April 5th, 2019
“What a wonderful thing: to walk the entire length of a country’s coastline, to trace it’s every nook, cranny, cliff-face, indent and estuary. How better to truly appreciate the shape – and soul – of a nation?” said the Lonely Planet guide book last year, when they rated the entire Wales Coast Path as one of the “must-see” destinations of the year.
The Wales Coast Path was a world first when it opened in May 2012 – it made Wales the first country in the world to have a walking route that follows every inch of its coastline. It’ll be possible to meander, wander and explore an incredible 870 miles of some of the most beautiful coastline in Britain.
From the outskirts of Chester in the North East of Wales, the path snakes westwards along the coast, passing the seaside resorts of Prestatyn, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay and Llandudno before branching off to join the rugged coastline of the Anglesey Coast Path. This forms a complete circuit around the island and provides over 100 miles of meandering footpaths.
The route then drops down to the wild and remote Llŷn Peninsula to discover secret coves, wide beaches and glorious views across the Irish Sea, before heading southwards to curve along the historic Cardigan Bay. It veers around the weathered coast of northern Pembrokeshire, the UK’s only coastal National Park, before sweeping its final arc along the heritage coast of Gower to stretch past the iconic capital of Cardiff and ending its journey at the ancient market town of Chepstow.
The coast path will also be linked to the Offas Dyke Way – a route that heads northwards along the borderline of England and Wales from Chepstow back up to the north east of Wales. This final link makes a complete circuit around Wales and a whopping total of over 1,000 miles of footpaths. So, are you feeling energetic?
Of course, there’s no need to rush off and complete the whole thing in one go; although it certainly is possible, and many walking enthusiasts have already embarked on the challenge. At an energetic walking pace of 20 miles a day, it would take almost 44 days to complete the coastal sections (and that’s without any rest days!).
Top things to see and do
If you like the idea of coast path camping but worried you’ll run out of ideas to keep the family entertained? Here’s a pick of the best attractions – all within a stone’s throw of the beautiful coast path.
- 1: The Welsh Mountain Zoo, Colwyn Bay, Conwy, LL28 5UY 01492 532938 welshmountainzoo.org.uk
The National Zoo of Wales is situated on the north coast, and apart from the fabulous views you might catch sight of the resident camels, lemurs, sea lions, bears, chimps and lots more.
- 2: Plas Newydd, Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Anglesey. LL61 6DQ 01248 714795 nationaltrust.org.uk/plas-newydd
This stunning National Trust house on the banks of the Menai Straits is the seat of the Marquess of Anglesey. There is a great programme of events for families including children’s nature days and workshops.
- 3: Surf Lessons, Offaxis, Glanafon Garage, Lon Engan, Abersoch, Gwynedd. LL53 7HP 01758 713407 offaxis.co.uk
The popular resort of Abersoch on the Llŷn Peninsula is one of the surfing hotspots of Britain, so where better to learn what to do with your board and your wax? Lessons from Offaxis include group or individual surfing lessons as well as stand up paddleboarding. Go grab your board!
- 4: Portmeirion, Minffordd, Penrhyndeudraeth, Gwynedd. LL48 6ER 01766 770000 portmeirion-village.com
The magical village of Portmeirion is precariously balanced on the edge of the Welsh coast, and looking as if buildings from a quintessential Italian village have been picked up and thrown at the hill to land in a fashion that is just about orderly. This bizarre, but beautiful place has been attracting tourists, artists, philosophers and Hollywood for years.
- 5: Harlech Castle, Harlech, Gwynedd. LL46 2YH 01766 780552 cadw.wales.gov.uk
The dark, brooding walls of Harlech castle dominate the town over which it looks, and has done since the early 13th century. The castle was built by the English king Edward I in a bid to subdue the noisy Welsh rebels that were proving troublesome to him. It is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Wales. Edward I also built castles at Beaumaris, Conwy and Caernarfon and they are all open to the public.
- 6: Honey Ice Cream at Aberaeron, Cadwgan Place, Aberaeron, Ceredigion. SA46 0BU 01545 570445 thehiveaberaeron.com
Aberaeron on the west coast is famed for its ice cream sweetened with local honey, which has been made here for over 40 years. The town of Aberaeron is also worth exploring; it is one of the only planned towns in this part of Wales, and its Regency style buildings are as handsome now as they were when they were built in the early 19th century.
- 7: Dolphin Spotting, The Moorings, Glanmore Terrace, New Quay, Ceredigion. SA45 9PS 01545 560800 newquayboattrips.co.uk
Cardigan Bay is home to Britain’s largest population of Bottlnose dolphins, so what better way to get close to these fascinating creatures than on a brilliant boat trip. Tours depart from New Quay daily.
- 8: Pembrey Country Park, Pembrey, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire. SA16 0EJ 01554 742424 discovercarmarthenshire.com
Covering a whopping 500 acres of coastal land, there are loads of things to see and do at Pembrey. There’s a beautiful golden beach, woodland walks, a giant adventure playground, a dry ski slope, wildlife trails and mountain bike routes.
- 9: National Waterfront Museum, Oystermouth Road, Swansea. SA1 3RD 02920 573600 museumwales.ac.uk/en/swansea
This innovative museum tells the story of industry, innovation and technology for the whole of Wales. Situated in the redeveloped docklands area, in a fantastically renovated warehouse.
- 10: Cycle Cardiff, Cardiff Bay Visitor Centre, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff. CF10 5AL 07500 564389 cardiffcycletours.com
Try this unique way to explore Wales’ capital city. All tours are led by knowledgeable and experienced guides who will show you the best that this little city has to offer. There are different tours available, including themed one.