Episode 121 -Walking the Wales Coast Path Llyn Peninsular, 32 miles from Trefor to Mount Pleasant and within sight of Mynydd Mawr. Grand total around Britain’s coastline, 4,048 miles in 329 walking days

Picture by courtesy of Ordnance Survey showing my progress in scarlet, walking round Wales to date. The northern black marker shows I’ve nearly reached the end of the Llyn Peninsular and the white marker in the south represents St Ishmael by Milford Sound where I’ve stalled for a little while recuperating!


***Initial Draft – come back later to see the typos corrected and maybe a few extras**

Dear Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie,

Nanny, Bobl and ZUD set off from home last Sunday intending to mount an assault on The Llyn Peninsular. Instead it nearly blew us away, although there were many fine periods and dodging the rain and hail squalls became an art form. We knew gales were forecast and quite expected to spend a lot of time drinking tea waiting to walk in the excellently appointed bunkhouse courtesy of Sue and Ian. Yet again we have new standards to which we must aspire for accommodation. Have to say that – we want to return to finish off Llyn in luxury.

Waiting for the weather to change….. view from aloft


No we did not complete as much as hoped , but quite frankly the 32 miles, mostly in the right direction, was a bonus. We must return, and hopefully next time, I’ll have recovered from the severe buffeting by the wind, and the gales will have gone elsewhere.

The intended route was straightforward; return to Trefor and follow the Wales Coast Path as far as possible, without being distracted by the superb scenery and trying to stay upright on the slippery, muddy surface with the odd knee deep puddle, with regular ascents and descents.

The pictures tell the rest of the story; look on;

What gales? Waiting to leave Trefor.


Leaving Trefor – still no gales….


Over the saddle at Yr Eifl a steep climb and steep descent heading for centre right.


Porth y nant – starting to cut up rough
looking back at Porth y nant from Pystyll

Nefyn ahead and the weather- probably time to stop after nine miles into the wind!

ZUD waiting on the Wales Coast Path – in the rain at the end of day one.
Next Day – Porth Nefyn
More Porth Nefyn…. look at that sky – what gales?
Morfa Nefyn looking to the RNLI Station The truth is I couldn’t get the camera out in the gales – so most of the pictures were taken in the calm.


Nefyn Golf Club
The Wales Coast Path goes in every direction


Heading for Nefyn RNLI Station

Nefyn RNLI Station

Carreg Ddu from the Coastwatch Tower.

Coastwatch Tower….


Ian and Kathy are volunteer Coastwatchers near Nefyn Golf Course – I took shelter from the gales here for a chat and a rest.
Seals sheltering too on the Nefyn Edern Coast
Rendezvous at Porth Colmon with Zud and Nanny
Leaving rendezvous at Porth Colmon – unexplained why the Wales Coast Path moved inland and became poorly signed posted. I was also nearing the end of my batteries and looking for a suitable finish; as I could see the slope ahead and upward toward Mount Pleasant. I could also see a few miles out to sea squalls and cloudbursts heading my way in an otherwise clear blue sky
Looking for a finish – getting wet and going upwards

no finish at Whistling Sands and still climbing…

I eventually realised I was on collision course with a nasty black squall which had detached itself from the bad weather out to sea. I left the Wales Coast PathI headed inland but so did the nasty weather. Nanny could see me heading for a field full of cattle; and I could only see another field full of pregnant sheep and yet another full off recently born lambs . I don’t know how but I just made the shelter of the car soaked only on the prevailing wind side.

No more pictures – too wet and windy – the camera/phone was soaked but after sheltering for a while I took to the lanes again until I got to the foothills of Bryn Mawr and stopped! Home Zud



Episode 120 – Passed milestone 4,000 in 327 days with a 27 mile walk on The Wales Coast Path from Foryd Bay to Trefor in unseasonal sunshine.

Progress Map above by Courtesy of Ordnance Survey, showing my latest North Wales Coast Path walk reaching Trefor in the shelter of Gyrn Ddu (522) and Yr Eifl (564). The South Wales Coast Path Walk remains static by St Ishmael at Milford Haven.

Progress round Britain Map above, also by courtesy of Ordnance Survey. Sorry about the strange weather, but we have been experiencing some unseasonal temperatures lately. Summer has come early….


Dear Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie,

We have entered the birthday season with Lauren’s twelfth and Stan’s eighth just passed, and awaiting Jake’s seventh shortly. Happy Birthdays all three. Suitable celebrations were and will be had. Then Rowan, Maisie and Rosie follow at monthly intervals. Grown ups don’t count. I stopped at fifty.

Normally I would be settling down, almost hibernating and not thinking of walking so much in the winter, but suddenly the weather changed with threats of 18/19 degrees temperatures. On hearing this I rapidly mobilised and headed for Caernarfon looking for an unseasonally open campsite.

Until the artic ahead of me deposited its toilet block all over the road…

…….. at Llanbrynmair. I was blocked for nearly an hour but eventually got going through the motions and was relieved to pass.

Helped by Nanny, I eventually contacted Parsal Farm Campsite which opened for me near Trefor, very conveniently placed for the North Wales Coast Path.

The Proprietor, Arthur Jones was very welcoming and helpful and I soon had the tent pitched before midday and stuffed with duvets ready for low night time temperatures following the forecast day time heat wave.

The tent pitched at Parsal Farm; proprietor Arthur Jones – only one occupant -me! It’s only 11-00am – almost a full day’s walking ahead – in a February heatwave!


I had two full days to extend the walk southwestwards along the LLEYN Peninsular, what could go wrong!?

Leaving Parsal Camp – early morning start
Sunshine at Saron Foryd Bay – I’m heading for the Caernarfon Airport
Also looking….This enormous four engine military transport aircraft came down and had a good look at the airport and me and then rapidly took off. Either the size of the runway – tiny – or me – had put the frighteners on it. Howabout that for a February sky?

Not exactly Heathrow is it?

