Wales Coast Path: Mariandyrys to Traeth Bychan

11 August 2017 – 14.3 miles

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View north of Benllech

We are staying back at Kingsbridge campsite near Beaumaris. We walked from there about two miles to where we had left the path about a year ago, near Mariandyrys. The forecast wasn’t good for today and it began to drizzle a bit as we left the road. At the bottom of some wooden steps were three young rabbits. Two scampered away and stayed still in the undergrowth (still visible) but the third stayed until we were very close, even after saying “shoo!” to him.

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Young rabbit

The path headed downhill to the beach at the eastern end of Red Wharf Bay. The tide was out and Robby decided to walk along the beach a short way, while I followed the waymarks onto the road.

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Red Wharf Bay

After a break, we both walked along the beach, then saw there were inlets ahead of us and thought we ought to head inland. We noticed we were quite a way from the road with marsh and a wide inlet between us! We skirted round the inlet where it was shallow on the beach and made our way back to the path. The tide was a long way out and not due to come in for a while so we were in no danger – I’d like to think we are sensible enough that we wouldn’t have walked on the shore if the tide had been coming in –  but it made us think about keeping an eye on the route.

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Coastal Environment Project plaque

It was amazingly quiet. We had seen one couple returning to the car park with a dog, but otherwise there was nobody out. The weather wasn’t bad at all – odd bits of drizzle, but you would expect to have seen someone! We did meet another dog walker near the car park where we had lunch. A very picturesque spot with a river inlet, an old boat, salt marsh with gulls, egrets and the obligatory heron.

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Afon Nodwydd

We followed the path along the shore, past some very desirable cottages. The tide was now high, but there was only one part of the shore path where you had to tread carefully crossing a wet patch on rocks. We then came to the village of Red Wharf Bay – what a surprise after a lonely morning to find a bustling pub, restaurant, car park etc. Only a small place, but it looked lovely. We had an ice cream (and returned that evening for a very good dinner in the Ship Inn).

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Ice cream in Red Wharf Bay

We now passed a very large holiday site full of static caravans at St David’s Park. It was pretty well hidden away though. A bit further along the coast and we came to the resort of Benllech, that did look to be full of static caravans! The drizzle had turned to light rain here, which was as bad as it got all day – much better than forecast and I didn’t get my overtrousers out!

WCP Mariandyrys to Traeth Bychan

View back to Benllech

Benllech was as far as we had intended to come, but it was still early. We had a walk round to look for the bus stop and bus times, etc, then continued on our way. The walk was pleasant among trees and hedgerows with views up the coast. A few more caravan parks, but nothing too intrusive.

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Caravans!

We finished our walk at Traeth Bychan, where a few people had boats and kayaks in the water. There is a good-sized pay and display car park here, toilets and a cafe (oh yes, and static caravans!). We walked up to the main road where we could see a bus stop – and a bus shot past! 30 seconds later and we’d have seen it coming! As the buses are every half hour, we walked a bit further on to catch one on the outskirts of Benllech. This took us to Menai Bridge where another bus took us past Beaumaris, a short walk back to our tent. WCP Mariandyrys to Traeth Bychan

 

 

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Wales Coast Path: Bangor to Caernarfon

WCP Bangor to Caernarfon4th August 2017 – 11.8 miles

I’m not really sure why we haven’t done much of our longer walks in spring or early summer, but here we are again. The forecast looked better today than it has been for a while, and Friday is a better day than Saturday to drive into North Wales in August!

We found a parking place in a semi-residential area above the suspension bridge, then walked down to the bridge, only to find there were several convenient places we could have parked down there!

We soon came across a Botanic Garden. The path lead along the coast, through the trees, including this impressive Lucombe Oak.

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Lucombe Oak

It was a very pleasant walk, with glimpses of the Menai Strait and the Britannia Bridge, though it was obscured by trees preventing a good photograph. Just past the Britannia Bridge, we found this section which we later learned is a section of the old bridge which was damaged by fire in the 70s.

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Section of the old Britannia Bridge

The next section was through National Trust woodland in Glan Faenol, where we came across this impressive (and slightly spooky) mausoleum.

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Vaynol Mausoleum

Leaving the woods, we had lunch in a field with views across the Menai Strait to Plas Newydd on Anglesey.

