Oh ok … just one more walk then!

9 – 13th July 2022

Days 19 -23

No long walks on these days … but a whole load of fun in sunny Tywyn. Some chilling but mostly active in one way or another …. swimming a couple of times a day, paddle boarding, body boarding on wavy days, boules, cricket, frisbee, running (Steve and Alice that is) and tennis tournaments. Not to mention long board game sessions in the evenings – have loved every minute. It’s been Steve and I, Alice and Jon all week, Anne joined us on Sunday and Matt arrived on Monday – we’re the Tywyn Six!

Anyone for tennis?

Early morning Alice and Dad runs

This blue one is our beach house …

And the hot tub soothed our aching bones after all the activity … and just became a place to hang out and chat.

We’ve mostly stayed in Tywyn as have everything we need on our doorstep – but we had an outing to Portmeirion one day, travelling there by train. Beautiful Italian lunch in the most stunning of settings. This village is so worth a visit – exquisitely designed, like a fairytale – you imagine yourself on the Riviera.

Waiting for the train to take us to Portmeirion

The prisoner!

Beautiful Portmeirion

14th July 2022

Day 24

Anne decided to climb Mount Snowdon today – we all declined as we had done it on our visit here in November. Matt had to work so it was just the four of us who decided to fit in one little coastal walk … Steve got planning. We picked up on a little gap … Llwyngwril to Barmouth.

We caught the train to Llwyngwril and had the lovely surprise on arriving to find it is the Knitted Village – amazing creations everywhere.

The Knitted Village of Llwyngwril

The three mile uphill climb at the start was tough but well rewarded with views. The sun was shining, plenty of sheep to keep us company, easy enough terrain … all good.

Finally reached the top!

And then a steady 3 mile climb down through lanes and woodland – a little loose underfoot in places but we managed to avoid too much slippage.

Picnic stop

Finished off with 3 miles of flat walking, along Fairbourne Beach, across Barmouth bridge (a grade II listed – Brunel designed – single-track wooden railway viaduct) and into the lovely seaside town of Barmouth. This completed 9 miles walking … and we loved it.

Walking along Fairbourne Beach

Barmouth Bridge

The only snag to the day was that our train back to Tywyn was cancelled and could have involved hanging around for another two hours. So we took the option to walk back over Barmouth Bridge to catch a bus …. what’s an extra 2 miles between friends!?

But the hero of the day was Anne who climbed all the way up Snowdon – solo – hats off to her.

Anne climbing Snowdon

15th July 2022

Day 25 – our last full day so it was a chilled one.

Boules championship on the beach

We played tennis late afternoon and I had a spectacular fall resulting in a few minor injuries … but the margaritas helped later and had us all up dancing even before our final dinner together!!

16th July 2022

Driving home today after nearly 4 weeks in Wales. It really has been spectacular. We’ll miss everything about it especially the views of sea and mountains … and the company of family and friends. We’ve covered another 174 miles of coastline in this time – not too shabby!! No doubt we’ll be back for more!

We didn’t know where to look!

8th July 2022

Day 18

Once again we left the studio flat just after 9am to walk to Pwllheli Station – we’ve become quite the regulars on this 9.34am train! Our destination was Llandanwg – this time walking in the other direction to the seaside town of Barmouth – and we started off on a hill going down.

Leaving Llandanwg station

A lot cooler today and, I must say, easy flat paths. To start off with a bit of road walking, country lanes, around an airfield and into woodland. There was a lot of wild camping going on in the woods and nearby fields … we were fascinated with the equipment people have these days – three piece suites, toilet tents, major dining areas!

Paths were so kind to us today

And this led us onto Morfa Dyffryn Beach – absolutely glorious.

