Walk 10: Lafan Sands low-high loop

29th August 2020

8.5 miles

Total miles walked in & around Wales = 1210.2 miles

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I drive to Afon Ogwen Nature Reserve car park (free). I had wanted to complete this walk a few days ago but Storm Francis put a stop to that.

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The hill I will be walking over

I join the official Wales Coast Path and walk eastward. The last time I walked on this route was in April 2013 when I was walking the WCP in its entirety.

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Penrhyn Park

The familiar WCP signs. The route follows the shingle shore and enclosed field-edge path along Menai Straits.

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These slate fences are everywhere.

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The route continues onto this farm track. I can see Penmaenmawr & the Great Orme ahead.

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The Menai Straits to the left.

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Salt marsh

I pass another nature reserve car park at Morfa Aber.

I had seen images on Twitter of the flash floods & damage caused only 3 days earlier by Storm Francis in this area. I can see evidence of damage to the road caused by the storm as I turn right, away from the WCP and up Station Road towards Abergwyngregyn.

I pass under the A55 and walk into Abergwyngregyn. I walk passed this stone marking the Snowdonia National Park.

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This is a popular place for day trippers coming to visit Aber Falls. Cars are trying to pass each other on this narrow road in & out of Abergwyngregyn.

I was here last week walking (see previous post). I turn right up a public footpath by this derelict cottage.

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It’s a steady climb up the side of the valley.

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At the top of the climb, my route joins the North Wales Path. This is a broad, grassy path that roughly runs parallel to the coast path below.20200829_123356

View looking back toward Llanfairfechan & the Great Orme.

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View looking across towards Anglesey.

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I meet a couple who had parked in the same car park as me but are obviously walking in the opposite direction. We compare our walks so far. I learn that the final stretch through farmers fields are ankle deep in mud. I had a feeling the fields would be muddy after Storm Francis so I had a plan B which was to walk via the road back to the car park.

I asked if they had come across any cattle, they hadn’t to my relief.

Views looking ahead towards Bangor & Beaumaris.

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The clear path passes below massive power pylons.

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As I approach Bronydd Isaf, oh no, I can see a field full of cows and they are stood on the path. One of them is a bull with sawn off horns! I clock where the gate is & walk quickly and quietly passed them to exit the field. I worry about cow attacks especially as I am walking solo.

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The route passes along side a wood with more slate fences.

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I pass the farm through a kissing gate onto a quiet lane.

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The route follows the quiet lane steeply downhill along side a rather full rushing stream.

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Although it is a quiet lane, there are quite a few cars passing me. It’s pretty much a single track lane so difficult to pass another car. I wouldn’t like to have to back up/down to the nearest passing place as the road is so steep.

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Penrhyn Castle in the distance.

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At the bottom of the hill, the route passes over the A55.

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Instead of climbing the style and following the Coastal Circular Route, I continue along the road back to the car park to avoid the ankle deep muddy fields.

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Just before I reach the car park, I pass the fields that I should have walked through and feel glad I chose to walk back via the roads.

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Walk 9: Aber Falls

20th August 2020

4.5 miles

Total miles walked in & around Wales = 1201.7 miles

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I drive to Aber Falls pay & display car park, arriving early as Storm Ellen is due later in the day.

The track to Aber Falls is a popular one and Gwynedd council have adopted a one way system to ensure social distancing during the pandemic.

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I cross the River Rhaedr-fawr….

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……and join a tarmac surfaced track towards Aber Falls.

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This track winds gently uphill through woodland, Aber Falls comes into view.

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The path leads to a viewing area of Rhaedr Fawr (Aber Falls).

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I cross this bridge……

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…….and go to another viewing area on the other side of the waterfall.

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I return to the path and follow a dry-stone wall to the second, smaller waterfall – Rhaedr-bach.

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Rhaedr-bach

I cross several more streams via stepping stones. I figure these streams would be inaccessible during high volumes of rain?

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I follow a broad, grassy path that heads in the direction of the coast. I look back at both waterfalls.

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It’s getting quite windy, Storm Ellen is on her way! I can see the coast now, ahead is Puffin Island.

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To the right, I can see the Great Orme, just.

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I am following the North Wales Path but now I am leaving this path and heading downhill. I can see Anglesey & the Menai Straits. I think that is Beaumaris straight ahead – I walked the Anglesey coastline in 2018.