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View to Plas Newydd

The route then took us inland along an A-road. There were few waymarks here so it was good to find some at the junction taking us onto a cycle path. We walked this section with a local lady. She told us how she had joined Slimming World and begun to walk every day. She has since lost 5 stone and stopped taking tablets for various medical conditions. She took a fork in the path to head down towards the coast and return to Bangor while we carried straight on. We later found we should have followed her, but we walked along the main road in Y Felinheli until we met up again with the path.

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Old station building

From here, the Wales Coast Path and the cycle path are part of the Lôn Las Menai which is easy to follow, although a few Coast Path waymarkers would be nice. It was pleasant and easy walking, although again trees prevented us from getting a clear view of the sea.

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Lôn Las Menai

We followed the path into Caernarfon and round to the far side of the castle.

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Caernarfon

We crossed the river, so we can park there to begin the next leg of the walk, then took the bus back to Bangor, very close to where we had parked. WCP Bangor to Caernarfon

Wales Coast Path: Aberdaron to Penllech

wcp-aberdaron-penllech19 November 2016 – 15.4 miles

We stayed at a very nice B&B in the centre of the Llyn Peninsula. The owner was chatting to us and said they had a lot of walkers staying there, including another Ruth, who was also walking the Coast Path – yes, I follow her blog! (coastalwalker.co.uk). He very kindly also followed us as we dropped off our car from the turn around point, then drove us down to Aberdaron, so we could do a linear walk. wcp-aberdaron-penllech-2

We had a quick look at the beach and bay at Aberdaron, then set of along the cliff paths. At the next bay we saw a man heading for a dip in the sea! Now, it was a pleasant day for November … but …! wcp-aberdaron-penllech-3

We headed west along the coast, with the bulk of Bardsey Island ahead of us. We climbed over the headland to reach the tip of the Llyn Peninsula, and you could see some of the buildings on the far side of the island. wcp-aberdaron-penllech-4

The coastline became more rugged, with cliffs and jagged rocks facing the Irish Sea. From the high point of the headland, you could see for miles around the coast, up towards Anglesey, south across Cardigan Bay, and inland to the snow-capped peaks in Snowdonia. There was a small coastguard lookout here and there had been an RAF station there during the War – some concrete foundations were visible around the area. wcp-aberdaron-penllech-7

We met a couple of groups of people by the headland. Later we met a runner and a couple of dog walkers, but otherwise it was fairly quiet. There were still a few people around when we reached the wide sandy beach at Porth Oer, families, well wrapped up and kids in wellies. Time was getting on and so we decided to play safe and take the waymarked path on top of the cliff, rather than walking along the beach and finding out why it was called Whistling Sands, just in case there wasn’t an obvious route off the beach at the far end (there was!). wcp-aberdaron-penllech-9

We were conscious of the time, and the light fading. I think this section had a lot of wishful thinking – that bay ahead of us is the one we are heading for! – but it wasn’t. The path was still pretty good, and we could see where we were going, but we knew this would not last for much longer, and so decided to head inland. wcp-aberdaron-penllech-10There were not many signposts, but we headed across a field that looked like a used path heading to a group of houses . At the far end there was a waymarker. We got to the house, walked the short distance across their back garden (sorry! – didn’t set off any alarms or anything!) and to a long farm track back to the road.

By this time, it was almost dark so it was quite a relief to just walk the last mile or two on quiet roads back to the car park. The route actually turned out to be a bit further than we’d anticipated (closer to 16 than 13 miles!) and maybe if we’d checked properly we would have walked a little faster in the morning. Another adventure!wcp-aberdaron-penllech

 

 

Haltwhistle to Housesteads

pw-haltwhistle-housesteads-527 October 2016 – 11 miles

We packed up our holiday cottage and drove a short way up the road to park on the roadside. We headed across a field to Hadrian’s Wall. The way today followed the Wall and so wayfinding was no problem at all. There were also more people around than yesterday.

The Wall itself is extant for most of the route, with the foundations of some turrets visible, and some of the milecastles well preserved.pw-haltwhistle-housesteads-2 It would be good one day to take it a bit slower and actually look at what is visible on the ground. The weather was a lot duller and cooler today with a cold wind.

Views stretched for a good distance in all directions, and it was good to look west and see where we had walked two days ago. Looking forward, there were outcrops of crags as good visible landmarks. We had lunch sheltered in a wood on top of one of these crags.pw-haltwhistle-housesteads

Rather nice to see Sycamore Gap, such a famous view. pw-sycamore-gap

The Pennine Way leaves Hadrian’s Wall at Turret 37A and we could see it heading north across what could be rather wet ground!pw-haltwhistle-housesteads-4 As Housesteads was less than a mile away, we kept going to turn around there, expecting coffee and cake. What a disappointment – they only had a drinks machine! – so we had an ice-cream and a toilet stop before heading back.