Every day we feel so blessed that we have these amazing views all around us … the sea, the sand dunes, mountain backdrops and miles and miles of green farmland – we are literally spoilt for choice. Today our viewing took on a little difference however. About a mile into the beach walking we couldn’t help but notice an elderly chap sunbathing with no clothes on – well except his hat! We couldn’t help but have ourselves a little giggle. But as we moved on it oh soooo gradually dawned on us that we were on a naturist beach. Mostly men I must say but a couple of ladies too … but all sitting alone and separated along a sizeable stretch of the beach, sheltered by the dunes. Mostly just sitting or lying but some wandering around in the sand dunes (including one man who looked like he was expecting twins!), some wandering down to the sea for a swim and some lying in odd positions to maximise the suntan!! Once the penny dropped, it was us that became self-conscious … of being highly overdressed … we tried to slip by inconspicuously!!

This path took us off the beach and inland – walking around an estuary. Again a very thoughtful path

As the day gets hotter, the sheep look for shade

We wondered if someone from the Coastal Path people had read the blog yesterday because today we were practically overwhelmed with signs – hardly had to refer to the app at all. And as well as it being a flat day it was a really easy path today – nothing overgrown, nasty or precarious. Just a couple of stone stiles that were designed for long limbed and dexterous people – that’s my only beef.

A much better designed stile – suitable for everyone

And from there a steady walk into Barmouth, finishing the 13 miles with road and then promenade walking. A good long walk today but so manageable – certainly one I’d recommend.

They do seem to love camping and caravans in Wales

Some spectacular houses tucked up into the hillside as you enter Barmouth

Desperately seeking shade!!

BARMOUTH … “Where the mountains meet the sea.”

An ice-cream reward before catching the train back to Pwllheli

Now, apparently this is going to be our last bit of coastal walking for a while. We’re heading further down the coast tomorrow to Tywyn for a ‘leisurely’ beach week – let’s see!?

Saturday 9th July 2022

Day 19

Before leaving town we volunteered at the Hafan Pwllheli Parkrun – it was all on sand – mad!!! So glad I was tail walker!

We’ve now arrived at our rented beach house for the week to be joined by Alice and Jon later today and my best chum Anne tomorrow. Anne has travelled all over the world but has never been to Wales. I think it might be a fun week … and the sun is shining big time. Must go, the sea is beckoning!

This is the view from our balcony for the next week – it’s relaxation time!!

Magnificent mountain views … but barely a hill to climb!

7 July 2022

Day 17

So many days, after Steve’s done his planning, he’ll say “it’s a long walk tomorrow but it’s pretty flat” … and I fall for it every time. Today, however, he wasn’t far off the mark. It was scenically stunning with the Welsh mountains as a backdrop all day but the few inclines we had were nothing compared to the mountain paths that were in view. A road hill right at the beginning and another road hill right at the end were the two worst offenders … so mustn’t grumble!

We got the train to Llandanwg and the plan was to walk 11 miles or so back to Minffordd. By the time we got off the train it was already hotting up – so waterproofs got packed away in the rucksack. Lovely blue sky – yippee.

Right from the off the coastal path signs were pretty non-existent today – one of those days that without the app we would have struggled – so many possibilities of taking the wrong turn … but we got it perfect (no thanks to Coastal Path signage)!!

It wasn’t long before we were on the fabulous stretch of Harlech Beach – so expansive … it took so long it was like walking across a desert.

Harlech Beach

Once off the beach we walked into the town of Harlech – once again it had an imposing castle poised on a hill, dominating the area. Magnificent piece of history on your doorstep.

Harlech Castle

The Harlech Dragon

We walked through Harlech and then turned off to walk through miles of farm fields – very straight paths going through field after field after field, all busy with grazing sheep. Then we were on a very straight concrete path that seemed to stretch for miles. All this happening in extremely hot weather – we were so far inland that there was none of that lovely coastal breeze …. moan, moan. Still had stunning mountain views surrounding us though.

The long concrete path

These two seemed so fond of each other … they were either kissing or fighting – couldn’t decide!

