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Wales Coast Path - South & West Wales

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Wales Coast Path - South & West Wales

What a fantastic thing: to walk the entire length of a country’s edge.  How better to really get to know the shape and soul of a nation? Well, in 2012 Wales became the only country in the world where you can do just that!


The 870 mile (1400km) Wales Coast Path hugs the coast continuously from Chepstow in the south to near Queensferry in the north. Add in the inland Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail and you can walk around the entire edge of a country, some 1,030 miles of walking opportunities right around the Welsh borders.


 

 

 

Day 1

Cardiff or Caerdydd as we say in Welsh, capital city of Wales. A truly modern and cosmopolitan city with an event calendar to rival any other European capital. In the Cardiff Bay area, you’ll find some stunning showpiece buildings; Wales Millennium Centre, a fantastic arts and cultural venue, the slate and glass National Assembly for Wales building and in the city centre, the Principality Stadium (formerly known as Millennium Stadium) with its ‘Thunderbirds are go’ sliding roof (host venue of the very first Olympic event in the London 2012 games). But despite all that forward thinking, it’s a city that has not forgotten its past. The Civic Centre or Cathays Park as it is more commonly known and National Museum Cardiff are one of the finest in Europe and Cardiff Castle an unexpected city centre surprise.

 

Walk 1

Where - Cardiff Bay to Penarth
How Far – 2 miles
Difficulty – easy

 

Cardiff Bay Barrage Coast Path – 1.8 miles – from the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay to the seaside town of Penarth, this path is great for cyclists and wheelchair users as well as walkers. The Cardiff Bay Trail is 6.2 miles.

 

Cardiff Bay

This is the former docks area of the city and used to be the largest port in the world. It was once better known as Tiger Bay, immortalised by locally born singer Shirley Bassey.


These days the Bay is one of the world’s largest regeneration projects. Central to the whole idea is the Cardiff Bay Barrage, which transformed the bay from mud flats to a massive freshwater lake. Around the lake, Cardiffian’s have realised that they love water! Marinas, apartments, water taxis, opera houses and even a parliament building all vie for a waterfront location. The path here skirts around some very iconic buildings which are all well worth a look.

 

The Wales Millennium Centre is all glass and slate and looking very much like a Welsh armadillo. Its home to seven of Wales’ major cultural institutions, including the Welsh National Opera. The structure is dominated by a huge dome coated in copper oxide to give it a bronze colour. This is designed to look better with age. Inscribed above the front door are two poetic lines. The Welsh: “Creu Gwir fel gwydr o ffwrnais awen” which means “creating truth like glass from the furnace of creation” and the English “In these stones, horizons sing” the letters form the windows of the upper floors and are lit up at night. The materials come from all over Wales and are designed to reflect the different parts of the country.

 

Next door to Wales Millennium Centre is the Senedd (Parliament) Building. The building is impressive. Its wave-like roof juts out into the sky uncompromisingly; its glass walls afford you a clear view inside the building from 50 metres away but still reflect the waters of Cardiff Bay which practically lap onto its steps. It manages to be both gutsy and ethereal - and has a certain magic that you can only feel by visiting it. So that’s what you should do! Take the tour.
 

The Barrage itself is 1.1km long and extends from Cardiff docks in the north to Penarth in the south. This was a huge civil engineering construction project and created a freshwater lake with over 13km of waterfront around which everyone wants to live.


The barrage is quite a busy place with the yachts coming in and out of the locks. Go and see the giant fish passes, you may see some jumping salmon or trout. The path runs along the landscaped embankment which is a great place for a picnic with excellent views out over the sea and the city.
 

Overnight : Cardiff

 

 

Day 2

 

Walk 1

Where – Nash Point to Monknash
How Far – 5 miles
Difficulty – easy

 

In 1973, the Glamorgan Coast became the first coastline in Wales to be awarded Heritage Coast protection. With stunning views across the Bristol Channel to Exmoor, this area is quiet and crowd free despite being so close to the city.

 

We are going to start our walk at the Nash Point lighthouse, where 14 miles of dramatic limestone and shale striped cliffs, boulder-strewn beaches and sections of wide, white-sanded beaches are just waiting to be explored. We end our walk in one of Wales best loved and oldest pubs; the Plough and Harrow at Monknash. Other walks around this area can be found here.
 

