About the path

Learn about the background and history of the trail and and some key facts

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Background

Wales is roughly 20,800 square km in area and is one of the nations within the United Kingdom, to the west of England. Wales is also one of a few countries in the world to have a continuous coastal footpath stretching its entire length coastline. This footpath is called the Wales Coast Path (WCP).

History

The idea of a continuous path was developed from building upon the economic successes of paths that pre-date the path and these include:
• Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail,
• Ceredigion coast path,
• Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path
• Llŷn coastal path

All of these paths are major contributors to the local tourism economy providing opportunities for health and wellbeing but were not joined up on the ground or in development.

During the mid-2000s, the Welsh Government looked to increase access to the coastline for health and recreation and to boost the Welsh tourism economy. The existing coastal paths provided the perfect opportunity to create a national continuous coastal walking route in Wales and so the Wales Coast Path was created.

After much on the ground work, the path was officially launched on 5th May 2012 at three coastal landmark locations, Flintshire castle, Aberystwyth promenade and Roald Dahl Plas in Cardiff Bay.

About the path

  • The official start and finish points are on the border with the English city of Chester in the north and in Chepstow in the south. It is 870 miles or 1,400 km long.
  • The already established Anglesey coastal path, Ceredigion coast path and the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail all form part of the Wales Coast Path.
  • The total rise and fall of the Pembrokeshire section is approx 35,000 feet – that’s as high as Everest.
  • The path also links up with two other Welsh National Trails at Machynlleth for Glyndwr’s Way (which goes across Wales) and Offa’s Dyke Path in the north Wales seaside town of Prestatyn and along the border with England south to Chepstow.
  • It will also join up with the England Coast Path on the border with Chester and near Chepstow.
  • You can actually walk around the entire country of Wales if you walked both the Wales Coast Path and Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail – that’s about 1,047 miles or 1,685 kms altogether.
  • The path uses existing rights of way as well permissive rights of way and the route is marked on Ordnance Survey map products.
  • The whole path is accessible to walkers, with some sections suitable for cyclists, families with pushchairs, people with restricted mobility, and horse riders.
  • Is it not a National Trail, however we follow the same high standards for National Trails for path maintenance and development.

Who manages the path

The path is managed by Natural Resources Wales and we work in close partnership with sixteen local coastal authorities as well as two national parks on path maintenance and development.

There are dedicated regional path officers who maintain the path who employed by various public bodies. The funding for the path maintenance, development and marketing comes from Welsh Government.

We also work with Visit Wales and other key stakeholders to market and promote the path to local, national and international audiences.

Path sections

The Wales Coast Path is divided into eight sections and these are the distances.

1. North Wales Coast & Dee Estuary (81 miles or 132 kms)
2. Isle of Anglesey (135 miles or 217 kms)
3. Llŷn & Snowdonia Coast (167 miles or 264 kms)
4. Ceredigion (75 miles or 119 kms)
5. Pembrokeshire Coast Path (182 miles or 291 kms)
6. Carmarthenshire (68 miles or 108 kms)
7. Gower & Swansea Bay (69 miles or 111 kms)
8. South Wales Coast & Severn Estuary (97 miles or 157 kms)

Local Authority boundaries

The regions mainly follow local authority boundaries. The Llŷn and Snowdonia coast section is within Gwynedd county and Pembrokeshire section sits within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

The north Wales coast and Dee Estuary sections runs through the following counties from east to west:
1. Flintshire
2. Denbighshire
3. Conwy and part of Gwynedd

The South Wales and Severn estuary section goes through the following counties from west to east:
1. Neath Port Talbot
2. Swansea
3. Bridgend
4. Vale of Glamorgan
5. Cardiff
6. Newport
7. Monmouth

Waymarking

The entire length is waymarked on the ground with our distinctive yellow and blue way marker logo of a shell with a dragon tail. You will find the Welsh and English title of the path with “Wales Coast Path” and “Llwybr Arfordir Cymru” on each way marker disc.

Occasionally, you will see a red version of the waymarker which shows an alternative route of the official path i.e high tide option.

You will also see other logos beside the Wales Coast Path one like tern logo on Anglesey, the seabird that makes it home on the island, the coastline logo for Ceredigion and the National Trail acorn sign on the Pembrokeshire section.

Rest assured that you are still on the Wales Coast Path when you see these local logos.

Marketing and Promotion

Marketing and path promotion is done through our social media channels, website, an official app, printed leaflets and interpretation boards along the coast managed by Natural Resources Wales. The path is also promoted through our partners to a diverse audience.

Awards and Accolades

Here are some of the awards and accolades that we are particularly proud of:
Lonely Planet Ultimate Travel list (published in 2020) featured the Wales Coast Path in its list of 500 travel experiences to try.
• Awards received for planning excellence and exemplary rural planning and winner of the prestigious Silver Jubilee Cup awarded by Royal Town and Planning Institute (2013)
• Lonely Planet rated the coast of Wales first in its top 10 regions to visit in 2012
• National Geographic magazine named Pembrokeshire the world’s second-best coastal destination in 2012

Further visitor information

Go to our Plan your visit page which is full of useful information to help you plan your visit – we hope you have a great time with us.
interactive map to plot your route,
distance tables,
walking itineraries,
information about the official app,
passport scheme