Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Current

Hello to all my regular readers! I know there are a number of you out there.
Thank you for your interest. 
We have recently returned from our third trip to Pembrokeshire this year when we walked 33 miles of the coast from Little Haven to Milford Haven.  There we were defeated by monsoon-like rains, so brought our caravan home to store it for the winter.  We shall return next Spring, when the Summer bus timetable starts up again, to finish the Pembrokeshire coast and move on towards the Gower.  Meanwhile I will try to get this blog up to date over the Winter.
I am just so glad that I can do this coastal walking again after two successful knee replacement operations.  Thank you Mr Balint (my knee surgeon), you have given me back my life!
To all my readers, thank you for your interest in our venture.
Rosemary
PS  Go to   www.bognorregisbeach.co.uk  to see what is happening NOW just left of Bognor Pier! (On the website, click on  'Live Webcam')

Monday, April 07, 2014

Walk 351 -- Nefyn to Towyn (Tudweiliog)

Ages:  Colin was 71 years and 334 days.  Rosemary was 69 years and 111 days.
Weather:  Persistent rain for the first few hours.  Clearing up this afternoon and eventually turning sunny.  A cold breeze in exposed places.
Location:  Nefyn to Towyn (Tudweiliog).
Distance:  7 miles.
Total distance:  3627 miles.
Terrain:  Some sandy beaches, but mainly grassy clifftop paths.  Undulating and boggy.
Tide:  Out, coming in.
Rivers: None.
Ferries:  None.
Piers:  None.
Kissing gates:  Nos.698 to 709 (12 in all) on the cliff tops after the golf course.
Pubs:  None — the only pub at Morfa Nefyn was closed due to a private function taking place there.
‘Cadw’ properties:  None.
Ferris wheels:  None.
Diversions:  No.81 on the cliff top because of a landslide.  (We ignored the notices and walked round it, there was only one dodgy bit!)  We ignored no.82 as well, where some steps were a bit washed away — we walked on the beach instead ‘cos the tide was out.
How we got there and back:  Yesterday we towed our caravan from home to a site near Maentwrog in Snowdonia.  This morning we drove to Tudweiliog where we parked the car.  From there we caught a bus to Nefyn, and alighted at the exact spot where we finished the last Walk.
At the end we turned inland through a caravan site at a beach called Towyn.  From there we walked nearly a mile across very muddy fields to Tudweiliog.  We had our tea and biscuits, then drove back to our caravan.

We were both fed up with the awful weather this morning.  It was teeming down with rain, very grey and the visibility was poor.  But we started the Walk anyway, having come so far and set up our caravan.  It meant I took very few photos at the beginning of the Walk because it was too much bother to keep hoicking the camera out of it’s polythene bag and sheltering it under Colin’s umbrella while I took a picture.  I would like to have taken several photos of Nefyn Beach, but we could hardly see it in the mist.
From the bus stop we walked down the road past the War Memorial, then down a steep road to the beach.  The tide was out, so we were able to walk along the beach almost to the little harbour.  We sat under part of a building to eat our pasties, trying desperately to keep out of the rain.
We then took a very steep path with lots of steps up the cliff.  The path along the top was surprisingly sheltered — despite the dreadful weather it wasn’t actually very cold.  We were amused by a seat which supposedly overlooked a view, but it didn’t because the hedges surrounding it had grown too high.  (It was too wet to photograph.)  Colin noticed some unusual bright orange fungi, but it was too wet to photograph that too.
We came to a small headland and decided to walk out to the end of it as it wasn’t too cold.  The views were very misty, so it wasn’t worth it.  The view along Morfa Nefyn beach was much clearer, but I still didn’t photograph it.  We came to a notice telling us there was a diversion because there had been a landslide.  It explained in great detail how to walk inland in a great big loop to avoid the next bit of cliff.  We decided to ignore it because experience has taught us that you can often get by with care, and we could always come back if that was not so.  We came to a high fence blocking off the path, but people before us had beaten a path round the end of it.  We followed.  The path narrowed and was ill-maintained — we wondered if the diversion was just an excuse for not keeping up the path, but we had to take these ‘impure’ thoughts back as we came to a real landslide!
We could just about step round it with extreme care — it was a vertical drop to the beach if we got it wrong, but neither of us were fazed at all.  It looks worse in the photo than it actually was, though I do admit I wouldn’t have gone round it if I’d approached it from the other direction.
The blackthorn alongside the cliff path was in bloom, and looked lovely despite the rain.  Further on we realised we would have to descend to a road at beach level and then climb up the other side — this cleft was not apparent on the map.  The steps down were steep, and the path up the other side was “closed”.  Another landslide?  They didn’t say.  We could probably have got up there without much trouble, but we decided to walk along the flat of the beach instead.
It was really nice to walk along a sandy beach.  The sky brightened and at one time I even had a shadow (of sorts), but it was still raining!  There was a house on stilts built on a rock pile, and we had to get past it before the tide, which was coming in fast, reached the rocks.  We were amazed to learn, a little later, that the only access to this house by vehicle was along the beach at low tide!

