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An overview about the Wales Coast path and what’s happening in it’s 10th anniversary year
Part 1 is an overview, facts and figures about the path and a guide to the 10th year celebrations.
Part 2 lists What’s new for 2022 and will be updated with new stories throughout the year– so please keep checking back.
Wales celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the Wales Coast Path on 5 May this year. The 870 mile (1,400 km) long-distance walking trail was launched in 2012.
It links with the Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail (which follows the border between England and Wales) and Glyndwr’s Way, an inland route which meets up with the Offa’s Dyke Path. These links make walking in Wales a truly unique experience by following a continuous walking route around its entire perimeter.
The Wales Coast Path attracts thousands of visitors to the Welsh coast each year to explore the unique and varied landscape, wildlife and culture of Wales. The anniversary will be marked by a programme of key celebratory events, starting on 1 March, St David’s Day, Wales’ National day.
This will include:
• new resources and opportunities for more young people to walk the path;
• a new range of merchandise for walkers to commemorate the anniversary;
• walking festivals, cultural activities and environmental events along the Welsh coastline all year;
• Wales – the refill nation, celebrating that there are over 600 refill sites along the coast path, where you can refill your water bottle;
• a new Welsh language guidebook for the Llŷn Peninsula to be published;
• 20 new walking itineraries on a heritage theme to be unveiled;
• an app to allow walkers to track their progress along the Wales Coast Path on their mobile phone;
• The (Future) Wales Coast Path art installation, a response to climate change unveiled.
During the tenth anniversary year, we’re inviting everybody to join us in celebrating everything that the path has to offer, not just for people living in Wales, but all over the world.
The 870 mile (1,400 km) long-distance walking trail runs from the Welsh border near Chester to Chepstow in southeast Wales, connecting historic coastal trails, such as Anglesey, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.
The resulting continuous circuit joins up with the 177 mile / 285 km Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail along the Welsh-English border to create a complete circuit of Wales. It will also join the England Coast Path on the border with Chester and near Chepstow. See the interactive route map or check the distance tables
You can visit the path anytime – it’s accessible and enjoyable all year round. Just bring suitable clothing for the weather.
On average, a long-distance walker takes around three months to complete the path – an average of 10.5 miles per day. Or you can split the entire length into 153 sections, an average of 5.5 miles per day.
The best way to enjoy the path is to take your time, even if it takes years to complete the entire 870 miles. There are people who prefer the faster way and will run it in a matter of weeks.
Either way, once they have completed this incredible achievement, there are completer certificates and badges to proudly show off to friends and family. These are available to buy from The Trails Shop
The path is one of a few continuous walking routes along a country’s coastline in the world. When combined with the Offa’s Dyke National Trail, it is possible to circumnavigate Wales’s perimeter on foot – a total of 1,047 miles / 1,685 km. The Wales Coast Path attracts thousands of visitors to the Welsh coastline each year to explore the unique and varied landscape, wildlife and culture of Wales.
It is one continuous path covered by eight regional guidebooks. Here are the leaflets:
Or check out these themed itineraries for ideas on where to walk the path.
The whole path is available to walkers, with some sections suitable for cyclists, families with pushchairs, people with limited mobility, and horse riders. See Easy Access Walks ideas on where to go for easy coastal walks for people with mobility issues and pushchairs. Read about Amanda Harris’ coastal challenge to navigate the path using her wheelchair and trike.
There are plenty of sections that are flat like promenades with lots of facilities. There are also some sections which are more challenging. The hard work invested in trekking up and down hills will be rewarded with incredible coastal vistas. The path has an overall total assent and descent of 95,800 ft or 29,200 m –nearly three times the height of Everest!
There are places to stay all year round with a range of accommodation on or close to the path, from campsites and hotels to yurts. But book ahead in peak season. Wild camping is not permitted in Wales, unless you have the permission of the landowner.
You can access the path from various locations across the coastline. Many parts are close to major train stations and there are plenty of bus stops in towns along the path. You can park your car in small car parks along the route so long as you park responsibly.
We recommend using public transport at the beginning or end of your day to make your visit even more enjoyable. Check the Traveline Cymru website to plan your journey on public transport and please check whether dogs are allowed on board before you travel. Further information can be found at Wales Coast Path / Wales Coast Path by Bus
The entire path is signed with our distinctive blue and yellow logo of a shell with a dragon tail. A red version of the sign shows an alternative route of the official path like a high tide option.
The path uses existing rights of way for example footpaths, cycle paths, roads, promenades and beaches. The Wales Coast Path is also marked on Ordnance Survey maps as a line of green diamonds.
There is a series of official guidebooks available to purchase from Northern Eye books. A number of other travel writers have also written guides to the path.
The official Wales Coast Path app (available for iOS and Android) can record your journey and tell you whether you’re on the path or not. It is. Search for ‘Wales Coast Path’ in the app stores.
Management of the path is coordinated by Natural Resources Wales working in close partnership with 16 local coastal authorities and two national parks on path maintenance and development. There are five dedicated regional path officers covering its entire length, ensuring it meets specific quality standards.
