81. Fairbourne to Aberdyfi

I had spotted a potential  weather window between some the recurring storms, the forecast looked good with sunshine and low wind speeds.

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Looking down to Fairbourne and Barmouth (r)

I drove very early to Aberdyfi Station were I parked the car, it was pouring down, but I believed in the forecast that it would stop before I started walking. I caught the 07:02 train to Fairbourne. The conductor was not with it and gave me a ticket from Tywyn to Fairbourne and only charged me £2.65. I questioned it but he told me not to worry about it!! Result. The mornings were beginning to slightly draw out which although it was not quite light yet, i did not need my headtorch.

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Upland tracks and green lanes

I Followed the path along the seafront art Fairbourne before looping back to climb high above the Tywyn road. I passed through a disused quarry. It was steep climbing to gain the height but the views down to Fairbourne, Barmouth, up towards  Porthmadog and all along the Lleyn Peninsular were spectacular. Unfortunately, my camera did not capture this vista that well. The high route was due to the main road, the A493 not having footpaths or a verge. The path dropped down to the sleepy village of Llangwngril, before re-ascending up a steep road, which ascended and descended, twisted and turned, making me very frustrated, so with the main road in sight again I decided to don the hi-vis vest and take my chances on the main road.

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The eloquent footbridge over the Afon Dysynni

The next 3 miles were basically climbing up onto walls, criss-crossing the road so that traffic could see me and really getting a move-on! I had a couple of instances where traffic from opposite direction met me, which was interesting! I would not advise it though, as there’s always a boy-racer about or somebody reading their texts!

I was pleased to get off the main road and join up with the path again along a quiet road that ran alongside the railway. The recently built footbridge across the Afon Dysynni was quite impressive and led along a road that took me straight into Tywyn.

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The snow-capped peaks of Cadair Idris

The seafront at Tywyn had seen better days, but the view out from the promenade stretched from Bardsey Island to Strumble Head and was magnificent, with the coastline of Ceredigion and Pembroke on show. The sea vista was also not the view on show, to the east the snow-capped peaks of Cadair Idris and Tarrenhendre were cloud free. The final few miles into Aberdyfi was easy walking along the golf course and then onto the beach, before skirting inland to pass underneath the railway line.

I made reasonable time in doing the 16 miles in 5.5hrs

Distance today = 16 miles
Total distance =   1231 miles

 

80. Llanbedr to Fairbourne

Well, yet again the weather forecasters got it wrong, well for the first half of the day anyway. It poured down with rain as I drove very early to Fairbourne railway station where I parked my car. I caught  the 7:30 train to Llanbedr which cost me £2.95.

The WCP passes right past Llanbedr railway stop (hardly a station!) so I immediatley carried on from my previous trip. Unfortunately, the weather was not playing ball and for the next 2 hours it continued to rain with hale and sleet thrown in. This first part of the walk was along roads which skirted the perimeter of the old Llanbedr airfield now used as industrial offices and with a  local flying Club. The path was winding its way out to Shell Island (if you ever go there you will realise how it got it’s name!) and the promise of some beach walking.

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The Three Alpacas

When I eventually hit the beach I was fortunate to have the wind at my back, so I literally sail-boated in a southerly direction for three miles. However, there was a river crossing coming up and that necessitated an inland diversion to Talybont and a bridging point. It was quite tough following the way signs and cross-referencing with the map, it was bitterly cold and my fingers were feeling it!

Some of the fields, particularly the ones with cattle in were an absolute quagmire to cross. However, an encounter lightened my mood as I continued to  plough through this diversion. Have you ever got that feeling when you you are walking that something is behind you? Well I had just crossed this small field and was about to go through a gate, when I had this feeling that something was behind me. Well imagine my surprise when I was confronted by three alpacas. They had followed me silently across the field and were about 2 metres away. It was quite funny because I had watched, about two days previously, the Aardman production of Shaun the Sheep: The Farmers Llamas which was very funny. Anyhow it cheered me up.

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Dolphin statue Barmouth

Eventually, I reached the  main road which meant pavement walking all the way into Barmouth. I was rewarded by the elevated road looking back and seeing the whole of the Lleyn penisinular, including Bardsey island.

