WEEK 29 – Llandudno to Holyhead, Anglesey

  

96 miles walked

(total 1,632 miles walked)

A wonderful start to the week at Llandudno and Great Orme’s Head before disaster struck. Getting my old rucksack back showed me just how comfortable and light my new one is. I’ve sent it back to the US and should get a replacement.  

 Anglesey has a well marked coast path and generally I’ve enjoyed walking it. The island is more low-lying in the South and rises to cliffs in the North. The main bugbear I have had this week has been with the kissing gates that are liberally sprinkled along the coast path. If you are Quasimodo or wearing a large rucksack then it is difficult to fit in many of them. I have found myself significantly slowed down by having to remove my rucksack or climb over these gates.  

one of the best kissing gates – more like art!
 The weather this week has been very mild and I am still wearing shorts and a t-shirt. There are also lots of blackberries and horse flowers still about. Despite the warm temperatures the ground is permanently wet and the fields are muddy. I feel that my decision no longer to camp has been vindicated, as it would be impossible to dry out my tent and all my belongings would be damp. 

I have struggled to get wifi access much of this week, which has put me behind on my blog. My habits are changing now I’m staying in B&Bs; bigger breakfasts have probably influenced fewer cafe stops and smaller evening meals.  

  

 

Day 210 Soaking Wet Shoes, Scones and Sunburn!

Sunday 1 November 2015

Cemlyn Bay to Holyhead

18 miles

The Beach Hut Guest House

Is it really November? Today was one of the hottest and sweatiest walks I’ve done since April. I found out in the evening that Ceredigion in mid-Wales reached 22.4C and broke the UK November temperature record. I think they should have had thermometers on NW Anglesey!

Cemlyn Bay in the morning sun
  
Cemlyn Bay
 Barry kindly gave me a lift down to Cemlyn Bay for an 8 am start. It was already warm enough for just shorts and a t-shirt and the sun was trying to burn through the morning mist. The sea was calm and beautiful in the strange morning light and the Oystercatchers and Curlews were out in force.   

Lovely little bays – havens for waders
 The walk to Carmel Head was up and down, across field of cows and over fern-clad headlands. Despite the sun and warmth the grass was wet all day and within an hour my boots were soaked through.  

The cliff path, Middle Mouse in the background
 Although it was misty I could easily see West Mouse and, further out, The Skerries. Both islands had lighthouses. There were also 3 tall stacks on the mainland: one chimney and two pyramid-like white stacks. I don’t what they were for but they did seem to be in line with the West Mouse lighthouse.  

I can see The Skerries, and 3 strange towers
  
3 towers on the cliff top
 I rounded Carmel Head and nearly walked right into a Buzzard sat in the grass. I saw several Buzzards and Kestrels today. I could also see just how turbulent the water is at the NW tip of Anglesey.  

Looking down the West coast of Anglesey
 I reached Church Bay in time for early elevenses at the excellent Wavecrest Cafe. Top marks for their incredible scones and good timing by me as today was the last day of opening in 2015. (I suspect closed cafes might be a theme from now on.) 

What a good looking scone!
 Refreshed, I carried on in the heat and the haze. I left the ups and downs of the North behind and came across more sandy bays. Some people were in the sea – paddling, paddle boarding and canoeing.  

It’s a hot and sunny 1st of November!
 I could see Holyhead Mountain through the haze and the big ferries coming and going.  

Looking across Holyhead Bay to Holyhead Mountain and a ferry in port
 Another of Thomas Telford’s masterpieces: The Stanley Embankment, links Anglesey to Holy Island, carrying 2 main roads (A55 and A5) and a railway line. No wonder it was very noisy crossing it.  

Walking across the Stanley Embankment to Holy Island
 I walked through Penrhos Coastal Park, which is on land owned by the Aluminium Smelting Works, and walked into Holyhead. 

I think fairies live in this tree in Penrhos Park
 Although this town is on a small island off Anglesey, it is Anglesey’s largest town and a busy port.   

Approaching Holyhead
 I walked to my hotel and there was a notice stuck to the door telling me that Dave was out buying bread and milk and would be back soon. I thought I’d earned a beer so I went into the Kings Arms next door for a pint and a packet of crisps. It was only 4.30pm so I probably shouldn’t have been surprised by the state of the very few clientele: seriously drunk. This including the barman who could barely stand or hold a conversation, though he kept trying the latter. I learned that Welsh men are great in bed and Richie (who came into the pub for some gravy!) only lives round the corner if I fancy it. I didn’t stay long.  

 

Day 209 North Anglesey and Wylfa Head

Saturday 31 October 2015 (Happy birthday Evelyn!)

Bull Bay to Cemlyn

10 miles

Barbara and Barry’s house (AirB&B)

Breakfast was big and I surprised myself by how easily I ate it; the last 2 days had been hard walking. I had a late start so I could catch up on my blog. 