Welsh Government provides Natural Resources Wales an annual budget to maintain, improve and promote the Wales Coast Path, in close partnership with local coastal authorities.
You can buy completion certificates and badges to commemorate your achievement on completing the path from the Trails Shop
A true trailblazer, Arry Beresford Webb (Cain) was the first person to have completed the path and ended her epic journey at the path’s launch back in 2012.
“I ran the entire 870 mile Wales Coast Path and 176 mile Offa’s Dyke Path within 41 days – I can proudly say I’ve run around the entire perimeter of my home country – an achievement I am so proud of! This was the equivalent of 40 back to back trail marathons, all with the intention of raising £25,000 for Velindre Cancer Centre and Gozo CCU Foundation.
This challenge was very important to me personally and my grit and determination was tested several times due to the nature of the challenge and how I related to different places along the path.
I particularly loved Anglesey and Pembrokeshire, but the sheer diversity of the path makes it so difficult to choose one special place. I met so many kind and supportive people during my challenge – many of whom were local to the path who were had a real sense of pride about it. Along my epic journey, as I ran through stretches that that hold special childhood memories and familiar territory for me, I could feel that same sense of pride of being a part of something special here in Wales. .
I feel privileged to be the first to have experienced the diversity of the entire Wales Coast Path. I would love to do it again, but at a slower pace, so that I can actually stop and enjoy the places that I saw so briefly!”
Read Arry’s Dragon Run 1027 blog
Dave Quarrell, based near Chepstow, was the first person to hike the Wales Coast Path:
“My father, Gerry, was head of Countryside Parks and Access for the Welsh Government and had a senior role in planning the path. He died of cancer in 2011 and never saw the project completed. Dad had grown up in the Brecon Beacons a keen walker, so this was a project he was personally invested in. That’s why walking for 72 days, starting from the opening ceremony at Cardiff Bay, was also very personal for me. It was a tribute to dad and a fundraiser for Cancer Research.
I work in a desk-based job and was never good at sport at school, making the first couple of weeks hard going. I remember walking out of Cardiff Bay and facing a huge climb at Penarth. I had to repack my rucksack in a bus shelter at the top.
There were some significant points emotionally for me along the path and stretches where I was alone with my thoughts. I now realise I was fortunate to have had time and space to process the grief of losing a parent. There’s something tremendously grounding and solid about simply putting one foot in front of another. I’m sure Dad would have been understated about me completing it, saying something like “good effort”. But, I know, I did him proud.”
Find out more about Dave’s experience in the Hall of Fame
Zoe Langley-Wathen, based Monmouthshire, is the founder and podcast host of Head Right Out. Zoe was the first woman to walk the path:
“It took me 43 days to walk the 870 miles. It changed my life. I started to realise while on the Path that the walk wasn’t just about nature and wildlife, or meditation time. It was about stepping beyond our comfort zone. It led to the launch of HeadRightOut to encourage women to engage with the great outdoors and challenge themselves. After all, everyone has their own Everest.
Women can lose their confidence as they move towards menopause, but adventurous exercise is key to feeling better given the impact on our wellbeing of being outside. I came back from walking the Path in 2012 feeling more physically fit but also mentally positive. I now would encourage all women to use adventures in the outdoors to keep their heads healthy. I call it 'Outside Medicine'.
Women in perimenopause should be out there, pushing themselves to do things they wouldn’t normally do. The WCP is a great introduction to long-distance hikes and a perfect place to start.”
Find out more about Zoe’s experience in the Hall of Fame
Will Renwick, Editor of the online magazine, Outdoors Magic as the youngest person to walk the Path — then aged 22.
“I was walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain when I read about the opening of the Wales Coast Path. Born near Barry in South Wales, I’d always loved the Welsh landscape and the Camino had sparked my sense of adventure. So, I set out from home in 2013, taking a gap from university, and headed to my nearest coastline at Aberthaw. I figured that, if I could complete the circumnavigation, then I’d be back there to celebrate with a few beers at my local, the Blue Anchor — 63 days later, I was.
There’s something very meditative about long-distance walking. It’s good for the soul. Walking the Wales Coast Path taught me to be happy in my own company. But I also came across so many kind-hearted strangers. For example, people I met in pubs or shops along the way would offer me a sofa to sleep on, or invite me over for a fry-up the next morning.
What’s more, my whole career is thanks to the Wales Coast Path as I blogged and tweeted my way round. That lead to a job on an outdoors writing magazine. It may be work for me now, but my Wales-inspired sense of adventure is unabated.
I think younger people are starting to realise what adventures are within our own shores. Social media is encouraging that post pandemic. But we just also need to remember collectively to be the guardians of our natural environment.”
Find out more about Will’s experience in the Hall of Fame
25 useful words to you’ll definitely come across when signpost reading along the path:
Access our 10th anniversary logos, assets guide and Wales Coast Path Path free high resolution imagery on Visit Wales Assets (registration required)
Share our films from each path area: Wales Coast Path / Llwybr Arfordir Cymru - YouTube
This section will be updated with new stories throughout 2022 – so please keep checking back!
