Wales is famous for it’s mountain and hill walking, but also boasts one of the most beaurtiful coastlines in the world. We’ve put together a selection of the best circular coastal walks in Wales, though we’re certain that we’ve missed plenty out. It would be borderline insulting to suggest that there are only 10 walks worthy of this article, and we haven’t the space to include 50! We’ve also taken a selection of walks from all sections of the Welsh coast, which means this list isn’t dominated by Pembrokeshire and Ynys Mon!
You have the entire Wales Coast Path to choose from, and strong walkers may want to complete those sections instead. So these are largely easier routes that range from an hour to a short days’ walking. Working our way south, here’s a good selection of walks and places to walk.
Point of Ayr is located near Talacre in Flintshire, and is the northenmost point of the Welsh Mainland. This is more of a place to walk, than a planned walk, with plenty of easy paths in the sand dunes that can be followed as well as along the beach when the tides are favourable. If you want a plan, then you can walk out on the Wales Coast Path and back on one of the footpaths in the dunes further inland. Of course, all good coastal walks seem to have a lighthouse, and this is no exception!
The Gogarth or Great Orme is a limestone headland that dominates the seaside town of Llandudno. There are a number of waymarked routes on the Gogarth / Great Orme peninsula, including this Walk up the Great Orme from Llandudno and a couple of history trails. With its position as an elevated headland, there are extensive views towards Snowdonia, Anglesey and along the North Wales Coast. The Wales Coast Path takes a route around the headland on the Marine Drive country lane (one of the classic driving routes in Wales). This passes the former Llandudno Lighthouse, that is now a B&B before reaching the Rest and Be Thankful cafe around half way around. The going is easy, and on country roads all the way around. While it may not have the wild appeal of some other sections of the Welsh coast, it makes up for this in being a reasonably accesible path.
We can also recommend the Alice Town Trail in Llandudno that’s all about Alice in Wonderland, surely a magical trip for children and adults alike. Those looking to walk around the summit of the Orme could also catch the Great Orme Tramway, one of the many heritage railways of Wales.
This is one of our favourite sections of the Anglesey Coast Path, which can be conveniently walked as a circular walk from Church Bay / Porth Swtan or from the National Park car park at Mynachdu (link to Google Maps). The walk from Mynachdu is the shorter option, while from Church Bay the walk is around 10km and easily extendable towards the nature reserve at Cemlyn Bay if you’ve got the legs for it! The return route is via quiet country lanes, which can be hard going if you push yourself too hard, so know your limits. You can also return the same way, with the walk appearing totally different when walked in the opposite direction.
The highlghts of this walk include the fascinating Ynys y Fydlyn, views towards Ynysoedd y Moelrhoniad or the Skerries and the spectacular scenery around Trwyn y Gader/Carmel Head.
If we had to choose just one walk to represent North Wales, then this would probably be it! The short walk starts from the Coed Niwbwrch Car Park near Niwbwrch / Newborough which has a £5 charge for parking, toilet facilities and a catering van in season. The walking itself shouldn’t take much longer than an hour out and back, but you’ll need to allow plenty of time to explore Ynys Llanddwyn.
Ynys Llanddwyn includes the ruined St Dwynwen’s Church , which in welsh would translate to Llan Ddwyn(wen). St Dwynwen is the welsh version of St Valentine, and lends her name to the welsh version of Valentine’s Day which is celebrated on the 25th January instead of February 14th. This makes booking a table for your romantic dinner date a lot easier!
At the far point of the island, you’ll find the Tŵr Mawr lighthouse light house as well as the former Pilot’s Cottages which you can visit if the wardens are about. The Llanddwyn Lighhouse may only be 10m high, but its prominent location and bright whitewashed walls make it visible from a distance, especially in bright sunlight.
The route to Llanddwyn can be tidal under the highest of tides, so be aware of the tide times before setting out.
Porthdinllaen is a small cove to the north west of Morfa Nefyn that at one point nearly became the main port for Ireland before losing out to Holyhead. While it meant the area lost out financially, we can be thankful today that it hasn’t been spoilt by a huge port development. Porthdinllaen is more famous today for its sandy beach and the Tŷ Coch inn.
Tŷ Coch has to be one of the most spectacularly located pubs on the entire welsh coast, and serves food and decent beer. This walk starts from the NT trust car park at Morfa Nefyn and takes you to Porthdinllaen along the beach. Porthdinllaen may be the perfect place for a short wal, but this comes with a price, as it will be horribly busy in the peak season. Best enjoyed on a weekday in May or June.
This walks sets off from the National Trust car park at Porthoer/Porth Oer (just don’t get into the argument about the name) and is a good half day’s walking for a fit walker owing to all the ups and downs.
The highlight of the walk is arriving at Mynydd Mawr, and the ensuing views towards Ynys Enlli, one of Wales’ famous islands. There are sections of the walk between Mynydd Mawr and Aberdaron that follow narrow clifftop paths, so you’ll need a head for heights.
For a longer walk, you can walk back to the start on quiet country lanes. Alternatively, you can return to Porthoer from Aberdaron by using the Bws Arfordir Llŷn Coastal Bus, but as it can be fully booked up by groups we recommended that you book a seat.
The coastline of Snowdonia and Ceredigion becomes more linear in nature, which does make it easier to complete sections of the coastal path and return via bus or train. It does make finding a circular walk that doesn’t lose that coastal feel that bit harder. Our choice would be the section of Wales Coast Path between Llangrannog and Cwmtydu. This section is both lofty and rugged, with some exposure on the high cliffs of Pen Moel-ciliau and landmarks such as Ynys Lochtyn and Pendinaslochdyn to provide plenty of interest.
The pretty seaside vilage of Llangrannog is a bonus as well, making either a half way stop or a finish to an excellent short walk. If you’re returning on the coast path, we strongly recommend avoiding any alcohol at the local hostelry! Alternatively, there’s an inland detour to the coast path that follows quiet lanes and footpaths through the wooded valley of Nant Fothau.
Choosing the list for this article was challenge enough, but we could have put 20 Pembrokeshire walks in a hat and pulled two out at random that would still have been worth including.
We limited it to two walks in Pembrokeshire, with St David’s Head being our first choice. This two hour walk would make a perfect addition to a visit to nearby St David’s. Starting from St Patrick’s Chapel at Porth Mawr / Whitesands Bay the route first visits the sandy cove at Porthmelgan before taking the long way round to Penmaen Dewi / St David’s Head. It’s essential to add a diversion up Carn Llidi as it affords a panoramic view of the nearby coastline.
The walk around Marloes Peninsula, from Marloes Sand is another worthy short walk in the Pembrokeshire National Park. The jagged pinnacles of rock at Marloes Sands and beneath the nearby cliffs and Gateholm make a spectacular start to this walk as you head towards Woolstack Point. Two of Wales’ famous Islands are also visible, first Skokholm and then Skomer; and if you’re lucky you may be able to spot the distant Grassholm on the horizon. Skomer soon dominates the view ahead, and those wishing to visit will be pleased to learn that the walk takes you via Martin’s Haven where you can catch a boat over to the island. Information on the web is sparse, but there is a Skomer Boat twitter feed.
Rhossili is without a doubt one of the top beaches in Wales. Around 5km of uninterrupted sand from the islet of Burry Holms to the north and Worm’s Head to the south. This walk follows the Wales Coast Path before returning over the high ground of Rhossili Down and the summit of The Beacon. At just shy of 200 metres, this is an impressive viewpoint across the bay. If time permits, we recommend that you also add on a short walk towards Worm’s Head, making a figure-of-eight walk worthy of a day out on the Welsh coast.