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Roughly half way down this farm track, my route turns right to descend sharply towards Abergwyngregyn.

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Halfway down this steep path my guidebook mentions the mound visible behind these houses – a medieval motte known as Llewellyn’s Mound.

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This path emerges onto the lane which leads to Aber Falls car park. I turn right to complete the circular walk, glad I came early as there are several cars trying to pass each other in & out of this narrow lane & competing for car parking spaces!

Walk 8: Above Penmaenmawr

15th August 2020

5.2 miles

Total miles walked in and around Wales = 1197.2 miles

Penmaenmawr 1

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I drive to Penmaenmawr and park in the library car park on Fernbrook Road.

I walk uphill up Fernbrook Road and turn right just after this building onto narrow Groesfforth Lane and continue to to climb upwards.

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I cross over Graiglwyd Road and continue upwards up Mountain Lane.

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I pass a house with this slate on their wall reminding us there is a pandemic ongoing.

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The lane is narrow and steepens but I’m rewarded with these views at the top.

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This is where the vehicular access ends and the start of the Jubilee Walk, an elevated man-made path. There is a handy turning circle for cars and a picnic bench to rest and enjoy the view.

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The path starts off quite wide around Foel Lus.

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The steep slope of Foel Lus

The path starts to narrow around the northern side of Foel Lus and it is a steep drop to the left!

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The view across to Penmaenmawr below and across the sea to Anglesey & Puffin Island.

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The ahead towards The Great Orme across the water with Dwygyfylchi below.

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Ahead is Conwy Mountain, I walked down off Conwy Mountain through the village of Dwygyfylchi just over 2 weeks ago. Soon I can see the Inland WCP route rising obliquely from the valley below.

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I can clearly see the official WCP below following the coastline – I have previously walked that route in April 2013 (20 miles from Bangor to Conwy) when I walked the WCP in its entirety.

Jubilee Walk follows the contours around Foel Lus to the rear of the mountain.

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Another glimpse of Puffin Island from the rear of the mountain.

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I meet up with the junction where, if you turn right it will lead back to the start of the Jubilee Walk, I turn left following signs for ‘Druids Circle’.

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I leave the inland WCP route briefly to visit the Druids Circle via this grassy path. The stone circle can be seen in the distance at the top of the rise.

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The view from the rear of the mountain across to Foel Lus (& the Jubilee Walk) and over to the Great Orme in the distance.

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The Druids Circle.

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Further along is a smaller stone circle.

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I start the descent down. Welsh Mountain ponies are grazing above.

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The descent is getting steeper!…

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…..and steeper still! It kills my knees.

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The path zig zags because it is so steep.

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At the bottom of the steep hill, the route goes through a housing estate and back to the car park.

Walk 7: Conwy Mountain

30th July 2020

10.1 miles

Total miles walked in and around Wales = 1192 miles

Conway 1Conway 2

I drive to Morfa Bach pay & display car park, park my car and walk through this underpass (under the railway) at the rear of the car park.

I have previously walked some of this section of the WCP in April 2013 (20 miles from Bangor to Conwy) when I was walking the WCP in it’s entirety.

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I walk through this arch into the medieval walled town of Conwy.

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I walk down Church Street & High Street through the arched gateway in the town walls onto the quay.

It’s quite busy and difficult to keep to social distancing.

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Britain’s smallest house

I walk through the arch of a spur wall before turning onto Marine Walk.

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View back to Conway Castle

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View ahead down the Conway Estuary & the Great Orme

Marine Walk skirts around Bodlondeb Wood and passes Aberconwy School.

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Bridge over the tidal creek to the school sports ground

The WCP splits here. One route follows the official coast path but I am following the alternative upland WCP following these red WCP signs.

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I cross the A547 Bangor Road & over the railway line via this metal foot bridge.

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I follow the wooded path to a quiet lane uphill before entering Conwy Mountain.

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I steadily climb uphill through woodlands to emerge onto open moorlands.

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View back towards Conway

I continue upwards following the red WCP signs, passing these angled slabs of rock.

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I sit on a bench here and have my picnic & taking in the view.

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The building down there is an equestrian centre. I used to go riding from there up onto Conwy Mountain when I was young.

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View back to Conway again from a higher view point

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The colour of the heather is beautiful.

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There are several paths here so it can be a little confusing which one to follow.

