Everything You Need to Know About The Wales Coast Path
The Wales Coast Path opened in 2012 – making Wales the first country in the world to have a continuous path around its coast. It’s one of the many incredible long distances walks in Wales.
There are endless miles and sections to explore – each with incredible and unique landscapes. The route takes in stunning Welsh beaches, our city waterfronts and countless castles. And it goes without saying, there are views galore.
Read on for a breakdown of some of the highlights of the Wales Coast Path, things to look out for and the best times of year to visit. We’ve included some drone footage of some of the best areas of Welsh coast, captured by the awesome Finn Beales for Visit Wales.
How long is the Wales Coast Path?
The total route for the Wales Coast Path is 870 miles.
The path starts at Queensferry in North Wales, and (if you chose to walk the whole thing) comes to an end in Chepstow on the Severn Estuary in the south. It’s broadly split into eight sections, we take a look at each section below.
When combined with Offa’s Dyke, it’s now possible to walk all the way around Wales – as Will Renwick did in 2013. If you’re looking for other great hikes, check out our guide to the best long distance walks in Wales.
The sections of the Wales Coast Path
The main sections of the Wales Coast Path:
- North Wales and Dee Estuary
- Isle of Anglesey
- Menai, Llŷn and Meirionnydd
- Gower and Swansea Bay
- South Wales Coast and Severn Estuary
Obviously, there is no need to take on the whole thing at once – each of the above offer diverse and exciting opportunities for experienced and novice walkers alike.
North Wales and Dee Estuary
There are around sixty miles of paths to take in on this top section of the path. A mixture of gentle riverside walking, wonderful sandy beaches, friendly towns and villages – and if you’re looking for more of a challenge there are some well-connected inland walks.
A couple of highlights include:
The stunning Point of Ayr lighthouse is just one of the reasons to visit this beautiful section of coast. You’ll also find yourself wandering in sand dunes – and a few miles further will bring you to Prestatyn and it’s traditional seaside delights.
The Great Orme
Llandudno is home to Wales’ longest pier. But it’s simply dwarfed by the Great Orme.
The limestone headland rises 207 metres out of the sea and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Brutal sea cliffs, woodlands and epic seascapes are all on the agenda for a day wandering the Orme. Not one to be missed.
Isle of Anglesey
There are too many great spots on Anglesey (Ynys Môn) to mention – we have an in-depth post on the way with more, but for now here are some of the highlights.
From the bridges that give access to Anglesey, to the array of sealife, it’s a sure highlight.
The South Stack Lighthouse
South Stack Lighthouse has featured on our Instagram feed more than a handful of times. And you can see why. It’s damn photogenic – perched out on the Western tip of Anglesey, an important and dramatic insight into Wales’ maritime heritage.
Llanddwyn Island – Ynys Llanddwyn
An island off an island – Llanddwyn is one of our favourite spots in the whole of Wales. Alex Davies’ snap of the beautiful spot is featured in our 2017 calendar – an all time epic spot for the snap happy.
The tidal island is steeped in history thanks to its association with St Dwynwen. Llanddwyn translates to “The church of St. Dwynwen” – Dynwen being the patron saint of Welsh lovers. The ruins of the church remain to this day.
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch to Menai Bridge
This stretch affords great views across to the mainland and an opportunity to learn how to say the name of this famous village.
It passes under both bridges to Anglesey from the mainland – Stephenson’s 1850 Brittania Bridge and Telford’s 1826 Menai Suspension Bridge.
Menai, Llŷn & Meirionnydd
With a backdrop framed by mighty Snowdonia, this stretch of path is where the views are at their most epic.
This stretch of the Wales Coast Path takes in some of the most dramatic castles, the striking town of Portmeirion and some fascinating tidal estuaries.
Porth Oer – Whistling Sands
Yes indeed, the sands at Porth Oer whistle as you walk on them. It’s one of only two places in Europe that the phenomenon takes place.
Beyond the whistles under foot, the beach is hotspot for water sports and has views across to Bardsey Island.
Morfa Harlech and Morfa Dyffryn
These two beaches offer miles upon miles of great walks. Plus, they’re within striking distance of the imposing Harlech Castle.
Criccieth Castle to Porthmadog
Criccieth Castle is arguably the most picturesque castle in Wales.
The 6.5 miles walk heading south to Porthmadog is a great place to give the legs a stretch, and passes the sprawling Black Rock sands.
The Ceredigion stretch of the Wales Coast Path starts at Ynyslas in the north, and stretches to Cardigan in the south. Cardigan Bay offers a chance to see dolphins, porpoises – and a host of marine birds.
