FROM the outskirts of Chester to the market town of Chepstow, the Wales Coast Path winds its way along 870 miles of stunning coastal scenery.

At Prestatyn, the path links with Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail to create a 1,030 mile continuous walking route around the whole of Wales and while the idea was developed out of a desire to build on the economic success of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail and the Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path – both of which are major contributors to the visitor economy of Wales, it was also seen as an important initiative in encouraging both locals and visitors to discover and enjoy Wales’ outdoor spaces and the health and welfare benefits it can provide.

Now, seven years after its official opening, the path is celebrating with a new walking festival aiming to encourage locals across Wales to get outdoors, meet new people and appreciate the beautiful coastal landscape.

Walks will cover seven coastal regions and will be organised by the Wales Coast Path and Ramblers Cymru with the Wales Coast Path Walking Festival not only aiming to showcase Wales’ beautiful coastline and countless natural assets, but also boost local tourism along the path whilst encouraging residents to come together to celebrate the country’s iconic coastline.

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “This festival is set to be an excellent addition to Wales’ Year of Discovery and a way for visitors and locals to discover more about our unique Wales Coast Path.

"I’m delighted that the guided walks will encourage people to find out more about the landscape, history and wildlife associated with the coastal path and will also be an excellent way to be active while discovering more of Wales.”

Taking place May 4-19, 2019, the festival will feature over 40 new guided walks created by Ramblers Cymru. The festival programme has been specifically designed to suit all ages and abilities, with the majority of the walks free to join. All walks will be led by experienced guides offering insights into the unique wildlife, fascinating history and culture that can be found along the way.

"I grew up near Holywell in Flintshire, and with family spread along the coast the path is a very familiar place to me," says Gruff Owen, Wales Coast Path officer for the North Wales coast and the Isle of Anglesey.

"I work closely with coast path officers and rights of way officers from local authorities along the coast to keep the path in one long piece to be enjoyed by everyone.

"I can’t get enough of being outside and also feel strongly about encouraging people to get outside to enjoy themselves. The physical and mental health benefits associated with being outdoors are enormous and it’s so important that we all get out to understand our place in nature."

There’s some 60 miles of sea views along the North Wales path starting from Chester and with traditional seaside towns, the rich wildlife within the Dee Estuary and adrenalin-fuelled activities including BMX and kite surfing, Gruff agrees the North Wales Coast offers something for everyone.

"I’ve loved reacquainting myself with old stomping grounds around Flintshire," says Owen, who started his role in December 2017, after previously working as a warden in Snowdonia National Park. "It reminds me how people, and our interaction with nature, are an essential part of the landscape. You won’t necessarily see these old industrialised areas on a postcard, but they’re such a valuable part of the Wales Coast Path. There are places where you can watch some of the UK’s rarest species of bird right next to the most unlikely old mine workings, steelworks and power stations.

"My recent trip to Bettisfield near Greenfield blew me away. It’s just down the road from where I grew up and has incredible views of the Dee Estuary and I had no idea it was there."

Local authorities for each of the seven coastal regions, which include South Wales, The Gower, Ceredigion, the Llyn Peninsula, Pembrokeshire, Carmarthen, and North Wales, will help support the event, along with partners National Resources Wales, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and a number of charities including Keep Wales Tidy.

"Being relatively new to the role, there are still a few things in the pipeline," adds Owen. "But I would say that all of the coast path teams do such a great job, from negotiating with land owners and the community for footpath creation agreements, to getting the path established on the ground. I can’t take any credit for that at all, but I’m proud to be working with such a great team."

The festival, which coincides with Visit Wales’ Year of Discovery 2019, will follow a theme of discovery which will be prominent throughout.

Angela Charlton, director of Ramblers Cymru, who are coordinating the festival, added: “The Wales Coast Path has become such an iconic place to visit and walk, for this year’s celebration we have organised over 40 walks for people of all abilities with many activities for people to enjoy, from exploring the history and culture of coastal life, myths and legends to beach cleans, foraging and nature walks.

“This year’s routes under the theme of Year of Discovery offer the opportunity to explore less well known areas for people to get out and enjoy the fresh air and clear the mind. Register for a walk, make new friends and enjoy a new adventure!”

To learn more about the Wales Coast Path Walking Festival or book walks visit:

Register to attend the festival:

Admission free (additional charges for linear walks where transport is required).