61. Prestatyn to Abergele

A very short walk today, as I needed to tie in with my Charity walk the previous year. I decided to bring one of my three dogs along, Kiefer-Slash, (the wife named him thus), he’s a sort of Spaniel cross. He had never been to the seaside before, so I was wandering how he would react. He stayed on the lead virtually the whole walk.

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Kiefer-Slash in Prestatyn

The walk in a nutshell was simply walking along a long promenade linking the two towns. We had views out to the gas fields offshore. This whole part of the North Wales coast I find really ‘tacky’ and run-down. I can find no redeeming features about the place other than it is flat and has good transport links.

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The Rhyl Lifeboat being pulled ashore

We drove to and parked at Abergele & Pensarn station. We then caught the train for the 8 minute ride to Prestatyn. Kiefer was excellent on the train.

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The Pont y Ddraig at Rhyl

We walked down the main street towards the beach. Kiefer did not know what to make of the small waves lapping on the shore. He was also very wary of seaweed for some reason. The rest of the walk was him sniffing around, as dogs do, or maybe he was just as unimpressed of the place as me!

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Looks like a tribute act for Richard Nixon

We soon came to Rhyl, which was just like Prestatyn. We crossed the recently constructed pedestrian and cycle  footbridge called Pont y Ddraig – Dragons Bridge. The footbridge cost £10m and can be raised for boats.

Just outside Rhyl we come across an ASDA trolley dumped in the sea – just about sums it up for me.

It took 3 hours to walk the 8 miles, which is really quite pedestrian for me. If Kiefer had been off the lead then perhaps we may have been quicker.

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Kiefer examines some Sea Holly

 

 

 

 

 

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My lasting impression of this section of the coast

 

 

 

 

 

Distance today = 8 miles
Total distance =   909.5 miles

60. Flint to Prestatyn

This was to be the second walk of the Wales Coast Path for and appeared to be a very straightforward section requiring just to stick close to the coast.

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Flint Castle

I parked at the free car park just next to the castle in Flint and started walking north-west. This part of the Flintshire coast is littered with old industrial ruins, most being old docks and quays that served the local hinterland and bigger towns such as Liverpool. Flint Dock was one such place and is now just a relic of a time gone by. The path goes along the substantial seawall which runs all the way to Bagillt, at which I come across the Bagillt Beacon, a metal dragon sculpture housing a brazier which is lit on special occassions.

At Greenfield Dock I find an information board telling me how the Airbus A320 wings, which are made further up river at Broughton, are shipped down the Dee to the working port of Mostyn on a special barge for onward transport.

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The Duke of Lancaster
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John ‘Jack’ Irwin

The weather has remained cool and overcast which has enabled me to make good time on the flat terrain. I then come across the highlight of the walk, the beached ship The Duke of Lancaster. This was amongst the last passenger-only steamers built for British Railways in 1956. The ship had been there since 1979 and has quite an interesting history particularly surrounding how or what ‘she’ will be used for. The ship is covered with graffiti, some good, some bad. My favourite piece of artwork is a picture of the ship’s first captain, John ‘Jack’ Irwin. The ship is berthed at an old quay and is fenced off with barbed wire. The WCP skirts inland to the main road road to get around the quay.

On arriving at Mostyn Docks the path follows the main road which has a good footpath running alongside it. At Ffynnongroyw the A548 splits into a dual carriageway and I am directed off through the small village and eventually emerge at the A548 again which requires care in crossing both lanes. The path emerges at a sewage works and I cross the main railway line by means of a bridge. I am now amongst the overgrown roads of an old derelict industrial site, which sits next to a fully operational gas terminal.

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The Point of Ayr lighthouse

The path enters the Point of Ayr Nature Reserve which culminates in the road end at Talacre. I am suddenly surrounded by beach-goers who are enjoying the mid-afternoon sun. I round the Point of Ayr and pass the lighthouse. I am now heading into quite a stiff breeze, which will be head-on all the way to Prestatyn. I can also make out parts of the North Wales including a distant Great Orme. Prestatyn is also busy with holiday-makers and I quickly head up the main street to the station to catch the usually frequent train service back to Flint. However, not today as the train is delayed by 40 mins due to the knock-on effects of a tanker fire on the M56. I also get the double-whammy of huge congestion at Chester on my drive back on the A55. Walked about 18.5 miles in 5.5hrs.

