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

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Wales Coast Path: Black Rock Sands to Boston Lodge [Porthmadog]

1st April 2018 (Easter Sunday) – 10.09 milesWCP Black Rock to Porthmadog

We left Criccieth and parked the car bright and early on Black Rock Sands with surprisingly few vehicles already there, apart from a few camper vans that had obviously camped there overnight. The tide was out; it was a clear, sunny day; we had a good walk along the huge beach for over a mile.  There was one stream that we had to cross that was a bit wider and deeper than you’d want it to be – we spent a short while looking for the best place to cross.

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Black Rock Sands

At the end of the beach, we climbed up to a rocky headland, heading north, following the Afon Glaslyn up the bay towards Porthmadog. It was good to have such a complete change of scenery and view. This part was little rocky inlets, and wooded hills. There were quite a lot of people around, unsurprisingly really, with it being a fine, Easter Sunday, and a popular holiday area.

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We headed round the bay of the pretty little village of Borth-y-Gest, and then into Porthmadog itself.

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We had lunch on a bench overlooking the harbour, with a view of steam trains in the distance.

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After lunch, we had a brief look at the trains (of course), then followed the railway for a along the causeway to the station at Boston Lodge.

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Porthmadog station

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Near here, we found a convenient parking spot and decided that this would be a good place to stop. We returned along the foot and cycle path that runs along the inland side of the causeway, with a different view over Glaslyn Marshes, which is a nature reserve and SSSI.

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Glaslyn Marshes

Good job we didn’t cycle it …WCP Black Rock to Porthmadog-10

We stopped at the station in Porthmadog for coffee and cake, before returning by the Coast Path to Black Rock Sands, which was rather busier than it had been this morning!WCP Black Rock Sands to Porthmadog

Wales Coast Path: Abererch to Black Rock Sands

WCP Abererch to Black Rock Sands-331st March 2018 – 16.16 miles
Criccieth to Abererch: 9.43; Criccieth to Black Rock Sands: 6.73

Our B&B was right on the sea front at Criccieth, so we were on the Coast Path as soon as we stepped out of the front door. We headed west, just above the beach, looking back frequently at the view of Criccieth and the castle, until we reached the estuary of the Afon Dwyfor. WCP Abererch to Black Rock Sands-4We followed the river inland to the main road, where we made a short detour in to Llanystumdwy to see Lloyd George’s grave. I was rather glad we had gone as it is quite an impressive site and view.

We then had to walk alongside the main road for a good couple of miles – not too bad, but not terribly interesting, although we did get to see plenty of bus stops which showed a regular service back to Criccieth. A pleasant country lane took us under the railway, past lots of rubbish and back to the coast near the Haven caravan site, which we think must have been the old Butlins. WCP Abererch to Black Rock Sands-7This part, unsurprisingly, had quite a few people around, but within 15 minutes or so, it went quiet again. The headland had a trig point and this structure on it, then we turned the corner to walk along the long stretch of beach which goes all the way to Pwllhelli.WCP Abererch to Black Rock Sands-8WCP Abererch to Black Rock Sands-9

We headed back up to the station where we saw that the next train was due in less than 10 minutes, so we stopped here to catch it back to Criccieth.WCP Abererch to Black Rock Sands-10

We had a short break in our room in Criccieth, left some things behind, and headed out for part 2 of the walk, stopping first for an ice-cream at Cadwallader’s. WCP Abererch to Black Rock Sands-11The path ran slightly inland, alongside the railway. Part of it next to a pool was badly flooded and a bit tricky to get past. We could see people over to our right, obviously walking along the beach, so why the Coast Path comes here, I don’t know! Presumably it isn’t actually a right of way.WCP Abererch to Black Rock Sands-12

The path then took us inland, up and around the headland of Graig Ddu, then down a road to Black Rock Sands. This is well known as a huge expanse of beach where you can park.

We walked up to the access road where we would come in tomorrow, then returned to Criccieth. It did look as if you could have walked on the beach around the headland as the tide was out – and in fact, I am pretty sure now that you can – but we decided to play safe and head back around the hill, but we walked along the beach on the far side into Criccieth.WCP Criccieth to AbererchWCP Criccieth to Black Rock Sands

Wales Coast Path: Abersoch to Abererch

WCP Abersoch to Abererch-11 (2)30th March 2018 – 12.86 miles

Good Friday. Rather than heading into North Wales yesterday evening with everyone else, we got up early and drove over this morning on quiet roads. We parked in a lay-by about half a mile north of Abersoch, which we had noticed on our last visit. A path through the dunes led to the shore and the route of the coast path.

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It was a clear, sunny day. The beach took us along past a large collection of rather upmarket chalets then up and around a headland above Llanbedrog where we found the Tin Man sculpture. WCP Abersoch to Abererch-11 (6)WCP Abersoch to Abererch-11 (5)We walked through the grounds of the art gallery and then on to the beach.

We had stayed just up the road from here last time. The beach was quite a bit busier today, although the colourful beach huts had not yet been put out.