Afron Gwyrfal drains into Foryd Bay – the flat marshes contrast dramatically with the surrounding peaks.
I think you have got the picture! I was glad not to be climbing any of those!
RAF Museum….
…………at Caernarfon Airport




It did rain for two hours at Dinas Dinlle and with no shelter in sight I got a soaking, but it cleared up and I dried out and returned to a damp tent for the night.

The WCP route between Dinnas Dinlle and Trefor is unrelenting well trafficked A499, although looking to the horizon there is always the constantly changing profile of the many peaks to take your mind off the speeding vehicles .

A499 -NUFF SAID

A499 – WHAT MORE CAN YOU SAY

My final assault this trip was to commence the scaling of Yr Eifl, I managed the foothills and circumnavigated Trefor but the real impact heading for Nefyn is yet to come. Fortunately I don’t have to climb the full 564 metres as The Llyn Coast Path bypasses the summit, but it’s still pretty steep.

The final pictures show my tour of Trefor

Trefor Harbour above and below
Trefor Pier
Yr Eifl Quarry
The end of the line this trip, where the Wales Coast Path departs from Trefor and my starting point next time out. The bridge supports the track for the Granite’s journey from quarry to harbour fortunately no longer in use

Twenty seven miles walked this time in two days. Grand Total 4,024 miles. I have added up the remaining distances to complete the Wales Coast Path and it totals 310 miles. We all know this is a minimum since nothing is allowed for getting lost, circuitous walks and getting to and from places without transport. The mileages I tally up include all those things, so don’t take my figures as any meaningful distance round Britain’s coastline.

Episode 119 -Approaching 4,000 miles walking round Britain’s Coastline. Thirty* miles this trip on the Wales Coast path from Menai Bridge to Foryd Bay at the start of the Lleyn Peninsular; plus a day out detour to climb Cader Idris with Stanley and chums.


  • *This three day trip involved two days and twenty three miles for me alone  on the Wales Coast Path, plus one day and nominal  seven miles climbing Cader Idris in Snowdonia with Stan, Donald, Richard, Gabriel, Jim, Tom and Flash.
  • According to notices on The Minffordd Path  the distance to the summit is 5.4 miles there and back, plus change in elevation of twice times 788 metres; plus walking the promenade (also Wales Coast Path!) and playing the slots at Aberdovey, so allowing seven miles added to the Grand Total is conservative.
  •  The Grand Total walked now is 3,998 miles in 325 days.
progress-wales-coast-path.jpg

PROGRESS MAP BY COURTESY OF ORDNANCE SURVEY

Donald, Stan, Gabriel, Jim, Richard, Flash and Tom setting off for Cader Idris Summit. I  was generally with them but many paces behind…. 

boys-day-out-cader-idris.jpg
Youngsters conquer Cader Idris

Dear Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie,

Last week I was getting Mill cabin fever cooped up in the bad weather and not walking. The winter layers of blubber were building up around my waist, reinforcing the Christmas base layers already  laid down during the festivities. I was a good (or bad) stone over the limit.

But help was at hand, a trough of fine weather recently penetrated the hitherto unforgiving winter weather and I rapidly prepared to take advantage. At the same time Donald and Stan issued an invitation to join the boys’ party at the top of Cader Idris, not far from my Wales Coast Path route. If you say it quickly 892 metres isn’t even a mile….. and downhill all the way back?

Either side of the intrepid mountaineering expedition I fitted in some Coast Path Walking. Last Friday I travelled to Torrent Hill Camping and Bunkhouse near Dolgellau with all my gear. I hadn’t reserved anything so on arrival I was greeted with the choice of tent pitch or bunkhouse.  My soft layers of blubber screamed bunkhouse, so I left the tent safely stowed in the car, while I deployed the winter duvets, sleeping bag, pillows ,  many changes of clothing, plus the two chilli-bins full of rations and thermos flasks. Unfortunately I had left one bag behind at the Mill, which Nanny had been trying to contact me about. Phone reception is so hit and miss in the valleys, that I only received the many messages several hours later. The missing computer case contained all my sophisticated route planning gizmos, torches, back up batteries felt tips, diary, spare maps, notes, guide books and re-charging equipment. Nothing important! But what was I going to do at night if I couldn’t colour in my maps!

camping

Torrent Hill Camping and Bunkhouse  near Dollgellau – out of season – but still comfortable .  My home for two nights. The office/house is 600 years old.

Day one  – Friday –  I drove  from the campsite to Caernarfon, parked up and began the riverside walk back to  Pont Brittania and Menai Bridge.  From Y Felinheli the O/S map shows the Wales Coast Path following the main road. Fortunately the new route stays alongside the Menai Strait and any battles with traffic were averted.

leaving caernarfon.jpg

Leaving Caernarvon alongside the Menai Strait with Anglesey opposite. And help remembering where I left ZUD, below.

ZUD

The route out of Caernarvon was straightforward and level, probably an old rail track

y felinheli marina

The remainder of he walk to Britannia and Menai Bridges was through woods and walled overgrown gardens – Glan Faenol. Various vantage points of Plas Newydd, were cleverly appointed with oversize wooden seats and various shelters made from nearby trees and branches. Some stone carving depicting local fauna formed the coping stones to the river wall.

stone coping carvings

this one depicts the rare red squirrel – on the mainland..

oversize garden furniture….
…..from which to view Plas Newydd


Glan Faenolnotice telling us all about the walled garden…. and gated below

Britannia Bridge emerges through the woods above: but Menai Bridge is better hidden below..

The first day’s walking was completed in bright sunshine, although there were still the questions of where to board a bus back to Caernarfon, ZUD, food and then the bunkhouse.

Day Two started overcast with a drive to Minffordd at the foot of Cader Idris in Snowdonia, to rendezvous with Donald, Stan, Richard, Gabriel, Jim, Tom and Flash – all present and correct below

Almost seems like a gentle stroll


We stopped for refuelling at Llyn Cau



More refuelling at cloud level
The trig point at the summit now within view
More shelter and sustenance before the flight down!

That’s a long way to the bottom.
Clouds gathering over Lake Tal y llyn

Getting there.

Read all about it in two languages.

