Bangor to Porthmadog by Carl Rogers and Tony Bowerman

Northern Eye Books £12.99

ISBN: 978-1-908632-24-1

This lovely, user-friendly book is the first in a series of seven ‘Official Guides’ to the Wales Coast Path to be published over the next two years. They’ll cover the entire 870-mile path around the coast of Wales — from the outskirts of Chester in the north to Chepstow in the south. Together, the guides will help you discover the shape of a nation.

The Official Guides break the Wales Coast Path down into seven main sections: the North Wales Coast, Isle of Anglesey, Llyn Peninsula, Cardigan Bay/Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Gower, and South Wales Coast. All of them are written by experienced professionals from the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild.

The series’ official status and endorsement comes from Natural Resources Wales — the Welsh government team who created and administer the Wales Coast Path, and who have kindly advised and checked the books’ route directions and other details from start to finish.

And what carefully thought out and good-looking books they are. Their handy, lightweight, OS map size means they’ll fit easily into a map pocket or rucksack. Each of the covers features a eye-catching aerial photograph of the most iconic bit of coast on that section. The sturdy, laminated flapped covers form a handy bookmark and show thumbnail images of the Day Sections for easy reference.

Inside, the generously illustrated introductory section contains everything walkers need to know about the Path, from travel and accommodation to weather and waymarking. There are maps and distance charts, an overview of the Day Sections, and advice on the best day and weekend walks. Double page photographic mosaics show key places along the way. The books also contain a potted history of the area and an overview of what wildlife you can expect to see on that section.

The individual Day Sections are similarly well described, with clear, numbered route directions, enhanced OS mapping, and fascinating interpretation of points of interest along the way.

The books are lavishly illustrated with some stunning photography. A lot of thought has plainly gone into the structure and design of these books, which are clear and uncluttered and a pleasure to use. This first Official Guide to the Wales Coast Path is a real delight to use. I look forward to seeing the others.

Barry Dooley

(*This review first appeared in Walking Pages magazine, published by NWM Media in 2014)