Wales Coast Path
The Wales Coast Path (Welsh: Llwybr Arfordir Cymru) is a long-distance footpath which follows the whole of the coastline of Wales. It opened on 5 May 2012, and offers a 870-mile (1,400 km) walking route from Chepstow in the south to Queensferry in the north.
Wales is the first country in the world to provide a dedicated footpath along its entire coastline. The Path runs through eleven National Nature Reserves and other nature reserves, including those managed by The Wildlife Trusts or Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Lonely Planet rated the coast of Wales first in its Best in Travel: top 10 regions for 2012.
The Wales Coast Path was launched on 5 May 2012, as the world's first coastal path to cover an entire country. It follows the entire Welsh coastline from Chepstow in the south east to near Queensferry in the north. Many parts already had established paths, such as the North Wales Path, the Anglesey Coastal Path and the Llŷn Coastal Path. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path had been a designated National Trail, and in 2011 was voted by National Geographic magazine as the second-best coastal destination in the world.
The path winds through 870 miles (1,400 km) of coastal landscape, from the mouth of the River Dee, along the north Wales coast with its seaside towns, over the Menai Strait onto the Isle of Anglesey, from the Llŷn Peninsula down the sweep of Cardigan Bay, through Britain’s only coastal National Park in Pembrokeshire,[dubious ] along miles of sand, via Gower, along the waterfront of Cardiff Bay and Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, to the market town of Chepstow.
The whole path is accessible to walkers and, where practical, some sections are suitable for cyclists, families with pushchairs, people with restricted mobility, and horse riders.
Overall responsibility for establishing the path lay with the Countryside Council for Wales (now Natural Resources Wales), but management on the ground rests with the 15 local government areas it passes through. Five waymarked long-distance coast paths were already established, in Pembrokeshire, Anglesey, Gwynedd, Ceredigion and the North Wales coast. These formed the basis for five of the eight geographical areas that now make up the path. The remaining three areas are made up of single and combined counties and county boroughs with coastlines.:
- North Wales Coast & Dee Estuary - see North Wales Path, opened 1997, which covers parts of this section.
- Isle of Anglesey - see Anglesey Coastal Path, opened 2006.
- Menai, Llŷn & Meirionnydd - see Llŷn Coastal Path, opened 2006 and expanded to take in the rest of Gwynedd.
- Ceredigion - see Ceredigion Coast Path, opened 2008.
- Pembrokeshire - see Pembrokeshire Coast Path a National Trail, opened in 1970.
- Carmarthenshire - the Carmarthenshire stretch incorporates the pre-existing Millennium Coastal Park, near Llanelli and passes through Pembrey Country Park. The number of people using the Wales Coast Path (October 2011 to September 2012) in Carmarthenshire was 19,537.
- Gower & Swansea Bay - see Gower and Swansea Bay Coast Path, opened in 2012.
- South Wales Coast & Severn Estuary - see South Wales Coast and Severn Estuary Coastal Path, opened 2012.
History and development
The Wales Coast Path was developed by the Welsh Government in partnership with the former Countryside Council for Wales, sixteen local authorities and two National Parks. Since 2007 the Welsh Government has invested in improving public access to the Welsh coast through its Coastal Access Improvement Programme. In addition to this funding from the Welsh Government and the coastal local authorities of approximately £2 million per year, the European Regional Development Fund has additionally allocated nearly £3.9 million over three years in support of the project.
The idea was developed from a desire to build on the economic success of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail and the Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path. Plans for the new all-Wales coastal path were first unveiled by First Minister Rhodri Morgan in June 2006, when he officially opened the 125-mile route around Anglesey. It was anticipated that the Wales Coast Path project, which would improve access and link up existing paths, would take up to five years; it has been nearer six. Both the Pembrokeshire and Anglesey coastal paths were considered as major contributors to the visitor economy of Wales, and in addition to financial benefits, it was also seen as an important initiative in encouraging both locals and visitors to discover and enjoy Wales’ outdoor spaces, and in the health and welfare benefits that such paths provide.
The Countryside Council for Wales, which supervised the project, has said that improvements to the quality and alignment of the route would continue during 2012 and 2013 to ensure that the path follows the Welsh coastline as close as it is safe and practical. Over time, the completed path is expected to lead to the creation of circular coastal routes, as links to inland towns and villages are improved.