We found the cars and the boys still had enough energy to demand a visit to the beach, with paddling in the rough, cold waves followed by fish and chips, and ill advised slot machine investments on the promenade .

Saying our goodbyes, ZUD and headed back to Dollgellau Camp and Donald, Richard, Stan, Jim, Gabriel and Tom headed south, with Flash curled up asleep in the boot. I suspect he wasn’t the only one.

Finally Day Three, Sunday came round with a definite weather deterioration. I packed up all my bedding and clothing and loaded the car in rain. I prepared wet weather gear for a soggy final day walking.

.

Setting off from Caernarfon, I headed South West along the Wales Coast Path in the direction of The Lleyn Peninsular, firstly in light rain, then heavy rain, and for two hours. The rain stopped the sun appeared and after another two hours I was dry enough to return to the car and home.

The pictures are of a wet circular procession – wherever and however far I walked I had to walk back again – it was Sunday and no bus services, and no one likes a soggy hitch hiker. Chances are there are no bus routes anyway.

Walking in the rain – Bontnewydd – Llanfaglan

From now on all walking is reducing the distance home.

Caernarfon Castle and the Afon Seiont

Final Picture – new start point next time out at Llanwnda – Saron near Foryd Bay hopefully the lane will have dried out…

Episode 118 – Continuing my Round Britain Coastline Walk; Resuming from Pembroke Dock Railway Station across the Cleddau Bridge to Neyland, Milford Haven and finishing at St Ishmael, a total of 36 miles in three days. 3,968 miles so far completed…..

 

PROGRESS SO FAR – Map by Courtesy of Ordnance Survey

progress on the wales coast path

Last time out I visited south west Wales at Milford Haven and its environs. The crimson worms above show  I’ve  now arrived at St Ishmael and heading for the westernmost Welsh coastline at St David’s next visit. Maybe then the 3968 miles accumulated so far will trip over the 4,000 milestone? 

Dear Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie,

I’ve been so lucky again. Last Friday,  I hesitantly returned to Pembroke to resume my trailblazing on the Wales Coast Path after  earlier consulting Countryfile’s  weather forecast . It had showed colder temperatures turning to snow near home, but only intermittent rain in South Wales where I was bound. In acknowledgement of the vagueness of weather forecasting , basically not trusting it, I forsook my tent and booked into Neeston Bunkhouse near Herbrandston   for two nights with an option on the third night. Events dictated that the option was never taken up.

I resumed my walk with a circular trek from Pembroke Docks  across the Cleddau Bridge to Neyland and return.Within an hour of starting crossing the Cleddau Bridge  I got soaked. You can’t get any wetter high up on that bridge, battered by wind and rain coming off Milford Haven.  I got further soakings down on ‘dry’ land  and as daylight ran out I need no more excuses to give up for the day and go and dry out in the bunkhouse, hoping for better tomorrow. Even so I completed a circular walk of 10 miles that day and took the new frontier into Neyland.

It was now dusk; I was tired and wet. I repaired to Herbrandston to check in at the very friendly Upper Neeston Bunkhouse. Without further ado – this bunkhouse must be up there with the best of all accommodation I’ve sampled on this adventure – everything I needed and very friendly , knowledgeable family run venture. And horses too!   I hope to return here on the next leg .

BELOW, The Cleddau Bridge from Neyland, and the Marina and Promenade at Neyland with views over Milford Haven

 

And boy! How much better tomorrow was.. Sun and warm weather all day Saturday. And I made hay. Not rapidly though. Under foot the wet track was treacherous and slow going and I slipped many times.  Once I face planted into a wild rose. No ewes this time. Yesterday dry clothing was at a premium. Today dry footware was now in short supply. By the last day , Sunday, (no country buses) I was down to wearing my gumboots. Excellent for the deeper puddles.  All other walking boots had succumbed and drowned. Fortunately I carry old spare deckshoes for comfort when the wellies’ day is done.

Mustn’t  make the bunkhouse muddy.

Don’t bring mud in – criminal – whether It is  intent,  bunkhouse or hotel room.

The loose deck shoes allow the feet to swell unrestrained to a comfortable size after  pounding the path and being tightly incarcerated all day. While on the subject of footwear,( my shoe/boot bag is my second biggest item of kit – dry clothes being the largest) – the only other foot protection are  jandals/flipflops . If I have a foot fetish it is only about being barefooted  when I’m forced to shower. Don’t take that the wrong way – I’m forced to shower when I can’t have a bath. Visitors to the Mill often comment on the number of baths….  I’d bring a bath with me walking if I could – I recall Grandad Cam  (hold tight we’re in regression) had amongst other  WWII  souvenirs, a collapsible Officers canvas bath. Even if it still survives, I can’t  bring  that ‘cos the kitchen sink takes up too much room .

I digress.

{Ps note to siblings S, J, & J. Did I just make up that Cam bath or did it really exist along with Army issue strap bags, camp bed, water flask and Hodden Grey Kilt? Or am I being a bit random? Even more random; whatever happened to the  tartan kilt that Nanny Tab built?

On Saturday, I flagged down the bus outside the bunkhouse to take me to Milford Haven, leaving Zud to a day off.

upper neeston bunkhouse

 

Earlier arrival at the bunkhouse and there’s ZUD resting in the corner.

 

so good it appears twice!

 

Bit exposed above, on the Cleddau Bridge with no shelter anywhere, but The Irish Ferries find shelter alongside in Milford Haven.

BELOW Neyland Marina sheltering pleasure craft and boating service industry; Neyland was favoured by Brunel and he is considered a founder of area.  Despite all the major industry and shipping terminals  the wider area is comparatively unharmed by normally intrusive and polluting activities. Most views have harbour and industrial paraphernalia in the background but the farming, leisure and tourism carry on regardless. It could be so much worse. 

I have been to Port Talbot.

 

 

Circular Walk/ bus assisted/ DayTwo/ Neyland Marina to Milford Haven, Hubberstone, Hakin,  Sandy Haven Pill Stepping Stones (submerged),  Herbranston and Upper Neeston.

