Llanbedrog to Pwllheli – Wales Coast Path

Winter walking has you studying the weather forecast closer than you would for a family wedding!

We decided to cut the walk short, covering some 5 miles, as rain and high winds were due at 1pm.

The colourful beach huts in the National Trust car park made me smile. Fortunately my NT membership card was in my back pack, so no need to pay the parking fee.

Down to the beach we go. I had never been to Llanbedrog in the winter, so it was strange to see it devoid of people, as it is teeming in the summer months.

We walked along the beach then up some steps into a field. We elected to drop down onto the beach after Carreg y Defaid, while the WCP route sticks to the fields above. We realised why when we reached the sea defences and had to scrambled upwards to rejoin the path as it runs alongside the golf course.

From the Promenade it is a short walk into the town centre for a little retail therapy, bought heaps of Christmas pressies at Tonnau gallery,before heading to Dylan’s in Criccieth for a very long and enjoyable lunch. The rain came as we were making our way into the restaurant. The weather forecast had been spot on, we didn’t care. We still loved the Lleyn, but it was almost time to go home. Until the next time ….

Criccieth to Pwllheli – Wales Coast Path

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I get out of bed feeling grumpy – “Llwyr fy mhenol” we would say in Welsh – translated “ dragging my backside”.

I woke up at 3am with the rain had been lashing against my bedroom window.

It is very murky in the pre dawn – we drive to Criccieth in silence. Lucy is as enthusiastic about the forthcoming walk as I am.

It gets you like that sometimes – will it be lashing rain, shall we put it off until tomorrow? The castle looks dark and forbidding this morning as the waves lash against the beach front. Hard to believe that people were swimming in the sea the previous day.

Donning our wet weather gear; I opted for wellies instead of boots – we head off!

Up the hill with the castle to our left, along the promenade with the B&B and hotels on our right. The signposting has been great, if occasionally discreet, during these few stages of our walk.

We are very quickly on a path beside a field, the waves crashing below. I am rather glad we are on a raised path.

We welcome the duckboards along Afon Dwyfor, the river is running high, and ducks and wild geese are crowded on a small island in the centre. My mood lifts, it’s not a bad day after all, the winter sun is trying to make an appearance.

Over a railway bridge, and down a lane passing a farm onto the main road, after half a mile I become grumpy again! The traffic noise is intrusive and we had passed Llanystumdwy. I wished I had made a detour to the village to see the childhood home and burial place of David Lloyd George, it would have broken the monotony of this stretch.

Lucy and I had a positive conversation about the difficulty of designing a Coast Path, the need to cross rivers, accommodate land owners, terrain etc. So we excused the need to take in the A497, but we’re glad to turn off at Afon Wen.

A chocolate Labrador pup with a very deep bark bounded up to us as we reached the railway bridge. Lovely dogs labradors.

I was glad I had opted for wellies the path leading to Hafan y Mor was a bit mucky. The large caravan park here(used to be Butlins until 1987, now owned by Haven) is not very intrusive from the Coast.

Around Pen y Chain we go, the only rise in a very flat walk, down and across a very long beach Morfa Abererch – a combination of sand dune, pebbles and sand walking. This beach leads us to Pwllheli passing the very fine harbour development and around the promenade of the Inner Harbour straight to Pwllheli railway station and the neat ride on the Cambrian railway back to Criccieth, with a number of happy lady shoppers,

All in all not the most inspiring, mainly due to the stretch along the main road and the threat of rain, but both of us very satisfied that we had completed yet another 11 miles along the Wales Coast Path

Penrhyndeudraeth to Criccieth – Wales Coast Path

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Sunday morning – glorious dawn – flame coloured skies. This turned out to be a superb, picturesque walk

We completed this walk in two bursts. Penrhyndeudraeth to Porthmadog followed by a road trip to Criccieth and walked back to Porthmadog.

Mainly because it was only 3 degrees centigrade at dawn, and we were staying in Porthmadog and decided to pop into our apartment on the harbour for a warm, where we reconsidered our route so we ended up at our apartment at the end of the walk!

I have frequently driven along the Cob in Porthmadog but not walked. Lucy and I couldn’t have picked a better day. The mountains were clearly reflected in the water, wading birds were out in force looking for their breakfast no doubt. Very few cars at such an early hour, a beautiful stillness!

Fast forward to Criccieth, a stop for coffee at Tir a Mor, a popular stop for Sunday Times readers or so it seemed, every other table seemed to be engrossed in the papers – not a bad way to start the day.

On the beach, a birthday group, some in the water swimming. It was getting warmer!

