What was my inspiration for taking on the challenge?
The BBC was largely responsible for planting the thought in my mind. I was watching the news and a reporter stated to talk about the soon to be opened Wales Coast Path. Explaining that it would be the first continuous coast path walk was what really captured my imagination. I should also explain that I live in Bedfordshire which itself has many fabulous walks but unfortunately could not be further from the sea so this was a chance not to be missed. I have completed several charity raising activities over many years including Great North runs so I decided this was another good fund raising opportunity so chose The MS Trust as my charity and thanks to the generosity of many friends and a great end of walk charity auction, I raised over £2500.
Did I have any low points?
Only a few really! I started walking in June of 2012 so expected to start walking in a blaze of sunshine. Sadly this was not to be, the first three days of walking were in torrential rain and a strong westerly wind so my views of some of the villages and towns on the Dee estuary were somewhat limited. My only other low point was a little self inflicted, in that the day I arrived at Castle Martin Firing Range was a Wednesday. Had I done a little more planning I would have realised that there is restricted access [Editorial advice: please call Castlemartin Range on 01646 662280 or 662367 to check access times]. As a result of this oversight I had to endure a long diversion around the firing range on tarmac. At least when I arrived in Bosherston I was able to enjoy a pint and a sandwich in a lovely small village, a small consolation at least.
Were my expectations met?
I would say met and exceeded. Considering the path had only recently opened, i was really surprised and impressed with the signage. Yes there were a few junctions with no left or right sign present but for the biggest part of the walk I did not need maps at all so well done on that. I also met some fantastic people who were friendly, interested and helpful. Most of the B&B’s that I used were close to or on the coast path and the owners of those hostelries could not have been more helpful. The standard of accommodation was very good, some helped to dry my clothes when wet and a good few of the owners even contributed to my charity The MS Trust.
What were my high points?
Every section of the walk differed from the other sections and each had something new to offer whether it be in its historic roots, the scenery or the more tourist oriented sections of the walk however as I walked north to south I think the following were my highlights. Anglesey was a great experience, from the walk to Puffin Island, the rugged north coast and round to Church Bay and then on to Holyhead and the great views down to South Stack. I also loved the beach at Rhosneigr, a true surfer’s paradise. On the Pembrokeshire Coast path, Cemaes Head was awesome. The day I walked that section it was light rain but very high winds. I looked at the continuation of the path as I rounded the north tip and for the only time on the walk, thought about delaying the next section until the wind relented. In the end I decided to walk on and had the most exhilarating day of walking ever. Continuing on this section remained breath taking. In particular, Dinas Head and the coast around St David’s lifeboat station were spectacular but I also found the walk along Milford Haven estuary and into Pembroke equally interesting. There is a wealth of history in this area that I enjoyed reading about. I also have to mention the Gower. The north side had great views of the River Lougher and on reaching Whiteford Sands you realise that you walk most o the way to Rhossili on the extended golden beaches (tides permitting!). The South Gower was probably my favourite 2 days of the 61 days I walked in total. Three Cliffs Bay, Oxwich Bay and Swansea Bay all combine to make it a really fantastic section of coast path walking. Finally I should mention Cardiff Bay and the total change that has taken place in the whole of the bay area since I visited many years before. From The Barrage to all the many places of interest and some amazing architecture, the walk across the barrage and around the sea wall was a real pleasure.
I loved every one of the 61 days that I walked and at the end of every section of walking, could not wait to get back and start the next section. Before starting the walk I had decided I wanted to write my own account of the path so the title ‘A wander around the Wales Coast Path’ seems really appropriate. I plan to publish the book for the spring of 2014 and so am pleased that I will be able to relive many of the great experiences that I enjoyed whilst putting everything into writing. The blog site that I maintained whilst walking is still live and can be viewed at www.stevescharityevents.co.uk where you can also access my Flickr pictures to get a flavour of my highlights from each of my 61 days of walking.