Bob Smith

The Challenge

undefinedI walked the total length of the Wales Coast Path in June and July 2015 as part of the National Trust’s celebration of 50 years of the Neptune Coastline Campaign. The campaign has allowed the Trust to safeguard over a 100 miles of coastline in Wales.

The Trident Trek

I was carrying a specially carved trident, inspired by Neptune, the Roman god of the sea, so we called the walk, the Trident Trek. 

It was advertised on the National Trust website and my daily schedule was pre-planned to allow people to join me on the walk on their local or favourite stretch of the path.

It costs the Trust an average of £3,000 to look after a mile of coastline each year, so I was also walking to raise funds towards helping to maintain the coast.

Start date:  8 June 2015 (Flint)

End Date:  5th August 2015 (Chepstow)

The Best Bits

A great help to me was having the National Trust Rangers in each area move my camping gear from site to site each day.  This meant that although I was walking an average of 20 miles a day I was only carrying my day sack. 

Isle of Anglesey

The Wales coast is an amazing place and it’s always hard to pick out the best bits from 870 miles of it.  However, if anyone wants to pick a part of the coast to walk, I would recommend doing Anglesey, as it is the only place you can start and finish at the same point and feel you have actually completed it.  Also it has the most varied coastline, so you get great beaches, cliffs, forests and amazing geology, and all this with the backdrop of Snowdonia. 

Pembrokeshire That said, if you want a remote and challenging walk, head for Pembrokeshire, which just seems to go on and on with constantly more impressive cliffs.  For me the best short stretch of coast was from the Green Bridge of Wales to St Govan’s Head, but I was lucky to even see this as it is often shut as it is part of the Castlemartin Firing Range. undefined

However, as impressive as the coastline is, my abiding memory will be the people I met on the journey and carrying a trident was guaranteed to be a conversation starter. 

Food parcels and beer!

Everyone I met was incredibly helpful, from the Rangers moving my baggage (and attaching the odd food parcel and beer) to random strangers helping me find campsites or offering drinks and food at the sites when I arrived, particularly when the weather was wet.  

And of course all the people who joined the walk with me, whose local knowledge and stories made the trip interesting and educational.  One of the things that became apparent was just how busy the coastline was in its heyday with so many working ports.

 The Low Points

There were thankfully few low points, although leaving Aberystwyth after a few days in a B&B when it was pouring with rain, and my boots where leaking, and I had chipped a filling, and I realised that I still had nearly 500 miles to go, was not a great start to that particular day. 

Although the weather was great in June, the weather in July was often wet and putting your tent away wet and then re-pitching in the rain at the undefinedend of the day was not great.  However, once the sun came back out and dried the tent, these days were soon forgotten. 

One of the minor frustrations of the path was the longer inland estuary legs when you spend a day or so going in and out only to arrive back at the coast only about a mile further on.

Summary

The Trident Trek was an absolutely amazing experience and I was grateful to the National Trust for giving me a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to complete the path in one go.  There’s so many places that I need to find the time to re-visit and spend more time exploring.  More information on the walk and the National Trust coastline campaign can be found at the NT Welsh coast blog.

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I couldn’t have completed the walk without the support of friends, family and complete strangers and my thanks to them all for making it a trip to remember.

I have been lucky enough to have been trekking in various regions abroad and the Wales Coast Path is easily on a par with the best New Zealand, South Africa and Nepal have to offer - and it’s a lot closer.