Castles, bridges and bird-watching

Our last airbnb stop had extremely limited internet service and so this is a catch up of our last five days.  

Tuesday 5th June 2018

Another back to front walk today – we travelled by bus to Bangor and walked back from there to Llanfairfechan (getting to love this place, even pronouncing the name with a roll of the tongue)!  We made the decision to start from Menai Bridge as this is where we were going to be relocating to tomorrow – thought it would keep things neat but as it turned out it added a little too much onto today’s trek – not our best day!!


Starting off at Menai Bridge

To be honest I wasn’t really feeling it from the start today – I have an ongoing knee problem which is getting more painful each day + I have a ridiculously large blister on my big toe!  On top of this my stomach was in knots as Alice was taking her driving test this morning and I was waiting for the phone call, as it got later I began to suspect the worst – I had no idea what time the test was.  Being the helicopter parent that I am I wanted to be there doing it for her, taking on her anxiety!!  So it was great relief when the happy message came through that she had passed.  I did perk up a little then I must say …. and when I was struggling towards the end it was Alice’s success that kept me physically moving.

Some parts of the walk were absolutely beautiful today – a fair amount of woodland but coastal views too.  The coastal path goes quite a way inland in this area as the King of the Castle – Penrhyn Castle that is – does not allow ‘ramblers’ through his land (fair enough I guess).  What today’s walk did involve though was numerous sets of steep steps, up and down and a few big hills – so we were getting back into last year’s territory of strenuous walking.  Plus for a large part of it we were battling against a north easterly headwind.



So why do it you may ask!!?  Oh we love it BUT today was just hard and it was too many miles for the mixture of terrains we had to cover.  When the path took us back to the actual coast we had to walk over pebble beaches and slippery seaweed rocks!  And the whole day we did not pass one cafe or pub – not even an ice-cream van!  We hadn’t taken lunch as it had not been our intention to walk so many miles.  By the time we hobbled (well it was mainly me hobbling!) into Llanfairfechan we had been walking for nearly 5 hours without a break.  So, not great, but at least Alice passed her driving test – yay!!!  We enjoyed our picnic lunch (which was waiting for us in the car) before heading back to our beautiful haven of an airbnb in Deganwy.


Beautiful Llanfairfechan

And later, sitting on our balcony in glorious sunshine, enjoying a delicious dinner and wine, the world suddenly felt good again.  I had almost decided to not carry on with this mad project of ours …. but tomorrow’s another day!

Wednesday 6th June 2018

Today we had to leave our fabulous Deganwy airbnb – this has been our favourite stop so far!  Tony, the host, is just the most lovely man and he has a great big black fluffy Newfoundland dog called Max who is adorable.  We opted for a ‘no walking day’ today after yesterday’s misadventure … and so that we could have a leisurely transition to our new abode.   Steve started the day off with a little run as you do!

We spent a little time in Conwy before heading out to Menai, mooching around the castle and the shops.  The town is highly populated by the castle birds – jackdaws.




Our trusty sat nav then guided us to our our final resting place for this little trip away.  The house was neatly tucked away in a tiny terrace but with amazing views over the Menai Bridge and Straits.  We were greeted by the formidable landlady, an ex-showgirl/teacher who was equipped with a particularly serious face and straightforward speech. We were informed of the house rules immediately and it turned out our bedroom had no views over the Menai Bridge because apparently we needed the bigger room … and it seems this was not to be questioned!!  It all became ‘a bridge too far!’


Menai Bridge – a view from the house, but not from our bedroom!!

We unpacked our belongings for the last time anyway and then took ourselves out for the evening.  We’d decided to try our hand at bird-watching (is that what it’s come to!!?) and so joined a group of Bill Oddy types from the RSPB to walk around a nature reserve.  They were actually the most welcoming and friendly bunch of people and didn’t mind at all that we weren’t experienced twitchers – they enthused in sharing their sightings.  I was introduced to many new birds including redshank, black backed gull, lapwing and shelduck – oh yes, I think I may have the bug!


The RSPB nature reserve in Conwy

Thursday 7th June 2018

Decided to have another crack at walking today –  a fresh start.  Caernarfon was our destination and it was to be 9 or 10 miles.  Turned out to be a fabulous walk – at the very start we had to walk across the Menai Bridge which is pretty high, managed to keep our nerve.  From then on it was all pretty straightforward, quite a bit of road walking but also coastal, woodland, open fields, villages, harbours – loved it.






Y Felinheli

We had an interesting walk through Treborth Botanical Gardens and then later, whilst walking in dark woodland, we stumbled across a mausoleum – it would make an incredible setting for a horror film – we spooked ourselves out just walking past in the daylight.


