Friday 13 November 2015
Harlech to Barmouth
12 miles walked (+ train)
Mum’s house, Birmingham
I had planned to stay in Barmouth for 2 nights; however, the forecast was for two storms (Abigail and Barney) to hit the North West, including N Wales, within the next few days. Having spent the last week battling rain and high winds I decided if it was going to get worse I should take a break. I worked out I could get a cheap train ticket to my mum’s in Birmingham (no wonder Barmouth is full of Brummies) and get home from there. Plan made.
The owner of the guest house was sympathetic and didn’t charge me for the 2nd night that I had booked. I packed everything up and caught the 10.30 train back up the coast to Harlech. It wasn’t raining but it was very windy (50+ mph winds forecast again) and the wind was cold. Today was the first day of my trip that I walked in trousers (instead of shorts) and a jumper.
The path from Talsarnau to Harlech cuts across Morfa Harlech, the spit of dunes and low-lying land jutting out into the Afon Glaslyn estuary. Starting at Harlech meant I missed this bit out, saving myself slip-sliding across muddy fields and some exposure to a fierce headwind. Instead, I had a bit more time to admire Harlech Castle on the inland cliff overlooking Morfa Harlech and Tremadoc Bay. It was built by King Edward I around 1289 and still looks impressive.
I walked along Harlech’s wonderful sandy beach. I imagined I was walking in a cappuccino as the extreme wind had whipped up a sea foam that extended the tide line by about 20m.
At the end of the beach I crossed the railway line and headed up the cliff to the road to Llandanwg.
Once in Llandanwg I was a stone’s throw, across the Afon Artro estuary, from Shell Island (Mochras); a place where I have camped many times.
To get to Shell Island I still had to walk quite a way inland, through a field of cows, across a small bridge and then down the road from Llanbedr to the beach at Mochras.
I passed Britain’s possible future spaceport at what was once RAF Llanbedr and followed the man-made raised path across the reedy marshland that borders Mochras and can cut it off from traffic at high tide.
The wind was ripping across the large and magnificent sand dunes and I was forced to don my sunglasses in order to open my eyes. A lot of grass had disappeared under the blowing sand and it was painful trying to get to the beach; I was well and truly sand-whipped. Fortunately the sand on the beach was wet so I was spared further sand-blasting.
The tide was in and, unusually for this beach, I didn’t see many shells. I only saw one other person and she was fully clothed even though we were both traversing the naturist section of the beach. No strange looking naked men hiding in the dunes today thank goodness.
I have previously run all the way along the Morfa Dyffryn beach to Barmouth; however, the beach does run out in places and one is forced to scramble across sea defence rocks. Today I followed the coast path off the beach and in to the little town of Tal-y-bont, crossing the Afon Ysgethin. From here the path follows the main road into Barmouth so I decided to catch the early train from Tal-y-bont, which afforded better sea views than walking and would get me to my mum’s just after 7pm, two hours earlier than the next train.
The train took me through Barmouth and further down the coast, all in beautiful sunshine. The sun only came out after I boarded the train but I knew it was the calm before the storm.