I caught the bus back to Bull Bay and set off on today’s shorter walk. Within an hour it was raining, a fine drizzle that came with a most: a muzzle. It was still really warm and humid so I decided there was no point wearing waterproofs and I just got wet.  

Looking back at Bull Bay
 Today was a proper, hilly cliff top walk, along wet, slippery tracks. I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately there were no great views to speak of because of the weather but at least I could see Middle Mouse island for most of the day. Opposite Middle Mouse is the small headland Dinas Gynfor, Wales’ most Northerly mainland point. There is an old, vandalised monument here but I don’t know what it was for.  

The monument at Dinas Gynfor, Wales’ most Northerly point
 No sooner had I left Bull Bay than I spotted a pod of dolphins swimming near to the cliffs. I tried to keep pace with them and they stopped at a point and started to circle. I watched for a while and then had to carry on.  

Porth Wen brickworks
 I came across the Porth Wen Brickworks, which closed in 1924, and the 19th Century China Clay Works at Porth Llanlleiana. Both were quite impressive nestled in little bays.  

Another view of the brickworks and Porth Wen
  
Porth Llanlleiana china clay works
 Around lunchtime I arrived back in Cemaes Bay and stopped for a big lunch, and to dry off, in the deli/cafe. Although Cemaes is a village, it seems to have more facilities than Amlwch, which is a town. It also has St Patrick’s Bell in the bay, put there because Patrick was saved in a nearby shipwreck.  

St Patrick’s Bell in Cemaes Bay
 Wylfa Head sticks out and protects Cemaes Bay, and Wylfa Nuclear Power Station overshadows it. Apparently a new one is being built soon and Barbara and Barry’s house will disappear under the earthworks.  

Wylfa Head
  
Wylfa Nuclear Power Station
 I ended up walking less mileage than I thought because the map on AirB&B placed Barbara and Barry’s house a mile and a half away from its actual location. Lucky I phoned up for directions before I passed it. Barbara didn’t see this as a problem because it’s only 5 minutes away…in a car! So I was stuck in the countryside watching Saturday night tv with 2 strangers. They had cheese and biscuits for tea and, fortunately, invited me to join them. Good job I had anticipated a lack of food and ate a big lunch!  

 

Day 208 NE Anglesey Cliffs and Amlwch 

Friday 30 October 2015

Moelfre to Bull Bay

19 miles

Harbour Hotel, Cemaes

It was raining when I woke up and I had a long day ahead. I had a big breakfast and decided I could wait until 8.30 at the latest to leave (the forecast was for the rain to clear but the sky was quite dark). I donned my waterproof and headed out. After 20 minutes the rain stopped and gradually the day brightened.    

A row of fishermen’s cottages in Moelfre
 Moelfre has a rather smart-looking lifeboat station and heritage centre; it’s proud of its lifeboat.  

Lifeboat sculpture
Bryn Wylea (Look-Out) sculpture on the headland
 I better understood this pride when I passed the memorial to the 450 souls lost in 1859 when the Royal Charter sailing cutter was shipwrecked near to the town.  

Memorial to the loss of the Royal Charter in 1859
 Today’s walk spent a lot of time on the cliff top, the path going up and down. It was great, but hard work. First I had to get around the large and beautiful beaches in Dulas Bay.  

Dulas Bay beaches
 I had to go inland quite a way to cross the Afon Goch and there was plenty of marshland around the edge of Traeth Dulas (Dulas Beach).  

Walkingb around Traeth Dulas
 As I walked up through Dulas village I saw a couple of red squirrels; compensation for not seeing any in Formby! Anglesey has eradicated the grey variety and only has red ones.  

Ynys Dulas, complete with tower; Great Orme in the distance
  
Stunning views as the cloud lifted
 The cliff top walk to Point Lynas was stunning. Great views across to the mainland and beautiful Autumn colours on the cliffs. Also, lots of cows and pheasants! 

Point Lynas
  
Lolking back on a hilly walk and beautiful views
 I rounded the NE corner of Anglesey and saw the loveliest bay for swimming. If only I was still carrying my swimming costume! 

Fancy a swim? Porth Eilian
 I headed along the N coast, opposite the small rocky isle of East Mouse, to Amlwch, Wales’ most Northerly town.  

Gorse and ferns all along the cliff top
 Amlwch’s history is based on copper mining at Parys Mountain just behind it. At one point in the 18th Century this was the most productive copper mine in the world, producing copper for coins and copper-bottomed boats to keep the Royal Navy afloat. Amlwch Port itself was looked like it hadn’t changed in centuries. I didn’t have time to go in the Copper Kingdom Centre, but it looked like it had an interesting story to tell. This place was stuck in the last century (or maybe the one before).  

