Episode 111 -Walking 28 miles on the Coast Paths round England and now Wales. I’ve unfinished business crossing The Rivers Taf and Towy eventually reaching Saundersfoot, South Pembrokeshire. Grand Totals of 3,823 miles in 310 days so far.

Maps by courtesy of Ordnance Survey with my scarlet worms showing the extent of my continuous walkDSC_3662

The green pin marks the western extent of by cf my Welsh forays, and the yellow pin on Angelsey marks how near I am to completing that Island.

 

My estimate from the Wales Coast Path distance tables is about 450 miles to walk from Anglesey to Saundersfoot.

Below – to put into perspective and at greatly reduced scale I’ve acknowledged Mainland Scotland. Just because the tip of Northern Ireland has crept in and aussie,  a bit of Calais, do not for one moment consider I’m widening my horizons

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Numbers.

One mile allowed for crossing the River Towy – Ferryside to Llansteffan, plus 27 walking The Wales Coast Path from Pentowyn via St Clears, Laugharne, Pendine, Amroth to Saundersfoot just a few miles short of Tenby, in two Days. One night in the Tenby Premier Inn, with no car parking, shifting from O S Map 177 to Map OL36 , bringing Grand Totals to 3,823 Miles in 310 Walking Days since November 2013

Family group 29 Oct 2018

Who is missing…..? Un lucky thirteen. Must be behind the camera – that’s alright then.. Fabulous weekend followed by a trip in a boat with Wheels

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

Even though we hadn’t fully recovered from the above Mill family gathering, when we heard the new Amphibious Ferry across the River Towy was  now afloat and plying its trade between Ferryside and Llansteffan on the Southern Wales Coast Path, Nanny , Bobl and ZUD arranged a quickfire visit. Even the weather was in our favour. This was meant to be!

On our previous Wales Coast Path excursion to The Rivers Towie and Taf, we left un-finished business because the last ferry from Ferryside to Llansteffan left 60 years ago, and I’d rather mistakenly thought there ought to be a similar service from Pentowyn to the Dylan Thomas Boathouse. Maybe there was previously but all that was left was hugely overgrown or turned touristy – everything was preceded by “Dylan Thomas”.

We had consulted the internet and all the evidence was that a brand new  ferry was due to leave Ferryside at nine thirty. We arrived early hoping to see activity on the incoming tide, but no signs except the timetable confirming the correct departure  time. Until movement in the carpark and boatyard  evidenced the ferry coming towards us on the road! It drove cautiously towards the beach and entered the water, powered its 230horsepower outboard motors and headed for the official landing point back up on the beach again, where a huddle of excited passengers waited to board.

 

 

 

And board they did, clambering up the steps. Notice the three wheel drive, plus twin outboards for the river crossing. A petrol engine provides  power for the three electric motors whilst on land. Captain Ann and mate Liam, must demonstrate a very clever technique and teamwork particularly in the transition phase entering and leaving the water where the balance of power transfers from wheels to props and vice versa. I would imagine on days less calm than today it can get interesting.

The actual voyage was soon over as the vessel headed for the beach on the Llansteffan side….

 

 

 

Lifejackets must be worn!

 

 

 

And here we are, completely dry on the Llanstaffan side waiting for returning passengers. Carmarthen Bay Ferries operate the ‘Glansteffan’. The crew of Captain Ann and Mate Liam are very pleasant, skilled and obviously enjoying their new toy. It has only just started and they hope to expand this community service and extend to trips around the area. Good luck! Get in touch    https://carmarthenbayferries.co.uk

I’m very impressed particularly by the need not to walk the banks of The River Towy to Carmarthen and back  – a day’s non-coastal walking just to get to the other side!

Not so lucky with the River Taf – not to be confused with the River Taff – located alongside the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. At Pentowyn I could see across to Dylan Thomas’ Boathouse, but to cross The Taf I had to walk the banks to St Clears and sometimes follow the heavily trafficked lanes which was not so safe, as they are not the widest. But they are making an effort…..

 

 

 

Above the banks of The River Taf from Pentowyn to  Laugharne via St Clears. On the run in to The Castle I passed Dylan Thomas’Writing Shed  – a converted garage attached to a Boat house he rented. Notice I’ve been playing in the mud again – my usual trick of walking in the river rather than alongside. No wonder my boots don’t last.

End of Day one  not under canvas tonight – a hotel bed in the very pleasant place known as Tenby, where the only problem is parking. I’m being unfair – having walked nearly 4,000 miles what’s another half mile from car to hotel with heavy baggage and weary feet. But we didn’t leave the hotel again till we’d supped a large evening meal and awoke to an enormous full English/Welsh breakfast. I think we’ll need to stay here again. In fact I’m sure.

Result One mile awarded for the boat trip and twelve miles walking.

 

Day two. Target – from Laugharne Castle –  As near to Tenby as I can get.

The first five miles is all inland as there is a militarised danger zone keeping civilians off Laugharne and Pendine Sands – beautiful open level sands where early speed trials were organised and land speed records were broken.

I didn’t get back to my favourite coastal walking alongside seashore, waves  or cliffs but had to bear the traffic again and the army occupation for some time. When I did I was made to pay. In short order there were at least five rapid ascents and descents all of which were beautiful but  made me regret deliberately leaving my sticks behind. It was probably as foolish an experiment as thinking I could cope with a full rucksack or not write a blog; or even trust Millets to end my hiking tent saga to my benefit.

 

 

 

Leaving Dylan Thomas behind after following his Birthday path was actually quite sad because the beautiful Welsh scenery that he had absorbed rapidly changed to a polluted shoreline or marshes, followed by merging the path with the main road and a disproportionate number of quarry trucks servicing a very unpleasant, dusty, noisy quarry.  All conspired to keep my camera  in my pocket until I got to Pendine, bottom above – or above bottom? Little did I know those picturesque hills were about as walking friendly as the militarised zone , traffic, quarry and flotsam and jetsam all rolled into one. But beautiful enough to fill my camera lens.

Just scroll on – don’t think of the pain I went through to get these photos.

 

 

 

…..Only alleviated by constant rendezvous with Nanny and ZUD for rest and refreshments along the way. The bottom picture is at Amroth Castle with Saundersfoot in the middle horizon.