 I photographed a car driving along there before we left the beach.  I certainly would not like to live in such a place, how do they cope in winter storms?
We just about made it past the house before the sea started lapping at the rocks in front of it.  Then Colin stopped to photograph sand martin nests in the cliff.
I rushed on to establish whether or not we could get off the beach behind some stilted sheds that we could see at the end of the little bay.  If not, we would have to get back past the stilted house before we were really cut off by the tide.  But I found an archway leading under one of the houses to a road, so we could relax and take our time.  We agreed that neither of us would like to live in any of the houses there — fine in the summer, but too close to the sea in stormy weather.
We went through the archway looking for a place to sit down and eat our sarnies.  But there was nowhere, and it was still raining!  Even the pub was closed because there was a private function going on in there — a funeral party.  Twice we met young men wearing posh suits rushing through the rain from the car park to the pub, no wet-weather gear anywhere to be seen.
We carried on.  After about half a mile we came to a narrow headland and decided to miss it out because the weather was so poor.
We turned on to a golf course and followed the coast as closely as we could.  It wasn’t very clear where the path actually was, but we kept to the very edge of the greens when we came to them.  We came to a teeing-off point where there was a seat at the end.  It was for golfers really, but since no one was about and it had almost stopped raining we made use of it.  The sun was trying very hard to come out while we were sitting there eating our sarnies.
Colin noticed a wooden hut up beyond where we were sitting, and speculated that it could be a toilet.  When we got up there he was delighted to find that it was!  It was for golfers, of course, but we both made use of it — it even had separate sections for ladies and gents.  I was amused by a notice on the wall in the ‘Ladies’ — “Changing the toilet roll does not cause brain damage!”
We exited the golf course through a kissing gate feeling that it had served us well!  The path led down through a marshy area with irises growing up everywhere, even through the slots in a duckboard bridge.
As we ascended a steep slope to the clifftop path, the sun finally succeeded in coming out from behind thick clouds.  The sky cleared and we felt infinitely more cheerful.
The views were fantastic, we could see Holyhead in the distance if we looked back, also Y Eifl, the mountain we had almost climbed on the last Walk back in March.
But the walking was challenging, mostly because of the mud — thick gooey mud which, in many cases, couldn’t be avoided.
There were lots of gullies — steep down and steep up the other side, often slippery as well.  I wished I had brought my walking poles, but I hadn’t.  It took me a long time to negotiate these obstacles.  I felt very stiff, as if I was an old woman!  (No! No! No! I am NOT an old woman!!) 
The way sometimes narrowed between gorse bushes and a barbed wire fence.  Occasionally the path sloped sideways making it very difficult to walk, especially if it was slippery.  Stepping stones had been washed away and streams were in spate.  There were lots of minor landslides — this has been a major problem for the Wales Coast Path because of the excessive rain we have experienced in recent months.  Everywhere is waterlogged.
But the streams, waterfalls and the waves crashing over rocks below the cliff were dramatic in themselves — we found them exciting!  There were celandines everywhere, and the occasional patch of early bluebells.  Views of the bays in the sunshine were magnificent!  All of this made our trials and tribulations worthwhile.
We came across a couple of hooks cemented into the top of the cliff and wondered what they were for.  Presumably to haul things up from the beach far below, or perhaps to let down a boat?
Then we saw seals!  There were several of them in the water eating fish, and poking their heads right out of the water by resting on their tails.  It is frustratingly difficult to photograph seals like this, but we managed a few poor shots.  Two young ones were playing in the surf, and humphed themselves up on to the beach.  I love seals!  It was wonderful to watch them.


Towards the end of our Walk the mud was made worse by sheep and cattle using the paths before us.  I felt extraordinarily tired, as if I had no energy.
I felt fatigued as I used to do occasionally before my under-active thyroid was diagnosed.  But that is sorted now, my levels are normal with the medication I take, so I couldn’t understand why I felt that way.  My legs ached so.  I was really glad to get to Towyn.


