Wales Coast Path: Conwy to Tal-y-bont

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23rd July 2016 – 14.4 miles

A nice early morning drive to Conwy. We parked outside town at the Marina. We had walked from the centre of Conwy to here last year as a short afternoon walk. I haven’t written it up, but we did do it! We passed a memorial with the information that some of the D-day Mulberry harbours had been constructed here. 20160723-p1070157

We walked along the beach for the first part of the walk, following the last part of the Conwy estuary, then turning the corner of the coast with Anglesey coming into view. wcp-conwy

The next part runs along the busy A55, and while it might not be the most picturesque walking route, it was interesting as we have driven this way so many times. We followed the bike path round the outside of the cliff through which the Penmaenmawr tunnel runs.20160723-p1070163

At the next tunnel, the footpath is taken between the carriageways on a footbridge, which we had never noticed when driving, up onto the hillside. Here we met many cyclists on a charity ride. I didn’t take a photograph of them and wish I had now.20160723-p1070177

We entered Llanfairfechan through a rather grim estate, but it eventually turned into a rather pleasant, quiet seaside town. We had lunch in a park shelter (it had turned rather breezy) watching a swan with cygnets on the lake. wcp-conwy-8

The next section was very different, as the road moves inland, and we followed the coast through wetland nature reserves with large flocks of birds on ponds just set back from the shore. 20160723-p1070188

It was satisfying to see that we were making progress. Where Anglesey had been on the horizon this morning, we were now past Puffin Island and opposite Beaumaris. In the distance, we began to see the tower of Penrhyn Castle on the outskirts of Bangor.

wcp-conwy-9The route here moves inland around the grounds of the castle. When we got to the main road, we saw a bus stop and checked the timetable for the next bus back to Conwy – another 20 minutes to wait … and then one zoomed past! We looked after it in surprise and another one appeared. We quickly stuck our hands out and got on! It dropped us off a short distance from the Marina, where we had a pleasant coffee and cake sitting outside.wcp-conwy-to-tal-y-bont

Garrigill to Kirkhaugh

south-tyne1st June 2016 – 15.4 miles

We packed up our campsite and drove the short distance to Alston, where we parked the car and bought a few supplies (lunch!). It was a bit drizzly, and we met another walker sheltering in the square who was waiting for his friends to do a similar walk to our planned route to Garrigill.alston

We left Alston along the river bank, skirting the back of the  Youth Hostel, and trying to recognise it as the one we stopped in about 20 years ago (we think it could be a different building). The path went through fields, following the river, but some way uphill for much of the way. There were plenty of sheep with lambs in the fields and many dry stone walls to cross. We met a couple of families of walkers coming in the opposite direction, which is unusual enough to mention.lambs

As we got closer to Garrigill, the valley got narrower andthe path ran closer to the river South Tyne. Where we crossed the footbridge, we met the man from Alston, who obviously had not met up with his friends, heading back towards Alston. He was doing a circular route and he told us something about a diversion on his route.

The last section seemed further than expected. The guidebook says something about it being dreary amd full of spoil heaps and scrap yards. That did seem a bit of an exaggeration. Yes, there were a few spoil heaps closer to Garrigill, but I probably wouldn’t have noticed them if the guidebook hadn’t mentioned them. And, yes, there was one scrapyard, but it was quite an interesting and rather eccentric place!scrap-yard

I was glad to reach Garrigill and have lunch. We returned by the same route – which, as usual, seemed much quicker. sialge

The afternoon had brightened up, so we continued north from Alston. We passed Harbut House, rather grand, with a peacock, then crossed the A689 and headed uphill  to more open country. Route finding was not always obvious, but we did manage to get it right. Crossing a stream meant we had crossed into Northumberland – pretty much the last leg of the Pennine Way, but it is a pretty big county!boundary

I noticed some unusually shaped mounds in the distance and was quite surprised when we got closer to see we had reached the Roman fort sooner than expected. I also hadn’t expected the fort to be earthworks – I think I’d expected some visible stone walls. earthworks

At this point the Pennine Way lead back downhill and across the main road. The South Tyne trail runs nearby, along the South Tynedale narrow guage railway.

We followed this all the way back to Alston. It was nice to have an easy, level route back after a pretty long day (a long three days in all!). alston-eveningAnd the sun shone in the end!garrigill-to-kirkhaugh

 

 

Garrigill to Cross Fell

Greg's hut

Greg’s hut

31st May 2016 – 15.9 miles

We drove a short way over the hills from Haggs Bank campsite to the village of Garrigill. The Pennine Way follows a wide track out of the village and uphill between fields. There must have been nesting birds in the land either side as the lapwings and curlews were very active and vocal as we passed. We saw a few birds we didn’t know (not surprising as we aren’t particularly clued up on birds), standing on small mounds and calling. I took a rather blurry picture for identification – golden plover, so now there’s another one I know!