 

 

 

And Saundersfoot is just the other end of the tunnel… guess who’s waiting ?dsc_3659.jpg

Unfortunately I ran out of steam at the other end of the tunnel  after fifteen miles today, and marked my territory  and headed home.  That’s 3,823 miles around England and Wales so far. Next time I’ll give an estimate to the finish…..

Thank you Nanny and ZUD!

If you’re interested in how the Millets saga is playing out – so far I’ve had my money refunded; but purchasing the equivalent goods via their shop in Hereford resulted in paying more for the sleep mat and would have been considerably more for the tent, so I did not purchase it. Instead I’ll keep going with my two man tent which means I can get the rucksack in, if I sacrifice a few duvets….

Incidentally there was no explanation following their detailed investigation. I think they might have apologised.

 

 

Episode110 – Return to Holyhead and The Wales Coast Path – walking 45 miles in about three days – grand total around England and Wales Coasts 3,795 miles in 308 walking days…

DSC_3558I’m closing in on Aberystwyth. The Welsh Coast Path  gap is reducing. although  I suspect the Completion Party  must still be a year away. Guess who lives under the drawing pin on the Border about level with Aberystwyth but separated by The Cambrians?

Certainly not many people, mostly sheep, shepherds and sheepdogs. Qualify for the celebration by joining the walk – previous English Coast Path experience does not count.

Family group 29 Oct 2018

Dear Rosie,  Lauren,  Stan,  Jake, Rowan & Maisie!

Nearly everyone gathered at The Mill on Saturday  – thank you for a restful weekend of football, bulldogs, tag rugby, table tennis and some quiet drumming – along with plenty of Nanny’s cooking. All contrived to give me the quickest recovery from last week’s walk described below.

I’ve just returned from my trek round Holyhead on the Isle of Angelsey and tidying  up a few  messy, awkward-to-reach  areas leaving me heading for The Menai Strait at  Llangadwaladr near Bodorgan Railway Station. Trains stop if you’ve ask politely. I say trains – does one carriage constitute a train? No criticism – the service was excellent – and the fares reasonable with my Oldie Rail card and the staff helpful.

 

 

 

 

I based myself at Rhosneigr Shoreside Camp Site again with adjacent Railway Station and the trains, with some bus assistance, allowed me to keep  to the wandering Welsh  Coast Path.  The route was so tortuous that a thick scarlet line on the  map above does not do justice to the detailed planning needed to keep on course.  The signage could be better!

I would guess that Holyhead and its environs has the most concentrated Coast Paths in any given area. The OS Explorer Map 262 has taken a battering, fortunately I’m heading off towards Snowdonia and The Llyn Peninsular just in time I’m moving onto a new map

On three separate days I walked myself to a standstill.  Monday , my legs gave up early evening, outside John Heywood’s pub at Tyn Rhos near Trearddur,  I couldn’t help but stop at The Gwynfair Family Pub, with such a helpful host, who negotiated B&B Options and Taxi fares by phone  for me whilst I re-hydrated on lime and lemonade, and nibbles. I opted for  the taxi ride back to the tent. Ten miles walked not including taxi distance.

 

 

 

 

On Tuesday , I walked from Holyhead, trying to link up with Monday’s finish line, but again, after 12 miles, about a mile short of the intended  finish at John’s pub, my legs refused to do anything past Treardurr except clamber on board a bus back to Holyhead. This was the result of ascending Holyhead Mountain, 220 metres, earlier in the day. I returned to complete the stretch the following day.

After finishing  that off, six miles, first thing Wednesday, I headed off by train to Bodorgan and walked to the Wales Coast Path at Llangadwaladr.  I would have been ok to get back to the tent at Rhosneigr, but after  the WCP took me past a Fish and chip shop. Say no more. The eleven mile walk took seriously longer than it should have done

Again I made up the shortage and short cuts of six miles  next day, before breaking camp and heading off for the train with maximum load in my rucksack. I’d allowed an hour to travel a few hundred yards to Rhosneigr Station – I just made it. From now on I only had to manhandle the rucksack  from train to train to train – not even changing platforms.

And who greeted me at Knighton Station – Stan , Rowan and Nanny… and ZUD.

They bet me five cheddar biscuits that they could lift my rucksack. I had to pay up – twice!

 

 

Photo gallery.

Day One  Monday 24th September Valley to Treaddur Bay

 

Quite level so far still heading for Trearddur…

 

it was about now I realised my legs wouldn’t carry me much further and after asking other walkers discovered tha there was a pub nearby with a pleasant landlord who could advise on accommodation or transport…..

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Taxi for bobl…..

 

Day two Tuesday 25th September –  Holyhead to  Trearddur via Holyhead Mountain…

 

Heading for  Holyhead Mountain – not flat any more  – and it gets worse!

 

 

Passing North Stack on the climb to The Mountain – ferry anyone?

 

View of the top and views from the top – Holyhead Mountain. Rain was threatening and no shelter..

 

 

Shelter! And picture one is the top of the Mountain – picture two is South Stack Lighthouse.

 

 

A variety of inlets on the Coast Path heading for Trearddur.

 

 

Trearddur IRB Station  – closed -no souvenirs..

Found myself on a bus route back to Holyhead or forward to Rhosneigr – Holyhead bus came along first – so I took it!  I didn’t know how close I was to joining up with yesterday’s finish.

 

Day three  26th September Wednesday –

Finish off Treaddur Bay

 

 

 

And start from Bodorgan Station  and join the WCP at Llangadwaladr

 

 

 

Finally these bullocks ganged up on me  and prevented me using the Wales Coast Path so I took a diversion and headed back to the tent via the road. I corrected any errors and short cuts the last day of walking totalling 45 miles over three full days.

 

Episode109 – 31 miles this three day trip, making Grand Total 3,750 miles and 305 walking days reaching Isle of Anglesey/Wales Coast Path, via Llanfwrog, Holyhead and Holy Island – whilst conducting a snail-like camping experiment from Rhosneigr Shoreside Campsite

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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.DSC_3418

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.

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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.

 

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RNLI Holyhead Volunteers Daphne and Jill, above, who told me of the recent neighbouring Fire that  threatened the Lifeboat facilities two weeks ago below

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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.

Episode 108 – Anglesey Coast Path/Wales Coast Path from The Pilot Boat public house near City Dulas to Llanfwrog- 39 miles this trip – and back under canvas* -Grand total 3719 miles in 302 days.

