The Big Walk Week 7 | Off The North Wales Coastal Path and Onto Offas Dyke


The Previous Week

Bye Bye Coastal Path | Hello Offas Dyke

The last few days on the North Wales Coastal path was easy walking as its mostly flat with lots of cycle paths, and once again its suitable to ride on assuming you can access it on horseback. The Welsh coastal path has plenty of sections safe and suitable for horse riding, if you agree please sign and share our petition for safer off road riding

Until this big walk started I had never given much thought to the reasons why the local authorities and land-owners use barriers like stiles to prevent horse riders accessing rights of way

There are of course, some very reasonable arguments for the use of stiles and kissing gates as opposed to bridle gates, the legal status of the path for one; a footpath is for the use of walkers only. Additionally, gates left open can cause huge problems if livestock get out and there is the issue of motorbikes and quads also being able to access a path if there is a bridle gate in place

Very Effective at Stopping Horse Riders

Very Effective At Stopping Horse Riders and Wheelchair Users

But kissing gates also cause problems for other users, this quote is taken from a local paper in the South Wales area

DISABLED access to the new boardwalk and coastal path at Porthcawl is being impeded by the erection of kissing gates, according to a local woman.
Cathryn Russell contacted Porthcawl Town Council to complain about the new path that runs from Rest Bay to Pink Bay.
She said that gates have been erected along the route, which totally block access to the path for many disabled people.
Mrs Russell said that until recently, she was a keen runner and, following the construction of the path last year, ran along it most days.
Owing to illness, she now has to use a mobility scooter and was devastated to find that she can travel no further than the gates by Porthcawl Golf Club at Rest Bay.
She went on: “While I was sitting on my scooter considering how I could possibly access the path, a significant number of passers-by stopped and tried in vain to help. They were all totally appalled by the lack of access for people like me.”
She said that when the pathway was opened, the council stated that the boardwalk had been specifically designed to allow wheelchair users and people with pushchairs to easily access the path.
She pointed out that the nature of her illness makes it impossible for her to propel herself along in a wheelchair. The only way she can get about is by a mobility scooter.
She went on: “With the construction of the new path that will ultimately link Rest Bay with the Promenade, I feel that there will invariably be many more disabled people left feeling humiliated and discriminated against – when simply trying to access the remainder of the coastal path only to find the access totally blocked by a series of gates.”

Councillors were shown copies of a reply to Mrs Russell from Alison Roberts, who is the coastal access officer with BCBC.
She stated in her reply that the path was created as part of the Welsh Assembly’s initiative for an all-Wales coast path with sections suitable for the disabled, families with prams, horse riders and cyclists.

The case for creating safer off road horse riding has to be given more consideration and the all Wales Coastal Path can offer this. When the opportunity presented itself I asked other walkers that we met how they felt about sharing the path with horse riders. The reactions generally were positive, although some expressed concern about horse poo. Personally I would prefer to step in horse poo than dog mess any day, and dog mess is a huge problem on the path and I will never understand the selfishness of some dog owners who fail to clean up after their animals

Twice this week we met the urban rangers, what a great job title, that work for Flintshire Local Authority, they were busy clearing the path cutting back the undergrowth. It was also the first time that I had seen the coastal path logo cemented into the pavement, simple but very effective way-marking through the old dockyards, quays and industrial areas that the path goes through in this area

Way-marking the Welsh Coast Path In Flintshire

Buried In The Pavements – Coastal Path Logo
Thanks To The Urban Rangers Of Flintshire

It was great reaching the end of the path at Chester, past the tethered horses and the Welcome to Wales sign and onto the bus to head back to Prestatyn to start the long distance trail of Offas Dyke. This long established path runs from Prestatyn to Sedbury near Chepstow in South Wales

It follows the border with England and is approximately 177 miles long. The best bit is the fact that 35% of the path is open to horse riders exactly the same amount as that available to cyclists, what an impact it would have if 35% of the Welsh coastal path was open to horse riders

