Coasting along in glorious springtime
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail is at its most beautiful in spring, as it twists and turns its way along 186 miles of spectacular coastline in a blaze of glorious colour.
Taking a walk along the Coast Path is one of the best ways to explore the only UK National Park designated for its coastline, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The Trail is the only way to experience the whole Park mainland coastline (unless you have a helicopter or boat!)
Clinging to the cliff tops along the way at this time of year is an abundance of wild flowers, including spring squill, thrift, ox-eye daisies, red campion and bluebells.
National Trail Officer Dave Maclachlan said: "It's impossible to overstate just how spectacular and special the wild flowers are on the Coast Path, in May and June particularly. Some of the spots I'd recommend as being particularly lovely are the stretches from St Anne's Head to Martin's Haven; from Tower Point to Hill Haven; the St Davids Peninsula and the section between Ceibwr and the Witches' Cauldron which also features some remarkable geology."
Puffins, razorbills, guillemots, porpoises, seals, dolphins and whales also call the waters here their home, with the seabirds nesting on the internationally-renowned Pembrokeshire islands including Skomer, Skokholm and Ramsey.
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail is at its beautiful best in spring when wild flower treats include thrift
Walkers enjoying the view at Marloes
Chill out or be challenged
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path was the first of three National Trails in Wales. It opened in 1970, followed by Offa's Dyke Path, which runs through the Welsh Marches and Glyndwr's Way in Mid-Wales.
In its entirety, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path represents a formidable physical challenge - its 35,000 feet of ascent and descent is said to be the equivalent of climbing Everest. Buts it's not only the fighting fit who can enjoy the breathtaking views and amazing variety of wildlife the Path offers. The National Park Authority maintains the Path and is continuously working to make access easier for everyone.
A new guide, Walks for All, provides details of 16 walks of differing length and difficulty that have no steps or stiles. They are ideal for families with young children or pushchairs, for less able-bodied people and for anyone who wants a leisurely stroll.
Some have been surfaced to provide access for wheelchairs,others are footpaths or bridleways where the natural surface has not been changed. You can view these walks by logging onto the Authority's website www.pcnpa.org.uk
In partnership with landowners, the Authority has removed or replaced more than 400 stiles on the Coast Path since the early 1990s and is continuing to remove them whenever possible. Around 135 remain, and there are now may long stile-free sections for Path users to enjoy, including:
- Amroth to Rowston Cliff - 5 miles
- 1km west of Greenala to Stack Rocks - 8 miles
- Sheep Island to Bulwell Bay - 7 miles
- Pembroke Dock to Sandy Haven Car Park - 12 miles
- Sandy Haven West to Castlebeach Bay Dale (excluding high tide routes) - 7 miles
- St Ann's Head to Martin's Haven - 7.5 miles
- The Nab Head to Madoc's Haven - 10 miles
- Newgale to Penberi - 23 miles
- Aberfelin, Trefin to Hescwm - 3 miles
- Newport and estuary - 3.5 miles
Other access improvements that have been carried out over the winter include resurfacing work, path widening, drainage work and increased signposting.
National Trail Officer Dave Maclachlen said "This is a very special attraction and it's so important that as many people as possible have the opportunity to see what's on offer here. The Coast Path has something for everyone, whether you're after a serious challenge or a relaxing stroll".
Vice Chairman of Disability Wales, Henry Langen, tries out an improved section of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail at Amroth, with Ranger Tim Jones and hedgelayer Richard Hughes. The new low-level hedging means that everyone can enjoy the view.
More than just a pretty picture
While all 186 miles of Coast Path combine for a first-class walking experience, there are a few management challenges for the Authority along the way, not least keeping pace with some rapid coastal erosion and allowing for future sea level rise. As well as the stunning coastal scenery, a walk along certain sections of this unique National Trail will uncover the county's industrial heritage- and its very visable industrial present.
The Path runs alongside, or in view of, two oil refineries and two LNG terminals on the edge of Milford Haven Waterway, one of the largest refining centres in Europe. This presents challenges for the Authority, particularly in terms of fitting in a quality walking experience amongst major industrial sites. The two LNG terminals are still under construction so watch out for and follow any temporary diversion signs.
South Hook Fort beyond South Hook gas jetty from the Pembrokshire Coast Path National Trail