Amlwch Port
 Just around the Cliff was Bull Bay, where I caught the bus to the cheapest hotel I could find, along the coast at Cemaes. The hotel was fine and in fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the standard of the food. My pumpkin soup was a particular highlight.  

pumpkin soup for Halloween

Day 207 Red Wharf Bay

Thursday 29 October 2015

Beaumaris to Moelfre

19 miles

Ty Dderw Country Inn

I awoke to rain; however, by 8.30 the rain had stopped and I set off on a damp, grey day. I was walking along the part of Anglesey Coast Path that should have some of the best views of the mainland, all the way back along the N Wales coast; not today.  

Penmon Abbey and Dovecot
  
Inside the Dovecot
 I passed by Penmon Priory and Dovecot and carried on to Trwyn Du, the most Easterly point of Anglesey. Immediately opposite is Puffin Island; a great place to visit in puffin season.  

Puffin Island
 The path headed uphill and through fields with an elevated position that would give fantastic views on a better day.   

Looking back at Puffin Island and the mainland beyond
 
Not great views of the mainland mountains
 The path wound around Bwrdd Arthur hill and then dropped down to the edge of Red Wharf Bay. The road I descended had a 30% sign and I’d like to try it on my bike sometime.  

Approaching the very steep hill down to Red Wharf Bay
 It was lunchtime and I stopped at the car park and ate the leftover bara brith and Welsh cakes from yesterday’s Welsh tea, washed down with green tea from my small flask. I really enjoyed my little picnic.  

Duck boards across the marshy ground
 Red Wharf Bay is huge and I started my walk around it at high tide. There were so many waders hanging around the shoreline. I even saw a kingfisher flying around the rocks today.  

Red Wharf Bay shoreline, Bwrdd Arthur hill in the background
 At points around the Bay it was tricky skirting the shoreline, along the shingle or through the marshland. Thank goodness for my walking poles as they were the only things that kept me upright on too many occasions.  

Looking across the bay to Red Wharf
 I walked past Benllech, where there were quite a few people out walking on the beach, and along the coast to another little beach, Traeth Bychan.  

Benllech Beach
Looking back at Benllech
 From here it was just a bit further to Moelfre. A long and lovely day.  

 

Day 206 Over the Bridge to Anglesey

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Bangor to Beaumaris, Anglesey

8 miles

The Liverpool Arms

Another fine day. Esta and Alan very kindly drove me back to Bangor in the morning; yet another drive along the A55, a road I’m getting to know, with all the beautiful Autumn colours of the trees on show. We arrived late morning and went for an early lunch at the end of Bangor Pier.  

Bangor Pier and Porth Penrhyn from Beaumaris
 We had a Welsh Tea – tea with welsh cakes and bara brith. I was packed off with the leftovers as a picnic.  

Esta and Alan on Bangor Pier
 I said goodbye again and headed the short distance to the Menai Suspension Bridge. It is a good-looking bridge designed by Thomas Telford and opened in 1826 to complete the London to Holyhead road (the A5).  

The Menai Bridge
Another view of the spectacular Menai Bridge
 Crossing the Menai Straits meant I was now on the Isle of Anglesey, with its 125 mile long coast path.  

 The view from the bridge was one to be savoured.  

A great view up the Menai Straits towards Bangor
so beautiful in the sunshine
 Once I was out of the aptly-named town next to the bridge, Menai Bridge, the coast path followed the minor roads along slightly higher ground. This afforded me some good views across to Snowdonia, in particular up the Nant Francon Valley to Tryfan. I did also see Snowdon. 

Looking towards Tryfan
  
Snowdon
 Beaumaris is a smart, touristy town and I arrived just as the sun was setting.  

The view from the hill above Beaumaris towards Puffin Island
approaching Beaumaris
 I wandered around to see the castle, built in 1295 by Edward I and considered the most technically perfect of his 4 North Wales castles.  

Beaumaris Castle
  
An archway in Beaumaris that apparently hosts the largest single-hinged door in the world
 The view from the end of Beaumaris’ small pier as the sun set was quite lovely. I was able to linger and enjoy it as I was staying on the high street. The room was adequate and I didn’t have to leave the premises to get some dinner.  

Sunset on Beaumaris Pier
  
Looking the other way
 

Day 205 Rucksack Change

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Rest Day

Esta and Alan’s house

A day spent waiting for my old rucksack to arrive in the post and hanging out with family. It was nice to see my cousin again and not so good for my ego to be soundly beaten at Monopoly by his 7 year old son. 

Parcelforce delivered my rucksack and I remembered just how much heavier than my new one it is. Time to repack and do some planning. 

