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The Snowdonia & Meirionnydd Coast Path

 

Barmouth Bridge

Meirionydd and Snowdonia Coast Path -  Route Summary

Harlech CastleDistance 60 miles (96 km) extra inland options add 14 miles for those who want more strenuous walking options

Grade Easy 52%, Moderate 33%, Strenuous 15%, Severe 0% - Extra Inland options all strenuous grade - What this means

Is this for you? A varied walk for those that want to be close to the mountains and the ocean. Generally easy but with inland mountain options if you want a challenge. Great mix of beach, forest, coastal marshland & inland hills with bags of Welsh culture & History en route

Highlights Portmerrion Village, mountain steam railways, golden huge unspoilt dunes and sands, superb Snowdonia views, ghostly slate mines, Harlech Castle, Happy Valley & the Bearded Lake!

Terrain Easy footpaths on coastal plains & marshes, sand dunes and sandy beaches. Some inland sections with steeper climbs mainly on good paths and forest tracks. Mountain alternatives more challenging.

Walk the Meirionnydd section of the Wales Coast Path and take a journey through an ancient 5th century Welsh Kingdom, created by Meirion, son of Cunedda King of Gwynedd.

This is a unique section of the 800-mile Wales Coast Path, an untouched, little visited and unspoilt stretch of wild North Wales, linking the long protruding finger of the Lyn Peninsula to the north with the huge cliffs and crags of Ceredigion to the south.

Walking in Meirionnydd, you tread on the very edge of Snowdonia’s coastal mountains, which give the trail its alternative name, The Snowdonia Coast Path. Virtually the whole route has the protection of being within the boundaries of modern-day Snowdonia National Park, but it is a region of the Park set apart from the tourist hotspots around Snowdon itself.

Here, away from the crowds, you can enjoy a daily backdrop of the mountains rising just inland of your route as you follow the coast on your trek through Meirion.

This walk is accessible and enticing for all levels and abilities – the main route offers mainly easy to moderate walking as it hugs the ever-changing coastal strip, but there are more challenging diversions inland including options to get into the mountains, for experienced walkers wanting to push themselves.

Variety - If this route is anything, it is a one of huge variety and diversity. You’ll find yourself wandering through long lost estuarine salt marshes one day then navigating huge deserted dune systems on another. Sometimes the trail is a logging track through dense forest plantation, at other times you’re on the ocean foreshore, tracking wide golden sands.

Peaceful stretches of fertile coastal meadow lead on to dramatic high rolling hillsides, crossed by ancient drovers’ trails. Compared to the other sections of the coast in West Wales, visitor numbers here are low. No sprawling caravan parks along this bit of coast, just empty sands. It’s eternally peaceful, remote and a walk for contemplation, perfect for those who want to pass through a landscape with as little interruption as possible from the modern world.

The only impediments to your progress down the coast are huge snaking estuaries which pour out to sea from the mountains – majestic and glistening beasts offering beautiful inland diversions though deep forested clefts – one is crossed using the iconic 700m wooden railway viaduct at Barmouth while another, at the Dyfi, is so wide and deep that it forces you inland onto the “Panorama Trail” and a day long adventure through the hills and forest of mid-Wales to reach a crossing deep in the interior at Machynlleth.

This remoteness and lack of development ensures a diversity of flora and fauna along the route, with each section attracting different birdlife. Spot waders in the salt marsh, then ringed plover nesting on the shingle beach. Look out for curlew, choughs, guillemot, while inland red kites hover and there is the chance of seeing hunting ospreys and even peregrine falcons.

Unlike the hardy sheep and cattle, which you will spot easily, you’ll be lucky if you see the secretive polecat, otter, badger or fox, but rest assured they are there!

The saltmarsh and dune systems contain rare orchids, fungi, and many species of moths and butterflies. Along the coast are sea-pinks, thrift and gorse while inland there are contrasting sections of peaty moorland, hillside sheep pasture, tall pine forests and ancient oak and beech woodland.

As for humans, this is a land that reveals huge lofty coastal castles, iron age forts, ancient standing stones and ghostly abandoned slate mines – and even an audacious Italianate style village, at Portmeirion. Overnight stops include tiny farming villages on the coastal strip, the fortified outpost of Harlech with its iconic castle, hidden fishing harbours and coastal towns.

This section of the Coast Path is unique as there are virtually no coastal cliffs. (For these just keep on walking into Ceredigion!) It’s a route that works well for those who don’t like sheer drops and the endless climbs and descents that characterise coastal Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

The tiny and iconic Cambrian Coast Welsh railway loosely tracks the coast with its single carriage trains, offering options to split or shorten longer sections or to spend multiple nights in one place if you wish.

For those who like a challenge to their walking however, the inland diversions provide more variety with this walk than any other coastal route. Experienced walkers who love solitude and wilderness can elect to climb high into the Rhinog range to conquer the lonely “pass of the drovers” or take an extra day at the end of the walk to climb and conquer one of the most iconic and loved mountains in Wales, Cadair Idris.

So, leave the summer Mount Snowdon circus to the other visitors and enjoy the blissful isolation on a walk into a pre-medieval kingdom, along a mesmerising coastal corridor tracking the very edge of Wales, from the foothills of mighty Snowdonia to the peaceful forest and hills of its interior.

 

Watch the video below for a taste of what the route has to offer.

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