Wales in a Week
A friend recently got in touch to tell me he’s planning on hitching around Wales in seven days and wondered which were the best day sections I walked.
I love talking about the walk. It was the adventure of a lifetime. So I prepared to throw an endless list of beaches, seaside towns, cliff top camps and fisherman’s pubs at him. Then I checked myself and decided to calmly compose my response in a blog post that I think might be handy for a few other people.
Of course, it’s that time of year when people might be tinkering with the idea of visiting our Welsh coast and I’m sure not many are lucky enough as I was to take it all in in one go. So I hope I might be able to inform a few prospective visitors of how to have a week long walking holiday in Wales.
Anglesey- Beaumaris to Benllech
This stretch takes you part way along the beautiful Menai Strait. It looks blue as the Mediterranean but as the often snow capped mountains in the distance warn- it’s a bit cold. Made for a very invigorating morning wash.
Beaumaris is a colourful town with great pubs and a castle that, although only half built is still one of the most stunning in Wales.
Cross the mammoth Red Whard Bay (i’ve never seen a beach so big) and reward yourself with a pint at the Ship Inn, then finish at the seaside village of Benllech.
Lleyn Peninsula (north)- Porthdinllaen to Aberdaron
This was possibly my favourite section of the Wales Coast Path. I’ve suggested starting at Porthdinllaen, home to the Ty Coch Inn. A problem is posed here in that you WILL need to have a drink or two and it might affect your pace for the rest of the day.
The pub is right on the beach…a lot of pubs like to say this about themselves but few are this close. Here you walk straight from sand to the bar and there is no road access. It’s got good ales to boot.
You then walk down the peninsula visiting hidden beaches and eventually, after climbing round the hills on the very tip of the peninsula (great views here of Bardsey Island) arrive at Aberdaron- one of the most Welsh villages in Wales.
Lleyn Peninsula (south)- Pwllheli to Porthmadog
While Pwllheli has nice beaches to the west of it, its east you want to head here. The Wales Coast Path goes through Criccieth where you’ll find restaurants and boutique shops, but its best to pay to go to the top of the castle for the views of Snowdonia, mid Wales and back down the peninsula.
Keep heading east and you find Black Rock Sands, named as it’s the spot where ships used to land with gunpowder for the slate quarries. Here you will have the clear water and white sands to yourself as the estuary winds up to Porthmadog. Here, try and manage a visit to Portmeirion, the bizarre Italianate village at the foot of the mountains.
Ceredigion- Aberaeron to Aberporth
Places can often be tainted by the weather. For this section I got soaked, however the scenery and breathtaking cliff path made this part of Wales a section to remember.
The Wales Coast Path here is relatively new and you can see that in certain sections huge efforts have been made to carve it into the cliff face (as above).
This stretch also takes you through some of the most picturesque seaside villages in Wales, with Aberaeron, Tresaith, Aberporth, Llangrannog and Newquay- one of Dylan Thomas’ favourite haunts. Unsurprisingly these seaside villages all have great pubs.
Pembrokeshire- Abereiddy to Caerfai
I struggled to break Pembrokeshire down into sections, there’s too much to see. Of course, I’m writing for those strapped for time, so I’ve settled for this stretch.
Start at Abereiddy…or as some call it ‘the Blue Lagoon’. The sea flooded quarry is perfect for a bit of a swim or if you’re brave, a jump from the old works (BE CAREFUL!).
You then go through Porthgain, a rather surreal little village with old industrial relics that are long abandoned but still incredibly intact and a tiny harbour wall that curls around the cove. Once again there’s also a very nice pub.
The route passes Whitesands-as stunning as its name suggests- and St Justinians with its lifeboat station and views across to Ramsey Island. It then finishes at Caerfai beach, a few minutes from St David’s, the smallest city in the UK.
Pembrokeshire- Broadhaven to Dale
By the time I had reached this section, summer was in full swing with the crowds starting to pour in. Start at the busy Broadhaven beach and head south to leave the day trippers behind. After passing through the cottage filled cove of Little Haven follow the winding coast path where in summer your sides are brushed by wild flowers as you make your way along the cliff top. You’ll eventually reach St Brides Bay, a little cove that is so narrow it’s almost like a giant rock pool. It was incredibly quiet and still when I passed it- tranquil, that’s the word.
Finish at the Griffin Inn in Dale where you can sit out front on the sea wall, watch people out kayaking and listen to the interesting sounds of the local banjo player in his beach side garden- not so tranquil.
Gower- Whiteford Burrows to Oxwich
Gower was the first location in Britain to be designated an area of outstanding natural beauty. Everyone flocks straight to Rhossili but i’d recommend starting around the corner of it’s northern end. There, you cross through steep dunes in the shade of tall pine trees that shoot up from the sand. You’ll then round the corner to see Rhosilli beach, all 3 miles of it stretched out in front. Have a pint at the other end (see picture) then continue around Worm’s Head following the jagged coastline until you pass Port Eynon and finish at Oxwich bay- another stunning expanse of beach.
It’s then a short trip to Swansea where you can rejoin the world and head back home.
I’ve tried to make the distances as manageable as I could. A fit walker would easily be able to complete each of these sections in a day.
I’ve also tried to consider places that are linked by public transport and I think you’ll find a bus that stops at the beginning and end of each stretch. The Wales Coast Path website is perfect for working such logistics out.
While I would say these sections are the best parts of the coast and I tried to be objective, there are still many other sections worth visiting and many of these are mentioned in my previous blog posts…so have a gander.