We were walking away from Criccieth Castle which dominates the town, initially a Llywelyn ap Iorweth build, but became another Edward I bastion, when we were approached by two ladies, who asked if we were walking the Wales Coast Path. They were from Mwnt and were also on a walking mission and enjoying the experience as much as we were.

The early stage of the walk is mainly on low ground, with a slight rise to Black Rock. There is a lengthy walk along Black Rock Sands. A speed limit is in place for the cars on the beach. Some boy racers were doing their best to ignore the signs. We splashed through the streams running down to the sea at Morfa Bychan. The November tides had washed up a number of alien looking jelly fish. Strange looking creatures – do they serve a purpose?

A little scramble off the beach at Ynys Cyngar, and a well placed seat for our water break, before taking in the broadwalk towards Samson’s Bay, eventually reaching steps and a bit of a steep walk through the woods.

It is plain sailing to the pretty harbour at Borth y Gest, and onwards to Porthmadog.

Whether it was the November sunshine or the magic of the Lleyn Peninsula, this was a truest memorable walk.

We ended the day with a short drive to Caernarfon, dinner at the Black Boy and National Theatre Live “The Follies” at the Galeri. Well worth the early start to the walk.

Penrhyndeudraeth to Harlech – Wales Coast Path

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This section sees us completing the Meirionnydd Coast Path.

One of these days I may walk the old route for the WCP which heads inland to Maentwrog before coming back towards Llandecwyn. Pont Briwet bridge has shortened the route considerably.

The route is well signposted with the only minor confusion for us was just after scrambling up and around the low hill at Bryn Glas, we had walked down the hill at an angle which made it difficult to locate the style to cross over the railway. A very messy farm track also needed negotiating. When finally on the dyke, it wasn’t surprising that the path was really muddy, which made it quite slithery and slippy. Well it is winter walking after all!

It is a beautiful stretch along the salt marsh – I did feel a bit guilty looking at the live stock and thinking – Yummie salt marsh lamb!

Reaching the road at Ynys, and following the route we reached the atmospheric Llanfihangel y Traethau church (St Michael’s of the Sands). One gravestone caught my eye, a lady called Gwen died at 48 buried with two daughters in their teens. So sad.

Over the bracken covered moor, and on reaching the estuary enjoy stunning views of the Italianate village of Portmeirion and Porthmadog.

The only blot on the landscape of this walk is the landfill site at Morfa Harlech, but we hurried along towards Harlech as we were loosing the daylight. We were not concerned as we could see we were fast approaching Harlech, dominated by the castle on the hill, one of Edward 1 fortifications held by Owain Glyndwr in 1404

Harlech to Llanenddwyn – Wales Coast Path

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Dominated by Harlech Castle we make our way down to the beach at Harlech, passing by St David’s golf course to our right.

An easy start to the day turning left along the long stretch of beach – steep steps up from the beach, across the railway line and beyond – 112 in total. The path leads onto the main road for a few hundred yards before turning right towards Llandanwg.

We stopped at the Beach cafe and got to know the fat robin and chatted to the cafe owner who was very passionate about the events planned for the “Year of the Sea” in 2018.

It is worth spending time at the little medieval church of St Tanwg. Much of the graveyard is covered in dunes, but some of the gravestones have been rescued dating from the 15C.

Walk across the salt marshes, passing a little harbour eventually reaching a level crossing, workmen were in action, so we followed the path south and then right to a very smart footbridge crossing the river .

From Llanbedr take the road to Shell Island – passing through Llanbedr airfield we reached a concrete walkway across the reed beds, skirting the SSSI dunes of Morfa Dyffryn.  There is a concrete path leading through the dunes we were surrounded by dancing reeds as far as the eye could see, quite unnerving as we followed the sort of yellow concrete road through dangerous bogland.

This lead onto the longest stretch of unspoiled beach, deserted apart from us and a couple of jellyfish. No naturists today on the designated beach area – probably a bit nippy in November.

Coming up to the ten mile tracker we started to look for the white and red marker post which would lead us to the broadwalk and into the car parking area in Llanenddwyn

Llanenddwyn to Barmouth – Wales Coast Path

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A very rainy Sunday morning, we deferred this walk until mid- morning, and were rewarded by a watery winter sun.

Walking up the road from Llanenddwyn and followed the signs off the road at Bennar-Fawr. The walk is straightforward if a bit sketchy, through field, caravan and camping parks. A long stretch is along the main A496(some 2 miles),before turning off towards the beach at Barmouth.

It is worth looking inland towards Egryn the National Trust land taking in the complex network of stone walling – a true rural craft that has stood the test of time – not a trowel of cement in sight.. and the surprise of the day of our first Llamas!

