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.
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.
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
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.
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.
This is not a destination for a shopping trip, but there are plenty of towns along the way to pick up everyday 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 some quality woolen walking socks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- National Express provide a service to Chester.
|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.
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.
There are many points where trains are available.
Since 2012, Wales Coast Path in North Wales follows part of the Reading to Holyhead National Cycle Route 5.
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)
Just over the border from Chester along the Dee estuary
- Flint (Wales)
- Bagillt - Greenfield - Mostyn - Ffynnongroyw
- 4 Dee Estuary - Point of Ayr RSPB nature reserve. See in the Curlew and Oystercatcher
- 5 Point of Ayr lighthouse. Built in 1776 at the northernmost point of mainland Wales at the mouth of the river Dee.
Prestatyn to Bangor : 60 miles (97 km)
This section also known as the North Wales Path, covers the North Wales Coast and the Dee Estuary.
- 6 Prestatyn central beach. Blue Flag beach
- 7 Start of Offa's Dyke Path.
- 8 Abergele beach. Blue Flag beach
- 9 Victoria Pier, Colwyn Bay. length 227m Opened 1900
- 10 Rhos on Sea beach, Colwyn Bay. Blue Flag beach
- 11 Llandudno Pier. length 700m Opened 1877
- 12 Great Orme Lighthouse. Fortress style built in 1862, now a hotel
- Llandudno Junction
- 13 Conwy bridges. Suspension bridge built by Thomas Telford and tubular railway bridge built by Robert Stephenson.
- Conwy As well as the castle, Plas Mawr (The Great Hall), an Elizabethan town houses is well worth a visit. The town has plenty of places to eat but non that accepts hikers with a dog.
- 14 Conwy castle. Medieval castle with chance to walk the ramparts to get a great view of the town and river.
- 16 Garth Pier, Bangor. length 460 m Opened 1896
Anglesey Coastal Path : 124 miles (200km)
Around the Isle of Anglesey.
- Menai Bridge town.
- 17 Beaumaris Pier. length 170 m Opened 1846
- Beaumaris the town has plenty of places to eat and sleep. As well the castle, the 17th century Courthouse is worth a visit.
- 18 Beaumaris Castle. one of the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe
- 19 Trwyn Du Lighthouse. Built 1838
- 20 Llanddona beach. Blue Flag beach
- Llanddona - Pentraeth
- 21 Red Wharf Bay (Traeth Coch). Bay and harbour with sandy and rocky beaches.
- Red Wharf Bay The hamlet has a couple of places to eat.
- 22 Benllech beach. Blue Flag beach
- 24 Amlwch lighthouse. tower situated on the outer pier of Amlwch harbour
- Bull Bay - Llanbadrig - Cemaes
- Wylfa Nuclear Power Station
- Cemlyn Bay and lagoon
- Carmel Head
- 25 Church Bay beach (Porth Swtan). Blue Flag beach
- Stanley Embankment
- 26 Holyhead Mail Pier Light (Salt Island Lighthouse). Built in 1821
- 27 South Stack Lighthouse. Built in 1809, it stands impressively on a rocky island just off the coast. Reachable by steep steps and bridge.
- 28 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.
- 29 South Stack Cafe. Simple but welcoming place to get a coffee and cake.
- 30 Holyhead Mountain Hut Circles (Ty Mawr). Site of village dating back to Middle Stone Age, visible remains of circular Iron Age dwellings.
- 31 Porth Dafarch beach. Blue Flag beach
- 33 Trearddur Bay. Blue Flag beach
- 34 Valley Wetlands RSPB reserve. Reed-fringed lakes. Chance to see tufted ducks, pochards, shovelers, gadwalls and grebes.
- 35 Barclodiad y Gawres. Neolithic burial chamber
- Ynys Llanddwyn
- 38 Britannia Bridge. designed and built by Robert Stephenson
Bangor to Caernarfon : 11 miles (18km)
- 39 Menai Suspension Bridge. Designed by Thomas Telford, completed in 1826. Point to cross into Anglesey.