Also, the new edition of Walking the Wales Coast Path will be published by Cicerone in April — in time for the tenth anniversary of The Wales Coast Path in May.
The author, Paddy Dillon, who has worked on two previous editions of the guide and observed the evolution of the path, says:
“I see ongoing, small improvements to the route from walking the path. There are challenges ahead — after all, you can’t fight nature. But I’m encouraged to find ever-improving infrastructure, new stiles and waymarking in some sections, and additional areas of coastal access over the ten years.”
A webinar is planned with Paddy to coincide with the launch.
Sarah Williams, adventurer and podcast host of Tough Girl Challenges will use the book to walk the entire coast path during the spring in 2022. Her mission is to increase the amount of female role models in the media, with a focus on women who do adventures and undertake big physical challenges. She will meet those who love and work on the path and share her journey on her social channels.
Walking the Wales Coast Path is published on 15 April; www.cicerone.co.uk
A new Welsh language version of the Official Guide to the Llŷn Peninsula section of the Wales Coast Path will be available in bookshops and online from Spring 2022. The guidebook will be launched during an event on the Wales Coast Path and will include a guided walk.
Rhys Gwyn Roberts, Wales Coast Path Officer for the Llŷn & Snowdonia Coast, added:
“We are delighted that we now have Welsh guidebook for the Llŷn that Welsh speakers and learners will be able to use it to explore this wonderful part of Wales in their mother tongue. We very much hope that this will be the first in the series to be translated and that all seven guidebooks will be published in Welsh in the near future.”
Official Guidebook publishers, Northern Eye, also produce the pocket-size ‘Top 10 Walks’ series of short, circular walks for each section of the path – including several coastal pub walks books. These guides are complemented by a series of pocket size, easy-to-use mapping atlases — one for each section of the path — showing the latest official route of the Wales Coast Path, and other amenities, on large scale Ordnance Survey maps. The walkers’ atlases compress several unwieldy sheets of OS coastal maps into a pocket size book that’s easy to carry and refer to along the way.
Where to buy
Review copies are available from: firstname.lastname@example.org
First-time authors, Eirlys Thomas and Lucy O’Donnell, mark the 10th anniversary of the Wales Coast Path in 2022 by recounting their slow walking experiences along this 870 mile / 1,400 km trail.
The journey takes Eirlys and Lucy from Chepstow in the South of Wales to Chester in Cheshire. The authors are keen ambassadors for the coastal adventure, having gained a wider understanding and respect for the pioneer originators of the Wales Coast Path, the environmental changes which the path confronts, and the workforce which maintain the path from day to day.
If someone had said to my younger self that I would be completing the Wales Coast Path in my late sixties and co-writing my first book at 70, I would have told them not to be ridiculous. Slow walking, setting reasonable daily targets, meant I reached that 870-mile goal, feeling stronger both physically and mentally with every step. Today, if I need a workout or have anything on my mind, I put on my walking boots and revisit the Wales Coast Path - my therapeutic path for life.
Following on from a redundancy, the walk along the Wales Coast Path helped me clarify my thoughts, shape my future and indeed gave me the confidence to tackle anything. Since completing the path I have worked as a tour manager in Spain, qualified to be a professional tourist guide in Wales, set up a guided walks business and learnt to speak Spanish and Welsh
Further details and information: Lucy O’Donnell mobile phone 07525624284 or e-mail email@example.com
From May 2022, a new range of official Wales Coast Path branded merchandise will be available for purchase. This follows a demand by those who have and are currently walking the path to purchase merchandise to commemorate their journey.
Eve Nicholson, Wales Coast Path Marketing Officer, says, ‘Whilst we already sell completion certificates and badges, we are regularly asked if walkers can buy a memento as a reminder of their adventure along the Wales Coast Path. To celebrate our 10th anniversary, a range of attractive and practical goods will be for sale online.
Further details will be revealed in early spring
Refill Cymru has installed 651 refill stations along the Wales Coast Path to eliminate single-use plastic as part of a Welsh Government initiative to make Wales the first refill nation.
The campaign aims to prevent plastic pollution by offering free water refills at locations along the Wales Coast Path with many of the refill stations are within a one-mile radius of it. The average person in the UK will use 150 plastic water bottles every year, according to research by Refill Cymru.
Hannah Osman, Refill Wales Manager, says: “Refill Cymru has worked to increase access to water across Wales since 2018. Post COP-26, this is a simple solution, inspiring action at a grass-roots level and yielding tangible results.”
Refill Cymru will mark World Refill Day on 16 June, having installed a total of 2,200 refill stations across the whole of Wales by January 2022.
The organisation cites the One Poll World Refill Day Survey Wales 2021, whereby 60 % of respondents agreed the Covid-19 pandemic has made them realise the importance of spending time in nature for their mental wellbeing. But some 36% of respondents said plastic pollution was worse since the pandemic.