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As I round the corner I get a view over the Conwy Estuary & the Great Orme. I walked around the Great Orme 10 days ago and then I had a great view of where I am today!

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I join a track which leads round to the Sychnant Pass.

I can see the foot path I need to follow descending steeply from the car park.

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The route descends steeply down this V-shaped valley.

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Looking back up at the way i have come

Descending down the Sychnant Pass.

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I emerge out by cottages onto Mill Road, a quiet lane, and continue downhill.

I pass over the River Gyrach and walk into Dwygyfylchi village.

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Afon Gyrach

The route follows alongside the river.

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I pass St. Gwynin’s Church…..

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……& the village cenotaph.

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A tribute to NHS workers, a reminder of the ongoing pandemic

I turn down a narrow footpath which passes the backs of residents gardens.

I meet a group of three people so can’t pass them in a socially distanced manner. As we move further up the path so I can pass them, I learn that they are committee members of Dwygyfylchi’s communal allotment group & they were surveying where they were going to house their bee hives – what a great idea. They try and enroll me until they find out I am not a local.

I can see & hear the A55.

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The Great Orme across the water

I cross the A55 via a metal footbridge, turn right and join the cycle path and the official WCP again.

I walk around Penmaenbach tunnel on the old road.

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The view back to Puffin Island and Anglesey.

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The old road and now the cycleway & WCP.

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View across Morfa Conwy to the Great Orme.

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I leave the tarmac surface of the cycleway and enter the sand dunes of Morfa Conwy along side the golf course.

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The WCP goes through a car park and passes Conwy Quays Marina.

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I reach Aberconwy school where I retrace my route around Marine Walk to Conwy Town.

I walk through the town wall via the same arch and back to the car.

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Walk 6: Around the Great Orme

20th July 2020 (afternoon)

7.7 miles

Total miles walked in and around Wales = 1181.9 miles

Great Orme 1Great Orme 2

I drive the short distance from the Little Orme to the end of Llandudno promenade so I can start my walk around the Great Orme.

My plan was to park in the Happy Valley Car park but it was full so I find a parking space in a pay & display another car park in the town.

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Llandudno Pier

I walk along the road just below Happy Valley gardens, through the arched toll booth and along Marine Drive.

The last time I walked around the Great Orme, as part of completing the whole WCP, was 1st April 2013 where I walked an 18 mile circular walk starting and finishing in Colwyn Bay.

Today, I’ll be walking a slightly different route.

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This coastal road gently climbs to Pentrywyn, rising to Porth Yr Helyg……

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…..where I leave the road and climb this steep footpath. It is a bit overgrown with ferns & I’m hoping I don’t step on any adders!

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After walking through a tunnel made of hawthorn trees, I reach Penmynydd Isa Farm.

The route turns right at this farm joining an enclosed path.

I pass Powell’s Well.

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The paths leads to St. Tudno’s Church.

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I have a walk around the church but unable to go inside due to the pandemic (a sign of the door explains that the staff are currently shielding).

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After a rest & a drink of coffee on the bench in the church yard, I continue my walk uphill on St. Tudno’s Road.

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Photo taken through the church gateway to the graveyard

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About a 100 yards passed the graveyard, I turn right onto a broad, gravel track and can appreciate how big St. Tudno’s graveyard is.

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The route skirts around National Trust’s Parc Farm.

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Looking back at the direction I have come

These must be the famous herd of goats that invaded Llandudno town during the pandemic lockdown – they went viral on social media and on the news!

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I can smell them from here!

I reach the headland and I am rewarded with this view….

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Puffin Island & Anglesey

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Llanfairfechan & Penmaenmawr

Turning the corner & more great views.

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West Shore, Deganwy & Conwy

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A couple enjoying the view

I turn left and climb steeply towards the tram terminus and summit complex to reach the second trig point of the day.

Ahead is the Little Orme where I stood at it’s trig point looking at the Great Orme this morning!

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I descend steeply keeping between the tram tracks and the cable cars. The cable cars are operational today but the trams are not.

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Just after the Tram Halfway station, I turn left again and join a gravel track inland & walking underneath the cable cars.

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I reach Penmynydd Isa Farm again and turn right, signposted to the dry ski slope.

I walk passed the field edges before dropping down to the Ski Centre.

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Dry ski slope & the cable cars with Conwy Mountain in the far distance

I start the steep descent down many steps.

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Still descending down steps, I can see Llandudno pier again.

