In 2012, Wales became the first country in the world to have a dedicated footpath along its entire coastline. With the start/finish points in the north (on the border with Chester) and the south (Chepstow), it is 870 miles of beautiful and varied coastline.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) works in partnership with 16 coastal local authorities and two National Parks to manage and maintain the path, with funding from Welsh Government. We also work closely with Visit Wales. Between us, our job is to make sure that the Wales Coast Path is promoted as a fantastic long distance walking destination - for people in Wales and for visitors from all corners of the globe!
Walking in the digital world..
Promoting the path on social media is one of the things we love doing. We see so many images of the Welsh coast on our social media accounts. We never get tired of seeing Three Cliffs Bay on the Gower or Llanddwyn Island on the Isle of Anglesey.
People have such a deep connection to the coast - from childhood summer holiday, walking/running charity challenges to just simply savouring the best of what Wales has to offer. When the path was launched in 2012, some bits of it didn't hug the coastline quite as closely as we would have liked. So, since then, our work has shifted towards making improvements to the route. And with every new improvement, there's a new seascape for people to explore.
So, when we were invited to walk a couple of new sections of the path on the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales, we grabbed the opportunity with walking boots and camera at the ready!
The newly opened sections mean that Porth Ceriad to Trwyn Llech y Doll, and Trwyn y Ffosle to Hell's Mouth are now open for walkers. They are fantastic stretches of the coast – adding greatly to the original route. Our walking partners were Molly Lovatt, North Operations (NRW), and Helen Evans, Communications (NRW) and Meinir Jones, project officer for Bws Arfordir Llŷn.
A walk and a bus ride!
Another reason for my visit was to check out the coastal bus service Bws Arfordir Llŷn / Llŷn Coastal Bus, a pilot project part-funded by NRW. Walkers can use this pick up and request bus service around the Llŷn coast. It's a real boon for walkers as it means you can walk whatever distance you fancy without having to retrace your steps.
We caught the 10.30 mini bus from Hell's Mouth to a request stop at Machroes (near Abersoch). We were joined on the bus by eight members of the Chester Rambling and Hill Walking Club, who were in the area for a weekend of walking.
They were great adverts for the bus service, as they enthusiastically extolled its virtues. They also praised the free downloadable Wales Coast Path maps and distance tables online.
Meinir, who runs the bus service, told to us that more than 2,600 people had used the bus service over the summer season and that feedback was very positive.
However, with its pilot funding coming to an end this year, Meinir is now turning her sights towards finding new funding streams so that the service can continue to build on this early success.
Some highlights of the walk…
Passing the islands of St Tudwal's East, and St Tudwals West (owned by the adventurer and TV presenter Bear Grylls), we made our way towards Porth Ceriad beach.
New recycled plastic steps made it easier to climb one steep section of the coast. And it was worth it - we were rewarded by fantastic views of the beach and Cilan headland. Winding our way around Cilan head, we arrived at the second newish opened section Trwyn y Ffosle and back to Hell's Mouth beach.
Standing there, taking in the sweeping vista of the beach and the surrounding coastline literally took your breath away (it was quite windy up there!).
And back to the digital world…
With our walk over all too quickly (well about four hours long), we’re back in the world of social media!
The hard work that goes into making sure that the Wales Coast Path does what it says on the tin simply would not be possible without our working partnership with all the organisations involved, all working with local landowners to negotiate and manage public access. Bonus points to Gwynedd Council for working hard to negotiate this route to be closer to the coast!
Projects like this popular coastal bus service is one way of making the path more accessible so that can people enjoy the health benefits of walking and give a welcome boost to the local economy while they're at it! Let's hope it continues…
If you want to try a day out using the Llyn Coastal Bus Service, it runs till the end of October from Thursdays to Sundays and costs just £1 per journey. Check out their website – www.bwsarfordirllyn.co.uk
We'd love to see your pictures of the Welsh coastline, just tag us on @walescoastpath using our hashtag #walescoast