Buses still running early on Saturday morning, which was a relief. I returned to Neyland and followed the Coast path back to Upper Neeston Bunkhouses

bus approaching

 

Merging of industry alongside the Haven from Milford to Neyland

 

Arrived at Herbrandstone – no go – the tide’s arrived and covered the stepping stones. I’ll have to cross the Sandy Haven Pill (right) further inland at Clay Bridge . The bunkhouse is on the way – so call it a day after 14 miles and finish tomorrow.

Day Three – no buses – so fully self sufficient circular tour to St Ishmael and back before heading home

Whether by design or accident I found myself following well trafficked roads paths or lanes and many motorists treat walkers with indifference. Some parts were downright dangerous for the Coast Path to also be the main road. Other paths were being reconstructed to segregate vehicles and pedestrians. Particularly  vulnerable was the alternative route taken by The Wales Coast Path when  the tide covered the short cut across the stepping stones.

 

 

Sandy Farm where the Wales Coast Path gets confused and  entangled with public footpaths. I had to ask for help to find the  stepping stones river crossing. Once found I left ZUD nearby while I walked as for as I could and back again. sandy bay farm

Sandyhaven Pill  – the ‘stepping stones’ at last revealed with the outgoing tide. When I approached from the other side yesterday  they were hidden beneath the surface and I couldn’t cross. Today, I walked across and linked up . Even though I had just walked all the way round via the next bridging point at Clay Bridge

stepping stones

Soon back on the Coast Path again at Great Castle Head – Great ancient fort site and modernish radar station  WWII ?

gr castle head

 

Lindsway Bay – the final beach this trip – now looking for the footpath out of herelyndsay bay

The end of the line this trip, for the Wales Coastal Path before turning inland to St Ishmael on a public footpath. Then a lane lead back to Zud via Skerry Back Cottage making a day tour of twelve mile and 36 miles for the three days

 

THIS IS THE START LINE NEXT TIME OUT

And now for Home. Which is getting nearer with every walk..

Spare Photo Gallery

 

 

 

 

Episode 116 – So far recorded 3,932 miles in my bid to walk round Mainland Britain. Walking 26 miles on the Wales Coast Path from Freshwater West, via Angle to Pembroke Dock Railway Station.

I apologise to my reader for the slight hiatus whilst publishing this Episode. Operator Error? This is now the complete edition of Episode 116 and Episode 117 has been withdrawn.

Progress Map by courtesy of Ordnance Survey

image_568413743415843

Where the Celtic Sea meets the Bristol Channel, this latest walk extends the Crimson Worm  in South  West Wales as far as Pembroke Dockyard  Railway Station. I performed this walk over one full day and two half days, in an initial Day Half scouting mission around Pembroke docks and two further curious circuits to take in all the Wales Coast Path coastline. The final car journey/lift/rescue did not count as it was not on the Coast Path and was my reward for shepherding.

 

Dear Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie,

Last week I took a gamble on the weather and spent Wednesday and Thursday  nights camping  at Newton Farm Campsite, near Angle Bay, Pembrokeshire, thanks to Proprietor Roland Lewis. Although closed for winter, He opened up his site for me to use as basecamp while I did a 26 mile circuit of the local coastline, making the grand total 3,932 miles in 320 days actual walking, since I started this hairbrain venture roundabout November 2013.

 

 

 

 

Serendipity reigns ok! Yet again, like the campsite, I was also lucky with the weather,  the night time temperatures  came close but never got below zero! Neither did it rain and the wind seemed to be with me which ever direction I walked.

Start of the main circuit from Freshwater West.

 

zud in the middle of nowhere 4

I left Zud parked in the middle of nowhere – above – middle distance, slightly left!

.

Angle Lifeboat Station below looking out over Milford Haven with Paul on duty

 

 

 

 

 

Unusual events included  damaging a hand rescuing a weary sheep stuck in brambles and I had a personal conducted tour of Angle Lifeboat Station courtesy of Lifeboatman Mechanic Paul.  Thank you for letting me inspect your Taymar Class Lifeboat including going on board and into the cockpit. These boats are fantastic, and you can say the same about the crews, mostly volunteers, but some full time like Paul. I will always sing your praise and patronise your gift shops, but hope I will never need your brave services.

Even on the final day when I was completing a circuitous route back to the campsite things fell into place despite a potentially daunting  walk back to ZUD, left guarding Pembroke Castle . I had completed the Wales Coast Path walking task and was  now running on empty ready to go home. Some six miles separated me from my transport.  I hopefully stuck out a thumb  and within minutes an older couple stopped and gave me a lift all the way back to the car.  I was too tired to think about a photo and can only thank them through this medium. Perhaps it was pay back for rescuing the sheep. Or more serendipity?

 

The sheep episode began with my parting the woolly beasts as The Wales Coast Path took me through the middle of a huge flock. They seemed reluctant to disperse as they normally flee from human contact. I then heard an isolated bleating and came across a sheep well embedded in gorse, thorns and brambles. My nearness caused it to panic and instead of backing out it just enmeshed itself further. I’d left my ferrule tipped sticks behind,  having a day off.  I don’t carry secateurs which would have similarly solved the problem at a stroke; nor a knife for legal reasons. Instead I found two stones and proceeded to hack my way through the various brambles , the sheep thought I meant harm and struggled ; or grew too weary and kept falling on me. All making the task longer and harder. It wasn’t the lightest nor the most fragrant.

Eventually, when we both pulled in the same direction, the sheep freed itself and still with half the brambles intact headed off to rejoin  its watchful flockmates.

 

rest-and-be-thankful-copy.jpg

 

The main walk began in the sand dunes at Freshwater West, where I finished last time out. There were several miles of strenuous walking climbing up and down and very muddy underfoot. Reaching Angle Bay I saw a few people – certainly more than I’d passed all day. The walk turned into Milford Haven and countryside changed to industrial mode with the used and disused Power Stations and the fuel tankers lined up alongside the oil jetties, and ferries to and  from Ireland . That day I was there I never noticed the reported oil spillage.

The Wales Coast Path then disappears into more urban surroundings either side of the Pembroke River, where I presume most of the power industry and dockyard  employees live.