That ended Walk no.351, we shall pick up Walk no.352 next time at Towyn where the footpath from Tudweiliog emerges.  It was twenty-five past four, so the Walk had taken us seven hours exactly.  We walked nearly a mile across very muddy fields to Tudweiliog.  We had our tea and biscuits, then drove back to our caravan.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Walk 350 -- Clynnog Fawr to Nefyn

Ages:  Colin was 71 years and 310 days.  Rosemary was 69 years and 87 days.
Weather:  Cold and foggy all the morning.  Clearing in the afternoon, but only thin sunshine and not really much warmer.
Location:  Clynnog Fawr to Nefyn.
Distance:  14 miles.
Total distance:  3620 miles.
Terrain:  Mostly mountain footpaths — uneven and some overgrown with brambles.  Occasionally muddy.  Very undulating!
Tide:  Going out.
Rivers: None.
Ferries:  None.
Piers:  None.
Kissing gates:  Nos.676 to 697 spread throughout the Walk.  (21 in all!)
Pubs:  None.
‘Cadw’ properties:  None.
Ferris wheels:  None.
Diversions:  None.
How we got there and back:  We were staying in a holiday cottage near Criccieth.  This morning we drove to Nefyn and parked just up the road from the bus stop.  We caught a very early bus (07.28, and the only one all day!) to Trefor where we had to wait a cold ten minutes for another bus which took us to Clynnog Fawr.
At the end we came to our car in the dark.  We had our tea and chocolate biscuits, then returned to our cottage.
The next day we returned home to Malvern.

