Wales Coast Path – Holyhead to Trearddur Bay

Holyhead Trearddur-515th July 2018 – 14.4 miles

We parked on the roadside, just outside Trearddur Bay, and decided to get the boring part of the walk over first so followed the road to Holyhead for about an hour. From here it wasn’t too far to get to the promenade along the harbour and marina, then offroad around the headland to Breakwater Country Park. We passed a rather grand hotel that had been burned out (this seems to become a familiar theme).Holyhead Trearddur-2

We stopped for lunch at Breakwater Country Park, by one of the lakes, then began to walk around the headland towards North Stack. We stayed high, and didn’t go down to the lighthouse as we had done this about 3 months earlier. Heading up Holyhead Mountain, South Stack came into view. There are a lot of paths up here and it wasn’t too clear which one was the coast path, but we seem to have got it right.

We stopped for an ice-cream at South Stack visitor centre, and had a look at the birds on the cliffs – I think they are guillemots.

There was a short bit of road walking, then it was back to headlands, around South Stack Cliffs, an unfamiliar area. It was a very scenic, but we did begin to tire of going around headlands when we could have cut straight across (we didn’t give in to temptation though!).

There was this amazing bit of grass growing on a cliff side. At first I thought it was a created sculpture or something. Holyhead Trearddur-10

The last part was on and off the road, with short detours round more, smaller headlands, back to Trearddur Bay.

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Wales Coast Path: Llanfachraeth to Holyhead

WCP Llanfachraeth Holyhead-914th July 2018 – 13.3 miles

We camped at Church Bay again, and drove to the car park at Penrhos Country Park so we could do a figure-of-8 walk. We started by crossing Stanley Embankment, the causeway between Holy Island and the mainland of Anglesey. There was a fair amount of traffic, but a good pavement for walkers and cyclists, and the railway was hidden from the road by a wall. There was a very impressive point in the middle of the causeway where a large gap lets the tidal waters through. I don’t think the photos give a good impression of the size though.

It was a little unclear at the end as to which way the path went, but, as it was low tide, we went along the beach until the path led up to the road leading out of the village of Valley. Further on the coast was private, and clearly signposted so, which just meant we cut off the headland before reaching the banks of the Alaw. The path was pretty good, with some parts raised above the inlets and muddy flats of the river. We crossed the footbridge, which had been our stopping point on the previous leg, and headed back towards Valley.

We followed the path through the village, as the tide had now come in, and crossed back over the embankment for part 2, stopping first for refreshments at the old toll house cafe. They also filled up our water bottles for us (we hadn’t packed the drinks bladders and it is a heatwave!)WCP Llanfachraeth Holyhead-10

The path then took us around a coastal headland, part of the country park, past a pet cemetery to the old battery, built during the Napoleonic wars.

We followed a popular path around Penrhos beach, with constant views of the chimney of the aluminium works which had been in sight for much of the day. There seemed to be rather a long walk on the not-very-interesting outskirts of Holyhead, then past the ferry port (not very clearly signposted!) and over pedestrian walkways to the town centre.  WCP Llanfachraeth Holyhead-18We had an ice lolly in the churchyard, which is also the start of the Isle of Anglesey coast path (not identical to the Wales Coast Path route in places), before returning.

On the return route, we did not follow the coast, but went along the cycle route on the inland edge of the country park. WCP Llanfachraeth to Holyhead

Wales Coast Path: Church Bay to Llanfachraeth

WCP Church Bay to Llanfachraeth-410th June 2018 – 14.9 miles

We packed up the tent and left the car packed at the campsite in Church Bay then headed the few hundred yards to the path. It was another very hot day with views of blue sea and sky. However, it was pretty hazy in the distance and we could not see the port in Holyhead clearly, although it felt as if we could hear it from a long way off (machine and engine noise). WCP Church Bay to Llanfachraeth-3

It was a nice walk along the cliffs, with a good number of little sandy bays, which I suspect aren’t as hidden and unknown as they looked, early on a Sunday morning!Porth Tyddyn Uchaf