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Descending more, I enter Happy Valley Gardens.

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A zig-zag path leads down through Happy Valley Gardens….

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….back to the road leading to the town and I make my way back to my car.

Walk 5: Little Orme

20th July 2020 (morning)

3.6 miles

Total miles walked in and around Wales = 1174.2 miles

Little Orme 1
Obviously there are some technical issues with my Strava tracking!

Little Orme 2

I drive to Llandudno and park the car in  a side road just off Llandudno promenade.

I walk up the B5115 approaching the Little Orme.

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I go through a kissing gate, leaving the B5115 & entering Rhiwledyn Reserve belonging to the North Wales wildlife Trust. I am following the familiar WCP signs once again.

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I leave the WCP and turn left to climb steeply ……..

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…….to reach the trig point. There are great panoramic views over Llandudno bay to the Great Orme (I plan to walk around the Great Orme this afternoon)…..

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….& Rhos-on-Sea and beyond in the other direction.

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I walk down a steep path through gorse to rejoin the WCP.

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Looking down over the quarry edge.

The WCP descends steeply downhill to the quarry floor. I take a short detour to Angel Bay but can’t see any seals there today.

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I return to the WCP.

The WCP forks off to go through the housing estate towards Penrhyn Bay but I continue on the cycle path which leads to a footpath through a farmyard.

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The farm track emerges onto the B5115 where I retrace my steps back to my car.

 

Walk 4: Rhyl to Rhuddlan Castle

13th July 2020

6.7 miles

Total miles walked in and around Wales = 1170.6 miles

Rhyl 1Rhyl 2

I drive to Rhyl and park the car in the free car park at Marine Lake.

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I cross the River Clwyd via Foryd Bridge and turn left down Old Foryd Road.

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Foryd Bridge

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River Clwyd

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I walk through a tunnel (under the railway line) and onto this flood embankment.

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There is a sign warning of livestock but I can’t see any yet.

Here they are but they are not bothered by me.

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There is a good view of the Clwydian range. I have walked along this range last year when I walked Offa’s Dyke path.

I pass Sun Valley caravan park with Rhuddlan Castle in view behind.

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Pass under the A525 flyover ……..

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……. and turn left and cross the river via the old bridge.

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I pass this sculpture which represents Rhuddlan’s medieval history – someone has put face masks on them! Another reminder of the ongoing pandemic.

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I turn right up Castle Street to Rhuddlan Castle.

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I carry on to visit Twt Hill – a Norman, man-made mound used as a look out.

I thought it was going to be bigger than that!

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View of the Clwydian Range taken from Twt Hill.

I retrace my steps back to the main road, turn right down Tan-yr-Eglwys road and pass St. Mary’s Church.

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This leads onto the North Wales Path cycleway.

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I’ve been lucky so far with the weather as rain had been forecast. I can see the rain clouds approaching.

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River Clwyd

The path follows the riverside for about 2 kms before turning away from the river, passed a caravan park and back to Marine Lake.

There are no more photos as those rain clouds soon caught up with me and it started raining quite heavily.

Walk 3: Prestatyn to Graig Fawr

10th July 2020

6.4 miles

Total miles walked in and around Wales = 1163.9 miles

Prestatyn 1

Prestatyn 2

I drive to Prestatyn and park in the Pay & Display car park next to the Nova Centre near the sea front.

It was October 2019 when I was here last, when I finished walking Offa’s Dyke path. Here’s the wayward post indicating the end of ODP in the opposite direction!

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I walk away from the coast, through Prestatyn town towards the wooded hills following ODP signs. As I start to climb, I am entering the start of the Clwydian Range. It is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty but walking is tough with steep climbs & descents (as I found out when walking ODP last year).

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ODP climbs steeply above quarry faces with great views behind.

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The path has been well maintained.

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I have a rest and eat my picnic here at the ruin of a cottage, Pant y Fachwen, and take in the views across the North Wales coastline with Great Orme’s prominent headland in the distance.

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Graig Fawr is visible, I’ll be walking up there soon.

ODP emerges onto a minor road. This is where I leave ODP and turn right along the road before joining the Prestatyn-Dyserth Way and climb up Graig Fawr.

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A great 360 degree view from the summit although it’s very breezy.

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Looking across to where the climb up to ODP is.

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I descend down Graig Fawr along a well defined path which becomes more overgrown with bracken & ferns, then more steeply down these steps.

