Caldicot to Chepstow
Huge bridges and small villages with big histories.
An urban walk with a spectacular, wild start
Start by the ice cream shack on the front at Limeslade and finish in Swansea city centre.
This is an 11 mile / 17 kilometre walk if taking the diversions to Oystermouth Castle and around Clyne Valley Country Park.
It’s 7 miles / 11 kilometres if omitting the section around Clyne Country Park and only 5 miles / 8 kilometres if starting in Mumbles and walking directly to Swansea Castle.
If there’s a more spectacular start to an urban coastal walk in Wales, then we don’t know what it is. Watching the sea lashing the rocks at Limeslade Bay, Bracelet Bay and Mumbles Head on a windy autumn or winter’s day is a sobering reminder of the power of nature. It’s very picturesque on a nice summer’s day as well, of course.
The route follows the side of the road, and there’s a café and restaurant, car parks and some toilets here.
Ahead on our right, the image of the lighthouse on Mumbles Head is iconic, and it’s been helping to keep shipping safe here since 1794.
As we head downhill, we soon reach another icon of the Swansea area, Mumbles Pier. Built in 1898, the Pier was once a station for the first passenger railway in the world, Mumbles Railway. It also houses some popular cafes, an amusement arcade and even a small gallery.
The Lifeboat crews here have been saving lives at sea for more than 180 years and have been presented with 33 awards for gallantry.
The rest of the walk now opens up in front of us. It’s pancake flat, shared-use and very accessible, with the grand arc of Swansea Bay extending all the way round to Port Talbot and beyond. There’s plenty of parking, eateries and toilets along the way.
The next stop is the pretty village of Mumbles. Popular with tourists and locals it’s a great place to stay, eat and drink. In spring and summer there’s a few interesting street food vendors on the seafront here and the village’s eateries have earned themselves a well-deserved reputation.
Before moving on we should sample the famous local ice cream, Joe’s, and be sure to keep an eye out for some of Wales’ top rugby players, who live locally.
The Mumbles is also where we take a short detour off the Wales Coast Path to visit Oystermouth Castle. Besieged, attacked and ransacked by the Welsh, it was built and re-built many times by the Anglo-Normans. Back on the coast the route ahead through the affluent suburb of West Cross is easy.
Another interesting diversion at this point is to cross the road to Swansea’s only country park, the 700-acre Clyne Valley Country Park.
The park contains a range of landscapes including open and wooded hillsides, steep gorges, quarries, meadowland and wet valley floors providing a range of habitats for a great diversity of plants and animals.
Although it’s a haven of tranquillity these days, glimpses of its former life as an industrial hotbed remain and much of this heritage remains. Clyne Quarry in the north not only provides spectacular views but is of significant geological interest.
Back on the path and, once over the Clyne River, we can either continue beside the main road or, if the tide allows, walk all the way along the beach to historic Swansea Marina. Although it runs close to a busy road, there are sections where we might feel we’re in the countryside with some lovely wooded sections, and near the parkland of Swansea footgolf course.
In the marina we’ll find everything we’d expect in a large, modern complex of this type. But of particular note is the National Waterfront Museum. Here, a mix of traditional and interactive displays explain the role of industry in shaping the lives of the people of Wales. A former Seamen’s Mission is home to the Mission Gallery where there is a statue of Swansea-born Dylan Thomas.
From here we head towards Swansea Castle up Wind Street, the heart of Swansea’s nightlife. The cosy No Sign Wine Bar here is Swansea’s oldest pub. But just before we reach the castle we may want to take a look down an alleyway to our left to find the only other medieval building in Swansea.
The Cross-Keys Inn, or more accurately its rear, incorporates the remains of the Hospital of the Blessed David. Built by the Bishop of St Davids in 1332 this alms house was “for the support of other poor chaplains and laymen deprived of bodily health.” Remarkably, three of the original fourteenth century windows survive at the back of pub.
The walk finishes at Swansea Castle. The sight of the remains of a Norman Castle hemmed in by a modern city centre may be a bit jarring, but this was once a fortress of great strategic importance. Now, it’s difficult to imagine it on a clifftop above the River Tawe because even the river has been moved.
Though there has been a castle here since at least the early twelfth century, the remains that stand today date from the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. The castle's final role, until the mid-nineteenth century, was as a drill hall for local militia and as a debtors’ prison.
Tricia Cottnam, Wales Coast Path Officer, said: “This is a comparatively easy and accessible coastal walk starting in a peaceful spot above the low cliffs at Limeslade. Mumbles is popular because it has so much to offer, with has plenty of good quality food and drink options. The rest of the route takes in some great views of Swansea Bay and the marina is a great place to explore.”
This route can be followed entirely on tarmacked paths, so it’s great for wheelchairs, prams and strollers, and is popular with cyclists. Close to the start there are some steps going down to Mumbles Pier, but these can be avoided with care by going down a rather steep, short, narrow tarmacked road instead.
After this the route is completely flat so is one of the least strenuous walks on the Wales Coast Path.
As an urban walk there are numerous, cafes, pubs, restaurants and toilets on this route in Mumbles, Mumbles Pier and Swansea. If we’re starting from Swansea, why not start the day with a ‘Swansea breakfast’ (a cooked breakfast but including cockles and laverbread) in Swansea Indoor Market.
There are regular bus services on this route.
Download the Limeslade to Swansea map (JPEG, 2.78MB)