We then came to a large campsite, spread across the headland. This is where the GPS eventually came into use as, looking back, we went around three sides of a rectangle instead of straight across! Nobody said anything though. We stopped for lunch once we got out of the campsite and the access road, on the edge of a bay looking right across to Holyhead. The mist had not lifted at all, despite the warmth of the day.WCP Church Bay to Llanfachraeth-7

Shortly after this, we had to walk along the beach, and here the mist was quite thick and eerie. WCP Church Bay to Llanfachraeth-9

We kept a look-out for the path heading inland, but still managed to miss it by quite some way. Once we found it we realised that it was not easy to see from the beach – you had to head onto the path to see the waymarker.

Heading inland, we passed a ruined farm building and had to find our way across some rather rough ground before the path became more obvious. The path follows the Alaw river, meandering with mudflats. We met a man with a metal detector who told us there had once been a settlement there and he had recently found a silver 19th century florin, worth several hundred pounds!

Further up the river there is a new bridge to take the coast path across. On our map it headed quite a way inland, and was not terribly clear which route it took. We decided to make this our turn-around point and headed into the village for an ice cream, then returned to Church Bay along the roads. WCP Church Bay to Llanfachraeth-13I didn’t take many photos as I was really hot and fed up on the return route, and put my camera away! Back at Church Bay, however, the cafe offered us coffee and cake, and I took a photo of the local buzzard sitting outside.WCP Church Bay to Llanfachraeth-14WCP Church Bay to Llanfachraeth

Wales Coast Path: Church Bay to Cemaes Bay

Ynys y Fydlyn9th June 2018- 18.2 miles

We camped at Church Bay and only had to walk 100 metres down the lane to pick up the Coast Path. This led up over the cliffs heading north. For once, the thrift or sea pink was in bloom. So often, we walk along coastal paths a bit later in summer when the flowering is over.WCP Church to Cemaes

It was a hot, sunny day with blue sea and sky. There were clear views across to the lighthouse on the Skerries. A few months ago, we were near Holyhead with friends and trying to decide if this was a ship or an island on the horizon. It did look as if it was floating above the sea today!WCP Church to Cemaes-2

Despite being warm and relatively dry underfoot, we still came to a very muddy patch – probably a stream in wetter weather – where Robby lost the end of his trekking pole!WCP Church to Cemaes-3

We were glad to be here in summer and to be able to continue around the headland. It would be quite a long and dull diversion in winter, I imagine. There were some strange structures on the headland, which seemed to have no obvious purpose. We thought they must be for navigation, and later learned we were correct, and they are the White Ladies seamarks, pointing to a group of rocks offshore.

 

We continued heading east along rolling fields above cliffs until we got to Cemlyn Bay. There were quite a few more people here. We had been here before on a shorter walk. It seemed a long walk across the shingle spit. The nesting terns were in evidence but they mostly seemed to be staying on the lake.

 

We then came to a little bay with a watermill, which I remembered as an idyllic spot from our previous visit.WCP Church to Cemaes-12

The whole character then changes as we approached Wylfa Power Station. This had been looming in the distance for a while. The path to it was well marked and laid out off the road. I was quite surprised to find we actually had to walk up to the power station itself, and then head off over the hill – this part was not well marked, surprisingly, as I thought they would want walkers to know the way and not be wandering around lost!WCP Church to Cemaes-10

I was a bit tempted to cut off the loop that the path takes around the headland, but we didn’t! From there, it was not far into Cemaes Bay. We had half-hoped to be able to catch a bus back, although we weren’t sure of the route it took, but there would be a wait of several hours for the next one. We spoke of getting a taxi, but someone said there wouldn’t be any (although I am sure we could have rung for one). We decided to walk back along the road, and then the lanes, which wasn’t too bad, and we were back sooner than waiting for the bus! We had dinner at the Lobster Pot, which is another good reason for staying in Church Bay!WCP Church to Cemaes-11WCP Church Bay to Cemaes Bay