The very best thing about this stretch of the path was that we could view Portmeirion from across the estuary – nestled into the hillside, absolutely stunning. At points the views were so remarkable that you wanted everyone to be there to see it and share it.

Portmeirion – where Italian Riviera meets rural Wales

Around about this point we got to thinking about trains back and as there was 2 hours between trains we set ourselves the mission to get back to Minffordd for the 2.45pm train. This involved a really speedy sandwich stop and a certain pace to get there on time.

After passing this bridge we had a hellish 2 miles walking through overgrown prickly paths that seemed to be never-ending … and SO HOT still. We were even relieved when this was over and we got to walk along a main road (which we usually hate) and we were upping our pace to get us to the station in time … even up a steep hill. So relieved when the station was in sight, we casually crossed the road and headed to the tunnel to take us to the other side of the track …. but then, in panic mode, had to run down the slope as the train had already pulled in. Now, this was a station that you have to wave the train down to stop – so it was thanks to lovely people on the train that had requested a stop to get off that we were able to make it all. Phew – we would have had to sit there for two hours feeling mightily disgruntled.

So all’s well that ends well. We even fitted in a fabulous swim when we got back … and now enjoying a chilled glass of white wine while I blog …. well I think I deserved it. 11 more miles in the bag.

Pwhelli Beach where Steve and braved the seas today – we were the only swimmers across the whole stretch – it was fabulous

A train sort of day ….

6 July 2022

Day 16

We caught the train today … just to mix it up a little!

Our stop was Minffordd from where we picked up a coastal path sign and headed off in the drizzle. We missed a right turn and had to retrace our steps – think we confused the sheep. We found ourselves on a long country road that was so prettily adorned with hydrangea but on checking the app we appeared to have missed another turn! No problem – we found ourselves at the entrance to Portmeirion (the village where Italian Riviera meets rural Wales) and a friendly chap guided us back onto the path.

Ffestiniog railway at Minffordd Station

The stunning hydrangea lined road leading to Portmeirion

Some fabulous walking, quite a lot through woodland with glimpses of the sea here and there. Lots of farmland too with a diverse selection of cattle. A fair few hills it has to be said, but none of the scrabbling on all fours type, for which I am thankful.

No fence between him and us today!!…. but luckily he didn’t seem interested.

Steve was interested in the Ffestiniog narrow gauge railway – an ex colleague of his used to volunteer on it. When we walked across the causeway into Porthmadog, he opted for us to walk along the path directly beside the track, literally one meter away. I was dreading one of the steam engines chugging by and making that loud steam noise – I would have jumped out of my skin. Disappointingly for Steve, no train passed us. We did however, stop at the Porthmadog railway station and had a delicious cup of coffee.

We walked through the pretty town of Porthmadog and then the path took us uphill (again) with some stunning properties set into the cliffs, then down and up for a while through woodland area. We stopped at one point to have lunch and rest our weary legs.

Picnic and relaxation time. Shoes and socks off … and the double glasses look!!

Eventually we found ourselves on Criccieth Beach – an extraordinarily long and wide expanse once again – these Welsh beaches are something else. We walked a few miles on hard sand with fabulous views, all the way to Criccieth. Once off the beach there was still a couple of miles to cover … and guess what, some of it was uphill.

Criccieth Beach

Thought at one time we’d be climbing this, but luckily we skirted it

Such a rare sight – thought it was a ‘mirage!’

We had to cross the railway line at two different points during the day – always a thrill.

And after 11 miles of walking (and mostly in drizzle and grey skies) we reached the town of Criccieth and treated ourselves to gelato before heading up another hill to the train station. Felt bad about not visiting the castle … but it was just a hill too far!!

Criccieth Castle

From Abersoch to Criccieth over 2 days

3 July 2022

Day 13 (unlucky for some)!

Not us, we had a great day. Walking from Abersoch, through Llanbedrog to Pwllheli (getting so good with these Welsh place names)! Got the no. 18 bus to Abersoch – what a fabulous seaside village it is … very upmarket.