 

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Looking across to Morfa Mawddach

I passed through Barmouth and crossed the Mawddach Estuary over Barmouth Bridge via the wooden planked footpath (which also allows motorcycles strangely!). As I was crossing the bridge a train was coming in the opposite direction. The views up to a snow covered Cadair idris were amazing. The sun eventually came out  as I walked into Fairbourne completing the 16 miles in 4.5hrs.

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The Fairbourne narrow gauge railway

Distance today = 16 miles
Total distance =   1215 miles

 

79. Porthmadog to Llanbedr

The first walk of 2016!!

The weather forecast, again, was miles off, forecasting cloud, but instead it rained heavily for most of the walk. This was a very early start and required me to drive to Llanbedr and park in the free car park just outside the village. It was pouring down as I made my way into the village to catch the 06:38  #38 bus to the Oakley Arms, Tan-y-Bwlch then the no. 1B bus to Porthmadog. Both buses were very busy, as there was a train drivers strike on Arriva Wales.

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Looking back to Porthmadog from Penryhn -Isaf

I set off from Porthmadog in the dark walking along the sea-wall. Visibility was ok and it improved as the morning wore on, but still raining most of the time. I walked around Port Merion, but not the actual “Village”. For those who have never visited Port Merion it is well worth a visit. I remember watching “The Prisoner” as a child, where the series was filmed.

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The Snowdonia National Park HQ in Minffordd

I walked down the main road into Minfordd then into Penryhdeudraeth before taking the upgraded road out past the small train request stop at Llandecwyn. The path continued out towards Morfa Harlech on a levee, which unfortunately cattle had been using; so I therefore jumped down and walked along a rough track on the shore side.

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Looking across to Port Merion

Before coming out of Morfa Harlech, I took a wrong turn, I heard some shouting and the farmer was pointing in a different direction, I retraced my steps and found a partially obscure sign. I opted for a more direct route which did not take me into Harlech itself, but headed straight through the golf course. Although the ground was very wet, I was not greatly hindered by flooding.

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Looking back at a very gloomy Morfa Harlech

The final mile saw the rain beating down on me again, but my new Scarpa boots held up really well, both in comfort and dry feet. I made excellent time for the 16 miles taking 4hrs 50 mins.

 

 

 

Distance today = 16 miles
Total distance =   1199 miles

 

78. Pwllheli to Porthmadog

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Approaching Criccieth with the castle prominent

This was to be my last section on the Lleyn Peninsular and looking back I quite enjoyed it. I thought I may have had transport problems, but in the end the area was served by a good, reliable and affordable bus network. The country had been hit with numerous storms over Christmas and some areas of North Wales had been affected by them, leading to some road closures at times. I saw a small weather window, which I intended to use to complete my last walk on the Lleyn.

I drove very early to Porthmadog and parked in a free-car park about 250m from the bus stop. I caught the 07:50 bus No.3 to Pwllheli.

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Looking towards Moel y Gest (in the distance)

The first three miles or so are along a footpath alongside the main road back to Pwllheli. Evidence  of floods could still be seen in the surrounding fields. I was soon walking down a lane to a holiday camp and which passed over the rail tracks at a small rail stop called Abererch; which brought me back onto the beach. I managed to collect a number of beautifully coloured clam shells from the beach.

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Looking back towards Criccieth from Graig Ddu

As I was about to to leave the beach for more road walking I was  caught by a couple of short sharp and cold rain showers. The path reverted back to the main road again, this was to get over the Afon Dwyfor. The path headed back towards the coast shortly after crossing the bridge over the Dwyfor and close to the village of Llanystumdwy (where Lloyd George spent his early years). The walk into Criccieth was dominated for quite a way by the dramatically situated Cricceth Castle, which the WCP passes just below. It is free to gain admission to the castle, but the ruins did not appeal to me.

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Black Rock Sands with the Rhinogs in the distance

I passed out of Criccieth and shortly had to contend with flooded paths which required a short section of climbing over fences to get around. I climbed up a green lane that wound its way over Graig Ddu. From this high vantage point I could see the impact of the stormy weather over the Morfa Bychan area with numerous areas flooded. I descended down onto Black Rock Sands. Cars are allowed onto this beach , which is very flat and extensive.  I was just about able to make out the Rhinogs across Tremadoc Bay. I finally came off the beach by the golf course to join the path in its final approach to Porthmadog via the hamlet of Borth-y-Gesto the beach

I made very good time to cover the 18miles in 5.5hrs.