Pennine Way: Windy Gyle (Trows Farm) to Kirk Yetholm

The End30th May 2018 – 16.5 miles

We left Forest View guesthouse in the minibus and headed into the Cheviots to Trow’s Farm, our pick up/drop off point. On the drive there, we headed through some thick mist, but could see promising blue sky too. At the farm, the farmers were herding sheep off one hillside and across the road and stream. There was one lamb that they kept getting into the corner near the gate, then he would bolt past them, back up the hill. We stayed watching, and keeping out of the way, until they eventually had all the sheep across. The flock was in front of the stile so we had to go a little further up the track and climb over the wall.

The way back uphill toward Windy Gyle was quite a long way and steeper than it had seemed coming down. We stopped a few times to take in the view, and take some photos, and the others were soon well ahead of us and then out of sight. PW to KirkYetholm-4

Once we got to the ridge at Windy Gyle, the promised blue sky and sunshine had disappeared and we were in pretty thick mist. Once we were on the ridge, the route was fairly level and easy to follow, although we did decide we were on the “wrong” side of the fence at first, and crossed over to the flagged path. PW to KirkYetholm-5

The mist became drizzle and we were fairly damp and cold (there is a heatwave in Britain everywhere else!) but the peat was dry and dusty – almost unheard of for the Pennine Way. We decided not to take the path to the top of Cheviot – the only point of it would have been to say we had done it!PW to KirkYetholm-6

I found today quite hard going, I think because I couldn’t see a view and didn’t really have much to go on to gauge where we were for much of the time. Also, as the rest of the group we had started with were so far ahead, psychologically I felt that we must be slow and miles behind! When we got to the refuge hut to stop for lunch, we met the Australian couple, just about to leave, and they said the others had left just before them. That made me feel a bit better.PW to KirkYetholm-9

Looking at the map, there was one small hill and then the Schill to go up, and I was quite surprised (and pleased) to find that we had done it, almost without realising. It fitted the description of the rocky outcrops. There was also a memorial stile – not seen one of those before – which seemed more likely to be in a named place.

The route then led gradually downhill, becoming more and more civilised and surfaced. It was good to get into Kirk Yetholm and the end!

PW to KirkYetholm-11A man came out of the pub and offered to take our photograph before we went in to get our well-earned half! PW to KirkYetholm-12

(We still have one day in County Durham to do, as it was snowed up a few years back, but we will tick that one off next year!)PW Windy Gyle to Kirk Yetholm

Pennine Way Byrness to Windy Gyle (Trows Farm)

 

untitled-629th May 2018 – 14.9 miles

Half-term. It has been a warm, sunny May, with unbelievably, warm and sunny Bank Holidays! So hopes were high as we drove to Northumberland on Bank Holiday Monday, passing the queue waiting to leave the motorway at the South Lakes. We drove to Kielder and had a walk round the forest before going to Forest Lodge B&B in Byrness. Before tea, we had a 3 mile walk to the campsite where we had turned round on our previous walk.

Forest Lodge pretty much runs around Pennine Way walkers, and I felt a bit of a fraud walking in, all fresh and clean! Some of the people had walked from Edale in the past few weeks, others were doing the Way in sections. One woman was just over halfway through her walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats!

We set off in the morning at the same time as three others from the B&B. I wasn’t sure I wanted to walk in a group, but it was okay. Once we got up the hill, we found our own pace, and although we were usually within sight of each other, and caught each other up from time to time, we each walked in our couples or threes.