Day 204 An Easy Walk to Bangor

Monday 26 October 2015

Llanfairfechan to Bangor

10 miles

Esta and Alan’s house, nr Chester

Leaving Y Gelli guest house I made my way back to the coast just past Llanfairfechan. Sandwiched between the sea and the main road and rail line is a fantastic nature reserve: Traeth Lafan. It is a stretch of intertidal mud and sand with hides around it and this morning, in the beautiful Autumn sunshine, there were lots of birds. I saw plenty of oystercatchers, egrets and curlews amongst other things.  

Looking along the Menai Straits towards Bangor
  
Traeth Lafan Nature Reserve in the sunshine
 It was a lovely walk alongside Lavan Sands at high tide, although at one point I did have to clamber over rocks because the tide was so high.  

high tide (Great Orme visible in the background)
 Penrhyn Castle loomed ever closer and I was forced inland to get around its huge estate.  

Penrhyn Castle
 I walked past Tal-y-bont and then hit the dismantled railway line that tracks alongside the River Cegin to Porth Penrhyn.  

A fish out of water by the River Cegin
  
Porth Penrhyn
 I was now at Bangor and from here I had a pretty good view of some of Snowdonia’s mountains not that far away.  

The mountains behind Bangor
 I walked past the pier and arranged to meet up with my ex-work colleague, who happened to be shopping in Bangor, for a coffee. Elise picked me up and we drove across to Menai Bridge. It was nice to catch up and I arranged to stay with her when I reach Rhosneigr.  

Bangor Pier
  Elise dropped me back at Bangor train station and I caught a train to Llandudno Junction, where I had arranged to meet Esta and Alan. They had very kindly agreed to put me up (again) and take delivery of my old rucksack so I could repack and carry on. 

Day 203 Beautiful Llandudno and a Broken Rucksack

Sunday 25 October 2015 (first day of GMT)

Llandudno to Llanfairfechan

12 miles

Y Gelli Guest House

I was dropped off in Llandudno yesterday and what a lovely seaside town it is. All the grand seafront buildings were nicely painted and looked well-kept; I could not find a single shabby frontage.  

Looking across the pier to Llandudno sea front
 The promenade is the widest I’ve seen and there is lots to do, including skiing?! (There is a cable car that heads up to the ski slope!)  

The widest promenade in Britain? (Great Orme in the background)
 With 2 small children in tow I walked along the pier in the rain (avoiding the amusement arcade) and then, when the sun came out, we took the tram to the top of the hill on Great Orme. The views were fantastic: back to the town, Conwy Bay and across to Anglesey.  

The Great Orme tram

The view down on Llandudno from the tram
 I stayed in a B&B a couple of streets back from the front and this morning walked back along it to Great Orme’s Head. A sunny Sunday morning and there were lots of people out strolling along the promenade. Small dinghies were being prepared on the water’s edge and the pier was alive.  

Looking back along the sea front to Little Orme
  
Llandudno pier
 I walked around Great Orme via Marine Drive, which is a toll road. I was passed by several cyclists and also a road train that was full. I passed them all again at the Rest and Be Thankful cafe halfway around the head.  

Walking along Marine Drive around Great Orme’s Head
  
Heading towards Llandudno Junction on the River Conwy
 Climbing is a popular activity on these cliffs and they have a large, rounded look about them.  

Big caverns on Great Orme
 The view was lovely, the sea green and the sun shining…time for something to go wrong. My rucksack broke. It could have done this a week ago when I would have had a week, and help, to sort it out. But no, it waited until today. I had noticed a problem with one of the fixings a while ago and had tried to ameliorate the issue. It had worked until now but this break meant a fixing rod became detached.  

There were goats on the cliff!
 I spent a while trying to fashion a temporary fix so that at least I could continue to carry the rucksack properly on my back and then spent ages pondering my next move as I walked. 

I continued walking to Llandudno Junction and across the Bridge over the Conwy estuary into Conwy town. The town is on the banks of the estuary and a line of hills lies behind it. Conwy Castle is rather splendid and guards the mouth of the river.  

Conwy Castle guarding the mouth of the river
 
About to cross the bridge to Conwy
  Today there was a food festival going on and the town was packed with people. I had a quick wander through it and then went in a empty tea room for some dinner and a re-think.  

Conwy food festival
 Firstly, I had wasted too much time to walk all the way to Llanfairfechan before dark, which would be just after 5 pm. I decided to catch the train – it ran next to the coast path anyway. Secondly, after a few phone calls my plan was to get my old rucksack sent to my Aunt’s house near Chester (after recent experiences getting it sent to a Post Office is out of the question) and I would divert back there to collect it so at least I could carry on. What a faff.  

Not sure if this is true but there was a queue to pay 50p to visit
 I wandered along the bank of the Conwy estuary watching the waders enjoy the pickings at low tide and then back through Conwy town to catch the train 2 stops to Llanfairfechan.  

Conwy harbour
 Thanks to the owners of the guest house for providing me with tape and tie wraps to temporarily fix my rucksack.