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Campsite one – near City Dulas – Private carpark of the Pilot Boat Public House

 

Campsite two – Cemaes Public Car Park – bit too public though!

*”Under canvas” needs to be qualified;          The first night residing in a friendly pub carpark, whose  kindness shall remain anonymous, next to a storage container and rubbish bin and feeling I wasn’t alone at 3am in the long grass, which caused me to decamp to the car, whose deficiencies in the flat bed department further caused a sleepless night although I had an advantageous early walking start;

-The second night, also legally (£15), residing in an empty Cemaes public carpark,  above, conveniently along the Wales Coast Path, complete with toilets ( inconveniently locked overnight) and after discovering my tent pegs wouldn’t penetrate the tarmac and realising that Vera was better suited to sleeping in than Zud, and being out of camping practice discovering I had left various essentials behind eg mallet, demolition drill, wide necked bottle and so on, or not, as in the case of no overnight relief. The sound of the incoming tide did not help. It’s great to be back on the road again.

I am in the process of changing my modus operandi by snail-like carrying my sleeping equipped rucksack on my back, making my forays into the more deserted parts of the Wales Coast Path more efficient and less dependent on back up.

So far, a poor start.

I haven’t had a rant for a while, but I feel one coming on. I will sow the seeds of discontent and see what grows. A famous canary seed dispenser  has been unable to deliver my new one man tent and self inflating bed roll several weeks after Nanny kindly ordered them for me so that my new snail regime could change and prosper. I will only point out for now that I have parted with the money but received nothing in return, other than automated replies and a promise from Customer Services, surely a misnomer, to resolve the issue in 28 days, maybe sooner , I am running out of good camping weather, but I will give the seed merchant time to sort this out, and  will report more fully in the next blog, especially if I remain in slug mode.

A snail  without my shell.

They might also start investigating also how their telephone ‘contact us’ works; I gave up after nearly half an hour hanging on, and another occasion they gave up on me. As for the parcel tracking service…..well?!!

Anyone else had problems, or maybe give me a few clues how to communicate? Watch this space. An interesting observation on their feedback system – it doesn’t seem to operate if you offer negative feedback – the facility  expires. Or perhaps I am doing something wrong…   perhaps I should have stuck with Army Surplus Supplies?

Or get out more?

 

Calm down.

Here’s a nice bit of freshly painted, unwalked, open road on Anglesey, and a  new logo to contemplate. I travelled this way several times. It’s actually quite therapeutic being amongst the first to tramp new white lines

 

The  newly surfaced A5025 ,  outside  Wylfa Power Station near Cemaes,  which I used several times to access the Coast Paths. Also accolades for Bus Driver 140002, on the 61 route provided by Lewis y Llan buses and her fellow drivers for excellent and timely services to Llanfwrog – she dropped me as close as it’s possible to get a single decker to the Wales Coast Path . And, another time, I have never ever had a whole bus stop for me and ask if I wanted a lift! Perhaps I look a bit more senior than I think. It was late and I was struggling, but my rules forbade it. Many thanks anyway!

I was walking  the Anglesey Coast Path overlaying the Wales Coast Path, with the waymarker bird motif  temporarily replacing The Wales Coast Path Dragon Shell motif. It’s a cover up, and all perfectly legal,  I’ll only count it once! All the same, despite the name options, I walked 39 miles in  three days, making 3,719 miles in 302 walking days since my Walking Tour of Britain  started in 2013.

See “MENU” – Click on  “About” for more specific information – Pre-amble over.

 

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

Time for a change, you’ve all travelled far from home during this last summer holiday. Now it’s nearly over and you are getting ready to return to school. But also Rosie and Lauren are moving house too! Exciting times.

But other things are coming to a halt. At last I’ve recognised the end of an era and the current situation cannot prevail. It is just proving too much to record my epic Walk round England, Wales and maybe Scotland. It was foolhardy to think I could ever achieve  such a diary of events. This is the last blog of the walk in this format. I cannot continue walking and writing, the latter being the hardest bit.

The walking’s easy! Most of what you read is only whatever I’ve managed to remember – I know there is far more already forgotten.

So Hale and Farewell.

Unless my readership  can concoct a blog revival programme, future walks will be summarised in few title  words, but maybe many pictures. Maybe I’ll give it a go now?

Surely you didn’t think The Walk was over? No way. Nada. Niet. Non.  The time taken up, writing it up, could well be used to walk even more.

 

Herewith the new format.

Day one Thursday, 23rd August, 2018, City Dulas, The Pilot Boat to Amlwch 10 miles.

 

Above – the turn off from the A5025 near The Pilot Boat (camp!), past Traeth Dulas inlet  to views over the tower on Ynys Dulas from Rhos – mynach isaf.

 

 

Views from and over Point Lynas and its lighthouse.

 

 

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Point Lynas from Porth Ejlian.

 

 

 

Heading for Almwch Port…..

 

 

 

Amlwch Port

 

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Day Two Amlwch Port to Cemaes – 14 miles

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cemaes contrast sun and storm

 

 

 

Camaes Bay – above

 

Day Three – outward trek by 60/61 bus to Llanfwrog, brilliant and very helpful lady driver and 15 mile walk back to Cemaes. No apologies for the number of photos – the scenery was compelling, if not sometimes a bit steep to climb.

A selection of Wylfa Power Station which occupied my sightlines and horizons for all three days

 

and now as the route unfolded back to Cemaes I’ll let the pictures tell the story – how can I leave anything out ? The coast, weather and sea views were fantastic – only my legs were a bit suspect…

Lewis y Llan buses

 

Walking to Penrhyn from Llanfwrog and reaching the Wales/Anglesey Coast Path heading North for Camaes

 

 

Arriving at Swtan via many National Trust properties and ……….

 

………….. a café for coffee and cake.

 

 

Clegir Mawr and Clegir Bach approaching Carmel Head

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Heading for Carmel Head via Trwyn y Crewyn, Ynys y Fydlyn and Trwyn Cerrigyreryr. The National Trust seems to own Mynachdy.

 

 

Atop Penbrynpyreglwys 81 metres looking out from Carmel Head – sorry about the intrusion – selfie gone wrong

 

 

 

 

Old mining paraphernalia of towers shafts and chimneys scattered along the Angelsey coastline now making way for modern obsolete power stations as Wylfa first phase is de-commissioned and the second phase is being prepared.

