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!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!’

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Caernarfon Castle

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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.

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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.

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Beaumaris Castle

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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.

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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.

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Arriving in pretty Beaumaris

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

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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.

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The Menai Bridge, just opposite our airbnb

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The Britannia Bridge, on the Menai Straits

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

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Baa Baa Brown Sheep

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

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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

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