I was now looking for a suitable Rendezvous point to complete my walk and chose The Pembroke Docks Railway Station. And bus interchange. Leaving all my options open for resuming next time out. Just here? Or there?

 

Photo Gallerybird waymarker

 

 

 

 

POST SCRIPTUM

As I headed away from Pembroke going home to normal housing and proper communications I was rapidly dumped into commonplace reality of world politics. What had happened in my absence? Had Brexit boiled over?  Had Trump finally Trumped? Had Putin put the bootin? Had Spurs scored seven goals?

There coming towards me probably heading for Castlemartin ranges were convoy after convoy of tanks on tank transporters. I lost count. I was now leaving with regret.

I would love to have hung around and watch the Military training these tanks  to fetch and carry, and sit up and beg. I wondered if I would have been so keen to disobey the red flags marking the danger zones, now knowing what awesome firepower was descending on the area. The Tank Range at Castle Martin is a huge flagged off area of the Pembrokeshire Coast devoid of civilians, where the tanks can play war games to their hearts’ content. It’s all a bit bleeding obvious so I don’t think I’m giving away state secrets and hopefully won’t get my collar felt?

Like all the best photos this one never got taken, I always thought the next convoy would be the last and not worth stopping – so no record of my explosive hallucination!

I do wonder occasionally if , sooner or later, the Authorities are going to catch up with me, because my familiar scruffy walking figure must keep popping up around Britain’s coastline on all manner of video security devices. I must be a unique source/sauce of security knowledge being able to point out all the weaknesses in Britain’s coastal defences. Still makes a change from visiting Salisbury Cathedral, that Mecca for all Russian Tourists….

 

My bucket list has acquired a new number one. In rare occurrences of TV Watching at home I have come across a programme title forgotten – possibly “Hunted”, where fugitives flee the authorities, aiming to lie low until they are given a Coastal departure point after a few weeks, which if they make it uncaptured, they win. The authorities seem to have a full range of up to date recognition devices and social media at their disposal. I admit I have been subconsciously planning my technique in the hope I might get chosen……… this is as about as likely as being asked to play for England at football – I always used to take my kit to England matches just in case they were one short…….

 

Episode 115 – Drama! Navigating 18 miles on the Pembrokeshire/Wales Coast Path from Freshwater East to Freshwater West – lost in dreadful weather, mud and flash flooding alongside military danger zones with expensive collateral losses… Grand Total of 3,906 miles around Britain’s Coast in 318 walking days.

PROGRESS SO FAR….progress mapMap by courtesy of Ordnance Survey, with my completed route around Britain’s Coast Path highlighted in Crimson, 3,906 miles so far. Also included are internal boundary paths of Hadrian’s Wall and Offa’s Dyke.

 

Dear Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie,

The title sounds dramatic;  well it was. There was collateral damage and losses,  and it all took place over a two day visit by Nanny , Bobl and ZUD to the Wales South Coast last Wednesday and Thursday with overnight shelter in Tenby Premier Inn. Had I been on my own, camping sauvage, I think my tent would have drowned again, and even more equipment mislaid.  As it was, Nanny and ZUD kept station as near as possible, alongside the Coast Path and I had a mobile bolt hole which I resorted to several times. But  there were other times , when the horizontal rain struck without warning, the leeward side of modern plastic wrapped haystacks had to suffice as shelter, which  I shared, not necessarily sympathetically on their part, with cows and new calves. I realised I could scramble up the bales if the mother’s got bolshie because I was keeping their babies awake

During these enforced interruptions, nostalgia fever kicked in as   I tried to recall topical nativity experiences to aid my predicament, remembering my one and only stage performance as the ‘Red Indian’ (nomenclature permissible sixty odd years ago). To this day I have never encountered another Nativity Native American following the star in the East, nor The Wales Coast Path, for that matter. Nor was there a crib for a bed And it came to pass that although my acting career never got off the ground, at least my latest venture got to second bale, whilst the cows remained safely be – lowing….  and my soggy weather bush craft and tracking can only improve.

The target this trip was simple. Restarting at Freshwater  East and make as much progress as possible along the Wales Coast Path, aka The Pembrokeshire Coast Path. Ordnance Survey Explorer Map OL 36 was in constant use, being double sided it would also take a pronged bashing and soaking – more later.

Start point Freshwater East – weather conditions deceptive below…..

start point Freshwater East.jpg

Stackpole Coast – ruggedstackpole coast

 

 

First rendezvous with Nanny and ZUD was at Stackpole Quay – below….Stackpole quaybarafundle bay.jpg

After which came Barafundle Bay and Stackpole Head – er –  ahead – top left. Below its National Trust heritage

Nat Trust Barafundle Bay

, raming hole

Passing the Head and Stackpole Warren, I arrived at Raming Hole, heading for Broad Haven.

 

My next rendezvous with Nanny was inland at Bosherton. There were a variety of paths to take, dependent on tides, red flags and flooding. It seems I took all the wrong ones, adding a couple of unnecessary miles to the journey and a late lunch.

Below is my last known position before examining The Stackpole National Nature Reserve in much closer detail than I would have liked.Stackpole N N R

Much later I returned to this scene and turned left at the footbridge, instead of right – -which was the wrong answer. Whether it was getting lost here or subsequent difficulties, there are no more pictures for today. Suffice to say, I journeyed on after lunch by way of a series of footpaths defined by “Danger – keep out” warnings from the danger areas occupied by the military, mainly as  a tank training ground – one assumes the personnel get trained as well as the tanks?

The light was fading prematurely, the clouds gathering until heavy rain started to fall and I was still in time for my next rendezvous which would mark the day’s end – for walking that is.

Until I arrived at Thorne, about a quarter of a mile short of rescue by Nanny. I passed Thorne Church as the lane swept round and down into the village, but I could not believe my eyes that told me the lane was flooded several feet deep, from side to side and for about fifty yards. I had no idea what was below the surface and had no intention of wading. I tried one house that had lights on to ask what was the way round this water feature. No reply. In fact eerily, there was no one around at all!