Exploratory archaeological  excavations proceeded. Presumably so, as accompanying vehicles parked close by  heavily advertised their occupation. This was isolated but not apparently being done on the quiet as many personnel combed the grounds clad in Hi-Viz from head to foot.

 

Eventually after 15 miles walked from Penrhyn I arrived back with ZUD in the crowded holiday car park in Cemaes. I quickly decided it was time to go home as a venerable camper van seeking a pitch for the night practiced an in/off technique of parking via someone else’s front passenger door.

It’s crunch time. Next time out I’ll be car-less and carrying my tent. Will it be the brand new Lightweight one man version, or the existing heavier two man tent.

Only Millets know?

 

 

 

 

Episode 107 – Returning to the South Wales Coast Path – Finally Completing The Gower Peninsular with a party of 15 plus Merlin – then resuming on the mainland from Burry Port to Pentowyn on The River Taf – Walking 28 miles accompanied partly by Marilyn, Elizabeth and the heatwave. Grand total now 3680 miles in 299 days.

…………………Work in progress for Progress Map – by kind permission of Ordnance Survey – back on the road again…..

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This trip on the South Wales Coast Path, 28 miles from Burry Port to the River Taf in Carmarthen, including a day trip to Whiteford Burrows National Nature Reserve on The Gower Peninsular to fill in some missing links. I would guestimate I have completed about two thirds of the circumnavigation of Wales including Offa’s Dyke trail inland.

On the North Wales Coast Path, I am still stranded at Moefre Lifeboat Station Giftshop on Anglesey – been there so long I actually have the tee shirt, mug and the hat. Fridge magnet next..

 

 

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Welcome to Whiteford Sands, August 5th 2018;walking day 297; I’m behind the camera but more  specifically, I’m here to walk with my eleven minders around the Whiteford National Nature Reserve after getting lost there  last Easter

From left to right Nanny, Polly, Gallia, Erez, Becky, Agatha, Norm/Will, Daniel,  Noah,  Ben and guide dog Merlin. Donald, Sarah, Stan and Rowan joined in at the final stages; they disorganising table plans and making our  apologies for our late arrival at the Greyhound restaurant in Oldwalls. Both the walk and the meal timings  were way off schedule but nontheless equally enjoyable. The good news is that everyone qualifies for the Completion Party when Wales is completely circumnavigated –  probably in about a year. Longer if any more heatwaves….

 

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

The Walking year 2018 has gotten way behind schedule and now we’re back in harness trying to catch up – but the current heatwave is not being very fair.

Last Easter, in better walking conditions I managed to get lost in the sand dunes of Whiteford National Nature Reserve. Norm and Becky, Noah, Daniel, Agatha and Merlin formed the cavalry and rode to my rescue offering a guide dog service in what is effectively the back yard of their holiday home  at Whiteford Sands. What a well kept secret this place is – gorgeous sea views, wonderful empty  expansive sands and glorious sand dunes to get lost in and the sea probably just the right temperature for a heatwave – but I didn’t dip – well, we were late for lunch already. Perhaps we should have – the return journey was a bit warm and we searched out a route through the shady forest and collapsed, only a little late, at the prearranged restaurant; which was fine because Donald, Sarah, Stan and Rowan had been holding the fort and no one was in any great hurry to deliver food…. all very laid back and convivial for a party of 15 – more than half kids, dependent on Norm and Bobl’s status.

Here is the circular tour of Whiteford National Nature Reserve in pictures

 

 

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Thank you all for such a pleasant return to Whiteford Bay  Nanny and Bobl and guests all completed the five mile circular walk- see you at the Finish Party!  Hopefully in Aberystwyth next year?

 

 

Nanny and Bobl slept well that night, in a hotel (Nanny’s terms and conditions) in Llanelli after  dining in the neighbouring “overbooked” restaurant – once we’d contacted our next walking guest Elizabeth. Recently arrived from London. The party of 15 was now reduced to three.

 

The next day Bobl got off to a sole, early start from Burry Port on the mainland Wales Coast Path – fearing the heatwave,  but it was actually very pleasant wallowing in the mud, navigating the Port entrance with the tide fully out. It was a bit too deep and very sticky  in places

 

 

 

Pembrey Country Park below – complete with ski run?

The next rendezvous was to meet our refreshed guest Elizabeth at Pembrey Country Park for us to walk the Cefn Sidan Sands almost to the edge of the dreaded Military Danger Area before heading inland to meet Nanny at The Anti Tank Blocks near Kidwelly.

 

Walking the beach at low water the trick was to estimate where to leave  and scramble up the unstable sand cliff face before getting taken Prisoner. We had one false dawn when I scrambled to the top and recce’d like a Meercat for clues – none – just impenetrable scrub …… typical waymarkers shown here…DSC_3164 but not frequently enough

 

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Anchors found in the mud at Pembrey Country Park now on the route of the Wales Coast Path…

 

Navigation in sand dunes not my strong point…..but eventually we found the way out – it involved scrambling up unstable sand cliffs…

but Elizabeth managed     somehow…

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Emerging from the sands  heading for Kidwelly via the sewage farm – then to Llansaint and finally

 

 

….to Ferryside Station where there was absolutely no evidence of a Ferry to Llansteffan on the other side of the River Towy. Apparently it’s still under going trials – I’ll return when it’s actually working

Elizabeth managed a creditable 9 miles today – with my early start I got to 18 miles.

 

 

Final day – Ferryside from Llansteffan  – opposite sides of the River Towy

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The next day I started off from Llansteffan promising to return for the ferry trip to complete the link.  No gaps in my itinerary. Now heading for the River Taf.

The tide was way out – vast expanses of river mudbanks, I chose to walk the mudflats – on the level – crafty – the scheduled route was half way up the cliff face, I made the five miles or so in good time until I couldn’t rejoin the Wales Coast Path  because it had disappeared in undergrowth.

The final last steps-  only two hundred yards   horizontally – and 30 metres  vertically.-took way over an hour. I could have done with a machete. Any thoughts of  extending the walk today were written off – interrupted  days one and  three produced five miles each and day two added 18 . So a grand total of 28 miles for the three days walking wasn’t a bad restart to my revived walking career.

