at the mouth of the river Dee.

Flintshire/Denbighshire border

Prestatyn to Bangor : 60 miles (97 km)

Colwyn Bay beach and pier

This section also known as the North Wales Path, covers the North Wales Coast and the Dee Estuary.

  Prestatyn central beach. Blue Flag beach
  Start of Offa's Dyke Path.

Denbighshire/Conwy Border

  Abergele beach. Blue Flag beach
  Victoria Pier, Colwyn Bay. length 227m Opened 1900
  Rhos on Sea beach, Colwyn Bay. Blue Flag beach
  Llandudno Pier. length 700m Opened 1877
  Great Orme Lighthouse. Fortress style built in 1862, now a hotel
  Conwy bridges. Suspension bridge built by Thomas Telford and tubular railway bridge built by Robert Stephenson.
Conwy town and river from the castle
  Conwy castle. Medieval castle with chance to walk the ramparts to get a great view of the town and river.

Conwy/Gwynedd border

  Garth Pier, Bangor. length 460 m Opened 1896

Anglesey Coastal Path : 124 miles (200km)

Detailed map
Beaumaris Castle

Around the Isle of Anglesey.

  Beaumaris Pier. length 170 m Opened 1846
  Beaumaris Castle. one of the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe
  Trwyn Du Lighthouse. Built 1838
  Llanddona beach. Blue Flag beach
  Red Wharf Bay (Traeth Coch). Bay and harbour with sandy and rocky beaches.
  Benllech beach. Blue Flag beach
  Point Lynas Lighthouse.
  Amlwch lighthouse. tower situated on the outer pier of Amlwch harbour
Wylfa Nuclear Power Station
Cemlyn Bay and lagoon
Carmel Head
  Church Bay beach (Porth Swtan). Blue Flag beach
Stanley Embankment
  Holyhead Mail Pier Light (Salt Island Lighthouse). Built in 1821
  South Stack Lighthouse. Built in 1809, it stands impressively on a rocky island just off the coast. Reachable by steep steps and bridge.
  South Stack Cliffs RSPB reserve. Ellin'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 Cafe. Simple but welcoming place to get a coffee and cake.
Ty Mawr Hut Circle
  Holyhead Mountain Hut Circles (Ty Mawr). Site of village dating back to Middle Stone Age, visible remains of circular Iron Age dwellings.
  Porth Dafarch beach. Blue Flag beach
  Trearddur Bay. Blue Flag beach
  Valley Wetlands RSPB reserve. Reed-fringed lakes. Chance to see tufted ducks, pochards, shovelers, gadwalls and grebes.
  Barclodiad y Gawres. Neolithic burial chamber
  Llanddwyn Island Lighthouse. Tower built in 1873
  Llanddwyn beach. Blue Flag beach
  Britannia Bridge. designed and built by Robert Stephenson

Bangor to Caernarfon : 11 miles (18km)

Menai Strait.

  Menai Suspension Bridge. Designed by Thomas Telford, completed in 1826. Point to cross into Anglesey.

Caernarfon to Porthmadog : 91 miles (146km)

Detailed map
Porth Meudwy near Aberdaron

Llŷn Coastal Path

  Caernarfon Castle. Impressive medieval castle that dominates the town and harbour.
  Dinas Dinlle beach. Blue Flag beach
  Abersoch beach. Blue Flag beach
  Marian y De beach, Pwllheli. Blue Flag beach
  Criccieth Castle. Castle on headland between two beaches
Portmeirion

Porthmadog to Machynlleth 69 mile (111km)

Meirionnydd.

  Harlech Castle. medieval castle, constructed atop a spur of rock close coastal flats and sea.
  Barmouth, Abermaw beach. Blue Flag beach
  Barmouth Bridge. 900 yards (820 m) maily wooded bridge with single rail track and foot crossing of the Afon (river) Mawddach.
Barmouth (rail and foot) bridge
  Tywyn beach. Blue Flag beach

Gwynedd/Powys border

Machynlleth to Cardigan: 65 miles (105 km)

Ynyslas sand dunes and estuary

Ceredigion Coast Path.

