Walkers find poet's retreat and odd villages along Wales Coast Path

By Verena Wolff/DPA

Cardiff: Crumpled-up paper is spread out on the floor and desk. Empty bottles are standing all over the place. There's a certain level of chaos in the small beachside writing shed where Welsh poet and writer Dylan Thomas spent a good amount of time.

The blue and brown shed along a road in Laugharne was an office and retreat for the writer. Just a few metres down the road is a boathouse, a white house on a cliff which is where Thomas, his wife and their three children lived.

The boathouse and the small Welsh village where Thomas is buried after dying in New York in 1953 is a popular destination for the writer's fans. They can reach Laugharne from the West Coast Path - which explains why many visitors have backpacks and hiking outfits.

The Wales Coast Path stretches 1,400 kilometres right around the coast of Wales, with the many twists and turns bulking up its total distance. Blue signs with a white wave show the way.

"If you hiked the entire Coast Path, you'd be walking for eight weeks for sure," said Harri Roberts, who has written a number of tour guides about the trail.

Walkers find poets retreat and odd villages along Wales Coast Path

The boathouse on the Wales Coast Path. DPA

And the Coast Path is not exactly flat. Sure, there are parts of the trail that lead along the beaches and bays of the Irish Sea. But then it goes up mountains and hills, along cliffs and through meadows where sheep are bleating and cows are grazing.

There's also the weather, which cannot be underestimated.

"The wind blows in your face, regardless of what direction you're going," Roberts said.

Hikers need time to visit the many sites along the way, such as forts, castles, churches and monasteries, which sometimes are just a few steps off the path.

And there are places that look like complete foreign objects in the landscape.

One of those places is Portmeirion. Visitors would think they are in an Italian fishing village turned tourist trap with its colourful houses, splendid flowers, palm trees, statues and fountains.

"Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis made his dream come true here," said Meurig Jones, manager of the facilities.

Architect Williams-Ellis bought a small estate on the edge of Snowdonia in 1925 and began a mission which would last his entire life.

"In essence, he was a hoarder," says Jones. "He couldn't part with anything."

Williams-Ellis didn't collect tea cups or cars, but rather large parts of mansions and other buildings that were given to him or bought for very little money.

"And that's how his gigantic work of art - Portmeirion today - came into being over 50 years."

Things are not quite as eccentric in Nant Gwrtheyrn, even though the village on the northern coast of the Llyn peninsula in North Wales has seen huge changes in its history.

"People have been living here for millennia. But since the granite quarry ended, so many of them have gone away," Mair Saunders said.

What remains in Nant Gwrtheyrn is the Welsh Language Centre, which she heads.

It offers language courses to those who want to learn Welsh, an ancient Celtic tongue which is still the day-to-day language in many of the villages and which is undergoing a revival.

"Enrolments are rising," sparkles dark-haired Saunders. Only about 20 per cent of the Welsh say in official surveys that they can speak the region's ancient language. "But the people are becoming interested in it again," says Saunders.

The Dylan Thomas boathouse and the small Welsh village where he is buried after dying in New York in 1953 are popular with walkers on the Wales Coast Path, a fascinating tour beside the Irish Sea.

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Updated Date: Feb 13, 2016 09:32:31 IST

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