12th April 2012

Communities around the Wales Coast Path

Viv Alexander

I recently visited Pembrokeshire, staying Fishguard, to run along part of the Wales Coast Path with DragonRun 1027.  Since September last year the number of trains arriving in Fishguard (or Abergwaun to give it its Welsh name) has increased which means it is an ideal destination for those who want to travel by train, as I did. It is also a gateway to Ireland with a regular ferry to Rosslare.

The coastal path runs through Goodwick and Fishguard and the town’s history includes being the scene of the last French invasion of Britain in 1797. But our hosts at the hotel we stayed at explained how the economic downturn was affecting local businesses and as we walked around Fishguard we could see this for ourselves with many pubs and restaurants now closed.  While travelling around the North Pembrokeshire coast we could see that other areas seemed to be doing pretty well – for instance, we were unable to get a table at a restaurant in popular Porthgain without a prior booking. But I wondered how businesses and communities could connect better with the Wales Coast Path and make the most of this world first for Wales, the only complete ‘formal’ walking trail to follow a country’s entire coastline in the world. In turn how could this  stimulate sustainable economic growth, health and well- being and social inclusion in coastal communities?

During the stay there we also suffered a day of appalling weather conditions which also helped us to question how the path could be an attraction that could encourage visitors all year and not just in good weather?

On the final day, while out walking on the coastal path around Fishguard we saw children out making the most of activities in the water and I wondered whether anymore could be done to  encourage children to make more use the path and the coast?

I don’t have  the answers, only questions?  So maybe some of you have some ideas on how to make more of this amazing attraction.  If so, enter them on our Wales Coast Path GeoVation Challenge and you could win a share of up to £125,000 funding to get your idea started.