Coast is partnering with the Ramblers each month to promote coastal walking. In this month’s column, we discover some family-friendly walking routes to try which boast fantastic transport links.
At the Ramblers, we work to open the way for everyone to enjoy the outdoors. And whether that’s the sensation of the sea breeze as you wander along the clifftops or the gentle music of birdsong as you wind your way through the woods, we want to make a walk in nature accessible to everyone.
Fighting to expand our access rights is only one part of this; we also want make sure we create routes that explore our most beautiful landscapes while still being within easy reach for the majority of us.
Across the UK, 21.7 per cent of households do not have access to a car. And among households on the lowest incomes, this figure rises to 37 per cent, more than one third. So for many, simply travelling to the start of a walk can be a major barrier.
That’s why, last year, Ramblers Cymru teamed up with Transport for Wales to develop a solution: a new collection of family-friendly walks that all start and end at train stations.
One such walk sits at the very edge of the Eryri National Park. Starting and ending at Barmouth station, you’ll gaze out over the Irish sea at Barmouth Beach, wander across the spectacular viewpoint of Barmouth Bridge and hop on the ferry across the Mawddach estuary to make your way home.
Once off the train, come out of Barmouth station, turn right and follow the road down to Barmouth Beach. Although off the beaten track, a detour down onto the beach will bring you past the Barmouth carved head, a three-metre tall wooden carving of a Maoi head which mysteriously appeared in the dunes in 2010. Damaged in a storm in 2021, the sculpture had become so popular with the locals that an artist was commissioned to create a replacement.
Turning left along the promenade, you’ll make your way past the lifeboat station and arrive at the harbour. Once a major Welsh ship building centre, the harbour saw the construction of 138 new vessels in just 20 years following 1770. After the harbour, cross under the railway and turn right on the main road. Follow this road until you see a sign to your right, pointing you towards Barmouth Bridge – this will also be signed as the Wales Coast Path.
Barmouth Bridge is the centrepiece of this walk – a Grade II listed, 900-yard wooden viaduct stretching across the mouth of the Mawddach estuary and offering unparalleled views of the river, the bay and the mountains that surround it. Originally constructed in 1867, it is the longest timber viaduct in Wales and fittingly for a walk dedicated to train journeys, is not only open to foot traffic – it carries the Cambrian Line over the estuary from Barmouth to Morfa Mawddach.
After crossing the bridge and soaking up its panoramic views, you’ll reach Morfa Mawddach station. If you fancy a shorter walk, you can hop on the train here to return to Barmouth, recrossing the bridge from a different perspective.
Otherwise, take the path on the right, again signed Wales Coast Path, towards the Barmouth Ferry. With the estuary on the right, the path continues on until you meet the road by Fairbourne Golf Club. Turn right and follow the Fairbourne Railway, which has been entertaining tourists since 1895 when it was pulled along by horses, to Penrhyn Point.
Treat yourself to a warming cup of tea at the cafe here before venturing down to the beach to board the ferry, which runs from April to October, that will return you to Barmouth and where you started.
THREE MORE TO TRY…
Fancy something closer to home? Check out our three alternative routes
Winterton and Winterton Dunes Nature Reserve, Norfolk
A circular walk around Winterton-on-Sea and East Somerton, exploring the National Nature Reserve, home to natterjack toads and the UK’s largest little tern colony. tinyurl.com/ywvf3nr2
Blackbury Camp & Branscombe, Devon
A hilly circular walk from Blackbury Camp Iron Age hill fort, nestled in a bluebell woodland, via scenic country lanes, rolling hills and a bracing beach stroll. tinyurl.com/3s2w8mbw
Gullane and Aberlady Bay, East Lothian
This walk between Gullane and Aberlady takes in one of the finest stretches of coast in Scotland, heading to Gullane Point and then to the wildlife-rich Aberlady Local Nature Reserve. It then follows a section of the John Muir Way back to Gullane. tinyurl.com/43jpkttb
ON TRACK FOR WALKING FUN
Made up of 20 walking routes across Wales, with five in south Wales and 15 in north Wales, our train station walks are designed for all abilities, ranging from leisurely strolls to vigorous hikes. And as they all begin as soon as you step off the train, it’s an easy, sustainable way to get yourself into the outdoors.
Prefer to soak up some urban energy before heading out into nature? With routes beginning in Cardiff and Bangor, or more remote options in Prestatyn and Caergwrle, there is something for everyone. And as all Ramblers routes are made by walkers for walkers, you can confident you’ll find your way with ease.
You can find all 20 routes, complete with in depth PDF route instructions and evocative descriptions of each walk, on the Transport for Wales website. And once you’ve selected your route, you don’t need to go far to sort out the logistics: you can buy the tickets you’ll need on the very same page.
So, next time you fancy a wander in the wild, why not leave the car at home, hop on the train and spend the journey gazing out the window and thinking of all the adventures to come?
Find a rail route: tfw.wales/guided-walks-by-train/ramblers-cymru-station-walks