Map by kind permission of Ordnance Survey with most of my completed walk round England Coast Path shown by the crimson worm; and similarly the continuing walk round The Wales Coast Path reaching The River Taf on the South Coast and Holyhead on the North Coast. These two incomplete worms are hoping to meet in Aberystwyth …. whenever! The gap is slowly closing.
See it’s cloudy again over England – special effects no extra charge.
My dilemma without back up; do I carry my heavy pack and tent with me; do I leave it behind and travel light; or do I park up strategically and walk all around the tent? These three creatures were all waiting for me on the final return pathway to Rhosneigr Rail Station. Portentous or what?! Look it up! Maybe Millets know?
ZUD is resting – An attempt to rescue my carbon footprint. About same journey time and cost by train; I’m waved off from Knighton Tref y Clawdd, changing at Shrewsbury and Llandudno Junction to Holyhead Caergybi, On line tickets excellent value, on the Heart of Wales Line followed by Clinging to the North Wales Coast line by train – bonus – both lines beautifully scenic.
Dear Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie,
I can tell you now – both experiments being conducted to make my walking tour round Britain’s mainland coast more efficient are flagging, but not necessarily doomed.
Firstly, I’m practicing snail-like Camping Sauvage, whose fate rests entirely in the hands of Millets, who, hopefully, one day will deliver my lightweight one-man hiking tent and inflatable sleeping mat. Latest news – a glimmer of torchlight at the end of the flysheet. Update at the end of this blog.
Secondly, the attempt to streamline The Blog by reducing the verbiage, as you will see, is just not working. It’s all in my head somewhere and I just can’t stop it pouring out. Trouble is, I’m trying to write up each adventure when I’m at my weariest and I fall asleep over the keyboard. But the thousands of cries of dissent from one or two people and “Free the Bobl Blog” Campaign have won through. The Blog stays.
All of you are back to school! New uniforms. All very smart. I notice the difference on my walks. Peace and quiet. Far fewer holiday makers interfering with my Coast Paths. I tend to get possessive and resent others getting in my way! Worse still – overtaking me. But I’m not as bad as Quiet Phil, another long distance marathon-a-day man, who after chatting awhile, grew impatient and hurried off in the middle of his story, because a party following him were about to overtake. Small world – I met him again the next day. I don’t doubt we shall meet again. When he can finish his story…. and learn more about myself.
I’ve said before – long distance walkers can recognise their own traits in other distance challengers. There’s something blinkered and long focussed about their stare, always looking for the way out. There’s so much to say and find out about each other but we can’t afford good walking time to say it or do it when you pass in opposite directions. Such rendezvous rarely occur going in the same direction. It reflects badly if you let anyone overtake, so you speed up, keep the gap and take the pain later on when it catches up on you. I think we recognise the need to slow down and take it all in – but there’s so much…….
Runners are different, no competition, stand aside, wave them by. But not many of them carry 65 litre rucksacks full of tent and bedding. Nor unsurprisingly are very few cyclists encountered on the unpaved coastal paths. These are yet another breed and I always admire their efforts but cannot reconcile their lycra and footwear. They look so uncomfortable detached from their wheels. I haven’t decided which is more unsightly – saggy lycra or bulging lycra?
Which is going round full circle to my experiment. I managed a full day carrying my home on my back from Holyhead to Rhosneigr, arriving at Shoreside Campsite in half light. Fortunately my tent is possible to put up whilst kneeling ‘cos I was on my knees. I didn’t fancy any more days with a full load so I made Shoreside my base and my walks radiated out from there. But the ice had been broken. I expect these to be prophetic words if I carry on through winter.
On, in and around Shoreside Camp Site Rhosneigr and Railway Station – my hub. Spot the tiny blue tent below – well the replacement is tinier.
What is prophetic is I foretell my return to Shoreside, a charming family run Campsite, before it closes for winter. Its position adjacent Rhosneigr Railway Station (Hale the driver to stop the train!) is excellent for the combined Isle of Anglesey and Wales Coast Paths. In my weariness caused by the extra load I was carrying, I managed to walk around and past the fairly large Caravan and Tent site. I was heading out of Rhosneigr, until I haled a pick up truck for advice. The driver could not understand me refusing a very kind offer to drive me back to the hidden campsite – but rules is rules, however tired I felt. I was just grateful to know I was nearly there.
Walking the shoreline out of Holyhead heading for Stanley Embankment
Like the Holyhead left luggage office never open; each of the pictures has a specific recollection for me; having to retrace my steps on Stanley embankment because I missed part of the official WCP route; the information board without any information; the train has to be signalled to stop; the helpful Llewis y Llan bus drivers who know how to say Llanfwrog…
Day two, I used public transport to get to Llanfwrog, which was where I finished last time out. The bus service was perfect, apart from Llewis y Llan Driver 140010 laughing at my pathetic pronunciation of Llanfwrog, he still managed to deliver me to the exact same spot his colleague had done similarly last time out. It’s very difficult extracting yourself from a perfectly formed bus service in the middle of nowhere, knowing the bus will have visited everywhere you’re going several times over during your walking day. Even more difficult when your kit decides your fate about whether you get off at the right transport stop – read on!
I had a very unpleasant incident on the otherwise also perfectly formed Arriva Train coming into Llandudno Junction where I was due to change trains for Holyhead…. a great deal of preparation is required to dismount in full waterproofs, rucksack and two errant sticks flailing everything in sight. I headed for the carriage door only to be stopped dead in my tracks. My trailing webbing buckle had burrowed into the train seat frame and formed a perfect one way no return locking system. I estimated I had 90 seconds to solve this very intractable problem before I was on my way to Llandudno as a captive.
