Saturday, 21 April 2018
Martin did about 10 km of bimbling.
A beautiful warm cloudless day with a light cooling breeze at sea level.
David has spent the last three years turning a wrecked Victorian house into what is now Sea View Guesthouse, with rooms for at least 16 guests. Well done to him. We enjoyed our stay. Unlike our previous accommodation, other people were also staying here.
We enjoyed both dinner and breakfast with fine views over the bay to an outline of hills beyond a sea of windfalls. The top picture is the view from our room, the same view as from our breakfast table.
By soon after 9 am the others were on their way to Moelfre while I was despatched to the local Tesco Express shop. Missions accomplished, I parked up at Moelfre and walked a short way along the coast path to meet the coasters, before skilfully guiding them to the delights of Ann's Pantry.
We then walked a couple of kilometres out of Moelfre, passing various memorials to several shipwrecks, notably the Royal Charter, luxury liner of its day (a motorised sailing clipper), which foundered on nearby rocks in a storm in October 1859, with the loss of over 400 lives. There's also much reference to a rescue carried out in 1959, when the lifeboat crew saved eight sailors from certain death. On leaving the coasters, I returned to Polly via the lifeboat Visitor Centre, where a 'This is Your Life' recording shows the Coxwain of the lifeboat, Richard Evans, being delivered his day of fame by Eamonn Andrews.
Next stop for me was a parking spot at Traeth Dulas. A short walk to meet the others was followed by a sumptuous lunch on some comfy rocks overlooking the bay. There had been lots of people around Moelfre on this sunny Saturday, but very few were down here. After waving the others off I watched the tide surge in, bringing with it a colony of swans.
About now, Jeanette began to exhibit symptoms of 'Fitbit Distress'. Her batteries were low and she had forgotten to bring her charging lead. Even I will soon move ahead of her in the 'Steps League' (Division 3B)!
After a long rest at Traeth Dulas, Polly took me up to Amlwch Port, from where I trogged off down another nice section of coast path to meet the others. A section of marsh was safely skirted, and thanks to expert guidance, Paul's trainers that he has now been wearing for a couple of days in a foot cripple saving capacity, remained dry, and Jeanette's rock climbing skills were honed.
Oyster catchers and crows, aided by barking dogs, serenaded us towards the delights of pots of tea at the Sail Loft Café, at Amlwch Port in an area of industrial archaeological interest in this area of copper mining.
The coasters then continued their longest walk of the trip, arriving at the Trecastell Hotel over an hour later at 6.20 pm. Whilst Sue was misleading Paul and Jeanette through ankle deep mud, I was luxuriating in a hot bath. That could be used later to wash Paul's horribly muddied trainers...
Needless to say, their arrival time coincided with Beer o'clock.
Friday, 20 April 2018
Martin did about 11 km of bimbling.
A beautiful warm sunny day. This could be the height of summer.
Carole and Jeff provided a magnificent breakfast that included a huge bowl of fruit salad. It was hard not to linger for longer in Victoria Cottage B&B.
On the other hand, it was hugely sunny with only a light breeze - a perfect day for a walk.
After sourcing some provisions for lunch, I headed up to Penmon Point, where the Pilot House Café provided sustenance in the form of coffee and carrot cake. The coasters arrived having explored the remains of Penmon Priory, St. Seiriol's Well, and an impressive dovecote built around 1600. The dovecote has space for about 930 birds - a brilliant source of regular fresh meat for the Bulkeley family, who acquired the property after the dissolution of the monasteries.
I walked part of the next section with the coasters. Fine views to a lighthouse and Puffin Island beyond.
Whilst the others headed for lunch at the Iron Age hill fort of Din Silwy, I drove round to the beach near Bryn Hyrddin and walked around Red Wharf Bay to meet them. No tidal issues today; just a few groughs for Paul to negotiate in his trainers, which appear to be more 'toe friendly' than his boots.
The last stage of today's exertions saw us all arriving in Benllech at about 5.20 pm, the coasters having reluctantly walked past the attractions of the Ship Inn at Red Wharf Bay, in favour of getting to Sea View Guesthouse in plenty of time to relax before adjourning downstairs to the Bistro, where everyone enjoyed their meals, albeit they weren't as exciting as last night's tapas.
Actual for Sue, Paul and Jeanette - 25 km, 400 metres ascent, around 9 hours.
Martin did about 18 km of bimbling.
A start under high cloud with a cool breeze developed into a warm, sunny day. Perfect for walking.
We all have 'performance' issues. Paul has two very sore toes and will be wearing trainers tomorrow. Sue has her usual Achilles pains. Jeanette has back and foot problems to name just two. I am awaiting a straightforward hernia operation and given the discomfort I've suffered over the previous three days I've reluctantly decided to moderate my daily mileage. How come I can run a marathon without discomfort but I can't walk 10 km....?