The first part of the walk was straight and steep, at the edge of the forest where I caught a glimpse of a red squirrel. It stopped nearby as I reached for my camera, but ran off as soon as I lifted it to my eye!untitled

The sun came out once we reached the top of the ridge, but we could see thick cloud to the north and over some of the hills to the south. It wasn’t long before it got a bit mistier for us too.untitled-2

The Way passes along the edge of the Otterburn shooting ranges with warning notices posted at regular intervals.untitled-3

We passed the remains of a Roman fort and medieval village at Chew Green – the mounds and banks very visible. We were initially a bit puzzled about the icon that was allowed – at first I thought it was a man with wings – one of the other walkers this evening thought it was a figure with a shotgun – but I realised it was a walker with a map.untitled-4

We made it to the refuge hut at Yearning Saddle for lunch. One of the other groups had got there first, and sat inside, but we were quite content to sit on the ‘veranda’ along with the Australian couple who joined us a few minutes later.untitled-5

After lunch, the cloud thickened around us and quite a chill wind blew. Shortly afterwards, we noticed the Australian couple ahead of us had stopped and we looked across to see some animals which we thought were the wild goats that live on the Cheviot. As we caught up with them, the goats were fairly close – although a bit far away in the mist for a decent picture.untitled-7

The groups all caught each other up shortly after that, and we had a bit of a map-reading conference, although the Way was pretty straightforward, with only one or two places where you had to check which of two paths to take. We let them overtake us, and got to the cairn at Windy Gyle (our stopping place) after the others had gone downhill.untitled-11

Joyce, from Forest View, had given us all a very clear set of directions, down from Windy Gyle for just over a mile, to Trows Farm, where we could wait in a barn for her to collect us in the minibus. We took our time strolling downhill as we knew we would be in plenty of time for her to arrive. As it was we had to sit in the barn – which had the wind whistling through it – for a good half hour, so I was glad we hadn’t rushed. The directions and pick-up all worked very smoothly.untitled-10PW Byrness to Windy Gyle

Wales Coast Path: Porthmadog (Boston Lodge) to Harlech

WCP Porthmadog to Harlech-1012 May 2018 – 10.7 miles

We drove over early Saturday morning and parked in the layby that we had found on our last trip.WCP Porthmadog to Harlech

The path led uphill and over the railway line. There were some good views back over Porthmadog and the bay, but there were too many trees in the way to make a good picture. We had to wander across a field to find the gate – the waymarker had pointed in a different direction – and then found a set of helpful, if intriguing, signs. I found out later that the Welsh weatherman had done a televised walk near here, up a hill with a view, so I assume it was pointing here.WCP Porthmadog to Harlech-3WCP Porthmadog to Harlech-2

We then skirted the village of Portmeirion, with just a glimpse of it visible. This was followed by a longish walk along the main road to Penrhyndeuddraeth where we sat at the station for a break. We followed the railway along a quiet minor road on the causeway over the Afon Dwyryd which has only recently been rebuilt and reopened. We were rather glad, as the Coast Path used to divert some way inland here.

WCP Porthmadog to Harlech-8

It was something of a relief to leave road walking at the end of the causeway and head onto paths near the coast. We crossed the railway and followed an embankment along the edge of the salt marsh grazed by sheep. We had a very familiar and traditional view of Portmeirion across the bay. We met a couple of women walking who were looking for the path out to the tidal island of Ynys Gifftan, accessible at low tide, and we were able to use the GPS to point them a bit further on to the path.WCP Porthmadog to Harlech-8

We had our lunch outside an old church, seemingly by itself, then round a few hills to a small house with a few holiday chalets alongside. We crossed a farm field, slightly annoying the donkey at being on his patch, and reached Harlech recycling centre.WCP Porthmadog to Harlech-11

The path then led along a straight concrete road, through woodland. It felt decidedly military, but with no clues as to its past use. I did look it up and the nearest I came to an answer was that it could have been used as a coastal gunnery firing range during the Second World War.WCP Porthmadog to Harlech-12

The path led up to the main road at the edge of a modern estate, and straight to the station. We had a while to wait until our train, so we headed up hill (I’d forgotten quite how long and steep a hill it was!) to the Castle café, before getting back to the station in time for the train back to Minffordd and a mile walk back to the car.WCP Porthmadog to Harlech-13

WCP Porthmadog to HarlechWCP Porthmadog to Harlech-4