Pembrokeshire Coastal Path
Start: St. Dogmaels
Distance: 186 miles (299 km)
Time: 9 days
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Surface: Coastal Pathway
Pembrokeshire Coastal Path – National Trail Website
If you’re planning to walk all 186 miles (299 km) of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, from St. Dogmaels in the North to Amroth in the south, you might want to embark on a training regimen first, because more than 35,000 feet (10,668 m) of ascents and descents await you-the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest.
Thank goodness, then, for a sprinkling of coastal villages providing respite-although, oddly, the centuries-old presence of villages never resulted in the construction of so much as a pathway to link them: all communication between communities was effected by boat, not land. When it was time to map out a pathway along this rugged coastline, a series of logistical challenges had to be overcome: many of the proposed pathways were under private ownership, and cliff tops were difficult to access and were horribly overgrown. The coming-of-age of the path we have now was the result of long and often complex negotiations with the people who for generations have called this place home. Fortunately for the rest of us, it was a home they were eager to share.
Most of the path lies within the boundaries of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Britain’s only coastal national park. Unceasing work by national park staff is required to keep it clear and navigable in the face of winter storms, the constant regeneration of the area’s vegetation, and it’s trampling by countless soles. This particular path, though, can cope with a little trampling. Its constituent parts date back three billion years-volcanic pre-Cambrian granite and hard igneous rocks underlie everything on a pathway that isn’t going anywhere in a hurry.