So whilst Janeen pedalled off into the sunshine and the three remaining Coast Path veterans set off on that path, Richard kindly drove me to Holyhead to collect Polly.
I then parked by a place called West Lodge, at kilometre 14 along today's route. It was a really lovely day, with fine views across the Menai Straights to Snowdonia. Strolling along the coast path to meet the others at Llanidan, I managed to negotiate a tidal section. Hoping it would still be clear, I led the others back that way, but we missed the chance to follow the coast by about ten minutes and had to retreat to an inland alternative.
The coasters had almost foundered at the stepping stones across Afon Braint, where after a first refusal from Jeanette, she had to be coaxed over the slippery stones in order to avoid a long diversion. She had recovered her composure by the time they reached me, albeit they were bemoaning missed tea shop opportunities.
Back at West Lodge, and faced with 2 km of boring tarmac, as the Coast Path headed inland to get around the private domain of Plas Newydd, our reluctant heroes jumped into Polly with unexpected glee. Soon they were enjoying lunch on a stone bench 2 km further on at Pont y Crug.
After that I walked with them to the ancient burial chamber at Bryn Celli Ddu, an impressive artifact, before leaving them to continue on their teashopless route to the splendid Pont Britannia and the Menai Suspension Bridge that link Anglesey with the Welsh mainland. I believe it was an excellent afternoon stroll, with consistently fine views.
Meanwhile, a visit to Plas Newydd seemed appropriate for me. Coffee and cake were the objective, duly achieved after a quick look around the house. This place merits a fuller visit, though it's a shame the National Trust can't accommodate a route for the Coast Path through its extensive grounds. There's a magnificent mural by a man called Rex Whistler whose life was sadly cut short in WW2, and military prowess in the family that owns the estate seems to have been inspired by the achievements of the 1st Marquis, Henry 'One Leg', if not earlier.
On then to Menai, where I enjoyed another short walk to meet the others under the Menai Suspension Bridge. After leaving the town and passing a few browsing Shelduck, we reached Polly by the Caeau Pen y Clip Nature Reserve. It was well after 5 pm, with a good 6 km to go, mostly on quiet tarmaced roads above the Menai Straights. As mentioned above, all our remaining 'coasters' had performance issues. Saving themselves for another day, they eagerly sought refuge in Polly for the rest of today's journey.
It was well worth arriving early at Victoria Cottage B&B, where Carole and Jeff were most welcoming. A great spot, as was the Midland Tapas and Wine Bar, where we later indulged ourselves.
Thursday, 19 April 2018
A dull start against a strong wind. Gradually improving conditions culminating in t-shirts and shorts weather.
A One Stop shop across the road from Ambleside B&B enabled funds to be replenished and lunch ingredients to be purchased. That after another excellent breakfast that fuelled us for a bracing start against the strong wind.
Here the path sticks very close to the coast, so we were treated to more spectacular waves as high tide approached. Narrow sections of sand at the very top of the beaches were our thoroughfare of choice, though in one or two places the tide beat us to it.
High above the sands, an ancient burial chamber was reached. This was perused at length by the others (a Neolithic chamber restored following excavation in the 1950s) whilst I wandered down to the beach at Porth Trecastell and watched a lone surfer trying in vain to find a good wave.
Near here, a flock of Oyster Catchers went for a run ahead of us, eventually turning back towards their original position.
The bird life around here is extensive. There must be lots of food. I think we observed Turnstones and Redshank, as well as the more familiar Pied Wagtails, Swallows and Skylarks. And many more.
For most of today we had great views across to Snowdonia and down to the Lleyn Peninsula. The smog like atmosphere in which they started this walk has gradually cleared, slowly revealing the magnificence of our surroundings.
Soon after the burial chamber, our path left the coast to skirt around Anglesey's motor racing circuit, before reaching the secluded bay of Porth Cwyfan, where a small church founded in the seventh century and rebuilt in stone in the twelfth century stands on a remote walled headland that is well cut off at high tide. Restored in the nineteenth century, the church retains its original simple form.
More crashing waves and lovely coastal scenery later, and we stumbled on beside a tide affected creek into the small village of Aberffraw. Eschewing the attractions of the pub on this cool morning, we headed for the Llys Llewelyn Tea Rooms, where a couple of large groups of seniles (people of about my age) appeared to be enjoying a full Sunday lunch. Were they three days late, or four days early?
A small bridge in Aberffraw was almost inundated as the tide reached its highest point. The tide had turned by the time we returned from sumptuous lunches at the café, and from Aberffraw relatively easy paths led inexorably to the Riverside Café in Malltraeth. I say 'relatively easy'; the official coast path route, mostly on tarmac, would have been very easy and rather boring. My off-road route took us by the estate where William and Kate lived when William worked on Anglesey. Locals told us of confrontations with the officious landowner on public rights of way even now. Luckily we didn't see anyone, but deep ploughed furrows had obliterated some of the paths marked on our map, causing us to divert around field edges. A path beyond Ty Cadwgan didn't appear to exist on the ground, causing us to revert to the tarmac.