Distance today = 18 miles
Total distance =   901.5 miles

 

58. Chester to Flint

My first day on walking the official  Wales Coast Path, although I had completed the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path and other sections prior  to this some time ago. Although I had still one final section to walk on the SWCP, I decided to take advantage of the nearest section of the WCP to my home. I had decided to walk the WCP from North to South, purely based on convenience i.e. the northern section being closer to home.

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The Shropshire Union Canal in Chester

Although the WCP does not start until the Welsh border is crossed I decided to start my walk in Chester, just across the border. To do this I first drove to and parked in the small Welsh town of Flint, just off the A55. I then caught one of the frequent trains into Chester.

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Entering Wales and the start of the Wales Coast Path

It was lovely and warm, but slightly overcast as I emerged at a very busy Chester station. I walk about 300m and locate the Shropshire Union canal which runs through the centre of Chester. Although I am not a big fan of Canal walking, this walk is interesting with bends and plenty to see. The canal emerges at a large junction, with other canals joining and a set of locks which enable access to the River Dee.

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The old swingbridge at Queensferry

I walk down a small side street and through a small play area. I emerge onto the banks of the River Dee. Here, there is an excellent cycle path and the river has become channelized and is very straight. I pass close to football ground at Chester and arrive at a slight bend in the river at the Welsh border. There are various indicators for the start of the WCP and I set off along a very long and straight section of the River Dee, almost 5 miles of it. It is quite strange to walk along something so straight and level.

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The old wharf at Connahs Quay

I eventually arrive and pass under the newly busy A494 , the almost immediately the blue coloured the old swing bridge at Queensferry, where I cross over the busy  bridge and onto the opposite bank. This side of the bank, is no longer tarmac, but hard-core and grass. I soon come to the short, but old wharf at Connah’s Quay. The river has no begun to open out, with the large steelworks across the river dominating the views as well as the Power station which lies ahead.

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The futuristic Flintshire Bridge – the largest asymmetric cable-stayed bridge in the country, but obscured by power lines from the local power station

The path makes a slight detour inland to pass the Connahs Quay power station. Unfortunately, the signage seems to disappear and I do not see anymore signs until I reach the outskirts of Flint. Here I am directed off the busy A548 and down towards the shoreline, which is some distance away from the river. I emerge in a car park just by the ruins of Flint castle. 4 hours for the 15 miles.

Distance today = 11 miles
Total distance =  862 miles

 

 

15. Abergele to Conwy

This was a short walk as I joined fellow supporters of AFC Telford United in the final stages of a charity walk to raise money for a local hospice and Club funds.

The original plan was that a small group of supporters would walk the 80+ miles from Telford in Shropshire to Conwy in Gwynedd over 3 or 4 days. The final leg from Abergele to Conwy would coincide with the first preseason friendly football game between AFC Telford and Conwy FC; this would give the opportunity for other supporters to join the  walk for the final leg.

I drove to and parked in Conwy and then caught an early train down to Abergele and Pensarn. I walked first around to the hotel where the walkers, who had done the complete distance from Telford had been staying. About 15 walkers, including The Chairman, a Director and the Manager set off on the final leg to Conwy. The route was very simple, head out to the shore road and follow the promenade all the way to Rhos-on-Sea and then cut inland towards Llandudno Junction.

It turned out to be a very hot day, with little sea breeze. We passed through Colwyn Bay, mingling with the summer tourists along the prom. It was not long before we reached a road running inland by the Rhos-on-Sea Golf Club. We then cut through a housing estate and then along minor roads without any footpaths. By the time we reached the outskirts of Llandudno Junction, some of the non-regular walkers were beginning to flag. We arrived and at the bridge over the River Conwy and the sight of the magnificent Conwy Castle spurned everyone on in knowing that the football ground was only a couple of miles away. We were met by representatives of Conwy football club who indicated the best way through the town to the football ground.

Although the walk was longer than the 7 miles indicated, the section  along the coast and  across the Conwy Bridge was only counted in my mileage. Because the walk had cut-off the main Llandudno Peninsular, I would return some three years later to fill the gap when I took on the Wales Coast Path.