The route crosses the Black Mountains, the Shropshire Hills (including the many ups and downs of the ‘Switchback’, for many walkers, myself included, the hardest part of the walk), the Eglwyseg Mountains Near Llangollen and the Clwydian Range
It passes through, or close to, the towns of Dyserth, Bodfari, Clwyd gate,Llanegla,Llangollen,Montgomery,Knighton,Kington,Hay On Wye, Abergravenny, Monmouth and Chepstow

The half-way point of this walk is marked by the Offa’s Dyke Centre in Knighton, where unfortunately, we had to make an unscheduled stopover of two days as Jaycee was ill after eating a ham bone, poor girl was sick with diarrhoea and too ill to walk

Offas Dyke provides fantastic walking through varied countryside, mountains, moorlands, woods and fields and lots and lots of hills but finding places to free camp with the van was a lot harder than it had been on the coastal path. The logistics of public transport and parking was also difficult so there was more hitch hiking than I would have liked but it was necessary

One of many stunning scenes on Offas Dyke

Offas Dyke In Mid Wales
What Fantastic Riding Country

I also had a really unpleasant experience while parked at a disused quarry near Llanferres, about 9pm one evening I had just taken Jaycee out for her walk before bed when a four wheel drive jeep pulled in, its occupants were five young males, and most were clutching beer cans which immediately worried me. Then four of them came up very close behind me while the fifth was asking me about some horse gear,(he had read the sign writing on the van) he wanted to buy, without warning Jaycee suddenly appeared from no-where barking and snarling at them. Not surprisingly they all backed off, got back in their jeep and took off.

Before they had turned up I had put her back in the van cab but had left the door open and she must have sensed my anxiety, she is such a clever girl and when it comes to defending me from herds of curious cattle or drunken late night visitors,completely fearless too

The next morning, at the same place, I had another unsettling encounter with a bin man collecting rubbish in the area, he made comments that suggested that he knew about the five lads the night before and his general attitude made feel very uneasy so I was glad to leave there

One of the weekly chores was getting water for the van and it was not always straightforward, it often involved an hour spent filling small bottles in public toilets and transferring to the larger containers on the van, the sinks and taps in public toilets are rarely designed to allow anything but a small bottle to be filled up and not many of them have an outside tap. Again, this had been easier to do on the coastal path as there seemed to be more public toilets near the coast, although wherever I did it , I got very strange looks from people

My big walk of 1047 miles around Wales took place because I want to ride a horse along the same route and needed to see how viable it was, what do you think? Contact Me Here

My Best Travelling Companion Taking a Breather on Offas Dyke

She May Be Small But She Packs A Punch

The Following Week

4 Responses

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  1. thanks for your comments Julie, get back to Hafan Mor with wire cutters! its illegal to block a right of way like this, and if its also a bridleway you should be able to ride there, we know of a similar situation in the Wye Valley but the riders persisted and now have a fantastic off road riding opportunity for everyone to use ….let us know how you get on? kind regards

  2. I really enjoyed reading about your adventures . I have tried to walk and ride the part of the coastal path that runs along side Havan Mor the old Butlins site at Pwllheli but if not locked the gates are tied up with wire making it obvious horse riders and walkers are not welcome this is disappointing as local riders were looking forward to the path opening for years and now dispite all the publicity it can’t be used this is a notoriously bad area for riders very little in the way of bridle ways etc and a very unhelpful council and farmers do not like horses hence the locked gates . So we thought how about riding Offas Dyke next spring if any one has done this ride we would love to hear from you happy riding Julie.

  3. Thank you Rob, (by the way that’s a great website about Offas Dyke) it was a fantastic trip and we are so lucky to have had the opportunity to walk around Wales, would recommend it to anyone, and getting excited about doing it on horseback 🙂

  4. hi
    what an achievment, for yourself and Jaycee. I should think you are one of a small band of people who have completed the round wales route in its first year. Love the picture of Jaycee by Offa’s Dyke path marker stone at seddbury Cliff.

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