Nanny  offered no resistance to finishing up and heading home – I was exhausted.

 

Pictures below, of the final day heading for another unknown ferry at the River Taf near Pentowyn…

 

The proper path was not on the mud since it was normally generally well under water – it was actually  half way up the steep cliff – to finish and to get back to the car I must scramble up the overgrown face – the only alternative was to walk five miles back to the start……. I wasn’t suitably aware to take pictures of this latest outcome ; suffice to say my lacerated and be-nettled arms bear witness to the event. I was also a bit worried I wouldn’t be let in the new car!

 

Get in touch for the next Wales Coast Path trip – if you want to join in – it will be the 300th day walking , mileage currently  standing at 3,680.  Yet to decide whether Anglesey or the River Taf – still recovering from the heat!

 

 

Episode 106 – 12,000 Mile Diversion to New Zealand- plus 12 miles walking around Auckland

 

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

Nanny and Bobl took time off from walking around England and  a country the size of Wales, to fly  to New Zealand and attend Omi’s funeral at Lady Allum Care Home Chapel in Milford. Omi, Nanny’s Mum died on June 12th . Fortunately Donald, Sarah, Stan and Rowan had managed to fly out earlier, to see her. In meeting Stan and Rowan she was so pleased to have eventually met all twelve of her Great Grandchildren.

This Episode  is dedicated to the memory of Margot Gibb. Nanny’s Mum.

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Nanny and Bobl flew out to attend her funeral, during which visit,  several walks were taken with family and friends around and about Auckland in tribute to her.  She is at rest now and hopefully watching over the rest of Bobl’s exploration of whichever coastline he fetches up on. Like The Waitemata Harbour below…

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Resuming my acquaintance with Rangitoto on Takapuna Beach

 

 

 

 

Start of walk with Marion, (one of the first people we met when we fetched up in Auckland some 46  years ago)   –  from her home with Gray, in Ponsonby  – joining the dedicated footpath under the Harbour Bridge through the Westhaven  Marina where their boat Ponsonby Scow is moored – which we visited for inspection and rest –  below. Below.

 

 

Top right- Marion and Marilyn planning to board Ponsonby Scow – sister ship to the star of  newly released film “Adrift” – both built by Gray Dixon, Marion’s husband  – with a general view of some of the Marina  – below too…DSC_3094

 

…Continuing the dedicated route around the old dockyards…

 

 Maori Concrete Canoe Legends and exhortations to enjoy your walk along the West Haven Promenade and a redundant viewing platform for the Harbour Bridge….

 

 

Marion and Marilyn up aloft in SiloPark with grand harbour views and what used to be Wynyard Wharf when I was last here many years ago….

 

 

 

More views of modern Auckland waterfront where I thought there used to be ferries – but it’s now all changed! With a Skytower too!

 

 

Jacob’s Ladder  – ascended – nearing the end of our probably 8 mile circuit  and the classic  Harbour Bridge silhouette on the horizon.

Thank you Marion and Gray for your hospitality and a memorable walk. We look forward to seeing you in Shropshire to go steam train spotting and walking!

 

 

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Sunday lunch at Daikoku in Takapuna, a favourite Gibb haunt for 20 years. The preparation of the food is all part of the performance by the Japanese staff.

A great meal enjoyed by Tricia, Janice, Graeme, Sharleen, Liam, Malcolm, Lisa, James, Connor, Ryan, Steven, Jill, Scarlett, Loughlin, Marilyn and Bobl. All 6 Kiwi cousins in one place!

 

Next on the agenda a visit to Takapuna Beach with Tricia. Takapuna Hospital – well known for being the birthplace of Little Uncle Andy in 1978.

But first of all – refreshments at Takapuna Café and Store with Tricia

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And then a walk round Takapuna Bay….

 

With the tide going out. But the rain held off, it is winter after all. Many thanks to Tricia, we couldn’t have done it all without your help and support. Looking forward to seeing you again soon.

An enjoyable bonus of the trip was catching up with old Kiwi friends as well as family.

Murray and Sue chauffeured us on tours of Mt Eden, Epsom and Three Kings…… taking in their new home, morning coffee breaks, lunch and even a bit of culture at Pah Homestead  and Gallery and of course the viewing of Murray’s own artwork. Thank you for looking after us so well.

And the Rickits……… You never expected to see the reluctant flier Bobl again in Auckland! Despite 12,000 miles and years of absence at various times, we can always pick up exactly where we were and have room for the 30 additions to our immediate families from our first meeting in 1972. Thank you Neil and Sue, and thank you Jane, Andy and Mia for keeping the friendship going into the next 2 generations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

EPISODE 105 – EPISODE 104 WAS A BIT PREVIOUS – THE EARLY JUNE SCHEDULED WALK DID TAKE PLACE – FROM BANGOR TO DULAS BAY ON ANGLESEY – IN MEMORY OF LOCAL LAD DAVE SHIPP – 33 MILES IN THREE DAYS – GRAND TOTAL 3,640 MILES IN 295 DAYS.

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Ave atque vale Dave.

Dave Shipp was bi-local; he shared 1959-1966 with me, in  Shoebury and at Southend High School for Boys and then eventually in Llandudno Junction, North Wales, making him very local to the North Wales Coast Path around Llandudno,  Bangor Conwy, Anglesey,  Caernarfon and The Llyn Peninsular. I was hoping to hand over a great chunk of walking responsibility to him, in his  home Welsh  territory. I’m over the border in Shropshire and in need of a local guide to complete my Welsh circumnavigation.

Dave left behind a wonderful family and lovely wife Gill.  It was obvious when Marilyn and I  stayed with her that he was sorely missed. The house is bursting at the seams with Dave memorabilia. If it was curious, historical, bookish or Militaria then I’m sure Dave had it secreted away somewhere.

I have to congratulate Gill on her superb efforts as back up driver, tour guide, chef and hostess, obviously well schooled in walking with Dave, and dealing with his idiosyncrasies. I was well aware mine were up for discussion with Marilyn and Gill…. plenty to have a go at.instability

Looks like early stages of instability to me…..

