The Coastal Way: Feet First
Running along the entire sweep of Cardigan Bay, from Aberdaron in the north to St Davids in the south, the 180-mile/290km Coastal Way is one of three Wales Way national touring routes. Rather than a rigid set of directions, each ‘Way’ is a flexible route with plenty of opportunities to venture off the main path, following loops and detours so that you can create your very own personal journey.
On this four-day itinerary you’ll sample some of The Coastal Way’s many wonderful walks. You won’t have time to complete them all, so just pick the ones that appeal to you. With routes long and short through coast and countryside, you’re sure to find a suitable trail.
Start your walking adventure at Llanbedrog on the Llŷn Peninsula’s south coast, where a 2.3-mile/3.6km loop takes you through shady woods and over open heathland, with panoramic views in all directions. Then carry on to the bustling harbour town of Porthmadog for a 6.3-mile/10km circular walk through pretty villages, a wooded nature reserve and past some lovely vistas of Cardigan Bay.
Continue down the coast to Barmouth, where a 5.6-mile/9km route rises up into the hills above town. Leading to Dinas Oleu (birthplace of the National Trust) and across farmland and woodland, it comes with long-range views of the Mawddach Estuary and Llŷn Peninsula.
Drive via Aberystwyth to Bwlch Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre, Ponterwyd, where a 6-mile/10km route to Devil’s Bridge takes in ancient oak woodland, former mine workings, a host of tumbling waterfalls and great views across the Rheidol Valley. Next, continue down the coast to the 21-mile/34km walk between Aberaeron and Lampeter. Following the route of the old railway line, it passes the National Trust’s Llanerchaeron, a rare example of an 18th-century ‘gentleman’s estate’ that’s hardly changed over the last two centuries. If you don’t fancy tackling the whole thing, you can walk sections of the route with the possibility of returning to Aberaeron by bus. For a shorter option, go as far as Llanerchaeron from Aberaeron (it’s just under 2½ miles/4km).
Suggested overnight: Aberaeron.
Make your way to the little seaside village of Llangrannog for a walk on the Ceredigion Coast Path. Along the trail you’ll see the jagged rock formation known as Carreg Bica (legend says it’s the lost tooth of a local giant) and some spellbinding views over Ynys Lochtyn, a green-backed tidal island at the end of a stubby, sea-washed peninsula.
Continue on into Pembrokeshire and the coastal hamlet of Pwllgwaelod, where a loop around the steep cliffs of Dinas Head packs some challenging climbs (not to mention sensational views) into its comparatively compact 3-mile/4.8km length.
Suggested overnight: Fishguard.
Starting from the quirky harbour village of Porthgain, a 3.6-mile/5.8km circular walk takes in beautiful sandy beaches at Traeth Llyfn and Abereiddi (the latter unusually black in colour) and the striking Blue Lagoon, a flooded former slate quarry that has become an adventure sports mecca.
Round things off on a high on the stunning St Davids Peninsula with a walk along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path between St Justinians and Porthclais. Alongside uplifting views of Ramsey Island and the sea, this 5.9-mile/9.5km stretch gives you the chance to spot a huge range of marine wildlife, from seals and porpoises to gannets, shags and cormorants.
Suggested overnight: St Davids.