In former days Welsh kings resided hereabouts. We visited a church used by them - at Llangadwaladr, where a large stone erected in 625 by Cadwaladr stands outside.
After more tea and cake at the Riverside Café we crossed the long sea wall and entered Newborough Forest, home inter alia to red squirrels and 'teenage ravens'. The latter find mates here and pair up for life, having no reason to revisit the forest for the rest of their lives.
By about 5.30, Richard, Janeen, Scamp and Hetty had greeted us in Newborough, whence they moved from Timperley last November. Suffice to say, we very much enjoyed our stay there and a visit to Dylan's restaurant in nearby Menai. Great hospitality. Thanks All.
Tuesday, 17 April 2018
Force 8 winds gusting to Force 9 all morning with light rain and spray. Calmer in the afternoon - rain stopped but wind still strong.
Yesterday we met two youths walking the entire 870 miles of the Welsh Coast Path. They started in Chester ten days ago and are walking the Anglesey section in a clockwise direction, so we should meet them again in a few days time. They were heading for a hostel last night after camping for seven of the previous ten days. A good decision given the strength of the wind.
Shirley and Rich's 'full English' (shouldn't that be 'Welsh'!) was excellent and set us up well for the day.
The view from our room (top picture) didn't exactly entice us out, so despite breakfasting at 8am we didn't get going until after 9.30. There were several excuses - my load was lightened by sending a set of Scottish maps to Austria, and we enjoyed looking at Shirley and Rich's photobooks of a trip to the USA.
The rain wasn't as hard as expected, but the wind was stronger, quite violent at times. The coastal scenery was dramatic, with the spray from huge waves crashing high above the coastal cliffs, and through splendid rock arches.
Wes Johnson, at a Coast Watch station 5 km south of Trearddur, saw us coming from miles away. We chatted at length, but we didn't get invited to the warmth of the interior.
A little further on, past a couple of pristine white goats and a sheep with young lambs sheltering contentedly on the path behind an expanse of gorse bushes, the high tide at Borthwen inundated the beach to the extent that we had to find an alternative inland route. Earlier we had skipped across a section of beach just before a large wave deposited water a metre deep over the path.
Continuing past various inlets, with foam spraying everywhere, we eventually reached a point where the terrain forced us inland towards Four Mile Bridge, on the ancient stagecoach route to Holy Island, so named as it is four miles from Holyhead. Here we got our first taste of mud. Sue had to be very careful not to get wet feet in her trail shoes, Paul ripped his trousers trying to be clever with a barbed wire fence, and two year old Bertie Pointer and his welly clad servant joined us for a section where some boarding floated enticingly on six inches of flood water.
Amongst this minor mudfest we passed through the village of Four Mile Bridge, where the Y Gegin Fach café served us some great cheese toasties for lunch.
Little Egrets and Eider Ducks were two of the bird species seen here that will in due course be listed. Spring Squill, Bluebells and Thrift were also coming into flower.
The walk continued past frenetic jets at an RAF Base, eventually leading to a long section of firm beach and a footbridge leading to the small town of Rhosneigr. Ambleside B&B was duly located, tea and cake consumed (thanks Cathy) and ablutions completed.
Cathy suggested two restaurants no more than four doors away. Both were shut, as was much else in the town. However, a ten minute walk saw us at the Oyster Catcher restaurant, where we enjoyed a fine meal.
Sunny spells and a strong cold wind.
Apologies to those awaiting the denouement of our 2007 adventure in the Vanoise area. That has been postponed due to this prior commitment on Anglesey.
Paul and Jeanette have joined Sue and me for a romp around the island.
Easy traffic saw us in Holyhead after a two hour journey. The long stay car park misled us into getting a parking ticket for a few hours less than intended, so we need to get an extra ticket on the last day of the trip, which could be a problem. At least the coast path goes right past the car park.
A 2 km stroll brought us to the fleshpot of Holyhead, a small café where we imbibed suitably and braced ourselves for the challenge ahead.
Three of us have walking poles. I lost one of mine when taking a photo. After recovering it I clutched it tightly but on the streets of Holyhead didn't feel a need to use it. A builder's lorry pulled up, gesticulating, "you've lost a pole". The bottom section was lying on the pavement some way away. The poles haven't been used since last August. I must get used to them again!
The walk proceeded uneventfully along the coast and up to the summit of Holyhead Mountain, the descent from which proved interesting. Great views to North Stack and South Stack. Seals in the bay.
