Exploring North Wales coast with mobility aids by Amanda Harris

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Amanda's story

Avid fundraiser, Amanda Harris is exploring the accessible sections of the path using her wheelchair and trike. Here’s her experience of the north Wales coast so far.

I always dreamt of walking the welsh coast, with its rugged cliffs, stunning beaches and historic castles. But after sustaining a life changing injury, I thought the dream might be over - I was now using a wheelchair and mobility aids. How on earth could I get out on the coast path?

Rather than abandon my dream, I decided to see what was possible. With support, I am now making my way around the Wales Coast Path for charity - documenting sections that I find accessible, fundraising, and hopefully inspiring others to embrace the beauty of the welsh coastline.

The North Wales coast

The Wales Coast Path in Conwy and Gwynedd includes several sections which have recently been identified as accessible. Skirting the Menai Strait, the body of water separating mainland Wales from the Isle of Anglesey, these sections are mostly tarmacked or well surfaced and on clear days provide beautiful views. I’ve discovered 3 sections on my challenge which are definitely worth a visit.

Llanfairfechan to Glan y Môr Elias circular route

Parking at Llanfairfechan promenade, this is a 4 mile route alongside the beach, saltmarshes and through nature reserves. With plenty of birdlife it's a great outing for nature lovers.

Leaving the car park over a small concrete bridge, we followed a wide tarmac path alongside the boating lake. Against a backdrop of pastel-coloured houses, mountains and fields there were plenty of benches along the path to sit and admire the views out to Puffin Island. It was great to see other people with mobility aids out enjoying the path.

Eventually, the path entered Glan y Môr Elias nature reserve and the terrain changed to a mix of gravel and grass. I had a power attachment on the front of my wheelchair, but, depending on weather conditions, it could mean manual wheelchair users might need some assistance. The nature reserve opened up to a wide grassy area. I loved the wooden benches carved with the names and pictures of the birds you can spot.

Continuing through woodland, and crossing a stone footbridge, there was an option to detour into the Morfa Madryn nature reserve, via a wooden gate. A gravel path and ramped access into one of the bird hides made it possible for me to enter, although worth noting there was limited room to turn which meant reversing out down the ramp.

Leaving the nature reserve, we made our way back to the grassy path towards the sea, looping in a circle and eventually picked up the tarmac path back to the car.

Practical tips

A kissing gate midway along the tarmac path has a padlock, and requires a Radar key. Once the padlock is unlocked, the wide gate adjoining the kissing gate opens fully to allow access for wheelchairs and buggies. The gate is due to be upgraded by Spring 2024 to enable easier access.

The car park at the promenade is free. The surface is uneven but, again, is due for an upgrade shortly. There is a disabled toilet in the car park with ramped access. It has a 50p charge, but free with a Radar key. Benches outside the Beach Pavillion cafe meant that we were able to sit and enjoy a cuppa after our walk.

Details of the Llanfairfechan to Morfa Madryn Nature Reserve route

Treborth Botanic Garden, Bangor

Our next section was the path between the 2 bridges crossing the Menai Strait at Bangor. Starting from the impressive Menai Bridge, we followed the path along an access road and through the open entrance gates into the Treborth Botanic Garden. Primarily in woodland, the path was mostly on a wooded track or boardwalk which, although a little bumpy in places, was easily manageable in my wheelchair with the power attachment.

Soon after entering the Garden, a sign clearly marked the path turning down towards the coast, and then followed alongside the Menai Strait, passing the Treborth Peace Statue and some wooden benches where it is possible to take a well-earned rest.

After about 2 miles, we found ourselves directly under the Britannia Bridge. Passing underneath, we stopped to admire some huge sections of the original tubular bridge - fascinating to see these remarkable feats of engineering up close. Just before the bridge, it is possible to stray off the coastal path and loop up a steep path around the gardens. Alternatively, you can continue on the coast path through the Glan Faenol woodland, once part of the Faenol/Vaynol estate. We chose to turn around and return the way we came.

Practical tips

There was one wooden kissing gate, but it was large enough for me to negotiate in my chair. There is a slight gradient to the path on the way back up. Parking is possible on the access road just outside the entrance to the Botanic Garden.

On our return, we took the opportunity to extend our walk by a few hundred yards, following the path along the dedicated pedestrian pathway to go across the Menai Bridge and back. It gave us a glimpse of Anglesey and what lies ahead on this challenge!

Details of the Treborth to Faenol estate route

Plas Menai Watersports Centre to Caernarfon

From the town of Felinheli, the path from the Plas Menai Watersports Centre heading west provided a perfect 4.5 mile accessible route, following the Menai Strait all the way to Caernarfon Castle. Parking on the road near the Centre, it was easy to find our way onto the path, forming part of Route 8 National Cycle Network. Lovely and flat - we even managed a spot of blackberry picking from the hedgerows on the way.

On reaching Caernarfon, the path circuits around the Victoria Dock harbour where there is a narrow (less than 1.5metre) footbridge to negotiate. Although ramped, I did need a little shove over a small lip onto the bridge. An alternative route, avoiding the bridge, can be taken around the Galeri Caernarfon (cinema and exhibition space) and up a side street. Once over the footbridge, the path continues all the way into Caernarfon, past the Castle and across the Aber Swing Bridge.

Practical tips

We noticed a bike hire shop within the Castle walls and it was fantastic to see adapted bikes on the path between the Castle and the harbour. Proving the coast path can indeed be for everyone!

Details of the Felinheli to Caernarfon route

More information about Amanda’s journey

Read more about Amanda’s favourite accessible sections of the path on the Visit Wales website.

Follow Amanda on Instagram @amandascoastalchallenge for hints and tips on the accessible sections of the path.


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