We started today’s Walk in the village of Clynnog Fawr.  It was cold with a thin fog which was not lifting.  We passed the remains of an old smithy with a water-wheel in a tiny dried up stream.  Clynnog Fawr has a huge church which looked quite interesting, but mindful of the long trek ahead we didn’t stop to look inside today.  We said we’d come back to it another time, but we never did.
We could see a rookery on a distant tree.  The birds were making a heck of a racket, we felt sorry for the people living nearby! 
 We walked alongside the main road for nearly half a mile to where our OS map told us the Coast Path turns off to the left and runs parallel to the road along the bottom of the mountains.
Sure enough there was a footpath leading off inland but the sign only had a walking man on it, it didn’t have the Coast Path logo.  We turned on to it anyway because we’d had enough of the road.  It took us alongside a babbling brook which was very pretty, then we crossed the stream on a footbridge.
Following that, a good footpath took us through trees.  Some of the smaller trees were so sheltered they were still covered in autumn leaves!  They looked very colourful.
The trees came to an end, and we climbed over a wall using ‘granny’s teeth’ (I swear I have not got teeth which stick out like that!) and out into the open.  There the path deteriorated as paths have a habit of doing.  It hadn’t been maintained and was blocked by brambles in places.  Good job it was winter so we were able to get by — just.  There were no path signs, we had to use our initiative as we crossed the fields.  We managed to stay on the path, I don’t know how.  We sat on some stones and ate our pasties.  The mountains ahead were still wreathed in mist.
We passed a derelict cottage, then the path turned into a track as it passed some more houses.  It didn’t look right, the track seemed too posh somehow.  We studied the map and feared we had overshot a turning.  If we continued down the track we would possibly end up on the road again.  A woman looked over her garden gate and confirmed this.  She told us the Coast Path turns off further back leading higher up, but there were no logos or signs.  We went back looking carefully, and found an inconspicuous path leading off to the left, zigzagging uphill.  It was not marked like that on our OS map.  It was narrow and overgrown, sometimes it didn’t look like a real path at all.  Occasionally we came to an iron kissing gate between the fields, this was the only way we knew we were still on the footpath.  There were no Wales Coast Path logos, and few other footpath signs.
I was ahead of Colin as I walked through a wide gate and continued along a ‘posh’ track towards a farmhouse.  The fog had barely lifted, but the sun had just started to come out and was shining right in my eyes.  That is why I didn’t see a Coast Path sign pointing behind the farmhouse before the wide gate.  (I didn’t see a tree either and walked right into its branches!)  Two men were standing there and they asked, “Are you lost?”  I didn’t think so because, according to the map, the footpath goes in front of the buildings where we were standing.  They told me that the Wales Coast Path now runs behind the buildings, but the authorities had not put up signs despite sending them all the literature about it.  They were very keen to explain to me the way I should be going, and while they were doing so Colin caught up with me.
He said he’d seen a Coast Path sign with an arrow pointing behind the buildings, but it was a different sign which had no logo.  “Yes, we put that up ourselves!” said one of the men.  I apologised for missing the sign because of the sun in my eyes, and we retreated to the wide gate.
We turned left through a narrow gate, but the path was overgrown again so it wasn’t easy to get through in places.  We came to a deserted winching house with some of the wheels and cables still there.  It appeared they had been quarrying a slatey type rock with fossils in it, don’t know what it would have been used for.
We walked through a gully where the gorse got thicker and thicker making progress very difficult indeed.  It’s a good job it was winter because, if the summer growth had been on those bushes, we would never have got through.
The fog was still refusing to leave the mountains, in fact it seemed to be getting worse.  Navigation across the fields was problematic because of the lack of signs.  This is certainly a badly maintained and a badly signed stretch of the Wales Coast Path.  Several times we felt we had gone wrong, but through a lot of good luck and oodles of guesswork we managed to find the correct path in the end.  Eventually we found our way down towards Trefor though a more obvious path led straight on, and if we’d taken it we would have missed the village.  We met a local man with his dog who advised us against taking the path straight across the main road which led to the beach because it was too boggy to walk.  We hadn’t intended going that way anyway, but thanked him for the information.
We came to the main road, turned left on a cycleway, then crossed the road.  We walked into Trefor past the bus stop where we had changed buses this morning.  We turned right and walked down to the harbour.   The sun had disappeared and the fog taken over again.  We sat at a picnic table to eat our sarnies, but it was cold so we didn’t dally long.
We walked round the harbour, but not on the pier because it was chained off with a notice saying it was unsafe.  Looking through the gate we could see at least two dips in the rotting wood.  Wooden piers are no match for nature!
We walked south-west from the harbour up on the cliffs and round a Head.  The cliffs are made of a spectacular black rock which had been quarried at some time in the past.  We saw shags on the rocks and wondered whether they were nesting yet.  There were spectacular views of the rocks, but it was quite cold on top so we didn’t hang about.
There was a present-day quarry marked on the map, but when we got there it looked like a fortress.  We couldn’t understand whether this was an historic building, or what?
The path turned inland before we reached the quarry.  The way was complicated, we really needed a magnifying glass to see the detail on the map.  But we didn’t have one, so we coped without.  We went under a tramway, took several tiny doglegs, crossed over fields and marched along lanes, always steeply upwards.
We saw a brightly coloured bird in a tree, but as we approached it we realised it was stuffed!  Were we in the real world?  We started to climb seriously.  We stopped at a drystone wall to eat our apples.  The sun began to poke through the fog and it got a fraction warmer.
We climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed, over a thousand feet above sea level!  I was slow, I am not nearly as fit as I would like to be.
The views were amazing, and we were relieved to find the path was well-signed because a lot of it led over open moorland.
It seemed we were never going to reach the top, we thought every ridge we were making for was the summit, but when we got there another ridge rose before our eyes — a familiar scenario to us on our Walks. 
At last we arrived at the top!  Colin was delighted to find frogspawn in one of the ditches at that altitude.  Then he came across some dried-out frogspawn on the path and he was not so delighted.  We met a track which took us gently down to a car park — we could walk faster going downhill.  We hadn’t quite climbed to the top of the mountain Yr Eifl, but almost.  There were spectacular views in all directions.