Distance today = 18 miles
Total distance =   1183 miles

 

77. Abersoch to Pwllheli

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Boats at Abersoch

This was a  short pre-Christmas Sunday ramble with my daughter Nicola over 9 miles between Abersoch and Pwllheli. It was quite a late start for us (well by my standards). We drove to and parked in Pwllheli in a free car park (well actually all the parking was free over the Christmas period). We then caught the 10:00 #18 bus to Abersoch at £1.80 each.

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Gormley-esque type statue on Mynydd Tir-y-cwmwd

The weather was delightful, warm , sunny, dry and windy (with the wind with us).  We walked mainly on the beach, except for two small headlands, the first contained some very steep steps down to the beach (which where not on the official WCP). we called these steps “The Steps of Doom” as they were very steep and covered in leaves. The handrail was very useful.

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The Steps of Doom

The walk took 2hrs 55mins to cover the 9 miles. Closeby the bus and train station is The Pen y Cob, a nice Wetherspoons where we had Sunday lunch, with a couple of pints of Doom Bar. Nice!

 

 

Distance today = 9 miles
Total distance =   1165 miles

76. Abersoch to Aberdaron

This was going to be a long and tough day. When I examined the public transport situation I saw I needed to use Pwllheli as a place to link the two villages together. I therefore drove to Aberdaron and parked up in the National Trust car park. Aberdaron is almost at the tip of the Lleyn peninsular and sits in a very rural location. It was still dark as I waited to catch the #17 to Pwllheli at a cost of £2.60, then hopped on the #18 to Abersoch (only 15mins).

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Crepuscular rays over St. Tudwal’s West

The forecast was not good, high winds were expected, which would be coming almost head-on for most of the day. When I got off the bus at Abersoch, the weather was ok, a fine sunny but chilly morning. The recent heavy rain had flooded part of the golf course at Abersoch, as I noted when I walked 0ver the course. The views out to sea were dominated by the twin islands of St. Tudwal’s Island East  and West, about a mile offshore. St Tudwal’s West is the island which contains the lighthouse.

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Looking down into Porth Niegwl or Hell’s Mouth

By the time I had arrived at Porth Neigwl or Hell’s Mouth, the high winds and rain squalls had arrived. This was the second time I had been to Porth Niegwl, back in 1975, as a Geology undergraduate at Liverpool University. Then, we were studying the geological engineering problems of the boulder clays that made up the coastal cliffs at Porth Niegwl.

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Looking towards Bardsey Island and Aberdaron from Mynydd Penarfynydd

I did not stay long on the beach as an inland detour across muddy and flooded fields was imposed on me. To make matters worse, poor signage made battling through the rain squalls quite unpleasant. A return to a bit of road walking was most welcome as I rounded the National Trust building at Plas yn Rhiw. The height gained on this section ultimately lead to a great vantage point, the summit of Mynydd Penarfynydd at a height of 177m.

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Arriving at Aberdaron

It was possible to see Bardsey Island as well as my objective Aberdaron. The final 3 to 4 miles into Aberdaron was poorly signposted. I actually stayed on a path which hugged the coast until about a mile from Aberdaron, when I then cut in land and joined the road. It was quite a relief to get out of the wind and a change of clothes when I arrived back at the car.

I managed 20 miles in 6.5hrs

Distance today = 20 miles
Total distance =   1156 miles

 

75. Aberdaron to Tudweiliog

To complete this walk I needed to use public transport at the start and end of the walk. I therefore drove to and parked in Pwllheli and caught the 07:05 #17 bus to Aberdaron. It was just getting light when I climbed the hill out of Aberdaron. The weather forecast was not promising,  it had said that it would remain dry – fat chance and with it continuing to rain off and on for the whole walk!

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Dawn in Aberdaron

I was conscious of walking against the clock to ensure I caught 1 of 2 buses back to Pwhelli, otherwise I would have been in for a long wait otherwise.