Leaving Abersoch

The coastal path took us onto the beach, lovely easy walking on sand although up ahead we could see a sizeable hill looming. It led steadily up at first, winding around the hill … until it turned into a nasty climb – some steps and some rocks to manoeuvre around …I was on all fours at points of the climb. At the summit it levelled out but continued to be a scrabble over a low rocky path. Great views as always.

Looking back over Abersoch

Eventually we came to the most stunning beach at Llanbedrog – the path leading us through a woodland area before having to descend the longest and steepest steps ever encountered. Kindly they had provided a hand rail otherwise it would have been impossible, because the steps were slippy with mud. As we inched our way down we met many people inching their way up – all of us taking every opportunity to stop and chat … and so catch our breath. Met a really lovely couple at the bottom too who are doing the same retirement project as us – we exchanged tales and tips!

The pretty beach at Llanbedrog

A stunning beach indeed – hope so much to return here later in the week. There’s an art gallery too which I hope to visit – but not if it involves going up those steps!!

And from thereon easy paths all the way back to Pwllheli and our beachside accommodation. When we reached the sand dunes part I was feeling the nerves in case we came face to face with those darn adders! Steve to the rescue – we took the alternative of walking along the beach – hard at times as shingle but much the better option. So, after 7 miles and no road walking we were back in time to do our laundry. Oh the life of travellers!

Reaching Pwllheli

4th July 2022

Day 14

Another great day on the Wales Coastal Path. 12 miles covered today but relatively easy walking. We walked from our airbnb accommodation which is just 10 metres from the official path and walked through the town of Pwllheli, along the promenade and onto the beach. Once again we chose to walk on the sand as opposed to the sand dune paths where all those slithery creatures apparently hang out! This involved about 3 and a half miles of beach walking which unfortunately changed from hard sand to shingle and then to pebbles – so our calves took a real battering. Still beats those adders however.

We passed a large Haven holiday camp which used to be the site of Butlins back in the day – Steve can remember holidaying with his family there when he was a boy.

This was followed by some easygoing grass clifftop paths – very quiet though – no-one around today. We’re not quite sure why but at one point the path took us to a main road which we had to walk along for two miles. Unfortunately this coincided with us getting hungry but a busy main road was not really conducive to a picnic. When we finally turned off down a country lane, we found the nearest thing to a bench, which happened to be a fallen tree, and devoured our sandwiches.

Luckily there was a fence between him and us!

Always exciting to see a train, for some reason!!

Re-energised, we walked the remaining miles, alongside the river till we got to the sea (you just can’t help saying “I see the sea”) and into the attractive town of Criccieth, with its charismatic castle perched on the hill and its prettily painted houses.

Criccieth – pretty town

So 12 more miles ticked off and a day full of fabulous views of Snowdonia – thinking of those out there climbing while we enjoyed low lying paths. What’s not to like!?

5th July 2022

Day 15 …. Day off (gasp!!)

Well, it’s raining + we had admin and phone calls to catch up on + 5th day of Test Cricket + Wimbledon (Cam Norrie in the quarter final) + needed to catch up on blog and ….hell, we just fancied a day off!!!!

Will be back to rambling on tomorrow.

Popping back to Anglesey

2nd July 2022

Day 12

If anyone had told me a few years back that I’d be getting up at 6.30am on a Saturday morning to get to a parkrun … I’d have said you were mad!! But, somehow, on occasion now this happens and today was one of those Saturdays! No rolling out of bed to head to your local park – today involved checking out of our airbnb in Nefyn, mainland Wales, to drive back onto the island of Anglesey for the Newborough Forest parkrun. We also had a 5 mile coastal stretch that we hadn’t covered, so that was all part of the planning too!

Newborough Forest

It was a wonderful opportunity to see Newborough Forest in sunnier weather as last week’s walk through had been wet and wild. Still didn’t see any red squirrels though, so elusive! Lovely bunch of people as always and a fabulous course – highly recommend. No volunteering today, just running.

