Chepstow Riverside was the setting for celebrations marking the 10th anniversary of the Wales Coast Path on Monday 27th March. The event, attended by representatives of Monmouthshire County Council, Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales, highlighted the benefits of getting out and about and experiencing nature first-hand. Respected naturalist, conservationist and television presenter Iolo Williams was one of the guests of honour, along with former Bardd Cenedlaethol Cymru / National Poet of Wales, Ifor ap Glyn.
On the site, not far from Chepstow Bridge, Iolo unveiled a new sound box describing the many varieties of wildlife that can be encountered on the Wales Coast Path. Iolo has recorded three of the messages on the sound box and former National Poet of Wales Ifor ap Glyn has provided his poem Bendith Llwybr yr Arfordir (Wales Coast Path Blessing) for the audio presentation. Walkers undertaking the coast path will be able to use the sound box to bring to life the rich diversity of wildlife they may spot along the way. The sound box has four messages in total, in both English and Welsh, and provides a more accessible way to hear information. The messages can be changed as required to keep them fresh and relevant.
Artist Michael Johnson designed and made a pebble artwork for the Chepstow site that incorporates part of Ifor ap Glyn’s poem. Similar art work can be found in Flintshire.
Opening the event, Iolo Williams said: “I’m delighted to be invited along to help celebrate 10 years of the Wales Coast Path. Over the past decade, I have walked several sections of the path and the sheer variety of landscapes and wildlife never ceases to amaze me. The Covid lockdowns taught us just how important the natural world is for our physical and mental wellbeing and I hope this event encourages more people to get out and enjoy the natural wonders that Wales has to offer.”
Former National Poet Ifor ap Glyn said: “Although this event celebrates the beginning (and end!) of the path at Chepstow, walkers can create their own ‘beginnings’ and ‘ends’ anywhere they choose along the 870-mile length of the path. The important thing is to get out there and enjoy it.”
For the past year Monmouthshire County Council, Flintshire County Council and Natural Resources Wales have worked in partnership to improve the gateways of the Wales Coast Path route. Funding for the project has come from Welsh Government and local authorities. The project aims to bring together the north and south gateways so that people who walk the entire route will have a sense of connectivity, heritage and celebration in their significant achievement.
Cllr. Sara Burch, Cabinet Member for Inclusive & Active Communities, said: “The Wales Coast Path provides an important opportunity to experience the beauty of the county and improve our well-being, both physical and mental. I would like to thank Natural Resources Wales, Flintshire County Council, Welsh Government, Ifor Ap Glyn, Iolo Williams, Chepstow Walkers Welcome and Lower Wye Ramblers for all coming together to celebrate the Wales Coast Path’s anniversary in Chepstow.”
Cllr. Catrin Maby, Cabinet Member for Climate Change & the Environment, said: “The addition of the new sound box to the Chepstow end of the coast path will enrich people’s experience of the journey and will raise awareness of the incredibly diversity of wildlife that can be found here. I hope that as many people as possible enjoy using the sound box and explore the coast path for themselves inspired by the information they hear.”
In addition to being the start of the Wales Coast Path, Chepstow is also the gateway to many other long distance paths such as Wye Valley Walk and Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail. 2023 also sees the launch of ‘Wales, by Trails’ – a year of trails – which the event also celebrated.
Chepstow Walker’s Welcome hosted a short ‘health walk’ to mark the event and promoted the forthcoming Walking Festival, which takes place on 12th April. The Wye Valley Rambler were also at the event and hosted a longer walk. Both groups, Countryside Access staff, the Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail and Wales Coast Path Regional officers were on hand to discuss volunteering opportunities and where to walk. Pupils from The Dell Primary School attended the event and presented Iolo Williams with a book they had made.
The Wales Coast Path, which is 870 miles in length, provides opportunities for the public to engage with biodiversity for their health and well-being.
The event, held where seals and a Peregrine falcon can often be seen, also saw Nature Isn’t Neat, Gwent Green Grid and Living Levels carrying out activities for the public and local school children from The Dell Primary School in the town.
For information about the Wales Coast Path visit www.walescoastpath.gov.uk/
This post is also available in: Welsh