Walk this way - Part IV

Date Posted: 02/03/2012

In our last instalment featuring the opening of the Wales Coastal Path in May, we will look at the areas of Gower and Swansea Bay, along with the South Wales coast and Severn Estuary.

Walking groups will find a wide variety of guided walks along the whole length of the Wales Coast Path available to them. The Ramblers’ Association organise a comprehensive programme of walks of varying degrees of difficulty and many other organisations provide guided walks around the country.

You can find Ramblers groups all along the coastline (as well as inland). For further group travel information about walking in Wales or to find a local group for the section you would like to explore, visit the Ramblers website.

Gower & Swansea Bay

This stretch of the path is an area of contrast - from the busy seaside city of Swansea to the coastline of the Gower Peninsula with its award winning golden beaches. The area is home to ten nature reserves, 24 wildlife trust reserves, 32 sites of special scientific interest and five special areas of conservation, making it an ideal group holiday destination - whether you're into walking or not.

Three short coastal walks

‘Walking by bus’ to Llanmadoc – 2 miles – this is one of the area’s ‘Walking by bus’ routes. Take the bus to Llanmadoc and enjoy the serene beauty of north Gower. Highlights include Whiteford Burrows National Nature Reserve and the medieval church at Llanmadoc. Excellent for bird and wildlife watchers with views over the Loughor estuary.

Penmaen to Three Cliffs Bay – 2.5 miles – a relatively easy walk with open stretches of sandy beaches and great views of Three Cliffs Bay, a spot noted for its beauty. There are a few rock scrambles if you wish to take them.

A promenade along Swansea Bay – 3-4 miles – Walk along Swansea Bay’s famous promenade (site of the world’s first passenger railway) with views across the bay to Mumbles Head. Once in Mumbles, reward yourself with an ice cream while you explore the area. If the lifeboat station is open it is worth popping in to find out more about the vital and heroic role the RNLI has played in saving lives at sea here and throughout the country.

Three long coastal walks

Oxwich Point – 4.5 miles – this path will take you through woodland and across open cliffs, with the 16th century Oxwich Castle and 13th Century St Illtyd’s Church as highlights along the way.

RSPB Rhossili Coastal Trail – 6 miles - an exhilarating walk in one of the most spectacular areas in Wales. The path passes a mix of dramatic cliffs, beautiful beach, undulating upland and wild seascape ensuring exciting views of a wide variety of birdlife throughout the year.

Margam Abbey to Baglan - 7 miles – to enjoy the best views of the coast, this route takes you along historic sea cliffs which overlook Port Talbot. The walk offers great views of the Bristol Channel, with a superb opportunity to view how industry sits within this coastal setting. Explore interesting relics along the way including the ruins of Church of Mary.

South Wales Coast and Severn Estuary

This southerly coastline takes in city landscapes, village life and magnificent views of the Severn estuary (the estuary has the second highest tidal range in the world at 49 feet and is home to the Severn bore). Share your walk with the numerous wildfowl and waders that can be spotted along the way, particularly throughout the winter. Curlew and plover are common and, at peak times, the estuary is one of only a handful of British estuaries to hold more than 100,000 wading birds. The whole of the Newport coastal area is part of the Gwent Levels, an area of reclaimed salt marsh protected by sea defences and drained by artificial ditches known locally as reens.

Three short coastal walks

Cardiff Bay Barrage Coast Path – 1.8 miles – from the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay to the seaside town of Penarth, this path is great for cyclists and wheelchair users as well as walkers - handy to know if you're organising group travel. A walk round the whole of Cardiff Bay is 6.2 miles.

Llantwit Major to Nash Point Lighthouse - 2.5 miles – this walk takes you past St Donat’s Castle, home to Atlantic College, and previously owned by American newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst.

Nottage to Sker Point – 5.5 miles – start at Rest Bay car park near the Royal Porthcawl Golf Club. Follow the coast to the historic and, some say, haunted Sker house, used as the basis of R D Blackmore’s novel, The Maid of Sker. Along the way you will pass some of the best surfing and watersports beaches in Wales.

Three long coastal walks

Cardiff Bay Trail – 6.2 miles – enjoy Cardiff’s rich heritage; the legacy of a buoyant and successful docks. See historic landmarks, on this circular walk, like the Norwegian Church (where Roald Dahl was christened) and iconic buildings such as the world renowned Wales Millennium Centre.

Gwent Levels Circular Walk – 7.5 miles – an exhilarating, mostly level walk on hard surface paths around Newport Wetlands Reserve, a nationally important haven for wildlife and a National Nature Reserve.

Merthyr Mawr to Kenfig – 11.5 miles – explore this section of the coast path which takes in Porthcawl and its harbour, sandy beaches, the Grand Pavilion, Locks Common, Rest Bay and the Kenfig National Nature Reserve.

For more group travel information on walking the Wales Coastal Path, click here for Part I, Part II, and Part III of our series.

Photo credits: © Crown copyright (2011) Visit Wales

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