 

 

Unlike the solid British Isles Physical Map by courtesy of Ordnance Survey; my completed route overlaid in Scarlet. Just when I thought the Copyright Authorities were after me – I didn’t have written authority for using the map , although I’d spoken to a O/S gentleman several years ago and been given permission verbally. Recently, I’d heard a radio piece that warned of getting proper permission otherwise you can run up huge penalties , and what’s more, copyright  people operating on a “no win – no fee” basis are getting involved. I phoned O/S and spoke to lovely Linda who immediately reassured me that the map is OPEN DATA and available for my use, with scarlet worms and no written permission is required – despite the small print on the map. She even thanked me for acknowledging  “BY KIND PERMISSION OF ORDNANCE SURVEY” each time I use it. Thank you Linda and Ordnance Survey! 

I   completed walking round England in July 2017, and by June 2018 reached Dulas Bay on Anglesey, North Wales; and beyond Llanelli in South Wales. I probably started all this around November 2013, on Offa’s Dyke Trail, near where we live on the Shropshire/Wales Border.

britain walk

 

 

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

My previous visit to North Wales in January this year, was curtailed abruptly by the Beast from the EAST, version one. Rapidly deteriorating weather turning to heavy snow caused VERA’s dashboard to light up like a Christmas tree and the heater finally expired. I abandoned progress to my booked YHA Llanberris Bunkhouse at Llandudno and drove home, hoping VERA would get me there. She did, but faith in her future all round back-up capability was severely dented and even VICKY substituted occasionally. Intrepid explorers must have reliable gear, so it came to pass that, merciless as it may seem, VERA and VICKY were replaced by ZUD. This is his/her first round-Britain escapade.

Two unknowns have sneaked in there; in anthropomorphising (look it up) ZUD, I haven’t assigned a gender; m/f/n? I’m still coming to terms with the name! What do you think?

And (never begin a sentence with “and”), of course it should be “And”;

So; And notice how Walking round England morphed into England and Wales ; and now Britain. I have no explanation for either.(except I don’t like “so” either)

Get on with it.

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The view from Dave and Gill’s sunroom by Gill – River Conwy middle distance.

 

I had always assumed that since this was Dave and Gill Shipp’s territory, I would hand over control of  North Wales Walking to Dave, but Dave died suddenly in September 2016, so, instead, I will dedicate my walking round Anglesey to his memory. Gill was there to play wonderful hostess and unexpected back up driver, and offer beds for the nights, Marilyn and I stayed over. The memory of Dave was everywhere; he collected anything and everything, particularly if it was curious, military, historical and books. He is still obviously very much sadly missed by his family and friends. And me. I shall just have to get lost, on my own , without him. Somehow I don’t think he would have approved of my no longer drinking alcohol….. Walk on , Dave!

 

 

 

 

Let us begin this trip – returning to Bangor Pier with Marilyn, leaving me on the exact spot where I had fetched up last visit. I get very ocd about starting where I finished. No missing bits on my walks.! Heading off to Anglesey – leaving the mainland via Menai Bridge.

 

Walking the banks of the Menai Straits until I got to the Raft Race Finish on the seaward side of Telford’s  Menai Bridge. It was Carnival day and they’d also closed the bridge to film Dr Doolittle. I wondered how I was to get across – my own raft? 

 

 

 

The film crew had laid on a shuttle bus, but I still complained that my walk round Britain would be bereft of one full bridge span – enough to get me disqualified or accused of short cuts. “Come back after four and you can walk – the giraffe will be bedded down for the night”. Can you see the giraffe? Amazing what CGI can do. Meanwhile a cycle group had approached the far side and negotiations were taking place. I was told the Brittania bridge was also closed.

 

 

 

I’M OUTA HERE. Heading for Puffin Island. That’s Bangor Pier across the Menai Straits in the middle distance. 

heading for puffin island

 

 

 

 

Two more mugs from RNLI BEAUMARIS and the Lifeboat Station

 

 

 

Heading for Puffin Island which is low on Puffins and the Straits with the tide out – end of day one.. and it was a hot one too!

 

 

 

DAY TWO began very misty after yesterday’s heat.. Returning to Penmon Priory near Puffin Island, Gill and Marilyn delivered me to the re-start before heading off for clotted cream ice cream scones at Plas Newydd, National Trust, The Marquess of Anglesey’s pad  etc..I kept to my water,fruit, figs and prunes and The Wales Coast Path – or nearly….

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As I left Penmon, the Wales Coast Path became a series of fields with irregular boundaries bounded by huge stone walls or derelict fencing, all full of cattle or sheep. Generally they moved aside as I approached except on one occasion the cows and calves remained crowded round a stile I needed to climb. The calves were very young and the mothers very protective and bellowing. They were agitated by my presence and started getting belligerent . I looked for an escape route and only the high stone wall looked possible. I wasted half an hour good walking time trying to keep safe and eventually the cows realised I wasn’t a threat and I hurriedly climbed down  and over the stile only to confront the bull in the next field separated from me by a flimsy gate.   I  also hurried out of that field. cowsWell – you would wouldn’t you

 

 

I was closing in on Red Wharf Bay but somewhere around Bwrdd Arthur, the Wales Coast Path became diverted and I contacted the ladies to advise my several delays and change the rendezvous to somewhere nearer – we ended up meeting at Brynn Hrddin for my late lunch.

Diversion signs above eventually lead me to Red Wharf Bay below

 

 

 

After a delayed lunch, there was time to stroll into Red Wharf Bay town, where Gill and Marilyn force fed me a 99 ice cream and persuaded  me it was hot enough to end today’s walk after 10 miles.

Home to Gill’s where more than enough good food and drink lay in wait to restore tired and overheated bodies, while we admired the view of The River Conwy.

 

The final day began with another Gill breakfast before saying farewell  as we headed back to Red Dwarf Bay unaccompanied to The Pilot Inn, Dulas Bay via Benllech and Moelfre. The following pictures say it all – there’s some serious scenery….

But not without incident – The Route was barred  due to landslips but someone had decided to scrawl that it was actually safe – but at your own risk. Nuff said.5

 

And the scenery goes on…

 

Until I met this lady with bags asking for “help”…

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Which was at hand with the Life Boat Station just around the corner..

Of course the gift shop suffered, more mugs, early Christmas Cards, sun hat, notes, badges – only essentials – and lunch. But we had promised our late, long term  friend and  neighbour Pam to give to RNLI – such a worthwhile cause. I’m sure Dave would have approved; if only you go back to early Episodes to read how we capsized a canoe, and not wanting to cause a fuss, made out we were not in danger of being swept out by the outgoing tide round Shoebury Ness. A narrow call   between ending up drowned or exhausted trespassing on AWRE forbidden beaches – officers use only. My regular walk donations are more to thank them that they would have rescued us if we’d called for help!