Spooky mausoleum

10 miles of steady walking brought us into the town of Caenarfon … and what a pretty town with its castle and busy square.


Caernarfon Castle


Caernarfon Square

In the evening we went out into Bangor for a meal and then onto a music venue called the Sky Room where we watched an amazing young Canadian band called Boxcar Boys – fantastic musicians.


The Boxcar Boys (2 boys and 2 girls!)

Friday 8th June 2018

Still suffering a little with injury so decided to explore some of Anglesey by car today which was great.  Started off at Red Wharf Bay and then drove on to Beaumaris – another town, another castle.


Beaumaris Castle




Looking across from Beaumaris, Anglesey to the Welsh mainland

Saturday 9th June 2018

Felt surprisingly bright for a Saturday morning (no wine last night!) so set off almost-enthusiastically for the Parkrun.  It was at Penrhyn Castle – although the ‘King of the Castle’ does not accept ramblers, he does accept runners on a Saturday morning.  As usual the course was described as relatively flat – they lied – well, presumably it was flat relative to other parts of Wales but I can tell you it was hilly!  But we did it and enjoyed the marvellous setting of the castle.


Later in the morning we set off on a walk to Beaumaris – an easy 3 or 4 miles.  So easy in fact that when we got there and refreshed ourselves with lunch, we decided to walk on another 4 miles … to Penmon Point.  The second half of the walk was not so easy as there was a lot of walking along shingle beaches and some pretty big hills.



Arriving in pretty Beaumaris


Just leaving Beaumaris – this is the best type of coastal walking




Arriving at Penmon Point

It turned out that Penmon Point was pretty remote – managed eventually to get a taxi to come and pick us up … didn’t fancy the 8 mile walk home.

Sunday 10th June 2018

Our last full day in Wales so decided to end this leg of our walking trip with a short stroll to … Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch !!!!  And we have the signpost to prove it!  Another beautiful walk, not far and not too strenuous.  Walked through a very pretty churchyard at one point and the exit led us onto a beach with … lo and behold … a statue of Nelson.  The sign on the front of the statue read “England expects that every man will do his duty” – bet they love that in Wales – probably why you have to clamber round on the rocks to read it.


The Menai Bridge, just opposite our airbnb


The Britannia Bridge, on the Menai Straits


Admiral Nelson – just what you expect to find on the beach!


Baa Baa Brown Sheep


This is where we need to pick up the path next time


That place with the really long name!

And so ends our coastal walking for now.  We will be back to finish off Anglesey and hopefully the rest of Wales.  We’ve absolutely loved The Wirral, Chester, North Wales and Anglesey and it’s good to have been back out rambling.  Thanks for joining us. xx

Loving Deganwy and Conwy … and all things Welsh

Sunday 3rd June 2018

Today’s planned walk involved walking from Conwy to Llanfairfechan (I know – quite a mouthful) but just to mix it up a bit we decided to do it in reverse – there was a reason for this but I won’t go into long winded details!! So we were up and out keenly from our accommodation in Deganwy and caught the train to Llanfairfechan (pronouncing the name when buying the tickets was interesting).  Whilst waiting at the station all the announcements were in Welsh which was lovely – really makes you feel like you’re abroad!!  We’d also been informed that Llanfairfechan was a request stop so we had to make sure we informed the guard in advance – luckily it was just a 3 carriage train and we tracked her down.  If we’d been catching it on the way back we would have had to flag it down from the platform like you do buses – so funny!!!

The coastal path signs in Llanfairfechan tried to send us up some rather high mountain paths but clever old Steve had found some new alternative lower level paths … and you can guess which option we chose!?  I’m sure it was incredibly scenic from up the top but we still enjoyed being nearer to the sea and avoiding the climb.  The downside was being close to a busy road but, hey ho, you make your choices!!


This is the mountain that the coastal path signs kindly tried to introduce us to!


We chose the new alternative route – through the base of the mountain

It was a relatively easy route today, a few hills but on the whole flat and manageable.  Some stunning views of Great Orme – it had been pretty shrouded in mist when we walked it a few days ago.


Great Orme – a beautiful walk if ever you’re in Llandudno

As we approached Conwy we had a bit of traipsing through sand dunes, alongside the golf course.  From this lovely beach we had great views of Deganwy, our current residence!


Deganwy – our airbnb is situated amongst the trees just right of middle, at the back.

We had a little rest on the beach and tucked into our cheese and cucumber sandwiches, before calling an end to our 8 mile trek and heading back to base.

