Wales Coast Path given £1.15m to be made more coastal

Barafundle Bay
Image caption The Wales Coast path runs alongside Barafundle Bay in Pembrokeshire

It is called the Wales Coast Path, but it does not always run as close to the sea as might be expected.

Now, thanks to a £1.15m investment, it will be realigned to make sure it lives up to its name along as much of the route as possible.

The world's first coastal path in an entire country runs 870 miles (1,400km) between Chepstow in Monmouthshire and the River Dee in Flintshire.

Since it opened a year ago it has had an estimated 2.8 million users.

'Inland diversions'

"There are plans and negotiations with landowners to realign the path so it comes closer to the coast," said Angela Charlton, director of Ramblers Wales.

"Money has been committed to improving the path and improving the links - there is one point on the route where there is a coastal path sign in a forest.

"Whilst Margam Forest is beautiful, it is not the coast."

A spokesperson for the Welsh government confirmed it was putting in £1.15m "to enhance alignment of the Wales Coast Path where practicable and to ensure that the path remains of a consistently high quality."

Elfyn Jones of the British Mountaineering Council, which represents hill walkers, mountaineers and rock climbers, said they were "in constant dialogue with the Welsh government and Natural Resource Wales to improve the path".

Image caption The path takes a detour around Port Talbot steelworks

Mr Jones described the path as an "asset to Wales" but he also spoke of "inland diversions" of up to two miles in areas including the Llyn Peninsula in Gwynedd and west Anglesey.

He said some of the land was owned by large private estates and that he would like to see local authorities and the Welsh government use their powers to create paths for the public.

"There are unavoidable reasons for inland diversions including estuaries such as the Dyfi and the topography of the land, such as the steelworks in Port Talbot".

Coast stories

The path has been praised for its varied sites covering Wales' best beaches and cliffs, as well as more industrial scenery at Newport and Port Talbot.

"The industrial scenery is part of our history and culture and makes the walk more interesting,", said Mrs Charlton.

She said the diversity of the route made it so special, allowing people to "watch badgers, see skylarks, visit castles, sit by lakes and, yes, power stations".

"The path is stunning and varied, it tells the story of Wales and what makes us as a nation".

Mrs Charlton said that knowing a bit about the history can add to the walk.

"At Nash Point sheep used to run across the tops of the cliffs with lamps around their necks to draw the ships in.

"The route is even more interesting when you know little stories like that."

Image caption The Wales Coast Path is the first to cover an entire country, and is divided into eight sections

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