From there we drove to a fabulous cafe that we had discovered last week – The Heritage Cafe in Brynsiencyn. You must stop there if you’re in the area – the loveliest Mum and Son team ever and delicious food. And right opposite the cafe, the bus picked us up to take us to that place with the really long name ….. Llanfairpwllgwyngyll. We had walked as far as this back in 2018 so we were picking up were we’d left off.

A bit of road walking to start off but eventually we reached some farmland and then woodland areas. And along the way we met a really lovely couple – Hannah and Rory – who are walking the coastal path too. So we walked the next few miles together, exchanging tales of travelling, walking adventures and life in general. We loved having your company Hannah and Rory – got so caught up in chat that we didn’t notice the miles flash by!!

So lovely to share our walk with other coastal path ramblers – Hannah and Rory

We parted ways at Brynsiencyn where we had parked the car outside the Heritage Cafe and of course it would have been rude to not go back in for more sustenance – well it had been 3 hours and five miles + of walking since breakfast. Funny story alert: I went into order while Steve used the ‘conveniences.’ While at the counter a very loud alarm started sounding …. Steve had pulled the cord thinking it was the toilet chain. We rescued him!!

The Heritage Cafe in Brynsiencyn

And so back to mainland Wales and our new airbnb accommodation in Pwllheli – a very pretty studio by the beach. We’re here for the next 7 days and the owners Marilyn and Pete seem super friendly. We’re right on the coastal path too so I believe a few walks are planned! My only concern is a warning sign on their fence announcing that there are adders in the nearby sand dunes (and Marilyn has confirmed this). My biggest phobia! Well, I will be walking in trousers tomorrow and they’ll be tucked into my socks – I don’t care what I look like!!

Is it a bird? Is it a plane …!?

Friday 1st July 2022

Day 11

Despite extensive research by Steve, we were unable to find a route today that worked out logistically with one car and public transport – buses just didn’t go near enough and taxis seem non-existent. So, for the first time ever we had to resort to an out and back.

We were able to park up at CWT TATWS campsite in Tudweilliog, knowing that we would be back in a few hours for lunch. Got confused with the coastal path signs from the off and ended up walking a section of the beach unnecessarily and having to retrace our steps. Mind you, it gave Steve the opportunity to have a little grumble about coastal signage in general and get it off his chest!!

But we eventually got on our way.

Tudweilliog Beach

A mixed walk today – generally pleasant cliff top paths with a few dips and climbs to keep us interested. The hardest thing today was that the path was so narrow in places … we had to do that catwalk model walking – one foot directly in front of the other and keep balanced. When the path was close to the cliff edge you needed your full concentration. And worse than that – large sections of narrow path were completely overgrown – you couldn’t see your feet, just stride out and hope for the best! We decided it’s almost impossible to describe some of these more tricky areas – you have to be there!!

But we were lucky again to have the sun shining down, and the glorious sights of blue sea and little coves to our right and fabulous countryside to the left. It doesn’t get better.

Whilst we’ve been walking in Wales this time, we’ve been hearing some very loud military aircraft sounds but, although we can so clearly hear them, we can’t see them. Guessing they’re too high. Sometimes it coincides with a seagull flying over and we fall for it every time – no, it’s just a bird! But today we finally got to see one as it soared through the air at unbelievable speed – so exciting. Steve thinks they’re either typhoons or hawks … or could it be Superman!!

After 3 and a half miles and at a suitable spot (at the top of a long descent to the beach), we turned around to walk the 3 and a half miles back, knowing everything we had to face. It was all fine really, 7 reasonably pleasant miles of walking in total.

And a delicious lunch at the cafe before heading back to base for showers, blog, Wimbledon (for me) and Cricket (for Steve). And packing at some point … we’re on the move again tomorrow.

p.s. Steve is really missing his zoom lens but he’s getting really good at panoramic shots!