by Andrew Marc
On the 5th May 2012, the 870 mile long Welsh coastal pathway was officially opened in Cardiff Bay by environment Minister John Griffiths.
It stretches from near Flint in North Wales, to Chepstow in the South Wales and took five years to complete at a cost of around £14 million.
Funding came from the Welsh Government, The European Regional Development Fund, and sixteen local authorities and the route is managed by the Countryside Council for Wales.
If you include the Offa’s Dyke trail which runs along the Welsh / English border, it is now possible to traverse the entire periphery of Wales, some 1000 miles.
The main opening ceremony in Cardiff featured acrobats, singing, dancing, a Caribbean steel drum band, puppet shows and storytelling. Similar events were held in Aberystwyth and Flint.
Arriving at the event at the end of her gruelling 42 day run of the route was Anne Marie Beresford-Webb, who completed the trek, equal to 39 marathons, to raise money for charity.
She was joined by Dave Quarrel who was starting his walk of the route, also for charitable causes.
Minister John Griffiths said of the path: “We estimate it will attract something like 100,000 additional visitors to Wales on an annual basis, so that obviously is a fantastic boost to our tourism and our rural and coastal economies.”
He went on to praise all those involved in the creation of the path, especially as they had met the challenge of completing the route in time for the 2012 Olympic Games. He also praised the new boardwalk at Porthcawl, which is part of the coast path, which enables wheelchair users to access the fabulous coastal scenery there which they were previously unable to do.
The international press have given positive coverage to the new route, including favourable write-ups in the New York Times and the travel guide Lonely Planet, who proclaimed Wales to be the place to visit in 2012.
The national walkway is a wonderful addition to the country of Wales, and will undoubtedly bring great benefits to locals and visitors alike.