 

To one side of the flash flooding there was a heavily fenced field that if I could surmount the substantial hedging, posts and barbed wire, I could outflank the water and climb a similar fence/hedge to bypass the water. Let’s mention it was now raining heavily and the hedge, although quite holely, still held gallons of water. I had to climb aboard by prostrating myself and wriggling through brambles and thorns, to fall over the other side. Where I discovered the field was quite boggy. At least it was a soft landing. But it took a while to wade to the other side; and even longer to repeat the hedge mounting procedure to get out of the field, and the landing this time was not so soft.

I was now late for my rendezvous. Not to worry. This is what my brand new mobile phone was meant for. Call Nanny!

After several minutes by which time I had examined all of my 37 pockets in detail, twice, I sadly came to the conclusion, I had one less phone than I started with . But at least I knew it was somewhere between here, where I was standing and there where I had first tried my luck at hedge climbing,  and possibly somewhere in the boggy field I had just traversed.

Despite my excellent torch, I wasn’t in a fit state to start searching and decided to find life somewhere in the village preferably with a phone. I gave some guy a severe fright by knocking on his window while he was wrapping presents, and he willingly lent me his phone to contact Nanny. In minutes we were back in contact and I was travelling rapidly to my next hot shower. Phoneless.

I concluded the phone wasn’t lost. I knew it was somewhere in that field- or maybe in the hedge? No problem!

Guess how day two started? Phone hunting!

Within minutes of remounting the hedge, I found what I thought was a car’s broken wing mirror. On closer examination it turned into my phone!

The rest of the day passed blissfully passing through Castlemartin and finishing walking at Freshwater West.

Just to prove the camera still works after a cold night in a farmers bog, view on….

thorne sideroad

Side road to Thorne

 

Freshwater Bay

Freshwater West – end of the walk for now. See you next year?

Episode 114 -Walking 17 miles on the Pembrokeshire/Wales Coast Path from Saundersfoot to Freshwater East with guests Elizabeth, Karin and Martin and a constant threat of rain.

Seventeen hard won, but companionable, miles walked this trip in three days. The difficult route, weaving along cliff edges, rising and falling irregularly from sea level to ninety metre contours, and slipping and sliding through mud, or baffled by sand dunes, all made it seem much longer. My grand total walked round England and Wales is now a catchy 3,888 miles in 316 days.

e9d9475a-e378-4271-a5fc-da57d6622b6c.jpeg

Map courtesy of Ordnance Survey with my completed walking route highlighted in scarlet worms….. Probably under 400 miles to go? Menai Bridge to Freshwater East.

Pre- ramble.      Before my walking guests appeared, there was a chance meeting and kit discussions with another long distance walker, when Ryan escorted me to my rendezvous with Nanny and ZUD in Tenby. He had overcome all sorts of personal adversities and was now working with charities to help others, particularly kids obesity and  welfare. Good luck!

228E8063-E757-447A-B844-FDEC335AA7B8

 

Dear Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie,

Nanny and Bobl drove ZUD down to the Wales  South Coast on Sunday, 4th November, for three days, and resumed walking the Wales Coast Path at Coppet Hall Point near Saundersfoot.  Heading for Tenby- below-

 

 

 

 

 

On reaching Tenby, Nanny  and I were joined by Elizabeth, Karin and Martin…….

 

86F1B6A3-37A7-4322-8F2C-C01AD7220E32

Penally Station  – most laughing nervously; he who isn’t, knows what’s ahead!  Nanny reverted to back up driver at Skomar; Martin and Karin   found their car waiting for them at Manobier; Elizabeth managed to get all the way to West Moat Farm, although probably sleep walking the last few miles. Bobl called time at Freshwater East just as the clouds burst.

 

……….under heavy, grey skies. The walk changed rapidly from urban promenades and beaches to very slippery rocky  climbs and descents. The pace slackened because of the conditions and we expected reduced targets, but this was compensated for by the support, banter and camaraderie. And fantastic scenery.

Our resident geographic and geologic expert Martin was able to explain to us the various natural phenomena that had created our scenic surroundings. Passing on knowledge gleaned from Wally Allen and Jimmy Alves.

Very little of the Wales Coast Path was alongside the road, it was mostly cliff top.

 

The only time we got lost was on the first evening, Sunday,  in Tenby  walking in circles looking for suitable eateries. We eventually found traditional crowded pub fish and chips. More than made up for on the second day at the Swanlake Inn, near Swanlake Bay, where we enjoyed a traditional Welsh  cawl for Monday lunch that was filling and delicious enough to keep us going until we found an excellent chippy in Tenby for  the second evening meal. Followed by the rest of the evening chatting and drinking in Tenby House.

I must praise Nanny’s  superb management of the transport logistics. Five people, three vehicles and various different agendas. I’m fairly sure everyone who came on the walk was accounted for, although Elizabeth had to be restrained from extending Monday’s final walk into Freshwater East even though she was quite clearly sleepwalking.

If we didn’t make our target of Freshwater East Nanny and I had anticipated possible mutiny with a bail out emergency rendezvous at West Moor Farm in fast fading light but still no rain. The plan worked.  Elizabeth was dissuaded from walking alone, but with torch, to Freshwater, We’d also been very lucky with the weather..

 

On Tuesday morning we gathered to go our separate ways home. But first Nanny and Bobl had unfinished business with Freshwater East to take care of……

 

 

Start/finish at Freshwater East…see you next time?

8DBB0EB1-C758-40EA-96CA-7CFD20C18C13

 

 

…….. followed by a visit to the two Tenby Lifeboat Stations.

 

 

 

 

In summary, a most convivial gathering and some extremely worn out guest walkers – and the rain held off until the final furlong into Trewent Park. In all, seventeen miles were consumed by the full walk from Coppet Hall Point to Trewent Park via Saundersfoot, Tenby, Penally, Lydstep, Manorbier and Freshwater East in the best part of three days. Now the tally walked round England and Wales has reached 3,888 miles in 316 days. The combined ages of the five participants this time out was nearly 350 years , or if you include ZUD, very nearly 350 years!?

can I get to four thousand miles before New Year?

