All Wales Coast Path opens 5 May

The world's first national coast path opens around the edge of Wales on 5 May. Sam Pearce points you in the direction of some of its highlights

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Joining the Offa’s Dyke Path, the path will form a 1,030-mile route that with circumnavigate the entirety of Wales. In anticipation of the coastal path’s official opening in May, the Lonely Planet travel guide has named Wales’ coastline as the ‘best region on Earth’ to visit in 2012. The path, which has been funded by the Coastal Access Improvement Programme as well as the European development fund, will come as close to the coastline as safely possible and allow walkers of all levels to set foot at Chepstow before following an uninterrupted route along Wales’ diverse coastline, eventually reaching the border again at Queensferry in Flintshire.

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Rambler’s groups operate all along the coastline. To find out more about when and where they are walking, as well as some more general information on walking in Wales, visit the Rambler’s Cymru website.

The Wales Coast Path will whisk you around some of the most beautiful locations Wales has to offer. These are just a few:

Menai Strait: Those looking for a taste of this area’s birdlife, its views over Snowdonia or maybe even a chance to catch a glimpse of seals should try the Menai Strait wildlife and woodland walk which winds its way through the woods of Glan Faenol. A pleasure boat trip also operates along the Menai Strait from Plas Neywdd, Beaumaris or Caernarfon.

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Cardigan Bay: This ‘coast of contrasts’ is known to have inspired some of Dylan Thomas’ best works. Ceredigion’s wildlife is just as spectacular as its geology; it boasts the highest number of dolphin sightings of anywhere in the UK. For those who are looking for a taste of the area’s magnificent birdlife, Mwnt and Llangranog are home to Peregrine falcons as well as a host of other species, whilst the Teifi river trail offers lucky walkers with the chance to catch a glimpse of the elusive otter or the incandescent Kingfisher.

Chepstow: Those looking for a slightly longer walk should try walking from the historic town of Chepstow, complete with impressive castle, onward six miles to the site of the historic Severn river crossing, Blackrock, where a picnic area is framed by scenic views of the Severn estuary.

Strumble Head: Visit this dramatic headland in Pembrokeshire and find out why it’s is known as the ‘dolphin coast’. Expect dramatic cliffs with views stretching as far as Ireland on a clear day.

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St Davids: Experience the charm of Britain’s smallest city. St David’s famous cathedral is hosting its popular annual festival between the 27th of May and the 8th of June this year which features the likes of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Also be sure to try out the boat trips around the coast and to offshore islands.

Barafundle Bay: It’s not hard to see why this beach is considered amongst the best beaches in the world, let alone Pembrokeshire. This beach is completely pristine, so don’t expect any facilities, but be sure to visit Stackpole village where there is a pub serving meals and a selection of self-catering accommodation.

Cardiff: The path will take you through Cardiff Bay. The possibilities here are almost endless but be sure to try one of a variety of boat trips that operate from around the bay and see the sights from a new perspective. Cardiff Castle offers the opportunity for you to immerse yourself in the city’s two thousand year history, from the arrival of the Romans, through the Norman Conquest and into the Victorian period.

Gower: The elegant, sweeping beaches of Gower are amongst the finest in the UK. Admire some of Gower’s most beautiful features, in particular Rhossili Bay, from atop its stunning cliff tops. For those with a more adventurous side, be sure to sample some of Gower’s renowned surfing beaches, but if you’ve had enough activity for one day, Gower offers a memorable backdrop to a relaxing evening.

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We would love to here from anyone who is planning on tackling the entire route. If this is you, feel free to contact us: editor@countryfile.com