870-mile walk, anyone? Britain's longest coastal path opens

870-mile walk, anyone? Britain's longest coastal path opensVisit Wales


Question: What's 870 miles long and took six years to construct?

Answer: The new Wales Coast Path, which opens this weekend (5-7 May).

The route, which would take weeks on end to complete on foot, takes in 12 nature reserves, 41 beaches and 18 castles - and the Welsh government hopes it will bring in an extra 100,000 extra visitors a year.

New paths link up with more established routes, which are marked out with signs along the way to keep you on the right track. Highlights of the route include the Isle of Anglesey, the beaches and sheltered coves of Menai and LLyn, Ceredigion Bay with its abundant wildlife and a a whole stretch of coves and award-winning beaches in Pembrokeshire.

Beginning at Chepstow and ending beside the river Dee in Chester, keen hikers and cyclists are already planning to cover the entire route in one trip. But mere mortals can explore any section they fancy, one bit at a time. For maps, ideas and routes, visit walescoastalpath.org.

To celebrate the opening, guided walks and events are planned this weekend. Visit the site for more details.

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Ten of the best beaches in Wales
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870-mile walk, anyone? Britain's longest coastal path opens

Nestled between Saundersfoot and Pendine, this pristine beach is very popular with swimmers and those with a penchant for rockpooling. Did you know? At extreme low tide you can see the petrified forest destroyed when sea levels rose 7,000 years ago. Fossilised antlers, animal bones and Neolithic flints have been discovered here in the past...

Kate and Wills have been sighted here on several occassions - so who knows, if you visit Aberffraw you may spot the couple on one of their regular country walks! Did you know? In Welsh mythology, Aberffraw is the site of Branwen and Matholwch's wedding festival where Efnysien maimed Matholwch's horses.

A sandy beach stretching three miles and backed with sand dunes, at low tide Rhossili Bay is expansive, giving you the option of walking over to Worm's Head (pictured). Did you know? Rhossili Bay has been used as the setting of New Earth in Doctor Who and the bay was used in Torchwood: Miracle Day.

A beautiful beach laden with history, Whitesands Bay is popular with surfers and has been described as one of the best tourist beaches in the world. Did you know? At very low tide the remains of an ancient submerged forest can be seen on the beach - a bear jaw was once discovered here.

A small harbour resort located within the Snowdonia National Park, Aberdyfi offers a range of watersports including sailing, canoeing, fishing and boat trips. Did you know? The Romans established a track into Aberdyfi as part of the military occupation of Wales around AD78.

A truly peaceful corner of the world with wonderful views, Dinas Dinlle is the perfect place to take a ramble. Did you know? From the village, you can take pleasure flights around the peninsula or even take flying lessons.

Poppit Sands, a half mile beach backed with sand dunes, is situated at the beginning (or the end, depending on which direction you're heading) of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. This beach is also a popular spot for power kiting. Did you know? Bottlenose dolphins can often be spotted around the bay, as well as porpoise.

The beach, which has earned a Green Coast Award, has safe swimming conditions and an abundance of wildlife including seals, porpoises and dolphins. Did you know? Mwnt was the site of an unsuccessful invasion by Flemings in 1155 (later celebrated as "Red Sunday"). It's said the bones of the defeated invaders were sometimes visible under the sand during the early 20th century.

Marloes, an isolated stretch of sand, is rarely busy. It offers views to Skokholm and Gateholm Islands and is a good spot for surfing and horse-riding. Did you know? The remains of neolithic to medieval settlements can be found on the island.

Rocky outcrops, sealife, a Millennium Celtic Cross and rockpools can all be found here. The sea is clean and safe for swimming, too. Did you know? Legend has it that Saint Ffraid, the patron saint of Trearddur Bay, from Kildare, Ireland was carried over the Irish Sea and arrived at the beach on a square of green turf.

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