I had occassional views across to Bardsey Island. I could make out the lighthouse. I reflected on my last visit to the island in 2012. I have a link to a trip Report I wrote, about my visit to the island. Its on the Scottish Hills forum at :-

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=13185

Although this walk was only 18 miles, it seemed alot longer. That could be because the terrain was very hilly going over both Mynydd Mawr and Mynydd Anelog in the first 8 miles, with numerous ups/downs. With the ground being very wet and heavy, my strength began to sag after about 14 miles.

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Looking across to Bardsey Island

I passed Whispering Sands, but with the rain and wind I doubt I would have heard much anyway. I had been aiming for the 13:40 bus from Tudweiliog to Pwllheli, but it gradually dawned on me that as fatigue started to set in I would take a prolonged rest and catch the later one.

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Looking back at Mynydd Mawr

Tudweiliog is actually sited about a kilometre inland from the WCP and I had to walk up a couple of muddy fields to get to the village. The pub had long since gone from the village, but I was lucky that the village shop was still open. I filled up on chocolate, flapjacks and Welsh cakes. The bus stop is just outside of the store/post office, but there was no cover or any shelter close by. As the rain came again I leant back against the shop wall and tucked into my Welsh cakes.

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Whispering Sands

I caught the 14:45 #8 back to Pwllheli at a cost of £2.50. It was dark when we arrived back in Pwllheli. Overhaul this had been a tough walk, perhaps the toughest of the WCP so far. It had taken 6hrs to cover the 18 miles which was surprising.

 

Distance today = 18 miles
Total distance =  1136 miles

 

 

74. Tudweiliog to Trefor

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Porth Dinllaen

I drove to the small village of Trefor, located just off the A499 and parked in the free beach car park. I then walked the short distance back into the village.

Not many buses go directly to Tudweiliog from Trefor, but there is one, the #14 which left at 06:44 and cost the grand sum of £1.90; not bad for a 30 minute bus ride.

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Maigret

There is really nothing much at  Tudweiliog, only a post office/store which is where the bus stops. I had about a kilometer to cross over very muddy fields to rejoin the WCP. I soon regretted wearing my North Face Hedgehog trainers, as I knew I was going to get wet feet from the off.

I made excellent progress and eventually passed over Nefyn Golf course, before the path headed out towards the promontory at Porth Dinllaen and a small collection of houses and pub.  I dropped down to the beach by the Ty Coch Inn and walked along the beach to Morfa Nefyn where I climbed back up onto the path. The view to the distant hills of Yr Eifl and its subsidiary top was a marker, as it was between these two hills I would need to pass later that day. Meanwhile the sun was out and I continued to make good progress to Nefyn.

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Strange glass wind break at Porth y Nant

Due to the absence of a coastal path and road without path or verge, the path skirted inland to pass over the old quarry workings at Bodeilias, before dropping down to the main road and continuing to the small hamlet of Pistyll. At Pistyll, I passed alongside a small chapel with a graveyard. I popped my head over the wall and immediately noticed a grave with the name Rupert Davies. It clicked that this was the same Rupert Davies, the actor, who was famous for the popular Tv series “Maigret”, which I vaguely remember watching as a young child in the mid-1960’s.

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Looking back at Yr Eifl

The path climbed again to other quarry workings where I was able to spot my next objective, the old mining community at Port y Nant. I was dismayed to see that I was going to have to drop down the 100m I had just ascended and re-ascend the 340m up towards the Bwlch y Eifl after Porth y Nant. A good tarmac road descends down to Porth y Nant which houses a large car park, cafe, houses, exhibitions and other buildings related to its  mining history. The bad news for me was that not only had I to ascend the steep road to begin the climb over Bwlch y Eifl, but the forecasted heavy rain and winds from storm Abigail was about to hit. By the time I reached the top car park, I was drenched through. The WCP path up and over Bwlch y Eifl was shrouded in mist and clag. Fortunately, the path is a very good one and I was soon descending on the far side out of the mist towards Trefor. I must admit it would have been nice to check out the view from the Bwlch y Eifl, but not today.

I had one minor mishap on my descent, by tripping headfirst into a gorse bush – Its painful believe me!

I was soaking from head to foot when I came back to the car after 5.75hrs and 18 miles.