Some of the best beaches in Wales call this stretch of path home – plus the University town of Aberystwyth are all en route.
Aberporth to Mwnt
Heading west along the coastal path, this five mile stretch of path is a beauty. Both the old church and the lovely beach at Mwnt are firm favourites.
A personal favourite. If you went to school in Wales, you’ll probably have memories of camps at the Urdd. The town of Llangrannog is enchanting – and there are plenty of great places to grab a bite to eat down on the waterfront.
You can walk in both directions – keep an eye out for Ynys Lochtyn if on the stretch north towards Newquay…
The tiny tidal island is only accessible at low tide – so be careful not to get stuck.
Pembrokeshire is the UK’s only coastal National Park – and it’s easy to see why. From glorious golden beaches to glorious rolling countryside, it’s long been a firm favourite for holiday makers from Wales and beyond.
The route takes in St David’s (the UK’s smallest city), the seaside resort town of Tenby – and some of the most epic coastal views the British Isles have to offer.
Whitesands to Solva
This 13 mile stretch of the Welsh comes highly recommended. Taking in views of Ramsey Island, it passes close to St David’s (pop in and check out St David’s Cathedral!) before ending up at the pretty fishing village of Solva.
Tenby is a great base for a walking holiday in Wales. With plenty of great accommodation, pubs, beaches and things to do if you have kids in tow, it has a lot to offer.
The Carmarthenshire stretch of the Wales Coast Path is one of ever changing landscapes. From fresh and salt water marshes to sand dunes to forestry – there’s plenty to see.
Later, it links up with the Millennium Coastal Path, offering views across to the Gower Peninsula. This section of path often meanders inland with the estuaries.
Laugharne is probably a familiar name for any fans of Dylan Thomas. Indeed, the Boathouse where he once lived and wrote can still be visited today. There’s town is also home to Laugharne castle – well worth a visit.
Just a little further east of Laugharne lies Llansteffan – with wide sweeping beaches and another great castle, it’s one of the highlights of this stretch.
Gower and Swansea Bay
The beaches on the Gower Peninsula are often hailed as some of the best in the world. And rightly so. But to just mention the beaches does it a disservice. Towering cliffs and coastlines, dramatic hillsides, some of the best surfing in the UK and great pubs make it a firm Discover Cymru favourite.
Further east, the path takes you to the Mumbles and on into the more industrial sections of the path in Swansea and Port Talbot.
The winner of countless international prizes, Rhossili Bay is nothing short of incredible. Three miles of beach stretch along the tip of the Gower, framed by rolling sand dunes and hillsides.
Walks to and from Llanmadoc in the north and Port Eynon to the south-east are a great way to take in this stunning stretch of coast.
Three Cliffs Bay
Surely one of Wales most photographed spots.
Three Cliffs Bay’s limestone cliffs have taken on a spectacular formation – and combined with the sand dunes, marshes and the nearby Pennard Castle it makes a great day out.
South Wales Coast and Severn Estuary
Although it’s the most built-up section of the Wales Coast Path, the South Wales Coast isn’t lacking in great scenery. The Glamorgan Heritage Coast is some of the most geographically interesting in Wales.
As the path heads into the Severn Estuary, nature reserves and wetlands dominate the landscape – and of course the mighty Severn Bridges.
The cliffs at Dunraven Bay are pretty fascinating – and often featured on our Instagram feed thanks to the amazing contrasts the rocks offer. It’s well worth a trip – and walks along the cliffs in both directions bring some lovely views.
The Cardiff Bay Trail
Get to know Cardiff from the coast. The six mile circular route takes you into the historic docks, along the Cardiff Bay Barrage, with the village Penarth offering a great pit-stop on the way past.
Wales Coast Path FAQs
In a word, yes!
There are plenty of great campsites on the route – check out this site for a breakdown of accommodation on the Wales Coast Path, including bunkhouses, hostels, B&Bs and hotels. You can also check out our guides to Wales’ best campsites and Airbnbs.
That depends on how far you plan to walk!
If you’re just out for a stroll, decent walking shoes and a waterproof (it’s Wales, after all!) are probably the only recommendations. If you plan on taking on larger sections, we’d recommend taking a look at the weather for that time of year and planning accordingly.
On longer walks, it’s always a good idea to take some supplies, warm clothing and a mobile phone in case you run into any difficulty. High winds can be challenging on the clifftop sections of the walk.
And don’t forget your camera. Wales’ coastline is stunning – and we want to see your pictures – give us a tag with #DiscoverCymru on
Instagram and Twitter.
In parts, yes. The official site lists some of the sections that are accessible.