Golden Plover

Golden Plover

The open country higher up is obviously managed for game. There was a line of grouse butts and there were traps set into logs running across drainage ditches.

trap

Trap

The area was once heavily mined for lead. There are shafts, levels and workings marked on the maps. today we saw a few capped shafts – most are now filled in, leaving just hollows in the ground. We didn’t see any evidence of where the miners lodged though and wondered if they slept in the levels (although the Internet suggests they could have walked to and from the workings each day – a long walk!).

Capped shaft

Capped shaft

The weather was better than yesterday, and there was only a little cloud around at the top of Cross Fell, where we had another welcome break in the shelter, along with two German women.

Cross Fell shelter

Shelter on top of Cross Fell

We had decided to loop back to the south of Cross Fell and follow a bridleway back tothe Pennine Way. We walked up and down the saddle point looking for where the path left, eventually resorting to the GPS and going across trying to avoid the worst of the bogs. We soon came to a gate with a blue ‘bridleway’ waymark so knew we were in the right place, but very soon the path petered out. There was nothing visible on the ground so we decided to contour round Cross Fell and rejoin the Pennine Way. It wasn’t as bad a route as it could have been (we only had to climb over one fence).

We were very glad to rejoin the Pennine Way, with the German women just behind us. We leapfrogged each other a few times, going down the path. It seemed a long way back, with the landscape not changing much a few points of reference until we reached the grouse butts, and we were soon back to the lapwings and curlews warning us off.

Garrigll

Garrigill

Garrigll Post Office

Cross Fell to Garrigill

 

Pennine Way – Cross Fell

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Cross Fell in mist

30th May 2016 – 15.4 miles

Hello, Pennine Way. It’s us again! Three years, new knee, interesting medical adventures, but we’re back.

Three years ago, we abandoned the walk from Dufton to Cross Fell before reaching the ridge as it was knee-deep or more in snow. The problem now was we had to gain the ridge again to get to the Pennine Way.

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Milburn

We camped for a few days at Haggs Bank, near Alston. Today, we drove and parked in the tiny village of Milburn (I wish I’d photographed the school – one small building in the centre of the village square) and headed straight uphill, on a reasonably good path. Once we hit open access land, the going got a little harder, with no visible path over rough ground.

We stopped for a drink, thinking we were making good progress, then checked the GPS and realised we hadn’t gone as far as we thought. A short plod further uphill and we came to a track which we followed around the hill. We had seen some sort of pylon on the horizon and, as we got closer, I remember the map had shown ‘ski-hoist’. Apparently there are currently ski runs on the other side of the hill, but this area has seen better days …

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Ski hoist

A short way ahead of us, we could see what looked like a road, coming to meet us uphill. I knew that the map had only shown a bridleway and had decided that it looked a longer and harder walk than the one we had taken. We thought it must be a track … but it looked like tarmac. It must be a private road … but there’s a car parked at the top, and a cyclist getting his bike out to ride down! You mean … we could have driven up here, and walked the Pennine Way part without the 2-3 hour slog uphill??? Rather dispirited by this, we had lunch and made a unanimous decision not to loop back a mile to the point we had previously reached but to keep going (maybe one day we will feel guilty enough to do that!).

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The road up

Having finally reached the ridge, the route was clear, although the  ridge was now covered in low cloud. We initially followed a broad track, but realised we were heading away from the golf-ball radar station on Great Dun Fell, and retraced our steps a short way.

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Great Dun Fell

After this, we were back to the familiar stone flags across slightly boggy ground, to Little Dun Fell with the large stony bulk of Cross Fell looming ahead in the mist.A slighlty rocky route led to the flat top. We were rather glad of the line of cairns to show the way in the mist, although it is so featureless they are probably useful even on a clear day. We reached the shelter, glad to sit down out of the cold wind, having reached the highest point of the Pennines.

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Heading up Cross Fell

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Summit cairn, Cross Fell

Heading north and downhill, we met three separate pairs of walkers, the first (and only) people we saw all day. At a T-junction, the Pennine Way headed right, towards Garrigill. We headed left on a good path and then a track, marked on the map as Pennine Journey. Heading downhill, the cloud cleared and we could see across the Eden Valley toward the Lake District fells, although the views weren’t as clear as last time, in the snow!

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Horse-drawn caravan

We followed quiet country lanes back to Milburn, passing a horse-drawn van, one of several in the area, gathering in readiness for Appleby Horse Fair later in the week.

15.5 miles, of which about 3.5 were actually the Pennine Way!Cross Fell

 

 

Wales Coast Path: Greenfield to Ffynnongroyw

WCP-11Saturday, 2nd March 2013 – 13.5 miles

Our first day – written up over 18 months later!

