July 17, 2012 · 18 comments

Post image for Preamble

The Wales Coast Path was officially opened on May 5th 2012. Chepstow being just 5 miles from where I live and having the day free, I suppose I felt inspired to go and see what was happening. Despite having lived in the area for 25 years, I had walked very little along the most local stretch of the coast to my home, so I was also interested to see where the path went. As I parked the car in the Castle Car Park a cheery chap asked me where I was intending to walk that day. “Newport”, I said, without hesitation and a little bravado. (I made it to Magor – about half way to Newport.)

So on this particular day I had made no plans to walk the whole path. And I still don’t have such a plan. But I have a much less formed idea that it would be a fascinating and wonderful thing to do so. I am in full time work and will probably be so for quite a few more years so I am not able to do the whole 870 miles in one go. Neither would I want to. I can just about understand why some people will be doing so, indeed, are doing so as I write. But personally I think they are bonkers. Trust me, I know about these things.

I do, though, enjoy walking quite long distances and walking for several days at a time. In my youth I walked for several days – perhaps a week- on the Pennine Way, carrying a small tent, sleeping bag and cooking gear. Thankfully, I cannot remember just how sore my feet must have got or how exhausted I was lugging all that stuff around. But I do remember loving watching the countryside slowly unfold as I marched along, the pleasure of being on my own with the elements and the sense of achievement I felt by travelling on foot quite a long way. But I let these pleasures fade from my memory until after we had moved out of London to where we now live in south Wales.

Some years after moving here I did several days continuous walking on the Glyndwr’s Way – a fabulous section from Knighton (where it starts) to Machynlleth- staying in bed and breakfasts and pubs. And I have walked some of the Offers Dyke Path, too. In recent years, mostly in the company of good friends,  I have returned to the pleasures of walking on National Trails, completing the 191 mile Coast to Coast Path in two stints in 2010 and last year doing the Hadrian’s Wall Walk over 7 somewhat damp but exhilarating days.

But now I am using the services of those very wonderful people who are providing the service of taking your bags between your chosen resting place, giving you the luxury of having most creature comforts with you that might like to have with you on a holiday (at least those that will fit into a suitcase) whilst allowing you to carry only a day bag. There is no going back as far as I am concerned to trying to imitate a donkey. But there is also no such baggage transfer service operating for the Wales Coast Path. So I will be making more ad hoc arrangements for getting to and from the path, using my car, and public transport as fits in best, and sometimes carrying a few extra things for an overnight stay.

I will start at Chepstow and then I know it will be important to me to re-start the walk wherever I have left it.  I have found that I can cover around 15 miles a day without suffering too many aches and pains afterwards. It depends on the terrain, of course. So that’s the kind of chunk of path I am planning to do each day on the Wales Coast Path.

The route of the path is the most useful thing that I have found on the official website for the path. So I will be marking this route on 1:25000 Explorer OS Maps before I do a section. My other navigational aid is a Garmin etrex GPS.  This is fun, as it gives you the distance you have walked, your elevation and your location as a grid reference (and lots of other clever stuff I don’t use). I would like to say that this means that I don’t get lost or find myself not where I am supposed to be. I do. That’s because I don’t spend my time looking at the map and the GPS – I can be too engaged with looking around me. And I’ll be taking lots of pictures. – not carefully composed studies, but really snaps from on or very near the path, just to give you a better idea of what to expect if you decide to go yourself.

Finally, I do hope that you enjoy reading the blog. Do get in touch if you would like to comment or add anything to my observations.


{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Neil July 17, 2012 at 2:44 pm

I can feel the full 870 miles coming on. Enjoyed the preamble… But, having a love of comics… I need pictures with my words…. Looking forward to the next illustrated postings, and keep me in mind for the good bits 🙂


Charles July 18, 2012 at 8:31 am

Hi Neil! Worry not, they’ll be lashings of pics in the next blog, which I hope to get up today. Reckon The Gower will be right up your street.


Neil July 17, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Boy… I hope I don’t get moderated…


Charles July 18, 2012 at 8:33 am

You will if you are naughty!


Anne Wareham July 17, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Hey, look at that – you’re off! Looks great. Best of luck with the loooong walk and the many posts.. XXXXXX


Charles July 18, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Thanks, pet!xx


Tessa Stuart July 17, 2012 at 5:51 pm

I shall follow your progress with interest.


John July 17, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Welcome to the blogosphere. A circulation problem in one leg precludes the lengthy walks of my younger days (I needed to stand still for a while after the short walk from car park to your conservatory!) so I’m really looking forward to experiencing the Coastal Path through your words and camera lens. Can’t wait for your next post.


Charles July 17, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Thanks, John. I’ll get the first post up in the next day or two. Do subscribe!


Cabernat July 17, 2012 at 6:02 pm

It does sound wonderful and I hope the weather is kind to you. Will be looking forward to the updates and photos. Very pleased they are going to be “snaps” as opposed to so called proper photos. 🙂



Charles July 17, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Hi! Thanks for the good wishes. I’ve had some dodgy weather so far, but some nice days, too. As far as the pics go, I’d love to offer great photos, but they’ll be no hanging about for the best light!


Anne Wareham July 18, 2012 at 8:34 am

Well done, you! Look forward to reading about it rather than doing it: much the best way, specially in this weather…XXXXXX


Charles July 18, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Ha Ha, thanks love! BTW you were considered to be spam! Have un spammed you. You now know what you are missing.


Anne Wareham July 18, 2012 at 5:22 pm

That’s what happened! That was why I wrote twice. I won’t always be commenting twice, you know… XXXX


Nigel Buxton July 24, 2012 at 7:45 pm

This blog may be best formula for a walker’s guide I’ve ever seen. Explicit pictures.Concise, waffle-free narrative.


Charles July 24, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Coming from someone of your stature as a travel writer this is high praise indeed! Thank you so much.


Andy Phillips September 6, 2012 at 8:06 am

Glad to see you got the coast walking bug just the same way I did!
I went for a walk up the Thames one weekend and enjoyed it so much, but thought it might be more fun to walk the other way towards the sea.
The following weekend I set off on the Saxon Shore Way along the coast of Kent, and haven’t stopped since.
My walk has taken me around the South of England, Wales and all the way to Cumbria bringing fantastic memories along the way.
Good luck Charles! You may find when you reach Cheshire you won’t want to stop!


Charles September 7, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Yes, I think I have got the bug but at the same time I still feel a bit intimidated about the idea of doing the whole of the path. We’ll see. What happens at Cheshire?


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