 

A real emergency costing over 400 lives when the Royal Charter went on the rocks around Lligwy Bay in 1859 – the monument and storyboard commemorates the tragedy.

 

And on that note I decide to head inland and complete the day’s walking. Dulas Bay represents a two or three mile diversion to ford the Afon Goch. It looks like a corner waiting to be cut. The tide was out, the sands exposed. What could go wrong, I could be at Porto Bello opposite in a trice. No let’s go home – solve that problem next time..

 

 

Thirty two miles travelled in three hot days – one mile left – resting more frequently- heading inland for pick up Rendezvous

1 mile to go

 

 

The Pilot Inn alongside ZUD and Nanny waiting in the A5025 layby near Pentre Eirianell, my start point next visit.

Episode 104 – Unfortunately the Early June scheduled walk on The Wales Coast Path has had to be cancelled due to a catalogue of interruptions, mishaps and a plethora of unforeseen adverse unhealthy circumstances. No miles – no smiles – but progress on The Mill is grinding on, without VERA and VICKY. If you wondered about Privacy, read on….

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Dudley Town Hall -Where’s Pasha? Anya?? Rosie and Lauren??? They were all giving us a “STRICTLY”  take on Hollywood. One of the unforeseen interruptions from which I gladly rested.   Scroll on for more detail….but first a bit of Admin.

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

Everyone, recently, seems to be enthused about privacy. You can’t have missed those countless emails intended to reassure that your vital statistics aren’t being sold to the highest bidder. You’ll be pleased to note that I couldn’t do that even if I tried. Some of the Privacy Statements I’ve read seem to do the exact opposite and encourage the recipient  to disclose even more personal data and give away their  rights.

It’s not for me to decide what you should and should not do with your personal information, but I personally guard everything carefully, and realise I should treat other’s personal data similarly. It seems many people are a bit casual about signing up for terms and conditions , and the like, without even reading the contents.

From now on, I shall contact all entries in my BLOG address book, firstly to see if they are comfortable there and secondly, to ask if they wish to continue to receive the blog via their preferred e-mail address.  Thereafter only those who explicitly request the blog will get on the list.

This will deep cleanse my address book and get rid of a host of out-dated information , and possibly leave me with only a handful of unfortunates still wishing to find out where I’ve recently fetched up on the England/Wales/Scotland coastline. Suits me fine! Less admin….

As for the contents of the blog, I will only include comment about guests joining me on the walk with their express permission, and offer these victims the right of reply.

In distributing the blog via email addresses I will endeavour not to disclose addresses to others without permission.

Any questions?

 

 

Answers – here’s Lauren and Pashalaurenpasha

 

And here’s Rosie and Pasha!

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But we lost Anya – Where’s Anya? Rosie and Lauren and friends from Fusion Dance Factory performed with Pasha and Anya at Dudley Town Hall last Saturday to a packed house. They then slept for three days……. please send a picture of Anya, when you awake, Sleeping Beauties! 

All the best to my reader,

Bob

PS A last postscript to say goodbye to VERA and Vicky, the legendary back up vehicles – my carbon footprint wasn’t very green. Swapping to a petrol driven RAV 4 Hybrid called  “ZUD” has changed everything.

Their last day at The Mill…..vicky and vera

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Episode 103 – The one with Andy Sargent – 3,607 miles and 292 days spent walking the Coast Paths around England and Wales – This trip 31 miles from Broughton Bay on The Gower to Burry Port in Carmarthenshire. Andy’s contribution – 9 miles from LOUGHOR to LLANELLI

 

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Famous Author Andy Sargent and Bobl obscuring a perfectly good view of Llanelli Mudflats

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The Scarlet Worms have never been more appropriate reaching Llanelli…….              … MAP BY KIND PERMISSION OF ORDNANCE SURVEY

 

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

Background. Uncle Sarge/Andy is not really your Uncle, in the same way as Auntie Jean was not really my, or John, Susan and Janet’s Aunt.

Auntie Jean, Andy’s Mum, was a school best friend of  Nanny Tab. Their children became friends and  knew respective parents as Uncles and Aunts. Sarge/Andy attended the very same Southend  High School as John and The Writer and even the same House – Athens. It was not possible to attend that school and not be unaffected by the raucous presence of Sarge even though he was several years ahead of me  and a couple ahead of John.   His fingerprints were on everything and footprints all over the playing fields. Hockey was his particular game and I do recall, when one particular House Match result was not to his liking, his stick flew from one end of the pitch to the other.

I was impressed.

Don’t try this at home…..

So: Imagine my delight when after months of trying I signed Uncle Sarge/Andy up to join in The Walk when it passed near his home in South Wales.

I was honoured.

After hours of bartering and bantering we hammered out a suitable level stretch of the Wales Coast Path extending from the off ramps of The Gower Peninsular  over the Loughor Bridge via The Sewage Works, through the National Wetlands Centre and Millennium Coast Park, past The Golf and Country Club along the Llanelli Promenade to join Nanny Marilyn at The Visitor Centre Café at North Dock for refuelling. In all nine miles the high level of humour and jocularity didn’t falter; many common names would have been recalled if only we could have remembered them; but  the spectacular recollection remains  the Sargent/McIntyre fifty partnership At The Southend Waterworks Cricket Ground – the highlight of our respective sporting careers. A one off. As is Sarge.

He gallantly accepted the challenge of contributing to THE BLOG and without further ado The Famous Author produced the following…..

A Scarlet Letter Day

I once heard Phil Bennett (Llanelli RFC, Wales, Barbarians and British Lions, in that order, he would probably say), speaking at a dinner. He said when he was younger he’d been taught to hate two things:: “Baghdad and Swansea…only not in that order” .

I suppose Llanelli, which he has in his veins, is an acquired taste, if you weren’t born just up the road, like he was. I have to say that at first sight,  ” Romantic Weekends at Llanelli and Burry Port” might win a competition for the world’s best short book titles. The access road to what passes for the beach is a No Man’s Land on which the pre stressed concrete team is fighting out a goalless draw with the one representing plastic and glass. Never in your life have you seen so many ASDAs,and the like, crammed into a couple of square miles. It’s hard to tell who’s winning this but my money would not be on the Town Planners, for the architectural award.

