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National Trails and the Wales Coast Path

Nationally designated long-distance routes, which are the ‘flagships’ of the Public Rights of Way network in Wales and England

National Trails are the flagship routes of the public rights of way network. They are long-distance paths through some of Wales’s finest scenery and provide an ideal way to discover the Welsh countryside.

The three National Trails

There are three National Trails in Wales:

  • The Pembrokeshire Coast Path, opened in 1970
  • Offa’s Dyke Path, opened in 1971
  • Glyndŵr’s Way, opened in 2002

What are National Trails?

All the National Trails have been approved by the government as ‘long-distance routes’ under section 51 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. This was the same piece of pioneering legislation that established National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and definitive maps of public rights of way.

The legislation also included powers and duties for the provision of any information, accommodation and even ferries that may be required to enable the public to enjoy these routes. In practice accommodation is provided by the private sector. One of our key aims is to increase the positive impact that National Trails have on local businesses. Information is provided by Natural Resources Wales and our partners in leaflets and guidebooks, online, and at key locations along the Trails.

National Trails are all branded with the acorn trademark.

Management of the Welsh National Trails

Natural Resources Wales is the lead agency for the management of National Trails in Wales, but keeping them in top condition is a team effort. We provide grant funding to local authorities through whose areas the Trails run to help them improve and maintain the Trails to the best possible standard. This funding also provides for a National Trail Officer for each Trail to manage the day-to-day works, act as a local point of contact and raise the profile of their Trails. Offa’s Dyke Path, which runs through Wales and England, is also partly funded by Natural England.

The role of Natural Resources Wales in overseeing the trails

Natural Resources Wales is responsible for drawing up and reviewing the quality standards for National Trails in Wales and these standards cover almost every aspect of delivery from the type and condition of gates, stiles and surfaces and the quality of signposting, to the provision of information boards and public transport links. We review these standards in partnership with our local authority partners.

We also work with those local authorities on proposed changes to the routes of our National Trails, look for ways to enhance benefits to local businesses and communities, and coordinate monitoring and research to check the extent to which the Trails continue to meet the agreed standards and the needs of local people and visitors.

Finding out more about National Trails in Wales

  • To contact the Trail Officers or to find out more about the National Trails family or the individual Welsh Trails, see www.nationaltrail.co.uk
  • To see maps of the National Trails and local circular routes taking in parts of the National Trails, see our Outdoor Wales online mapping 
  • To follow the latest news about National Trails, follow us on Twitter or Facebook (facebook.com/thenationaltrails)

National Trails online

The dedicated website for the promotion of the National Trails Family is delivered by Walk Unlimited, a social enterprise dedicated to encouraging walking, in partnership with Natural England and ourselves.

Management of The Wales Coast Path

The 870 mile long Wales Coast Path was officially opened in May 2012. It runs from the outskirts of Chester to Chepstow and, together with Offa's Dyke Path, forms a route of over 1000 miles, roughly around the edge of Wales.

How the Wales Coast Path is funded

Development and maintenance of the Coast Path is funded by the Welsh Government and the local authorities through which it passes. In addition, £3.9 million of European Union (ERDF) funding was obtained during the initial development phase.

Path management

Natural Resources Wales lead on coordination, Welsh Government grant distribution, monitoring and marketing of the Path. The standards are the same as those for the National Trails. (see related document downloads below). It is waymarked with the distinctive ‘dragon-shell’ logo

It is managed on the ground by 16 local authorities and two National Parks. 

Further information about the Wales Coast Path

The Coast Path has its own dedicated website here, where you can find a wealth of information including more about how it was established and other strategic documents and reports.

Related document downloads

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