The official opening of the 870 miles (1,400 km) path took place in a number of locations on 5 May 2012 highlighting the path’s beauty and ease of access for walkers of all ages, fitness and ability. To help celebrate the opening, Ramblers Cymru, hosted the Big Welsh Coastal Walk, one of the largest mass participation events ever seen in Wales.
The Countryside Council for Wales has asked Chester-based outdoor specialists, Northern Eye Books, to create the Official Guidebooks for five of the seven main sections of the Wales Coast Path: North Wales Coast, Isle of Anglesey, Llyn Peninsula, Carmarthenshire and Gower, and the South Wales Coast. They already publish the Official Guide for Anglesey, Walking the Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path by Carl Rogers. The remaining titles are due for publication in late 2012 and 2013. There are existing guides to the Ceredigion Coast Path and the Pembrokeshire Coast Path by other publishers.
The first anniversary of the opening of the path was marked on radio and television, and it is estimated that in that first year some 2.8 million people walked stretches of the path, contributing £16 million to the Welsh economy. Further to this, it is estimated that more than 800,000 visitors to the path also stayed the night in one of the many guest-houses, B&B's and hotels along the route.
A complete walk around Wales
The 870 miles (1,400 km) of the Wales Coast Path links with the Offa's Dyke Path National Trail, which loosely follows the border with England, to create a 1,030 miles (1,660 km) continuous walking route around almost the whole of Wales, although skirting past Flintshire and Wrexham.
The Open Spaces Society has criticised some landowners who do not allow the path onto their coastal land. This means 170 miles (270 km) – more than 20% of the route – will be on roads, sometimes out of sight of the sea. In response, a Countryside Council for Wales spokeswoman said: “Just over 20% of the WCP is on road, slightly less than the average for national trails in Britain, which is in the region of 25%. This is mainly on quiet, country lanes.”
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- Lonely Planet - Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel: top 10 regions for 2012 . Retrieved 2 January 2012.
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- "Wales Coast Path set for a boost as entrepreneurs get to work". Ordnance Survey. 19 July 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2012. "The recently opened Wales Coast Path is the first coastal network in the world to cover an entire country."
- The Guardian, Wales coastal path offers a walk on the wild – and industrial – side, 4 May 2012. . Retrieved 21 December 2012.
- Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail . Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- www.NationalTrails.co.uk - news article . Retrieved 29 December 2011.
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- Countryside Council for Wales: Wales Coast Path Accessed 3 October 2013
- Wales Coast Path Media Pack 2012, p.10, Accessed 19 October 2013
- walescoastpath.gov.uk History Accessed 3 October 2013
- North Wales Path, publ. Conwy County Borough Council, 1997
- www.anglesey-today.com/coastal-path.html accessed 3 October 2013
- www.snowdonia-active.com accessed 3 October 2013
- www.walescoastpath.info accessed 3 October 2013
- ceredigioncoastpath.org.uk accessed 3 October 2013
- National Trails: Pembrokeshire Coast accessed 3 October 2013
- Wales Coast Path - The Carmarthenshire bit!, DiscoverCarmarthenshire.com, accessed 1 November 2013
- The Economic Impact of Wales Coast Path Visitor Spending on Wales 2012, report for the Welsh Economy Research Unit of the Welsh Government, page 6; accessed 1 November 2013
- walesonline.co.uk Single Path around Gower Coastline 1 October 2011, accessed 3 October 2013
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- Welsh Government website - Coastal Access . Retrieved 2 January 2012.
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- Quadrant Media, Official guide books to document Wales Coast Path. . Retrieved 21 December 2012.
- "WCP celebrates anniversary". Walescoastpath.gov.uk. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
- Offa's Dyke Path National Trail
- WalesOnLine.co.uk - Wales’ new coast path still makes walkers tread more than 170 miles of roads . Retrieved 5 January 2012.
- WalesOnLine.co.uk - Wales’ coastline named ‘the greatest region on Earth in 2012’ by traveller's bible Lonely Planet . Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- Wales Coast Path - official website
- Saturday Walkers - OS map of route and GPS data
- Countyside Council for Wales
- Natural Resources Wales
- YouTube footage of part of the Wales Coast Path
- Circular walks on the Wales Coast Path