 

 

 

Parting shots of Tenby Harbour above……

 

 

People – courtesy of Elizabeth – below

 

 

Episode 113 – One day visit to Anglesey to complete the circumnavigation by walking the final stretch of Isle of Anglesey/Wales Coast Path from Llanfair P G to Dwyran. New grand total walked in England and Wales, 3,871 miles in 313 non-consecutive walking days.

FINAL DRAFT!

WCP Progress 21 10 18
Map by courtesy of Ordnance Survey  -Anglesey is now complete

Sunrise over Llanddwyn Bay at the Southern end of The Menai Straits.

sunrise

Dear Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie,

I took advantage yesterday, Thursday, of a brief one day break in the weather to drive to Llanfair PG on the Isle of Anglesey and complete my circumnavigation of the island, by filling in the missing stretch from Dwyran almost to the Menai Suspension Bridge.

I parked Zud at Llanfair Pwllgwyhgyll, and joined The Wales Coast Path, which is also the Anglesey Coast Path and for a while followed the erratic course which sometimes shared with the main road, and other times disappeared into very wet farmers’ fields.

red squirrel territory

I quickly got fed up with this and played my trump card which allows me to walk the foreshore.

menai straits moel y don

This is the highest form of coastal path walking being right next to the incoming tide. Get it wrong and it’s called swimming. I was also in Gollum territory.

 

Gollum territoryGollum territory

One disadvantage is having to walk on a variety of shingle, sand, mud pebbles and boulders which stretches all your tendons, ankles, muscles, blisters and sore toes.

 

caernarfon castle oppositeEventually, the wear and tear got to me and I could no longer ignore a persistent pain at the back of my less favourite leg, which I was pretending didn’t exist..  cos I have difficulty reaching the other ends of my legs.

I found a pallet washed up on the beach left in such a position that I could rest on it while I removed my boot and investigate this possibly terminal walking affliction. After uncovering and undoing several layers of socks, trousers and laces I found a trouser toggle bound up in the protective layers which was pressing directly on my Achilles    heel. The tighter I tied my laces the more damage I was causing.

Undoing the lace. Relief was instant.

Emergency over. Toggle repositioned and my walking career no longer in tatters . Walking was bliss again. Still can’t work out why there was a toggle at that end of my trousers and why I’d never noticed it before.

 

Snowdonia on the opposite bank of the Menai Straits

 

 

The rest of the walk was uneventful, although I still had to traverse several dozen fields after I left the shoreline, to rendezvous with the bus route that would take me back to the car. It was now getting dark and the Hi- Viz jacket was deployed as the traffic on the A4080 was unforgiving.  I had walked 15 miles this day, by the time I got to the bus stop.

It was only after I was securely boarded on the 42 Bus that I remembered I had now completed walking round Anglesey, and with a certain amount of satisfaction and smugness I broke out the Cadbury’s chocolate buttons.

I was soon back with ZUD and on my way home, arriving by nine o’clock in the evening , having been on the  move since seven this morning.

Result!

 

Episode 112 – Walking the Northern Wales Coast Path on Anglesey; resuming at Bodorgan Station on the Holyhead/Bangor line. 33 miles in two walking days bring the grand totals to 3,856 miles walked in 312 days since 2013.

Dear Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie,

Wheels within wheels – I’m trying to complete my circumnavigation of The Island Of Anglesey, and thought this last trip would have done it, enabling me to concentrate on finishing the Walk around Wales, and in turn Britain.. It was well planned, arriving by train at Bodorgan, with campsites forewarned and bus services primed for shadowing and replacement duties, and a fair weather forecast with tides to suit me,  and only needing to walk about 30 miles to complete, albeit part of that with the proverbial kitchen sink on my back. As it was, I walked 33 miles, some  mostly in the right direction  but due to an unusual crop of events ( Gollum, bulls, unexpected rain, bus delays and iffy pubs), I still ended up about ten miles short in what we will call two full days walking. (Half of Day one was on the train and half of day three was on the train AND a replacement bus service).

Using the distances given by  The Cicerone guide to Walking The Wales Coast Path, I compute that I have to walk another 172 miles from Menai Bridge  to Aberystwyth – the notional Finish and Party Venue. Add to that the remaining distance from Saundersfoot to Aberystwyth, 225 miles and I have only just under 400 miles left to complete the whole Wales Coast Path – assuming I don’t get lost. Could be all over in thirty plus days!

Meanwhile, closer to home, the transition from Arriva Trains morphing into Transport for Wales seems to have gone smoothly – unlike the timetable changes down South. The snail experiment is paying off and I’m learning not to take anything unnecessary, like spare clothes and food, and taking more rests as this allows the blood back into my arms. I haven’t yet found the most comfortable position for the new rucksack straps that allow proper circulation. And Millets is due further consultation after the self inflating sleeping mat was a bit of a let down.

Anyway – there was progress on The Wales Coast Path – Map by Courtesy of Ordnance survey with the usual Scarlet Worms indicating my progress – it’s slow going on Anglesey – I had hoped to complete this trip but the above listed unusual events got in my way .. I wonder if you collect all these maps with incremental progress highlighted would you form a flip chart animation. Oh! I forgot!! There’s probably an App….  I found something completely by accident that produced a map of all the photos locations, but I didn’t nail it down and now it’s escaped.WCP Progress 21 10 18

DSC_3682

Refer yellow dot on the first  map, which was the first camp  above – Look to the left of the last fencepost, one lonely blue tent at Awelfryn Campsite, Newborough Forest, Anglesey – with  Snowdonia on the horizon! I camped one night here to allow me to explore the delights of Newborough Forest and Llanddwyn Island.  The second night I camped at Treborth Hall on the mainland, nearby The Menai Bridge – no photos for that one – I arrived in darkness and left in haste! I saw no one there also… spooky. Yes it was a bit! Especially with poor street lighting. And the kitchen sink can’t run that fast.

Instead, I’ll throw in for free my Overall Progress around Britain Map, pending Brexit and Scottish Independence, it’s a work in progress? Am I going to have to unleash those tartan worms from Berwick and Carlisle soon? Better consult Nicola?