  Cors Dyfi nature reserve (Entrance on the A487 about 1km from the trail). Dyfi osprey project

Powys/Ceredigion border

  Ynys-hir RSPB reserve. Welsh oak woodland with wet grassland and saltmarshes. Visitors centre and viewing points.
  Dyfi Furnace. Restored mid 18th century charcoal fired blast furnace used for smelting iron ore.
  Ynyslas (Mouth of the Dyfi river). Beach and nature reserve
  Borth beach. Blue Flag beach
Aberystwyth cliff railway
  Aberystwyth Cliff Railway. Opened in 1896 a 237 m length track rising 130 m
  Royal Pier, Aberystwyth. length 242m Opened 1875
  New Quay Harbour. Blue Flag beach
  Llangrannog beach. Blue Flag beach
  Tresaith beach. Blue Flag beach
  Aberporth beach. Blue Flag beach

Cardigan to Amroth : 186 miles (299 km)

Detailed map
View of the path; Pembrokeshire

Pembrokeshire Coast Path

Cardigan/Pembrokeshire border

  St. Dogmaels Abbey.
  Poppit Sands. Blue Flag beach
  Carreg Coetan Arthur Burial Chamber. Neolithic burial chamber
  Strumble Head Lighthouse. On St. Michael's Island just of the mainland.
  Whitesands beach, St Davids. Blue Flag beach
Solva Harbor
  Newgale beach. Blue Flag beach
  Broad Haven North beach. Blue Flag beach
  St. Ann's Head Lighthouse. Build 1841 at the entrance to the Milford Haven waterway.
  Dale beach. Blue Flag beach
  Lydstep beach. Blue Flag beach
  South beach, Tenby. Blue Flag beach
  Castle beach, Tenby. Blue Flag beach
Tenby Harbour
  North beach, Tenby. Blue Flag beach
  Saundersfoot beach. Blue Flag beach
  Coppet Hall beach, Saundersfoot. Blue Flag beach
  Amroth beach. Blue Flag beach

Pembrokeshire/Carmarthenshire border

Amroth to Llanelli : 68 miles (109km)

Carmarthenshire

  Pendine Sands.
Millennium Coastal Path, Llanelli .

Millennium Coastal Park

  Cefn Sidan beach, Pembrey Country Park. Blue Flag beach
  Burry Port Harbour Lighthouse. Built in the 1830s, restored 1996

Carmarthenshire/Swansea border

Llanelli to Port Talbot : 97 miles (156 km)

Worm's Head, Rhossili, Swansea

Gower Peninsula and Swansea Bay Coast Path

  Whiteford Lighthouse. Cast-iron lighthouse built in 1865
  Port Eynon beach. Blue Flag beach
  Caswell Bay. Blue Flag beach
  Langland Bay. Blue Flag beach
  Bracelet Bay. Blue Flag beach
  Mumbles Pier. length 255m Opened 1898
  Port Talbot Steelworks. One of Europe's largest steelworks, the merger of a numbe of factories dating back to 1901.

Port Talbot to Chepstow : 109 mile (176 km)

Southerndown - Dunraven bay
Cardiff Bay

South Wales Coast and Severn Estuary Coastal Path. including the Vale of Glamorgan

  Rest Bay, Porthcawl. Blue Flag beach
  Trecco Bay. Blue Flag beach
  Ogmore Castle. Remains of 12th century castle
  Dunraven Bay and Park. Amazing rock formations below the cliffs.
  Nash Point Lighthouse. Built 1832, still active.
  Cardiff Airport.
  Whitmore Bay, Barry. Blue Flag beach
  Penarth Pier. length 200 m Opened 1895
  West Usk Lighthouse. Built in 1821, now a hotel.
Start/End at Chepstow
  Newport Transporter Bridge (Pont Gludo Casnewydd). Built in 1906, one of only eight of this type of bridge still working in the world.
  Newport Wetlands. RSPB reserve and visitors centre

Gwent/Monmouthshire border

  Chepstow Castle. The oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain with the building started in 1067
  Offa's Dyke Path. Point where the end of the Wales coast path meets Offa's Dyke path
Stay safe

Stay safe

Although few of the villages and towns along the route have hospitals or medical centres, fixed line telephones and mobiles are common and in any emergency you should just dial 999. Then tell the emergency operator whether you need the Fire, Police or Ambulance services.

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".

Connect

Mobile phone coverage is patchy in some parts of the route because of the topography, but all significant towns and most villages along the trail will have a public phone box. These phones typically accept coins but not credit or debit cards, however it is usually possible to dial toll-free numbers, and calls to emergency services (see above) are always free.

Many of the pubs and hotels will have Wi-Fi service.

Offa's Dyke Path

Go next

Head inland:

Move on to the English coast, such as the:

Or explore the continental coastline

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, April 01, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.