Distance today = 18 miles
Total distance =   1118 miles

73. Trefor to Caernarfon

This was to be the first leg of  my journey around the Lleyn Peninsular section of the WCP. I drove early to Caernarfon and parked on the Aber foreshore (free) just opposite the castle. There is a footbridge that links the foreshore to the castle, but be aware that it closes overnight and opens at 07:00. I had decided to start my walk from Trefor which meant getting a bus . I walked to the nearby bus station and caught the 7:30 #12 to Trefor – only £2.40.

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Yr Eifl

I think I should advise anybody walking this section to be prepared for an awful lot of walking on tarmac, in fact probably about 95% of it. By the time I reached Trefor, the sun was just coming up, catching the towering hill of Yr Eifl. It was a short walk to the A499, where I would spend most of the morning. Parts of the footpath are in fact the ‘old’ A499, which runs alongside the current A499, this meant having a super wide footpath. However, the main road is never far away, and the sea about half-a mile. The road is straight and flat, so you can make good time.

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The ‘Footpath’

The first small village I came to was Clynnog-Fawr, here the new road by-passes the village but the WCP carries on down the main high street, offering some respite from the traffic noise. I came across Ffynnon Beuno (St.Beunos Well) which contained in a grade 2 listed enclosure, the water looked a bit ‘manky’ though with green algae abundant.

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St Beunos Well

Back on the A499 and some 4 miles later, the WCP heads off down a road to the left towards Dinas Dinlle. Nothing seemed open as I passed through this quite little ‘resort’. As the path approaches Caernarfon airport, the WCP takes a sharp right. I however, had other ideas. I had decided to continue up  the beach and alongside the airfield. I met and spoke at length to a chap walking his dogs. At the tip of the promontory is Fort Belan, now a private residence. I had intended to walk past the Fort and join up with a public footpath which stops abruptly in the middle of nowhere. Anyway, by the time I reached the Fort, sea fog had suddenly blown inshore and it was difficult to navigate. I passed a couple of “private” signs as I cut across to try and find the public footpath. Under the cover of the sea fog I was not challenged, in fact, I have read that rambling groups regularly walk around this promontory. After passing a few World War 2 buildings I found the footpath sign, which advised that land beyond the footpath was private. I rejoined the WCP after about a mile. The next 5 miles was spent walking along country roads, which were not really very interesting.

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Caernarfon Castle

I passed through Saron and continued down a road that took me back to the coast. This road would become the Aber Foreshore road, where I had parked. By the time I reached Caerfnarfon the sea mist had cleared. The walk took 5.75hrs.

 

Distance today = 17 miles
Total distance =   1100 miles

72. Menai Bridge to Caernarfon

Really today was a planned very short amble of only 9 miles with my daughter Nicola. The walk was predominantly on tarmac and for most of the way accompanied by a road. I managed to find a handy little parking spot just by the entrance to the Menai Bridge.

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The beautiful Menai Bridge

The first part of the walk was through a wooded area behind the University playing fields. After about a mile we arrived at the newer Britannia Bridge. Slightly older than the original Menai Bridge, the Britannia Bridge was rebuilt in 1970 following a fire. The bridge carries the A5 to Holyhead on an upper tier and a rail track on a lower deck. The upper tier was a later addition and resulted in the 4 large stone Lions guarding both entrances to the bridge no longer being visible from the road.

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One of the ‘Lost’ Lions at the Pont Britannia

After passing through a small plantation, the path made an inland diversion due to the National Trust property of Vaynol Park. The path emerged on the main A487 road for a short section. At the roundabout the path follows the road through Y Felinheli. As we arrived in Y Felenheli, the heavens opened, so we took shelter in a covered bus stop until the shower passed.

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Looking east up the Menai Strait
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The main square in Caernarfon

After re-joining the A487, we walked along an adjacent cycle-way all the way into Caerfarfon. We walked around the Castle, which is wonderfully preserved and well worth a visit. We then sought out the Wetherspoon pub, The Tabarn an Porth, where we had sunday lunch and a pint of Doom Bar. We then caught the #5c bus back towards Bangor. However, the bus did not go near the Menai Bridge so we got off at the hospital and walked about a mile down the hill to the bridge. The Antelope pub sits just by the entrance to the bridge, so we popped in there also for a quick half.

We covered the 9 miles in 2.75.

 

Distance today = 9 miles
Total distance =   1083 miles