The weather had been quite warm and sunny, but this afternoon turned cloudier and cooler. The next section led along an embankment above the beach, then below it on the landward side – it wasn’t entirely clear here exactly where the path ran – although we met this gatepost who smiled at us.WCP Abersoch to Abererch-11 (9)

We took a path alongside yet another golf course – again, surprisingly quiet – and into Pwllhelli. It was quite dull by the time we got here and showed Pwllhelli as rather dull too with not much of a seaside resort about it. WCP Abersoch to Abererch-11 (10)

It was still fairly early so we carried on through the town and along the beach for a couple of miles until we came to a convenient access point to the road and a railway station. We walked along the road back into town, with a slight hope of being able to catch a bus. Back in the centre of Pwllhelli we found the ‘bus station’ (a few shelters and bus stops!) and met a couple with dogs who had seen us having lunch on the beach at Llanbedrog. They were catching the same bus as us. I was a bit dubious about the timetable, especially with it being Good Friday, but the bus arrived 20 minutes after the stated time, and about 10 minutes before my cut-off time for giving up and getting a taxi!

The bus dropped us in Abersoch, from where we had a short walk back to the car, and then we drove to our B&B in Criccieth.

WCP Abersoch to Abererch

Wales Coast Path: Pentowyn to Abersoch

WCP Hells Mouth to Abersoch20th February 2018 – 12 miles

We headed back to the same car park as yesterday, at the eastern end of Hell’s Mouth, to walk in the opposite direction. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny day with a breeze blowing and making a cloud of spray blow backwards from the waves. There were a couple of people surfing here, and later we saw many more. We took a bit of time to go the first mile or so as we were so busy looking back at the view and the surfers!


There was a fantastic 360 degree view when we reached the trig point – right across Hell’s Mouth, across the headland, then Tremadog Bay and some of the towns on the coast, with a glimpse of Snowdonia behind, though the peaks were hidden by cloud.WCP Hells Mouth to Abersoch-3

It was pleasant going walking across springy grass between the heather. We walked round to the bay at Porth Ceiriad, where we stopped for lunch, watching dozens of surfers.WCP Hells Mouth to Abersoch-4

Rounding the next headland, St Tudwal’s Islands came into view. I kept a lookout for dolphins which are meant to be frequent visitors to the bay, but didn’t see anything.WCP Hells Mouth to Abersoch-5

We had a short break when we reached the beach that stretches south of Abersoch, near this des-res. WCP Hells Mouth to Abersoch-6

We then walked alongside the golf course – surprisingly quiet – hidden from the sea by dunes, and into Abersoch. The path goes right around the little headland, although I don’t think we would have missed much if we hadn’t done the loop (although that isn’t the point, is it?). WCP Hells Mouth to Abersoch-7We took the opportunity to have coffee and cake before following the lanes over the hill back to the car park at Pentowyn. WCP Pentowyn to Abersoch


Wales Coast Path: Pentowyn to Rhiw (Hells’ Mouth)

WCP Pentowyn to Rhiw-719th February 2018 – 10.9 miles

We stayed at a very pleasant B&B in Llanbedrog, then drove the short distance to the car park at the eastern end of Porth Neigwl, or Hell’s Mouth. We went down the short path to look at the beach and the bay – very impressive with a breeze blowing the waves across the enormous bay – but as the tide was coming in we then headed inland to the alternative, safer route. WCP Pentowyn to Rhiw

This crossed farmland, following quite close to the route of a stream and was fairly muddy. It was not too difficult to walk on, but you did need to watch where you were going and concentrate a bit! It was nice to get to the road for a bit of a break. This was pretty quiet so not unpleasant walking.

Near the end of this section, the route headed down a private road, where you could see evidence of the erosion of the cliffs! WCP Pentowyn to Rhiw-6

Further along this section was a caravan site – it looked permanently lived in, not really tourers – and some long-abandoned machinery!WCP Pentowyn to Rhiw-11

We walked up through the woodland gardens at Plas-yn-Rhiw, touched the signpost at the far side (to join up our route!) and sat in the courtyard of the closed cafe to eat lunch.

We decided that as the tide had turned while we were eating, it would be much nicer to walk back along the shore, but the path down here was closed! It looked like there had been erosion damage. I suppose if you had come the other way you would have had to clamber up, but we decided to obey the signs and not clamber down, although we did see this impressive fellow (starting to smell …).WCP Pentowyn to Rhiw-12 Rather than go back over the muddy fields, we took a slightly longer route inland along the road, cutting back across more, but not so muddy, fields. It had been a fine, sunny day, but we could see rain and a rainbow in the distance and felt the merest hint of drizzle at one point. The fields here had lambs in, and one rather unusual scarecrow.

When we reached the car park, we headed back down to the beach for another look at the view. One man turned up with a surfboard. We watched him in the waves for a while, but didn’t see him actually surfing. WCP Pentowyn to Rhiw-16

The pool alongside the path was packed with frogs, full of the joys of spring!WCP Pentowyn to Rhiw-15

WCP Pentowyn to Rhiw