Progress around Britain 21 10 18

You may notice a crisp new look to some of the pictures. I have a new camera/phone which is running me in for a trial period, and with my blog upgrade, I think I’ve cleared the way for another 100 Episodes.

So sorry!

Only trouble is, I’ve got several hundred new procedures and passwords to sort out first. At the very least, you’ll now be able to believe most of the photo captions; they tell me my location, which was fine until I pressed the wrong button and the format changed. Fortunately I had the old camera/phone to fall back on. Recharging was a nightmare!  Leads everywhere, but Transport for Wales trains are pretty generous with their recharging points.

And I’m still sorting out which was the right button. And if you think writing the blog is a doddle, with two cameras, it’s twice as hard. And a bit random. Like “save” doesn’t actually mean your several hours of graft are safe guarded – it means log on again tomorrow and see if you can find where we’ve hidden your verbiage!

Now the journey unfolds with pictures-

 

READY; SET; GOGOGOCH

Leaving Knighton Station and arriving Bodorgan, Anglesey. About 5 hours later. As is now a tradition on the train, I devour one of Mr Tom Pugh’s excellent meat pasties and two of his pork pies and several muesli bars to while away the time, store up energy and lighten my load.

 

 

Stopping for traditional lunch along the Welsh Coast Path  at Malltraeth and Afon Cefni heading for Alwelfryn Camp.

 

 

nf

After setting up camp, the end of day one saw me doing exploratory walks round the forest edge and heading towards Llanddwyn Island. Total walking today 11 miles mostly with a full load. Will sleep well tonight.

 

 

 

Day two,  Saturday, my main walking day, was to resume and complete the circuit of The Forest and visit the Island and move off the campsite before lunch

 

.Very early morning forest and approaching Llanddwyn Island awaiting sunrise. low light levels. This new camera is good.

 

 

 

On the Island and its lighthouse.

Sunrise – told you it was an early start.

sunrise

From the Island I completed the forest circuit firstly via the dunes and then venturing into the forest itself. Now all I had to do was join up the gap between here and Menai Bridge.

I found  Treborth Hall Campsite and set up the tent again and then I began what I hoped was the final stretch  from the forest to Menai Bridge. Or vice versa. I chose to catch the 42 to my start point of yesterday’s finish. Unfortunately one didn’t appear for 90 minutes, When it did, although obviously I was at the head of the queue, I gave way to two older ladies who appreciated the gesture.  Unfortunately the bus driver didn’t like my £10 note for a £3-70 fare.  I gazed at the change in  his till and couldn’t comprehend? He wasn’t serving change and I wasn’t getting off. Impasse.

Until one of the ladies I had deferred to on boarding appeared at my side with change. She exchanged something in Welsh with the driver? My Welsh Fairy Godmother?

The bus ride thereafter was right out of Alton Towers – making up for lost time. I hung on  until my stop; and thanked the driver profusely on disembarking. He said something back! Which I didn’t quite catch….

I walked to my start point on The Wales Coast Path at Clwt-gwlyb south of Newborough heading for Menai Bridge with the time approaching five o’clock and the light fading.  No room for any more delays.

 

Reaching the stepping stones at Afon Braint. I had been uncomfortable for about an hour since restarting the walk.

Shortly after crossing the stepping stones I confirmed  I was being followed.  I turned to take a quick picture and my footpad ducked down behind a fencepost on the other bank, reinforcing my suspicions. I followed the WCP track beyond the river and kept  to hedgelines until I craftily deviated off the track and hid in the bushes, ostensibly taking shelter and having some food. Shortly after a Gollum-like figure dawdled  by unaware of me immersed in the hedgerow, and headed off to The Wales Coast Path.  I rapidly packed up and headed back the way I came, only to meet a farmer who was wondering what was going on. I told him and he showed me a short cut to the main road near Dwyran – the A4080. I aborted the trip and waited for a bus and hoped  serendipity would  resume normal service – the timetable said one was due  6-30pm – it was very nearly that now! But  I was way off my own schedule. And low and behold a number 42 turned up and took me back to  The Antelope  at Menai Bridge a mile from my tent. After dodging a hefty drunken affable departing customer falling through the front entrance, I thought I deserved a three course pub  meal and all the trimmings, and selected accordingly from the bar menu. A long wait ensued, while they served everyone else in Wales and eventually  got my change right on the second attempt, however hungry I was I wasn’t feeling welcome, so I cut my losses and had a  quick soft drink and a bowl of chips. Soon I was back under cover of dark to try locate my tent only a mile away. But now very,  very spooky. Hope the torch batteries last.

 

The next day I needed to get back across the Menai Straits and to Llanfair P G Station to catch my train home at 10-49am. Very early start to pack up  and load up and stagger across the bridge. But just enough time to fall into a very posh hotel and order breakfast coffee at the other, posh, end of Menai Bridge (there’s a Waitrose). The staff were very pleasant this early on a Sunday morning. I resolved to patronise this establishment upon my eventual return. But on resuming walking, it had now begun to rain.

 

 

Menai Bridge and Brittania Bridge both cross the Menai Straits – the Wales Coast Path joins them together. So does  the A5. Totally differing hospitality either end of the Menai Bridge.

This gate separates the two..bullgate.JPG

But beyond the gate there be  a bull…

 

 

bull loose

Seems placid enough doesn’t it? Not so – in the middle distance beyond the black cow is a less than friendly bull. He is guarding a WCP Waymarker – my route goes right alongside him. He is definitely not a friendly Hereford Bull and no way was I getting any nearer to find out what he was! Feeling paranoid,  I abandoned the mapped route and took to the busy A5 running parallel.   Until I got to Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll station. Where my train was due to pick me up and take me home.

 

LLANFAIRPWLLGWYNGYYLLGOGERYCHWYRNDROBWLLLLANTYSILIOGOGOGOCH!

 

Llanfair PG IS VERY TOURISTY I’ll let the pictures do the talking

 

Train home……

Turns into a bus which turns into Knighton Stationlpg8