"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" Lao Tzu Apt in this case, because when the Wales Coast Path opens on 5 May 2012, it will enable a 1030 mile hike around the edge of the country following the coast and the existing Offa's Dyke Path. Even before the opening, which is expected to be the largest mass participation event in Wales, the path has already received the accolade of being rated the "best region on Earth to visit" in Lonely Planet's "Best in Travel 2012".
The Wales Coast Path will build on the success of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path and the Anglesey Coastal Path. The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path is part of Britain's only coastal National Park and at 186 miles long, is a substantial hike in itself. The Pembrokeshire path is supported by shuttle buses allowing sections of the path to be walked without having to retrace tracks or make a circular trail. This system works well and has spread to other areas.
The 870 miles (1400km) of the Wales Coast Path starts at Queensferry on the bank of the River Dee, just outside Chester and follows as near as is physically or legal permissions allow, the coast all the way to Chepstow. It links with the Offa's Dyke Way at Prestatyn and Chepstow.
What are your favourite stretches of Wales' Coast? Share with the whole world, the spectacular beauty that can be found on the Welsh Coast and why not, post photos of your own favourite parts in VisitBritain's LoveUK Flickr Group (Read the Terms and Conditions first though). Shame you can't post your photos in the comments as well! I have walked on much of the Welsh Coast in all seasons and weathers. The photos here are just a few of those I have grabbed on my visits. It is only a taster of what to expect on some of those 870 miles. Is it the Flora? There is a wide variety of flowers, plants, trees, lichens on the path. You can also observe the local agriculture, look out for new potatoes in Pembrokeshire for example, though sadly imports from further afield has led to a decline in the area.
Is it the Fauna? Here are a few of the more commonly found animals to be found on the route. In addition you might spot choughs, puffins, peregrine falcons and numerous other sea and land birds. In the sea you might be lucky to spot turtles from the Caribbean or dolphins. You never know what you might come across. What was your most exiting discovery on the coast of Wales?
Is it the beaches? The new path will open up some new areas of coastline rarely visited before. There are many beaches in Wales including lots with clean sand and safe bathing.
Is it the history? You will come across plenty of Castles on the coast, the majority built by the Normans. You even pass the point where the last Invasion of Britain took place in 1797. The legend has it that the invading French Troops surrendered when they were faced with Welsh women armed with pitchforks!
Or perhaps it's something else? Perhaps you enjoy people watching?
Or sitting outside a pub with a drink enjoying the view?
Whatever you enjoy, you will most likely find it on the Wales Coast Path. Remember that although it is a long trail, there are sections that can be covered by people with restricted mobility, using wheelchairs or electric powered scooters. The Countryside Council for Wales has produced maps and a media pack including many short walks and some longer walks on the route. The Gower even has the bizarre sounding walking by bus. I thought that is what I resorted to when I didn't get to the bus stop in time! Whatever you decide to do exploring the path is a very sustainable way to experience the Welsh Coastline, while keeping you fit. Author: John Williams