Wales Coast Path: Mariandyrys to Traeth Bychan

11 August 2017 – 14.3 miles

WCP Mariandyrys to Traeth Bychan-13

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.

WCP Mariandyrys to Traeth Bychan-8

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.

WCP Mariandyrys to Traeth Bychan-9

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.

WCP Mariandyrys to Traeth Bychan-10

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

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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Wales Coast Path: Beaumaris to Mariandyrys

wcp-beaumaris-824 August 2016 – 9.8 miles

Another lovely day. We packed up the tent and left the car at the campsite, then walked down to the coast. We had walked back to the campsite along the Coast Path on-road route last night; this morning we did it again, but along the shore. The tide was well out, but some of the shore was rocky, some parts were muddy, but there were lovely views across to Snowdonia, and Puffin Island coming into view at the corner of Anglesey. We saw a few boat trips from Beaumaris heading out that way. wcp-beaumaris-2

We then moved inland at a small car park where a river came down to the sea. I’m sure I saw a flash of a kingfisher here!

We had a rest on a dangerous bench.wcp-beaumaris-3

wcp-beaumaris-4The route was now mostly along the road, although it was fairly quiet. We passed some old works – presumably from the quarry a little further inland – then arrived at Penmon Priory. We took a little time to look round the priory ruins, the church and the dovecote before continuing along the toll-road.

Penmon point was quite busy. It is such a familiar view from photographs, but neither of us had ever been here before. There was a little excitement – I think someone had decided to swim out to the lighthouse, and had got into difficulties. People on the shore began to shout and wave at a passing yacht to get help, but soon dismissed it shouting “It’s okay. He’s alright now!”wcp-beaumaris-7

We met very few people once we headed away from this point. The route heads away from the coast, but still gave views back towards Puffin Island for a while. We then headed through farm paths and lanes, until we reached a small junction near Mariandyrys which seemed a convenient point to stop.

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From here it was a straightforward couple of miles back to the campsite.wcp-beaumaris-to-mariandyrys

 

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

 

 

Hawes to Great Shunner Fell

Sunday, 15 July 2012 – 13.7 miles

Beautiful sunny morning but with a chilly breeze. Packed up the car and left it at the campsite – after spotting yesterday’s young man with a beard motorcycle camping there too (that’s still not the last sighting of him though …)

We walked into the centre of Hawes, then out towards Hardraw, where we didn’t pay to see the waterfall. Funny, the village was familiar, but I remembered the pub as being on the opposite side of the road from the falls.

A well made track led up between fields, and we had to stop to take off a layer as it was warm walking uphill in the sunshine. It was much quieter than we had expected – we thought a “named hill” near popular areas of Wensleydale would attract walkers. One couple passed us, and there were a couple of women at the top of the lane having a drink. Oh, yes, and the young man with a beard, heading downhill!

As we headed uphill it got cooler with an ominous black cloud out to the west. We put coats on at lunch, remembering how we had cooled down yesterday. It was pretty cold, even considering it’s July! Robby had gloves on, and I’d have worn some had I brought any!

Great Shunner Fell

Towards the top of the fell is High Abbotside a protected area of bog and moorland regeneration. It was the familiar wet peat, but with a natural stony path, that didn’t seem bad at first, but the causey path came as a relief. Parts of that were under mud or water – trekking poles come in handy for checking if there’s something solid lurking under the surface – or not! We followed the two women we had seen earlier as they skirted round a sunken part of the path, but on the return journey we found it was okay to go along the path – poking with a pole first to find the stone.

High Abbotside moor

There’s a simple windbreak shelter at the top – a cross of four walls with benches alongside. We paused briefly to admire the view, before setting off back downhill at a brisk pace to get down out of the wind, and the rain, which started up again – proper rain this time, not the faint drizzle of earlier in the day!

It brightened up as we got back down towards the track, and we passed a large party – more people than we had seen all day (about 6-8 since Hardraw). Just as I was thinking I was getting a bit warm, and might take my coat off, the rain started again. We found a bench under a tree next to the bridge at Hardraw for a drink and a bar before heading back to Hawes along a slightly different footpath, running parallel with the Pennine Way but slightly further downhill.

Bridge at Hardraw

Hawes to Cam End

Cam End – view to Pen y Ghent

Saturday, 14 July 2012 – 17.5 miles

We camped near Hawes, at Bainbridge Ings campsite – a quiet, simple campsite with wonderful views of the village and the valley. I had thought we might be a bit mad as we headed down the East Lancs Road in torrential rain on Friday night, but as headed north, the weather cleared and it was dry and bright in Hawes.

We walked from the campsite to the village of Gayle, which is attached to Hawes. Pleasant little place with old cottages, bridge and mill, joining the Pennine Way on the far side of the village.

Gayle village

We headed uphill, fairly wet underfoot, so had to weave around the path a little. Not surprising given the ‘summer’ we’ve had so far!

Once we got higher on Dodd Fell, the route levelled off, and became a well made track. It was very quiet. We passed one couple early on, and didn’t see them again, then a young man with a beard passed us. We saw him again, where the track reached the Roman road, and he turned round there (but we will be seeing him again!)

Dodd Fell with Ingleborough in the background

The Roman road was tarmaced and we were astonished to see a van and trailer come past – I think they were working in the forest in the valley.

After lunch, we had both cooled down, and it started to rain, albeit lightly. There was a breeze, making it pretty cold. We put on our waterproofs and continued to Cam End, where the Dales Way and the Pennine Way split. We decided on this as a good turn round point as it will make for a good circular walk from Horton-in-Ribblesdale in future.There is a distant view of the Ribblesdale viaduct from here.

Cam End signpost

As soon as we turned round, out of the wind, it became warmer, and the rain stopped. On the return route, we saw the forestry van again. It stopped and the driver had a chat – warning us to look out for spearmen behind the rocks who had been there since the days of Julius Caesar (I didn’t correct his Roman history!). I suspect he hadn’t had anyone to talk to all day!

The rain started as we reached Gayle again, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the forecast had led us to believe, and it was sunny again by the time we reached Hawes. We followed the Way into town, and then back to the campsite (passing the young man with the beard on the way!).

Hawes – squeeze stile

We surprisingly tired for a relatively short and easy walk, then found when I downloaded the GPS track that it had been 17 miles, further than we had expected!