May 5th sees the opening of the Wales Coastal Path, and a world first: the chance to walk around an entire nation.
The Wales Coastal Path covers 870 miles of spectacular scenery, from soaring cliffs to golden sands. The Coast Path creates a complete path along the whole Welsh coastline and, together with the Offa’s Dyke Path, which runs across the Anglo-Welsh border, the total route extends to 1030 miles. The creation of a path that travels the entire length of a country’s coast is a world first. To celebrate this unique achievement Lonely Planet awarded the Welsh Coast the accolade of top region on the planet to visit in 2012 as part of their annual Best in Travel selection.
The path was developed out of a desire to build on the economic success of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail and the Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path – both of which are major contributors to the visitor economy of Wales. While the coast path is important for the Welsh economy, it was also created to encourage locals and visitors to discover and enjoy Wales’ outdoor spaces.
The Coast Path winds through towns and villages, across cliff tops and sandy beaches, passing through 2 National Parks and 3 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as well as 14 Heritage Coasts. The whole path is accessible to walkers and, where practical, some sections will also be suitable for cyclists, families with pushchairs, people with restricted mobility and horse riders. Adrenalin seekers can try abseiling, white-water rafting, world-class mountain biking and paragliding, with a number of adventure centres located close to the path. In addition the the spectacular nature on offer – including the opportunity to spot nesting seabirds and puffins – the route will take in many of Wales’ famous castles, including three World Heritage Sites in one stretch – the magnificent castles of Caernarfon, Harlech and Criccieth. The path also passes ancient churches such as St Hywyn’s in Aberdaron on the Llyn Peninsula where, since medieval times, pilgrims have passed on their way to Bardsey Island, the legendary isle of 20,000 saints.
The launch will be marked with celebrations across the country, with three key events along the coastline, at Aberystwyth, Flint Castle, and the Roald Dahl Pass at Cardiff Bay. For more information see www.walescoastpath.gov.uk.