Day 221 Around the Tremadoc Bay Estuary

Thursday 12 November 2015

Criccieth to Talsarnau

13 miles

Môr Wyn Guest House, Barmouth

Breakfast was a hideous affair; sandwiched in the dining room with all the old people on a coach trip who had enjoyed a fake Christmas, including nauseating party games led by an over-enthusiastic compere, the previous evening. Neither the old people nor the really friendly Eastern European staff (some of whom went above and beyond to be extra helpful with the older guests) were hideous, just the quality of the awful breakfast in an overheated room. I was glad to escape.  

Criccieth Castle in the morning light (Craig Ddu in the background)
 The sun was shining. It took me a minute to realise what it was! I retraced my steps of yesterday around Criccieth in order to see everything again in the sun. The castle looked beautiful.  

looking back at the castle
 The sea was rougher than 3 weeks earlier when I was playing tag rugby on Criccieth beach (and went for a dip in the sea) with my family. It was not inviting today, even in the sunshine.  

flooding everywhere
 At the end of the beach the path skirts around the small hillock, called Craig Ddu (black rock). A beautiful view along Black Rock Sands and across the Afon Glaslyn estuary to Morfa Harlech panned out in front of me. 

it’s windy on the beach
 I dropped down onto Black Rock Sands and walked along enjoying the sound of the sea. There were lots of beautiful shells on the beach.  

beautiful, whole shells
whole spiral shells of all different colours
 The beach runs out as it rounds the corner alongside the Afon Glaslyn and the path takes to the (not very high) cliff top around to Borth-y-Gest. This section was stunning and I felt lucky to do it in good weather.  

stunning small beaches along the estuary at Borth-y-Gest
looking back to the tip of the Afon Glaslyn estuary

The views of Traeth Bach (the estuary low lying land) and the mountains beyond were beautiful. 

Looking up the estuary to where the 2 rivers, the Glaslyn and the Dwyryd, meet
 I stopped at the only open cafe on the front in Borth-y-Gest. The clouds were fast approaching but I was desperate for the loo so ordering a coffee was the best option. This small outpost on the edge of Porthmadog was once a shipbuilding port; building the ships that transported slate from the local mines (Blaenau Ffestiniog is just down the road) to the UK and Europe. It was only after William Alexander Maddocks built the cob embankment (similar to the one at Malltraeth, Anglesey) in 1811 that shipbuilding moved to Porthmadog. From 1839-1890 Porthmadog was the shipbuilding capital of N Wales and was known as the ‘Tyneside’ of N Wales with >1000 ships using the harbour each year. In the 1830s it vied with Holyhead to become the main port to Ireland; it lost and now the harbour seems quite small. On the plus side, the area is much more beautiful without the big ships.  
Dinllaen Harbour and Porthmadog’s beautiful slate buildings
 I stopped at Dinllaen Harbour, Porthmadog, to admire all the slate houses before walking across the cob. Porthmadog is the start of the Ffestiniog narrow gauge heritage railway (built 1830s) and the footpath across the cob is next to the track, overlooking the road and Traeth Mawr (the low land containing the Afon Glaslyn that the cob has rescued from tidal flooding). 

a railway, a footpath and a road along the cob
 The sky had darkened and it started to rain so I had to break out the waterproofs.  

the sky darkened and the colours became vivid
is that a slate quarry in the distance?
The path climbed the hill on the small headland at the mouth of the Glaslyn and Dwyryd rivers.  

looking down on the Afon Dwyryd
 I skirted around Portmeirion, the village made famous by “The Prisoner” tv series, and on to Minffordd and Penrhyndeudraeth before crossing the new road bridge spanning the Afon Dwyryd.  

Portmeirion across the Afon Dwyryd
looking back across the river to Penrhyndeudraeth
  The wind had picked up and the last section of my walk, along the sea defences separating the tidal marshland from the farmland, was hard work. I was almost blown into the barbed wire fence; thank goodness for walking poles to keep me upright! I gave up the fight at Talsarnau and caught the train to Barmouth (trains are 2hrs apart so
I didn’t want to walk further and wait until around 5pm, when it’s dark, for the next one). 
the view across the salt marsh along the Dwyryd estuary
 Barmouth looked closed. I think the old town looks lovely with its 3, 4 and 5 storey slate buildings. Conversely, I think the part that caters to the tourists is pretty awful with its tacky shops and fairground; a real juxtaposition.  

Old Barmouth, set into the hill
 My guest house was at the end of Marine Drive: a row of guest houses by the sea front. It was clean but very jaded, fitting in with the town. I walked through the town to The Last Inn for a pint and some dinner. The old, stone beer-cooling pool has been turned into a fish pond. The majority of the customers had a familiar brummie accent so I felt right at home.  

today I entered Snowdonia when I crossed the Dwyryd

4 thoughts on “Day 221 Around the Tremadoc Bay Estuary

  1. Zephyrine November 25, 2015 / 10:39 pm

    Persistently intrepid! Stay safe… Z x


  2. Chris F November 26, 2015 / 10:19 am

    Beautiful beaches and picturesque seaside towns, just fabulous then you hope off for a pint and ironically its the cast of Pipkins conversing and the Welsh looking on bemused at the strange incomprehensible tongue they can hear……….on on Juice.


  3. Val K November 26, 2015 / 11:51 am

    What happy memories I have of arriving at Porthmadog and running for the train to take us to
    Ffestiniog. The train ride was delightful, we had our little westie Georgie with us and I have a
    Great picture of her sitting up at the little table enjoying the scenery. Ffestiniog we didn’t like
    so much, everything was very grey and depressing. Nothing was open it was like a ghost town, we ended up having a sandwich in a little hairdressers who also did coffee etc. We felt it was a great commercial loss to the town with all those hungry people coming off the train at regular
    intervals and nowhere for tourists to eat!!! vAl xx


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