We decided to have a go at walking some of the newly created Wales Coast Path. It’s not too far from home and didn’t look too strenuous for Robby whose knee was being troublesome. As we had already cycled what looks like the same route from Chester to Bagillt, we opted to start further down the coast at Greenfield near Holywell, where we knew we could park.
Almost straight away, we came to somewhere we hadn’t known about – Greenfield dock. The tide was out, leaving a muddy inlet with an unexpected number of small boats.

Greenfield Dock

Greenfield Dock

The path led alongside the River Dee which was calm and still with great views back towards Wirral (where we live). I rather liked this carving looking out over the river.

Looking over the Dee

Looking over the Dee

The path led between the river and the road and railway, with quite a high embankment to the river. You could see how this land was part of the coastal plain with embankments and ditches everywhere.

We got to Mostyn where the old ship Duke of Lancaster is still moored. Many years ago it was used as a nightclub but now stands empty and unused except by graffiti artists!

Duke of Lancaster

Duke of Lancaster

Graffiti

Graffiti

The path then went inland, past Mostyn docks surprisingly busy – and along the road for a while, with some short stretches leading through grass or trees at the roadside.It made for a slightly less interesting walk, although the old station building at Mostyn was worth a photo.

Mostyn station building

Mostyn station building

Relief on Mostyn station

Relief on Mostyn station

We got to the village of Ffynnongroyw, a street of small houses and many pubs. This looked like a suitable place to turn round, with on-street parking for next time. It was the day after St David’s day, and most of the houses were flying Welsh flags, or St David’s flags, although one brave soul had an England flag on display.

We took an alternative route back, which took us inland and round the back of a hill. It was a bit further and harder walking but a lot more interesting and pleasant than returning by the same stretch of road. It also took us under this building, part of the Mostyn estate. I think this is the ‘Dry bridge lodge’ which has a carriage drive passing through the building while the public road goes underneath.

 

Dry Bridge Lodge, Mostyn Hall

Dry Bridge Lodge, Mostyn Hall

From here, we returned by the same route along the river. The tide was in and we were treated tot he sight of flocks of oystercatchers flying round.

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Oystercatchers

WCP Greenfield to Fynnongroyw

WCP Greenfield to Fynnongroyw

 

Wales Coast Path: Colwyn Bay to Conwy

WCP Colwyn Bay to Conwy-15Sunday, 9th November, 2014 – 15.9 miles

We set off from home fairly early (for a Sunday morning!) and got to Colwyn Bay about 9:15. Plenty of free parking along the prom, so we parked very close to the pier and set off. Bright but crisp air with a few dog walkers on the beach and quite a few runners and cyclists.

Victoria Pier, Colwyn Bay

Victoria Pier, Colwyn Bay

We were rather surprised to see that there is very little evidence of ‘seaside resort’ in Colwyn Bay anymore, with no cafes or arcades evident on the prom. What was obviously once hotels or guest houses were being renovated into apartments. It looks like a pleasant residential place nowadays. Slightly further along, Rhos-on-Sea had more of the resort about it, with a good number of cafes and restaurants on the prom. We also came across St Trillo’s chapel, reputedly the smallest church in Britain, seating six.

St Trillo's Chapel

St Trillo’s Chapel

St Trillo's Chapel

St Trillo’s Chapel

We had a slight detour from the promenade here when the path had a short alternative route along the beach, with a good view across the bay to the Little Orme. It was good to get to the Little Orme and have a grassy footpath to walk on. We wandered around the headland for a bit, taking in the views back across the coast, then took a steep path uphill which had once been the inclined plane for the quarries.

View from Little Orme

View from Little Orme

Uphill on the Little Orme

Uphill on the Little Orme

Up here it was a lot quieter. Obviously fewer people are willing to make the climb. As we took the path downhill on the far side, the sound of ‘Land of my Fathers’ drifted up. It was Remembrance Sunday and there was obviously a service nearby, but we couldn’t see where the sound was coming from.

We were now walking round Llandudno Bay. There were a lot more people around here and from the numbers wearing dark clothes and poppies we could see they had attended a Remembrance Service. At the War Memorial, they were just packing away the PA, etc. There are large poppies on either side, one saying 1914, the other 1918.

Llandudno war memorial

Llandudno war memorial

A slightly more frivolous memorial is to Lewis Carroll. There is a trail around the Great Orme dedicated to Alice in Wonderland as apparently Alice Liddell’s family had a house here and Lewis Carroll stayed there.