Setting off from Abergele
Crossing the bridge over The River Conwy
Heading into Conwy
Conwy Castle

Distance today = 7 miles
Total distance =   241 miles

 

3. Trefin to Goodwick

I’m pretty sure I caught a taxi from Fishguard to the small village of Trefin, where I would start my walk from. As this was a Saturday, no buses were running so thats why I caught a taxi.. I got dropped off in the centre of Trefin and walked a short distance west out of the village and down to where the PCP joined the road.

I joined the coastal pathand began walking eastwards back to Goodwick. The walking was quite easy and I soon arrived at the small coastal hamlet of Abercastle.  The coastline in this area showed some large landslips that had occurred recently, with the coastal path having to be diverted on numerous occasions. I remember nothing of passing by Aber Mawr beach, but recall looking northwards to towards Strumble Head and the craggy summit of Garn Fawr in the distance. Passing by Pwll Deri, the resistant dolerite stacks and skerries where an impressive sight. I managed to get a zoomed shot of the Irish Ferry sailing past Strumble Head lighthouse on its approach to Goodwick. I passed the Carreg Goffa memorial to the spot of the last invasion of Britain  in 1797. Somewhere around Carnfachach I managed to get my first glimpse of grey seals and was able to look down onto a secret stony beach where 3 seal pups were sleeping. The 18 miles began to take its toll as I neared the end of the walk.

Looking across Aber Draw to Llanlleifer
Landslips near Pwll Llong
Near Castell Coch
Abercastle
Looking northwards Strumble Head with Irish Ferry in the distance
Strumble Head
Looking down on young Grey Seal pups

Distance today = 18 miles
Total distance =   49 miles

 

2. Newport to Goodwick

I must admit that because of the paucity of notes and photos taken at the time of this walk my  memories are a little sketchy and sparse.

I certainly remember driving in a single day down to Newport and catching the coastline bus west to Goodwick, which is just located the other side of the town of Fishguard. I set off on the pavement alongside the A40 road which ran into Fishguard. Fishguard is quite a charming small town , with its multi-coloured town cottages and narrow streets. The path followed the cliff line and avoided the town, eventually emerging above a small bay linking to Lower Town (Cwm). Here I rejoined the main road and walked around the small bay and out towards the Castle Point and the ruined fort. The fort was built in 1781 to guard against privateers and has an impressive array of cannons.

I continued eastwards following the steep cliffline, passing through a caravan park and then onto the beach at Hescwm. For some reason, which I cannot remember  I did not walk out to and around Dinas Head, but followed the path directly to Cwm-y-Eglwys. A few miles later I arrived back at Parrog Sands. With the tide now out I was able to cut across the beach and head to the car park at Newport.

Looking down to Lower Town (CWM)
Looking across to Cwm
Lower Town (Cwm)
Cannons at Castle point fort
Looking across to Goodwick Ferry Terminal
Looking east towards the beach at Hescwm

Distance today = 13 miles
Total distance =   31 miles

 

1. Cardigan to Newport

I did not realise at the time that these were to be my first footsteps in walking the coast of  Great Britain. This was a new and different type of walk to me as I had previously climbed hills, mountains and walked inland long distance footpaths, but it was my intention at the time to simply walk the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path (PCP).

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Cardigan Island, with The Mwnt in the far distance

Like so many of my future walks I intended to the coastal path in long ‘one-dayers’ from my home in Shropshire. This meant getting up early and driving to my destination then either immediately start walking or using public transport to get to point B. I parked in the free public car park in Newport and caught the excellent bus service that runs along this section of coast to Cardigan. The first 4 or 5 miles were along tarmac roads of the Teifi estuary, but gradually the estuary opened up and I gained height to good effect with       excellent views across to Cardigan Island. I was soon introduced to “switchback ” coastal walking with steep ascents and descents, in fact today’s section of the path would see me

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My favourite warning sign

climb over 3000ft,  the equivalent of  climbing a Scottish Munro!

Unfortunately, the warm February haze did not offer extensive views

 

The Witches Cauldron

It was  not long before I came to Pwll y Wrach (The Wicthes Cauldron) and a fine example of a blow-hole with collapsed sea-cave. Numerous ups and downs came and went before I heard the shouting of children at play which meant that I was approaching Parrog Sands. A gentle walk over the links of Newport Golf Course took me to the road at Newport and the end of my first walk along the PCP.

 

The cliffs at Pen yr Afr

Distance today = 18 miles
Total distance =   18miles