Overnight : Cardiff

 

 

Day 3

The Gower Peninsula (Welsh: Gŵyr) is a peninsula on the south coast of Wales. It was the first area in the United Kingdom to be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in 1956. The area is home to 10 nature reserves, 24 Wildlife Trust reserves, 32 Sites of Special Scientific Interest and five Special Areas of Conservation. Gower has become a haven for some of the richest wildlife and varied habitats in the UK and the beaches are fantastic!

 

On the peninsula itself, the population lives mainly in small villages. The southern coast of the peninsula consists of a series of beautiful, small, rocky or sandy bays like Langland Bay and Three Cliffs Bay. There are also some spectacular beaches like Port Eynon, Rhossili and Oxwich Bay which are slightly larger. On the north side of the peninsula there are fewer beaches, where this section of the coast includes the famous cockle-beds of Penclawdd.

 

Walk 1

Where – Rhossili to Mewslade Bay (via Worms Head if the tide is right)
How Far – 3 miles
Difficulty – Easy

 

Rhossili to Mewslade Bay a picturesque walk at the western edge of the Gower Peninsula, chosen by the Ramblers' Association as one of their 'Top 10 Coastal Walking Routes' in the UK. Rhossili is named after a truly stunning beach, regularly on best in the world lists. Sunsets here are amazing!

 

This classic walk out to the Worm's Head is one of the most famous circular walks in Wales. Worms Head (owned by the National Trust) takes its name from the old English word for dragon, and with a bit of imagination it looks just like a giant one has landed on the edge of the peninsula.

 

This walk does involve some scrambling but we can go as far as we want, its circular so we have to come back.  Or if the tide isn’t right for us then our second option is a gentle cliff walk around Rhossili Head (with stunning views of the beach), continuing past Worms Head, around to Mewslade Bay.
 

Walk 2

Where – Penmaen to Three Cliffs Bay
How Far – 2.5 miles
Difficulty – Easy

 

Three Cliffs is one of Gower's most picturesque beaches and it's not hard to see why, the valley leading down to the sea complete with castle, the salt marshes and the sand dunes, and the three cliffs themselves. At 2.5 miles this is an easy walk with open stretches of sandy beaches and great views of Three Cliffs Bay. The cliffs are popular with climbers, and what a location, you can actually walk underneath the cliffs through an archway. There are stepping stones to cross the river on the Penmaen side of the bay with views of Pennard Castle.

 

From the Gower Peninsular we head west hugging the coast to Pembrokeshire.
 

Overnight : Saundersfoot

 

Day 4 

 

Nowhere are the beautiful beaches and imposing headlands of Wales more accessible to the walker than in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Britain’s only coastal National Park.

 

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail passes through some of Britain’s most spectacular and breathtaking scenery, including 58 beaches and 14 harbours and the UK’s smallest city - St Davids.

 

The walking is enthralling, with most of the miles on narrow cliff-top paths that run over headlands and down to the sea. The trail passes through some breathtaking scenery. From rugged headlands that jut stubbornly out into thunderous seas, to narrow crescents of bone-white sand, lapped upon by a cerulean ocean.

 
Walk 1

Where – Wiseman's Bridge to Saundersfoot
How Far – 1.4 miles
Difficulty – Easy

The coastal walk is linked to Saundersfoot by a series of three tunnels through which a narrow gauge railway once travelled carrying coal from the local mines to Saundersfoot Harbour. You could even continue another 4 miles along the coast path into Tenby.

 

Walk 2

Where – Tenby town and Beach
How Far – 2 miles
Difficulty – Easy

 

Named the “Peoples favourite place” in Wales it’s not hard to see why Tenby is everything a seaside resort should be. Wedged between two massive sandy beaches, it has a castle, town walls, a tiny harbour, a couple of islands and is scientifically proven to have the best sand in Wales to make a sandcastle. (Hope you remembered your buckets and spades?) Fresh fish is sold in the harbour direct from the fishing boats, but if you fancy someone else doing the cooking, Plantagenet House is a great place to eat. If you ask nicely they may let you sit in the chimney.

 

We are going to walk around the outside of the town using the six beaches, then head into the town for a poke about.

 

Walk 3

Where – Broadhaven to Stackpole Quay
How Far – 3 miles
Difficulty – This stretch has four long flights of steps, wide and not steep. Total 173 steps, 4 kissing gates, 1 wicket gate.

 

This section really typifies why this coast is worthy of National Park status. It contains Barafundle bay which was recently voted one of the top ten beaches in the world. It also fringes the famous Lily Ponds at Bosherston which are a National Nature reserve. The path is quite undulating, but you're never far from a beach, village pub or toilet!


 

 

 

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