Mad Hatter, Llandudno

Mad Hatter, Llandudno

We had lunch on a promenade bench, then headed for Marine Drive, which goes around the Great Orme. An ominous black cloud was heading out of Snowdonia towards us and it rained for about half an hour – not heavy, but I was glad it stopped when it did before I got wet feet.

Vintage bus tour on the Great Orme

Vintage bus tour on the Great Orme

We also saw the biggest fairy ring of toadstools I have ever come across!

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Toadstools

As we came down from the Orme to the west shore of Llandudno, it felt a lot cooler. We had been sheltered by the Orme earlier in the day, but here it was much fresher!

Looking south across the Conwy estuary

Looking south across the Conwy estuary

The route here took us along the Conwy estuary, past Deganwy, where we had spent New Year. The storms had caused a lot of damage. Eleven months on, the debris had been cleared but the promenade had not yet been repaired.

Storm damaged promenade, Deganwy

Storm damaged promenade, Deganwy

We walked into the sun to Conwy. We had a bit of time to wait for the train so we went into a cafe, where we were met by what can only be described as a baleful look … it must have been nearly closing time! The coffee and cake was nice – a smile wouldn’t have hurt …

Conwy Railway Arch

Conwy Railway Arch

It was quite surprising (and gratifying) how far the train journey back to Colwyn Bay seemed to be.WCP Colwyn Bay to Conwy

Wales Coast Path: Prestatyn to Colwyn Bay

WCP-17Wednesday, 29th October 2014 – 16.3 miles

A cool but sunny mid-week walk in October half-term. We parked at Barkby Beach, near Pontins, where the ticket machines were out of order, as they had been at the beginning of summer. The walk today was all tarmac or pavement, right along the promenade or embankment.

Embankment near Prestatyn

Embankment near Prestatyn

There were quite a number of people around – dog walkers, cyclists, a few families – as we walked along the embankment with a footpath and cycle path. We passed the start or end of the Offa’s Dyke Path, with this rather nice sculpture, which hadn’t been there all those years ago when we were last in Prestatyn to start that walk!

Offa's Dyke start point

Offa’s Dyke start point

A short walk past a golf course, with caravans in the distance brought us to Rhyl Promenade. Rhyl is looking very run down. Even at half-term, with a good number of visitors about, many amusement arcades and cafes were shut. The Sun Centre closed down earlier this year, but we could still look in through the window. It doesn’t look any different than it did 20 odd years ago! We could also have booked tickets to see Ruth Madoc or Sue Pollard in a choice of panto … we kept walking!

Rhyl Sun Centre

Rhyl Sun Centre

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At the far end of town is a new bridge across the harbour, only opened recently to accommodate the Coast Path and cycle route. The sculptures are of famous people from Rhyl …(I can name three famous Belgians!)

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Pont y Ddraig

WCP-8We had lunch on a bench overlooking the harbour which was quite pleasant although the sun went in and it got a bit chilly. We took a short detour round the headland to see the view, then continued on a tarmac path past endless caravan parks. Some did at least have grass and some space between caravans, but I do not see the attraction at all.WCP-11 WCP-10A chatty man caught up with us and talked for a while about women’s rugby and maths! We left him at Abergele rail station with the intention of returning by train. However, it had only just gone 2 o’clock so we decided to carry on to Colwyn Bay.WCP-12Past Abergele, the path runs virtually alongside the A55, which is a familiar route. It was rather interesting to walk and see it from a different perspective. Sometimes we were level with the road; other times we dropped down, but could still hear traffic noise. Apart from that, it had a pleasant feel to it, with bushes alongside the path and the sea on the other side. We were interested to see a flock of gulls floating near a set of posts as if they were waiting in turn for the tide to go out so they could sit on the posts as they were uncovered. There were quite a number of cormorants on the posts too. WCP-14 WCP-13Llandulas was a nice spot with an inlet nestled under the dual carriageway. If there had been a station here, that would have been ideal. Instead it became a bit of a slog into Colwyn Bay. However, we did get a closer look at the jetty that takes stone from the quarry. There were people on it so it still is functional.

Jetty near quarry

Jetty near quarry

The path turned into promenade. On our map printed out from the Wales Coast Path website, this is marked as closed with an alternative inland route shown. However, it was all open. I wonder if the promenade had been repaired after last winter’s storms? Also there is a rather swish new marina building, so that could have necessitated some closures, I suppose. We walked up to the pier, arriving just before dusk, with lovely evening light across the bay. The pier is closed and nearly derelict (but looks like an interesting photographic subject!).

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Victoria Pier, Colwyn Bay

We turned off then, to the station, just a few hundred yards away. It was a pity that it was too dark on the way back to look out at the way we had come! We were both pretty tired – possibly because it was pretty level and repetitive walking. At least we’ve made it past all those caravans!!

WCP - Prestatyn to Colwyn Bay 16,3 miles