We did try to go for some of the way along the Military Way, just south of the Wall, and rather more level! We didn’t stay on it all the way, but we missed out the worst of the ups and downs.

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Haltwhistle to Lambley

pennine-way-hadrians-wall25 October 2016 – 18 miles

Today was possibly one of the best and worst days of the Pennine Way!

Staying in a holiday cottage just outside Haltwhistle, we had a short walk up the road to join the Pennine Way where it runs alongside Hadrian’s Wall. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny day. Walking along Hadrian’s Wall was great, interesting and easy wayfinding. There were quite a few walkers about, some obviously just visiting the Wall with others looking as if they were doing some long distance walking. We had lunch at Walltown Crags picnic site, showing how the area had been quarried in the 19th and 20th century – it seems unthinkable to be quarrying until relatively recently in such an historic area!

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Walking further along the route of the wall, we came to the rather impressive ruins of Thirwall Castle.

pennine-way-hadrians-wall-3Shortly after this, the Pennine Way splits from the Hadrian’s Wall Path, and we saw no othe walkers – apart from one man in the distance on the moors.

After crossing the busy A69 we headed towards open moorland, first on a good track which soon petered out. Some of the ground was very wet – there was a board walk along one stretch but as there was a huge muddy area in front of it, we skirted round. The path was very difficult to find and we ended up following a fence line to get back on course. Even looking back, the path was not really visible on the ground. Blenkinsopp Common was very wet, and we just had to find the best route across while staying on course (luckily the Pennine Way runs in a pretty straight line). This was where we saw the other walker – he was walking alongside a wall – I wonder if the ground was any more solid? At least it was just wet, not as muddy and peaty as some sections further south.

pennine-way-hadrians-wall-5The next section was similarly wet, with some boardwalks, but not nearly enough! I think we were not quite on the route for some parts, but we were just keeping going to get off the moor!pennine-way-hadrians-wall-6

The next section was rough ground, but a lot drier. The GPS had been going through batteries all day, and now the last set gave up. But we set off in what we thought was the correct line, then ended up at the road about a mile north of where we should be. We had over-compensated to the left, but this was no bad thing as we walked down the road to where we had intended to be – much easier!

This took us to the village of Lambley from where a disused railway line has been turned into a foot & cycle path to take us back to Haltwhistle. It began at this viaduct over the River Tyne.pennine-way-hadrians-wall-7pennine-way-hadrians-wall-8

We had realised that it would be getting dark and so a railway track would be a feasible walk. It was completely dark when we got back to Haltwhistle, very glad to be there and very glad of the hearty dinner in the Black Bull (which had been recommended!).

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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

 

 

Top Withens to Ickornshaw

Top Withens

Top Withens

31 August 2013 – 16.3 miles

We drove over the moors and parked on the roadside just past Stanbury and Ponden Reservoir, next to a car belonging to a man from North Wales who was planning a similar walk to us.

Ponden Reservoir

Ponden Reservoir

We walked around Ponden Reservoir (where we could have parked on the unmade road!) and over the moors towards Top Withens, passing a couple of rather nice modernised farmhouses. Lots of the signs had a Japanese version as well – they must be keen on the Brontes. We couldn’t work out what the green discs were though.

Japanese signpost

Japanese signpost

We returned to the car and headed to the path north of the road, meeting the man from North Wales on his way back. This was another fairly straightforward path over Oakworth Moor and Ickornshaw Moor, flagged in many places, although eroded in others and with a few 90 degree turns to watch out for.

Heading down towards Ickornshaw and Cowling we were puzzled by the number of wooden huts, all boarded up, but all in good repair with chimneys on many of them. I’ve since looked it up on the Internet and found they are shooting huts, belonging to the villagers, who can stay there overnight ready for an early start on the higher parts of the moor.

Shooting hut

Shooting hut

There was a very slight diversion to the path where somebody had fenced off part of the fields for a smallholding with pig sties and vegetable garden.

Pigs

Pigs

Cowling church

Cowling church

Once we reached the main road at Ickornshaw and Cowling, we turned round and returned by the same route, then drove a short way for a very nice pub dinner just before Stanbury (The Old Silent Inn I think).Top Withens to Cowling