Lunch in a sheltered spot with fine views to the cliffs of Gogarth Bay , soon after which we enjoyed hot drinks in the comfort of an RSPB café. Then past prehistoric hut circles on easy paths to Trearddur.
All the time there were rough seas to our right, on this anticlockwise circuit of the island. The weather was bracing but dry.
Ingledene B&B - tired but friendly, with a great view over the bay.
Seacroft Hotel - a good meal apart from Jeanette's dessert, the wrong one, which contained gluten. She may explode during the night. Deconstructed cheesecake - see picture.
Flora and fauna - report postponed.
Sunday, 15 April 2018
Having thought that the date clashed with the Manchester Marathon, I thought I wouldn’t be taking part this year, and having done that marathon I felt I needed a bit more recovery time before setting out on a 22 mile challenge walk.
So I didn’t start the Calderdale Hike. If I had done I might have captured the above image of the Rochdale Canal near Luddenden a little earlier in the day!
Instead, Sue and I cycled along to Wythenshawe Park, where I lined up with a few other masochists (below). Other parkrunners, eg Sue Strickland, should also have been on parade but didn’t turn up on the day. It was a very sociable occasion featuring deep mud and slithery grass. I wore trainers with smooth soles. A mistake, but 25.47 was an acceptable time for 5km on my first run since the marathon and it didn’t seem to make a sore knee any worse.
After lunch I headed off to Calderdale and parked in Luddenden for a short jaunt and an encounter with Calderdale Hikers.
The towpath at Luddenden is being re-laid. It’s good to see this canal infrastructure being maintained.
It’s daffodil time in Calderdale. Rarely did they leave my field of vision on this walk.
An interesting overflow system. The water from the full canal escapes down the cobbled incline to a stream, with walkers using the planks to the right.
Here’s the lock at Brearley, where I forsook the canal and headed up towards Nab End.
The ascent was directly into bright sunshine – what a delight to see and be warmed by that after the recent dull, cold weather.
Looking back to Wheatley Royd Farm, all was well with the world.
It was a long but leisurely haul up to Nab End, from where there are expansive views towards Hebden Bridge.
Signs proclaim that the quarry is open ‘Only to Pedestrians’, for health and safety reasons. I can only interpret that as a ban on climbing the quarry walls.
Nab End is often the site of a Calderdale Hike checkpoint, but the Hike routes (22 and 40 miles this time) are changed every three years, with the change this year being to celebrate the 40th running of the event, and Nab End not being used this time.
The road to the quarry is clearly rather old, with the stones having been worn down by many years of use before the days of the pneumatic tyre.
After Nab End my path descended gently to Sowerby, where St Peter’s church is just visible in the centre of the next image.
Some of the dry stone walling in this area is truly wonderful.
My cross-country route brought me out at Well Head Lane, from where it was an easy stroll into Sowerby, where St Peter’s church stands in a prominent position at a ‘Y’ junction.
My plan was to visit the Calderdale Hike HQ at the cricket club. The usual team was on duty, all looking rather mustardy – the ladies in the kitchen were really bright yellow…
I took more pictures but accidentally deleted them when the phone told me it had run out of space. Anyway, in exchange for a donation equivalent to the entry fee, I received a nice cuppa but felt I had to decline the generous offer of a special 40th anniversary medal featuring Stoodley Pike, past which the hike often passes.
After chatting at length with some of the finishers enjoying a laze in the sunshine outside the cricket pavilion, I headed back down to the canal, with good views to Luddenden and beyond.
Crossing the River Calder, the debris lingering in high branches of the trees lining the river, was a reminder that the weather isn’t always this benign.
Between the river and the canal lies a resplendent meadow, empty of everything but grass, and signs that indicate that anyone venturing onto this pristine place does so at risk of dire consequences.
I’d been meeting various hikers. The 22 milers were ambling gently along, whereas the 40 milers were dressed to run, and were doing their best to do just that. The last checkpoint before the finish was situated at the easy to miss turn off the canal before the ascent back up to Sowerby. I chatted to the marshals. They told me they were usually at a chilly Nab End, whereas this year they can enjoy a warm spot by the canal. They would be there for some hours yet.
A mile post told me I was 2 miles from Sowerby Bridge, and in the other direction, 30 miles from Manchester. I’ll have to do that on a bike sometime. (Good training for a TransAlp bike ride!)
At Luddenden, a small sculpture (a ball of wool?) graces the towpath, together with an information board that explains that following its completion in 1804, the canal was the motorway of its day. Hereabouts it was lined by huge mill buildings that have long since been demolished. There’s an extensive industrial heritage that I haven’t time to go into here.
Here’s my route, a very pleasant 12.5 km, with 300 metres ascent, taking me three hours, and not worsening my sore knee.
All today’s pictures were taken with my Samsung S5 phone.