Bucket Reserve List: West Coast of England and Wales

Coastal Hikes of Great Britain

A not untypical clifftop scene from  the Pembrokeshire Path, Wales. By Hogyn Lleol – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25471554

Region: Great Britain, mainly the south western English coast and Wales

Logistical Difficulty:  Moderate

Hiking Difficulty: Moderate

Degree of Risk: Low

Estimated time required (including travel and logistics): One week

Relatively new to our list of must-do things is the Western Coast of Great Britain. We’re talking about the Cornwall Peninsula north to Wales, an area which is far more rugged than most people give credit. Coastal hikes oft get shunted aside in favor of mountains and canyons…they shouldn’t. Some of the best scenery in the world occurs where sea meets land. England’s Coastal areas also feature great trail infrastructure, relatively safe hiking and mild, if damp, weather.

Land’s end, Cornwall. Next stop Ireland. Photo by Keven Law

Why Hike Here?

  • Most people aren’t aware just how scenic this is
  • Huge cliffs, dramatic headlands
  • Many sections cliff walk for miles
  • Generally safe as long as one avoids Le Stupid
  • Not hard to stage from the US
  • Weather is nowhere near as bad as the coastline further North
  • You could probably hike this in any season
  • Charming English countryside
  • Great hike for bird watchers
  • Castles, forts, ruins,
  • Good public transportation, relatively easy to get on/off the trail
  • Drink, eat in pubs along the way
  • The English speak English surprisingly well
  • Nearby Welsh mountains such as the Brecon Beacons offer tremendous hikes in their own right

But First Consider…

  • This is not a stroll on a beach, it’s rugged hike with a LOT of up and down
  • Serious, even fatal falls possible (though entirely avoidable)
  • Fog, rain, mist…welcome to Britain
  • Strong winds not uncommon
  • Not exactly wilderness; trail runs adjacent to farms, villages, private land
  • Tons of fences, livestock gates
  • Some long stretches between accommodations
  • Not a very ‘tent friendly’ trail
  • In the off season, pubs and hotels close, bus service is limited
  • Some hikes pass through tidal areas;  beware being caught by the tide
  • Sections very crowded during summer
  • Finding accommodations difficult in peak season
  • Brexit or leave it, the British Isles are not cheap

Hikes we Want to do here:

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path