The Coastal Way
Rich in heritage and culture
Running along the entire sweep of Cardigan Bay, from Aberdaron in the north to St Davids in the south, the 180-mile/290km Coastal Way is one of three Wales Way national touring routes.
Rather than a rigid set of directions, each ‘Way’ is a jumping-off point for exploration, with plenty of opportunities to venture off the main path and create your very own personal journey.
This three-day itinerary showcases the rich culture and heritage found on and around The Coastal Way. As you travel, you’ll find mighty medieval castles, historic little trains and sacred sites, plus music, crafts and contemporary art.
Start out in Caernarfon with a ride on the 25-mile/40km Welsh Highland Railway. Puffing all the way to Porthmadog, it’s the longest heritage railway in the UK. Take a round trip or go a little further by connecting with its sister line, the classic Ffestiniog Railway, which runs from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog.
After riding the rails, drive onto the wild and wonderful Llŷn Peninsula to Nant Gwrtheyrn near Llithfaen, the National Welsh Language and Heritage Centre. This former Victorian quarrying village, tucked in beneath steep cliffs, gives visitors a glimpse into Wales’s deep and distinctive cultural heritage as well as telling the story of Nant’s industrial past.
Suggested overnight: Porthmadog.
Begin your day at Harlech Castle. The towers of this dramatic World Heritage Site spring from the rocky crag on which it sits, with rolling dunes leading to the sea at one side and the peaks of Snowdonia at the other.
Follow the coast road south to Aberystwyth for a visit to the National Library of Wales and the Ceredigion Museum. The National Library is housed in an imposing building on a hill above the town, while the home of the Ceredigion Museum is in a beautifully preserved Edwardian theatre close to the seafront. It tells Ceredigion’s story through an eclectic collection of more than 60,000 artefacts ranging from the Neolithic period to the 20th century. Then push on to Cardigan for Cardigan Castle, venue for Wales’s first eisteddfod in 1176. After falling into disrepair, it has been rescued, restored and reborn as both a fascinating heritage attraction and unique place to stay. Opposite the castle is one of Wales’s newest art galleries, Canfas, and just down the High Street is Studio 3, the base for Made in Wales, where you see hand made craft, or learn to create your own.
While you’re travelling through Ceredigion, you can also explore the Ceredigion Art Trail to get a peek inside the studios and galleries of local artists and craftspeople making everything from pottery and paintings to glassware and jewellery.
Stop at the stylish seaside town of Newport for a browse in the Newport Collective Gallery, an innovative community-run enterprise packed with locally made art, textiles, furniture and sculptures. Call in for refreshment at the Royal Oak in Fishguard, which has fascinating links to the infamous, ill-fated ‘Last Invasion of Britain’ in 1797. For a real taste of Wales go to its weekly Tuesday folk night. It’s a fun and informal get-together for performers and audience alike, with traditional Welsh music, jigs and sea shanties
End your jaunt along The Coastal Way in St Davids, the smallest city in the UK. This arty mini-metropolis is home to St Davids Cathedral, one of the most important holy sites in Wales, which has been attracting pilgrims from across the world for centuries. It’s also worth making some time to see the cathedral’s library (home to a huge collection of books dating back to the 16th century) and the neighbouring ruins of the St Davids Bishop’s Palace or wander through the many galleries showcasing the very best of Pembrokeshire’s artists and craftspeople.
Onwards along the Coastal Way
Pembrokeshire is at the southern end of the Coastal Way, which then runs through Ceredigion to Snowdonia Mountains and Coast (in the county of Gwynedd) in the north. Don’t miss out. Follow it all the way.
Experience more of The Coastal Way with our suggested itineraries including adrenaline-filled adventures, inspirational landscapes with walking that takes your breath away and our delicious local food and drink that awaits you around every corner.
The Coastal Way guide will give you more ideas and inspiration for your trip – Download it here.