The weather again today was so amazing … we sat out on our balcony and enjoyed a couple of cold beers in the sun – a real holiday feel.   And, being Sunday, Steve got his chef hat on and produced an incredible roast beef dinner – we may be away from home but we can still stick to traditions!  Absolutely delicious, as was the wine purchased in a wine shop in Rhos-on-Sea.


This is the walk from our back garden gate in Deganwy


Views from the top of Deganwy


Watching the sunset over Deganwy


Monday 4th June 2018

As mentioned before, Steve has committed himself to another marathon and so this morning he set off to fit in a ‘long run.’  I opted for a more leisurely TV catch up.

Later, with the sun out in full force, we spent some time on the beach followed by a look around Conwy with its stunning castles and quayside areas.  Liking this more leisurely approach to our rambling.




Conwy Castle



A very relaxing day all in all.  Back to some ‘rambling’ tomorrow.

A Welsh room with a view

Friday 1st June 2018

We were up and out early this morning – oh so keen!  Our plan for today was to walk to Llandudno and, depending on what this walk had involved in terms of terrain and time, perhaps walk on to Conwy.  The weather was dull … and in fact got mistier and mistier as we moved around the coast.  We were all geared up for eventualities though and the waterproofs certainly got put to the test at a couple of points during the day.

So, parked up in Colwyn Bay and headed off along the promenade and into Rhos-on-Sea, all very pretty seaside areas.  As we hit Penrhyn the coastal path took us onto a pebble beach (not so great for our old knee joints) and then, finally we were presented with our first big hill climb – oh joy!  The signs had let us down a little at this point – we’d searched other low level options but it seemed like the only way was up.  So up we went and there was one of our Wales coastal path signs at the top – yay, we were back on track!

But then we lost the signs again and had to blindly dodge our way across a few sheep-filled fields, battling through an abundance of stinging nettles and climb over locked gates until we found our way back onto the path.  Steve was so excited he fell off the gate into the undergrowth!!

From here it was all downhill into Llandudno and some more promenade walking, still heavily shrouded in mist.  We loved the feel of this town, pretty Georgian houses and old hotels beautifully presented – both pebble and sand beaches, something for everyone.



As we walked around the bay and up the hill we had views of the pier with its array of amusements – obviously a popular family resort.


From there the path took us into the Great Orme Country Park – a prominent limestone headland.  It was a fair old climb but so worth it for its magnificent views, despite the persistent mist.  At points you felt so high up with very steep drops to your right – but they had kindly provided a sturdy stone wall all around the headland to break any falls!




At the base of the Great Orme the rain started to fall heavily so we headed for the nearest tea shop and feasted on Welsh rarebit and gallons of tea.  After this sustenance we continued on our trail and followed the misty path through to Deganwy and then onto Conwy – both exceptionally picturesque places.   We will be staying in this area for the next four nights, from tomorrow, so we’re looking forward to exploring all the many attractions.


As we had walked across the bridge in Conwy the mist was so thick that we could hardly see the views on either side.  Even Conwy castle was obscured – not sure why people had still climbed it.  But as we walked through the city wall and came out the other side – it was like walking into another day … full clear sunshine!  It was like saying … “Tonight Matthew I’m going to be ….” and walking through dry ice into another time!



By this time we had completed 14 miles so felt justified in running for a bus that happened to come along – perfect timing.

And after a little recovery snooze back at base, we headed up the hill to the White Lion in Llanelian, where we had a delicious meal and a fun evening with Fran and Andy – some new chums we made on our recent trip to Thailand.  It was great to see them and we exchanged many travelling stories.  We had also met up at the cricket in Australia last December – and it now seems we’ll be meeting up again in Sri Lanka when England are out there to play later in the year – happy days.



Saturday 2nd June 2018

Why do I always have too many wines the night before a Parkrun!!  We were having a ‘no walk day’ today but we still inflicted this 5k run on ourselves at some unreasonable hour in the morning after the night before!!  It was a beautiful course actually and we both did OK – survived … and felt great once it was over!

Then we had to check out of our gorgeously comfy house in Old Colwyn, say goodbye to our fabulous hosts and head to our new airbnb in Deganwy.  We stopped off for an amazing breakfast in Fortes in Rhos-on-Sea on the way – it was like stepping back in time – but the food was delicious and we would highly recommend it if you ever find yourself in that part of Wales.

And now we are settled into our new abode for the next four nights … and it’s perfect … with views to die for.  We’d be happy just sitting on our balcony for the whole stay … but there’s walking to do and things to explore.  Life is good.