Here were my options.
1/. Take valuables and abandon Rucksack and remaining gear
2/. Take train seat – bit heavy and CCTV present
3/. Pull emergency cord – heavy fine and anyway train was stopped
4/. Cry – did – didn’t help!
5/. Panic – ditto
6/. Stay on train – but I’ve already walked Llandudno
7/. Cut webbing – no scissors.
8/. Almighty pull – Is the right answer!
For a split second it was almost option two, but in the end the rucksack could see there was no future in remaining welded to the seat squab. The webbing burst through the buckle, which I allowed to remain jammed in the seat as a token of my relief at release. In the melee I had still to exit the carriage and burst through the train door and land in a heap on the platform. Adrenalin fuelled from now on, I still had to wait nearly an hour for my connection to Holyhead. Time in which to perfect a rucksack webbing knot to substitute the belly buckle which was now merrily on its way to Llandudno. And calm down.
It’s all go!
Day two was spent walking from Llanfwrog to Valley Railway Station to catch the train back to the tent at Rhosneigr. I don’t have capacity for campsite cooking, so to supplement my daily rations of water, Tom Pugh’s wife’s delicious quiche and pork pies, welsh cakes, muesli bars, dates, prunes, peanuts, plums, apples, bananas, blue milk, blue cheese and biscuits and dark chocolate, I go for scampi and chips. Note I will already have binged on the build up to any walk with Marilyn’s Real Shepherd’s pie (made with real Shepherds). I can see I’ll be looking for a larger rucksack
Day three was spent travelling to Holyhead by train from Rhosneigr and walking to Holyhead Breakwater Country Park and back; returning by train to the campsite.
Day four walking was cancelled – despite all the grazing , I’d used up my energy ration and all I was fit for was breaking camp, filing the rucksack and slowly making my way to the pre-booked train home. Thank God it was downhill.
The results of the experiment. I only managed one day walking with a full Rucksack, but it was comfortable. Even though I was carrying extra weight. I have tried to halve the weight of my tent but due to lack of delivery by Millets I have never received my lightweight tent. Millets are investigating the loss and require 28 days to come up with an answer. I have asked for my money back. I await their response. But they won’t talk to me.
I am sure I can further reduce carried weight after Donald took control of my packing and if I’m prepared to reduce my wardrobe and as I get fitter I’ll improve. Meanwhile I’ll increase my tent carrying range by increments.
But I also promised myself to reduce the blog – sorry I can’t do that – so here’s a camera load of random pictures. After so long I have nearly mastered the location system on my phone, so as long as I remember how it works – some of the photos will actually be where I say they are!
Selected photos around The Coast Paths from Llanfwrog, Valley, Rhosneigr, Holyhead and Harbour finishing a mile short of North Stack
Below – leaving Holyhead heading for Stanley Embankment
Day three was salvaged from the previous miserable weather and the closed left luggage office and I walked from Holyhead Station past the harbour and huge breakwater and the Lifeboat Station where I lingered hoping to increase energy levels with coffee and chocolate, nearly to South Stack on the Wales Coast Path and gave up at The Holyhead Breakwater Country Park. I was not carrying a full load but I was worn out. At least I’d reached a convenient start point for next time out. Being a Sunday, no buses so I walked back to Holyhead and took the train back to a surprisingly dry tent.
RNLI Holyhead Volunteers Daphne and Jill, above, who told me of the recent neighbouring Fire that threatened the Lifeboat facilities two weeks ago below
Holyhead Harbour Walk from The Railway Station to The Breakwater along the Wales Coast Path passing various historic landmarks.
And so through Holyhead Breakwater Country Park where the natural coastline begins to reveal itself
And finally Shoreside Camp site seen from the train departing Holyhead heading home and vice versa
I promised earlier an update on the lightweight tent and inflatable sleeping mat situation. Pleased to say there is a solution in sight but no thanks to Millets online team. We have reason to escape the Shropshire borders every four weeks to attend neighbouring Hereford for survival reasons. Whilst, there yesterday and not fully busy I encountered a Millets outlet and entered with a view to buying a repair kit for the ailing rucksack. Surprisingly the two very helpful assistants took me straight to the perfect remedy for me to cobble together a new belly buckle. I was ecstatic. For only four pounds and I had extra spares for the venerable old rucksack – I should have noted it was Auntie Annie’s Duke of Edinburgh Award kit that I was trialling – if you realise Rosie has recently undergone her D O E Bronze – time marches on. She’ll soon be joining me on walks to reduce my getting lost moments.
It was only natural that I should be effusive in my thanks to the Millets(Hereford) team, but I couldn’t help but introduce them to my Millets online problem. They were so helpful, and should I need to resource the missing equipment they are ready, willing and able.
So all I can say is patronise Millets Hereford – I will get mugshots next visit. There is nothing I can say complimentary about their online brothers – so best not say anything. Incidentally if you visit the online agony columns, some of the episodes were all too familiar. Birthdays and Christmas coming up – expect walking gear!.
What did I learn from my snail experiment? Lose weight. Keep dry. Keep all loose appendages clear of moving and non moving train parts. Don’t rely on left luggage and if when purchasing papers from the lowest shelf in Holyhead Tescos, take note of what your stowed walking sticks are doing to the upper shelves. I had no intention of buying top shelf magazines but my sticks thought otherwise.
Likewise, for a smooth departure from same establishment be wary that said sticks do not stop your exit in full flight as they wedge in the door frame.