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This path is not as well trodden as ODP. There is a tree obstructing the path but I manage to get over it.

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This path emerges out onto a disuse railway track – the Dyserth-Prestatyn mineral line. It is now a surfaced cycle path – the North Wales Path.

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Signs of the path’s former use

I walk passed a golf course.

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The path is lined with these painted stones – they must have been done by the local children – a reminder of the on-going pandemic.

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The North Wales Path ends in Prestatyn, I join the B5120, walk over the railway line via the road bridge and retrace my steps to the Nova Centre and the promenade.

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Walk 2: Talacre & Gronant Dunes

8th July 2020

8.5 miles

Total miles walked in and around Wales = 1157.5 miles

Talacre 1

Talacre 2

It’s been just over four months since I have walked in Wales due to the Welsh Government’s Covid-19 restrictions. These were lifted two days ago.

I drive to Talacre and park in the public car park and walk up Station Road towards the beach and sand dunes. I’m mindful that the restrictions have only just lifted and that people may flock to the Welsh coast but, thankfully, it isn’t very busy at all.

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I walk between the sand dunes to the vast stretch of sandy beach. I turn left & walk towards the lighthouse. The tide is out so walking on the damp sand is a lot easier than walking in the soft, dry sand.

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There are views across the Dee Estuary to The Wirrall.

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Looking back – my footprints & the lighthouse in the distance

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It’s nice to see the familiar WCP signs again.

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The route leaves the beach via this path…..

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….passed an area of salt marsh & reed beds called The Gronant Spit.

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I emerge from this path to the entrance to the holiday park ‘Presthaven Caravan Park’. I follow the cycle path briefly before turning right still following the WCP passing over the Prestatyn Gutter via a bridge.

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Prestatyn Gutter

 

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Gronant Dune nature reserve

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Boardwalk above Barkby Beach

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Prestatyn Golf Course

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I descend from the boarded walkway back onto the beach.

At the start of Prestatyn promenade, I turn left down Barkby Avenue, over Prestatyn Gutter again via a wooden bridge to Marine Road East & start the return walk back to Talacre via Prestatyn Golf course.

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Prestatyn Golf Club house

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After the golf course, I briefly join the same cycle path I walked on earlier, before entering Presthaven Caravan Park. This return route through the caravan park is not as pretty but soon I join a cycle path which is an alternative WCP which takes me back to Talacre.

 

 

Walk 1: Holywell & Basingwerk Abbey

Holywell 1

Holywell 2

21st March 2020

3.7 miles

Total miles walked in & around Wales = 1149 miles

My plan was to walk Glyndwr’s Way this year which is another national trail across Wales from Knighton – Machynlledd – Welshpool but Covid-19 put a stop to that idea!

This walk is taken from Top 10 circular walks from the North Wales Coast Path guidebook which I completed just two days before the lock down measures were enforced.

I drove to Greenfield Dock and parked the car in the free car park overlooking the Dee estuary. I had walked the WCP passing through here on 13th July 2013, I remember it was a very hot summers day and a long walk, 18.5 miles from Flint to Prestatyn!

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Today’s weather is very different to then, it’s a lot cooler and windy. I start my walk by walking away from the WCP, over the railway to the main road A584 where I enter Greenfield Valley Heritage Park.

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I pass the ruins of Basinwerk Abbey, visitors centre and farm museum (all closed today) and emerge out onto a quiet lane.

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I pass Abbey Wire Mill and walk around the back of ruins of a cotton mill….

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….then back up a zig-zag path to the lane.

I pass a reservoir….

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…..and more ruins of Meadow Mill…..

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……..and cross a metal bridge over the reservoir

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and walk passed some more ruins of the battery works.

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After emerging out onto the roadside, the route continues up to St. Winnifreds.

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I would have liked to go inside to look at St. Winnifred’s Well but although it was open to the public today, I felt I shouldn’t because of the risk of contracting/spreading Coronavirus – I’ll come back one day when the pandemic is over.

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From St. Winnifred’s Church, the route follows the same direction back but along the disused Holywell branch line back to the A584 and then I retrace my route back to the car.

It was a pleasant, short walk and I was able to walk socially distanced from other walkers.

It’ll be nearly 4 months before I can return to walk on Welsh soil again.

 

 

This is a diary of our walks along the Wales Coast Path