There was a standing stone sculpture in the car park, but it was difficult to photograph because the sun was very bright and in our eyes.  (We often seem to be walking into the sun low in the sky.)  We turned sharp right and took a zigzag road down to sea level again.  It was very steep, it made my legs ache and feel like jelly.  My thigh muscles don’t like such steep slopes.
The amazing views made us realise how high we had climbed since Trefor.  Colin kept talking a load of nonsense about what he’d do if he took over a derelict farm in the valley.  I wasn’t the slightest bit interested because my legs were aching so.  Near the bottom we passed an even more derelict farm building, so I ‘offered’ it to him to do up.  He shut up then!
As we reached the bottom my legs felt so weak I had to sit down on a rock at the entrance to the village of Nant Gwrtheyrn.  It was a quarry village opened in the 1860s to quarry stone for road surfacing.  The stone was shipped out by sea, so the village remained very isolated because of the hill behind it.  The quarry closed eighty years later during the Second World War, and was abandoned.  It is now a sort of museum and a Welsh Language Centre.  While resting we ate our chocolate, and wished we had brought second bars because we still had quite a way to go.
An elderly man stopped his car and kindly offered us a lift back up the hill we had just climbed down.  We thanked him, but turned him down because we planned to walk out the other way.  Other way?  Didn’t know there was one!  Oh yes there is (we hope) because the way-marked footpath is marked on our OS map.  It was only 4pm, but it seemed the place was packing up for the day.  Workers in the car park were about to leave, and the cafĂ© and toilets were locked up.
We walked past them all.  The Wales Coast Path was well signed, so we felt confident as we went down a good path almost to the beach.  We crossed the beach in front of old quarry workings, and then began to climb — Aaaaaarrgh!  Not again!
The path was grassy and narrow, but it was not blocked and well signed.  We passed a couple of wild goats, more suited to this sort of terrain than we were.
We came to an old tree which had been cleverly turned into a sculpture of a horse.  Giddy-up!  I wished it was a real horse that I could ride because I was very tired by then.
We crossed a babbling brook in a dip, then up and up and up.  Our consolation was the spectacular views.
We were glad the weather was calm because we could see by the leaning trees that it can often be very windy on that slope.
There were oakapple-type growths on some of the trees and we wondered what kind of bug had caused them.
Up and up and up — my legs were killing me!  We were making for a gate at the top which was in front of some houses.  We read a notice about a permissive path, but we were so tired we didn’t quite take in what it said.
We went through the gate, but now where?  There were no Wales Coast Path signs to be seen.  We went behind the buildings, but the tracks all took us away in the wrong direction.  We came back and went in front of the buildings into a field, but it didn’t look like it was a path anymore.  A man came out of a house and said we shouldn’t have come through the gate in the first place — but it looked like the obvious way.  (Actually we should have read that notice more carefully, but we were so tired!)  He shrugged as if we were mad (perhaps we were!) when we said we were making for Nefyn, but he directed us the way to go.
Back through the gate, and near the notice about a permissive path was an inconspicuous notice with a Wales Coast Path logo directing us along the bottom of a fence.  We hadn’t seen it because, in our struggle to get up the hill, we had been making for the gate which looked the obvious way — and because we are so old and tired!  I was concerned that we may not get to Nefyn before dark, but Colin was confident that we would.  We couldn’t afford to waste any more time getting lost.
It was a fairly flat walk to another quarry, so we were able to up our pace a little.  We came to a fork in the path with no sign, but we saw a seat up the left track so we went up there — yes, it was uphill again!  Behind the seat was a logo on a gate, so it was the right way.  It pointed us behind the next hill, thank goodness, and when we got round that we could see Nefyn in the distance.  At last!  But it was still a long way away.
The track leading on was quite good and more or less in a straight line.  We were beginning to lose the light, and a gorgeous rosy-pink sky was starting to form ahead.  We eventually emerged on to a minor road by Pistyll Chapel — we thought we had got to where we joined the main road, but we were disappointed to discover, when we squinted at the map in the dimming light, that we were still about half a mile short.  I suppose we should have turned left there and walked up to the main road considering how dark it was getting (we could see traffic going along it further up the hill so we knew it wasn’t far away) but we didn’t.
We continued to follow the Coast Path signs, telling ourselves that it couldn’t be far now.  We didn’t realise it was another half mile.  We passed a Shetland pony in the gloom.  Knowing they can be feisty we gave it a wide berth, but it just stood there almost ignoring us.  I was surprised how well the photo of it came out considering how dark it was.
Further on we met some people walking their dogs.  They were clambering along a narrow wall top because they said the corner of the field was muddy.  We brightly said it was probably no worse than anything we have experienced already — but we should have listened to them!  There were large stones, wood, tyres, etc. in the mud to help us across, but even so we sank in nearly to the top of our boots, and I almost lost my balance.  I couldn’t see in the gloom of that corner of the field, and I didn’t cope very well because I was so tired.
After what seemed an age, at last we came out on to the road.  It was almost completely dark by then, but the sun was reflecting deep red on the clouds ahead — it was really beautiful!  We still had one and a half miles to go.  The official Coast Path crossed over the road and continued uphill parallel to the other side into Nefyn, but it was impossible to follow this in the dark.  So we donned our high-viz vests and continued down the pavementless road.  There was not much traffic, but when it did come we displayed reflective strips on our yellow vests and dived into the undergrowth as far as we could.  Even in the town the pavements were narrow or non-existent, but we got there!

That ended Walk no.350, we shall pick up Walk no.351 next time in the centre of Nefyn near the bus stop.  It was five past seven, so the Walk had taken us ten hours fifty minutes.  We had our tea and chocolate biscuits, then returned to the cottage.  This had been a spectacular Walk and very enjoyable despite our aching legs, our tiredness and finishing in the dark.  In retrospect I should have paid more attention to the topography when planning.  It would have been better to have divided this Walk into two sections — Clynnog Fawr to Trefor on one day, and Trefor to Nefyn on another.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
The next day we returned home to Malvern.