But I wasn’t going for a romantic weekend. Instead, I was spending a Sunday or most of it, with Bob McIntyre, whom I have known since he was born. I can see him now, but will leave it at that this being a family blog……….

But now he is older, leavened with age, slightly grizzled with the sands of time, but still with that very soft voice which reminds me so much of his mother. She was a person of grace and kindness but also of authority, a big character, who would fight for what was right and never give up. I played a lot of hockey, and she would have graced any team I represented and then some.

Which is where Bob gets it from.

Words are the only thing available to describe this fellow: utterly determined, stubborn, resolute, stoical, funny, honest, human. Thank heavens Marilyn has to live with all this. Give me a few character defects any day. I know where I am with these. Mainly my own, although I hotly deny the hockey stick story. (The American golfer, and club thrower, Tommy Armour, used to deny such allegations vehemently. This was explained by the late Sam Snead who said Tommy threw clubs so often, they became a blur in his memory. Maybe that was my own problem?)

Anyway, Marilyn met me in this car park, next to a mainly empty building, unsurprisingly called ‘Visitor Centre’, and together we drove in the venerable RAV, (not quite as venerable as me) to find the doughty hiker, who greeted me with the assurance that he had already got lost twice that morning, and he hoped I had strong feet and boots to match.

His brand however, is worse than his bite. He had been described to me as- well, merciless, not to put too fine a point on it. Tales of Malcolm McLeod having to be revived by Diana (murmurs of ‘why bother?’- from graduates in Cynicism from SHS). Other kind wishes offered me from Henry Staunton and Elizabeth Watkins (Abbot) along the lines of: ‘you’ll be OK Andy. Don’t let his enthusiasm run away with you though.’

As it happened, I had nothing to worry about at all. The walk itself, was mainly very easy, flat, lined with blackthorn trees, nature reserves, and, in fairness to Llanelli, some simply stunning scenery, and wonderful estuary views. Not a great deal of wildlife though. Probably they knew we were coming.

 I actually live in South Wales, although the magnetic pull of Llanelli and Burry Port had yet to work its magic spell upon me. But my mate up the road is a Llanelli man, born and bred at Gowerton Bridge where he became a fearsome off spinner later recruited by Glamorgan. When I told him where I’d been he went all dewy eyed (he only has one) and said that if he’d only known, he would have come as well. Which, dear reader, is the thought with which I will leave you: Go! JFDI (Nike customers will translate), and enjoy the buzz. He is truly great company, and I shall definitely go again, hopefully before the so called last hoorah at Aberystwyth. I only wish my legs had lasted longer but truth to tell, nine miles was OK, and more than I had thought. He was very kind to me and Marilyn too.

Many thanks to them both for a great day. Well, half day anyway. He did another nine miles after I had staggered away. His name should be ‘Felix’. his Mum would be very proud.

Perhaps she is?

Andy Sargent

 

It was quite sad and subdued to complete the rest of my visit alone when Andy decided to retire from The Walk  while he was winning at The Cafe.  He promised to return when he had recovered – at least 6 months  – probably for the finish party at Aberystwyth?

Together we didn’t get lost on The Coast Path, despite immersion in conversation; the same couldn’t be said of my lone trekking. Prior to meeting up I had already taken two serious off piste misdirections, firstly at Whiteford Sands National Nature Reserve where i got comprehensively lost in the dunes; and secondly I was well on my way to Three Crosses from Bryn y Mor. Both I put down to poor signage and diversions. Couldn’t possibly be my map reading.

Nothing so adventurous on the last lone stage of the trip as i followed the well appointed extra wide footpath and cycleway into RNLI Station at Burry Port. Another sad occasion  – this is to be the last time Vera meets up with me.  Scrappage beckons. The new incumbent is called ZUD!

Overtaking a herd on our way to Broughton Farm Caravan Site, start point of this walk – and within minutes I’m on the beach, no sign of the Wales Coast Path Signs and soon to be hopelessly lost in the sand dunes. I will have to return with local knowledge to check which parts of Whiteford National Nature Reserve I missed! Norm!

Help!

I shouldn’t be allowed out in your patch unsupervised.

 

Being lost in the dunes  – little consolation when I found out too late there was a diversion ! If you can name any of the above pictures please advise…. although below is self explanatory, but I wish to be informed as I enter such interesting features – not as I leave.

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The Coast Path to Llanrhidian followed an old railway track, the area was formerly mines docks and industrial activity but little evidence remains, nature has a way of covering our false tracks.

 

Llanrhidian Marsh – National Trust – free car parking – we’re members! That would be mainland Llanelli in the   background on the far side of the River LOUGHOR

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That threatening cloud came from nowhere to finish off a previously sunny walk; so a phone call ahead for rescue as no shelter available. 

Evidence of the old railway line now the Wales Coast Path next stop Gowerton , then heading for Loughor Bridge and  Llanelli. I shunted into sidings at Crofty at the end of the first day , as the rain increased, awaiting collection by back-up crew Vera and Marilyn

 

Day two  began with a beautiful sunrise and I resumed my tracks at Crofty

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anticipating rendezvous with Andy/Sarge. He’ll never recognise me….a bit podgy? And odd boots? Shades?? Beany hat???

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He’s arrived – on the LOUGHOR Bridge heading for Llanelli and lunch.

 

 

Apart from skirting the sewage works by way of soft marshes the trail to lunch was for the most part paved, level and well signed; only interrupting conversation to check our course was correct.

 

DSC_2958After nine miles walking and lunch, Andy said his farewells and we parted company promising to do it all again. Check your recovery period first Andy! 

 

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The Walk post Andy was quite subdued until I came across this monument to The Welsh Legend Phil Bennett sidestepping an All Black.  My Kiwi readers might say….Well that never happened….. The posts are from Stradey Park Llanelli Scarlets former ground.

 

From the tribute to Phil Bennett the Walk became quite sterile, one can only imagine the industrial mayhem and heavy industry  of previous years that has been tidied up and landscaped.

This is where my energy levels, after 31 miles in two days are now so low I can only just summon my back up team, who arrive and whisk me off to hotel sanctuary. Thank you team. Thank you Andy.