As a new ITV show Wonders of the Coast Path explores the Wales Coastal Path, Sam Ballard takes a stroll along one of the most beautiful shorelines in the world.
From Conwy to the Llŷn Peninsula, the Welsh coast is one of the most breathtaking shorelines in the world. Walk a few miles and you can stumble upon deserted beaches, ancient woodland and finish up with a rewarding pint in a pretty harbour town. It is a coastline that surprises and delights in equal measure.
Wales was the first country in the world to build a pathway around its entire coastline which, given that it measures about 870 miles, is no mean feat. While few people have the time to walk the entire Coastal Path, the network of officers who look after different sections have put together smaller itineraries which are much more achievable. Three days in length, they can be completed over a leisurely long weekend – and pick up on some of the highlights that the Welsh coast has to offer for those who don’t have weeks on end to amble around the full 870-mile route.
The shorter walks include itineraries from Ceredigion, with a walk from Borth to Aberaeron, with suggested stops in Aberystwyth and Llanrhystud (a much more manageable 23 miles), to a North Wales route, where the guides have suggested walking from Rhyl to Conwy. This includes stops in beautiful Colwyn Bay and Llandudno. It brings in traditional sea side towns, limestone crags and medieval castles – all across 25 miles.
Pembrokeshire, in the southeast corner of Wales, is one of the country’s prettiest spots. The three-day programme starts in Manorbier and finishes up in Pendine, with a stay in the fishing town of Tenby as one of the highlights.
The coastline is rugged with the pathway hard going at times – if you’re doing this route, pack walking shoes. Other routes are more child friendly. Between Manorbier and Tenby, walkers will find themselves high on clifftops, looking far out to sea, before turning back into the deep forest. It takes ramblers past tiny beaches and sheltered coves where children – and adults – skim stones and sit by the water.
It can be hard to discern if you are actually on the Wales Coastal Path at times – with markings few and far between in places. However, there is a website and you can download an app to make the whole thing a little bit more interactive. It’s also useful if you happen to get lost…
Tenby is postcard pretty. Fishing boats bob around the harbour, which is surrounded by an ancient stone wall – and ringed by multicoloured Georgian townhouses. When the tide goes out, the ships are left moored on the seabed for the evening. Spend a night here if you can. You’ll find cosy pubs, restaurants selling fresh seafood and a few antique shops dotted around, too. There’s even an arts festival in late September where you can find everything from ukulele choirs on street corners to shops competing in window dressing competitions.
The Buccaneer Inn serves up great pub food, and has a couple of the local Harbwr Tenby Harbour Brewery beers on tap, making it the perfect place to sample local life. Another great pub is The Crown Inn – a more rough and ready boozer which often has musicians performing on an evening, it’s never long before the whole pub is singing along.
Tenby Castle Beach is one of the jewels of Pembrokeshire. St Catherine’s Island, topped by a Napoleonic Fort, sits half submerged in the sea – and becomes a island proper during high tide. It offers a dramatic backdrop to a beach that wouldn’t look out of place in the Caribbean.
Further up the coast is Saundersfoot. While not as pretty as Tenby, you’ll discover a classic seaside town – rather than a quaint fishing harbour. That being said, it definitely has its charm. There are an abundance of fish and chip shops, independent boutiques and decent pubs to choose from. Perfect for those who have just scaled the hilly terrain to get from Tenby.
From here, you push on to Amroth – where you will discover 200-year-old tramway tunnels – and then on to Pendine, in Carmarthenshire.
With little like the Wales Coastal Path existing anywhere else in the world, we’re lucky to have it here in the UK. These new three-day itineraries now make walking the route – or at least part of it – more accessible, and far less daunting.
Episode 1: North Wales and Anglesey of Wonders of the Coast Path airs on Thursday July 23 at 8pm on ITV.
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