Caernarfon to Porthmadog : 91 miles (146km)
Llŷn Coastal Path
- 40 Caernarfon Castle. Impressive medieval castle that dominates the town and harbour.
- 41 Dinas Dinlle beach. Blue Flag beach
- 42 Abersoch beach. Blue Flag beach
- 43 Marian y De beach, Pwllheli. Blue Flag beach
Porthmadog to Machynlleth 69 mile (111km)
- Llandanwg - Pensarn - Llanbedr - Tal y Bont
- 46 Barmouth, Abermaw beach. Blue Flag beach
- 47 Barmouth Bridge. 900 yards (820 m) maily wooded bridge with single rail track and foot crossing of the Afon (river) Mawddach.
- Llwyngwril - Tonfannau
- 48 Tywyn beach. Blue Flag beach
Machynlleth to Cardigan: 65 miles (105 km)
Ceredigion Coast Path
- 2 Ynys-hir RSPB reserve. Welsh oak woodland with wet grassland and saltmarshes. Visitors centre and viewing points.
- Tre r-ddol - Furnace
- 3 Dyfi Furnace. Restored mid 18th century charcoal fired blast furnace used for smelting iron ore.
- 4 Ynyslas (Mouth of the Dyfi river). Beach and nature reserve
- 5 Borth beach. Blue Flag beach
- 8 New Quay Harbour. Blue Flag beach
- 9 Llangrannog beach. Blue Flag beach
- 10 Tresaith beach. Blue Flag beach
- 11 Aberporth beach. Blue Flag beach
Cardigan to Amroth : 186 miles (299 km)
Pembrokeshire Coast Path
- 7 Whitesands beach, St Davids. Blue Flag beach
- 8 Newgale beach. Blue Flag beach
- 9 Broad Haven North beach. Blue Flag beach
- 10 St. Ann's Head Lighthouse. Build 1841 at the entrance to the Milford Haven waterway.
- 11 Dale beach. Blue Flag beach
- 12 Lydstep beach. Blue Flag beach
- 13 South beach, Tenby. Blue Flag beach
- 14 Castle beach, Tenby. Blue Flag beach
- 17 Coppet Hall beach, Saundersfoot. Blue Flag beach
- 18 Amroth beach. Blue Flag beach
Amroth to Llanelli : 68 miles (109km)
- 1 Pendine Sands.
Millennium Coastal Park
- 2 Cefn Sidan beach, Pembrey Country Park. Blue Flag beach
- 3 Burry Port Harbour Lighthouse. Built in the 1830s, restored 1996
Llanelli to Port Talbot : 97 miles (156 km)
Gower Peninsula and Swansea Bay Coast Path
- 3 Port Eynon beach. Blue Flag beach
- 4 Caswell Bay. Blue Flag beach
- 5 Langland Bay. Blue Flag beach
- 6 Bracelet Bay. Blue Flag beach
- 7 Mumbles Pier. length 255m Opened 1898
- 8 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)
South Wales Coast and Severn Estuary Coastal Path, including the Vale of Glamorgan and the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. .
- 1 Rest Bay, Porthcawl. Blue Flag beach
- 2 Trecco Bay. Blue Flag beach
- Newton - Candelston
- 4 Dunraven Bay and Park. Amazing rock formations below the cliffs.
- 5 Nash Point Lighthouse. Built 1832, still active.
- 8 Penarth Pier. length 200 m Opened 1895
- 10 Newport Transporter Bridge (Pont Gludo Casnewydd). Built in 1906, one of only eight of this type of bridge still working in the world.
- 12 Chepstow Castle. The oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain with the building started in 1067
- 13 Offa's Dyke Path. Point where the end of the Wales coast path meets Offa's Dyke path
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 known 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".
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 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 sections are also available for horse riders 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.
Move on to the English coast, such as the:
- Cumbria Coastal Way - from Lancashire to the Scottish border.
- 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.
Or explore the continental coastline
- E9 European Coast Path Portugal to Estonia.