A lengthy walk along the Promenade, the groynes casting long shadows on the sand. We were rewarded with a rainbow at the end of our walking weekend – is there a crock of gold?

Back in our little house next to The Last Inn pub, we pick up the car and head for the NorBar for a well deserved late Sunday lunch which is highly recommended.

Llwyngwril to Barmouth – Wales Coast Path

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We took the early train out of Barmouth to Llwyngwril. We were joined on our walk by Louise Tambini, who is a passionate advocate for Keep Wales Tidy.

If you have never done the journey on the Cambrian Coast Railway, you should give it a go. I think it is the most scenic coastal train journey in the whole of the UK.

The conductor said that we would enjoy our walk as it “was truly beautiful, with a few ups and downs, but marvellous views. She was right on all counts.

It was a joy to be back in Llwyngwril – we saw more of the village yarn bombing masterpieces as we walked from the station. It put a smile on our faces. The sun was shining and all was well with the world.

We turned off the main road at Garthangharad Hotel. It is quite a steep climb from the village and out on the moorland.

We are now close to 1000 ft above sea level.. views out to the Mawddach, standing stones, old ruins, ancient settlements set against the burnished autumn bracken makes this a very atmospheric phase of our walk.

The walk is quite straightforward until we get to Cyfannedd. We loop around a farmhouse, a home made mileage marker has been placed against a stone seating area. Ahead we are confronted with a confusion of signs – none of them clearly indicating our route. Someone had sprayed an arrow in red paint and we headed over a small stream and down hill through a bed of bracken and woodland.

A slight detour to see the Blue lake in a disused quarry and we returned to the track and downhill to Friog.

Here the sign points southward – trust the sign, even though Barmouth is to the north, as shortly we turn off towards Fairbourne. We encounter a lady emerging from the beach wrapped in a towel, and wearing Doc Martens – not what you expect in November.

The so called Dragon’s Teeth dominate the front in Fairbourne – tank traps dating from World War II. Crossing the narrow Gauge railway we make short work of crossing to Morfa Mawddach and eventually reaching the wooden footbridge that is attached to the railway bridge and into Barmouth.

Llwyngwril to Rhoslefain – Wales Coast path

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A short walk of around 6km – just long enough to stretch our legs after a three hour drive.

Llwyngwril is a village of some 500 people, but it deserves to take centre stage for this walk. The yarn bombers of Llwyngwril have been very busy over the past couple of years and while some people paint the town, the good folk of Llwyngwril have decided to knit the town.

Numerous mice and rats adorn the bridge, Blodeuwedd stands proud on a green space in front of some houses and as we turn up a side road by the church, the war memorial has a large display of knitted poppies.

There is quite a steep walk up the hill onto a common, over a couple of cattle grid and right onto a farm lane. Stiles and ladders are the order of the day.

The walk is well sign posted, with atmospheric stone walls, patchwork fields and picturesque ruin of an old cottage.

Despite the steep terrain, it doesn’t take long before we descend towards the main road at Rhoslefain. It is a bit muddy in parts, mainly due to recent rain.

Aberdyfi to Rhoslefain – Wales Coast Path

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Great to be back on the Wales Coast Path after a couple of months break.

The walk took us from Rhoslefain to Aberdyfi. Storm Brian hadn’t quite finished blowing itself out, so we were holed up in the pretty harbour town of Aberdovey, or Aberdyfi as we say in these parts, for a couple of days. No great hardship, a bit of retail therapy, lots of places to eat and drink, and our wee flat was right on the harbour.

Eventually the rain cleared and we headed out with gusto.

Leaving our car in a farm lane in Rhoslefain, making sure we caused no obstruction, we followed the track, then field to field, aiming for a large White House in the distance, then onto the road at Bwlch, passing the railway station in Tonfanau.

It is a brilliant day for walking – the air is clear, everything looks newly washed and laundered after the storm.

We take the cycle path across the Afon Dysynni. The walk to Tywyn is pretty straight forward. The caravans – sorry mobile homes, along the front soon come into sight. Lots of dog walkers about, glad to be out in the sunshine, their dogs bundles on energy.

When the lengthy promenade in Tywyn comes to an end, we eventually reach the sand dunes, it was easy to follow the path passing Aberdyfi golf course, one of the best links courses in Wales. We dropped down onto the pebble foreshore – the tide was out, so we were able to make our way across the pebbles onto the long sandy beach all the way to Aberdyfi, skirting the Yacht Club to reach our apartment located over Nandora’s dress shop.

Dinner at Coast Deli was the end of a perfect day’s walking.

Aberdovey/Aberdyfi to Machynlleth – Wales Coast Path

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A grey dawn, turning to rain. Wet weather gear on, we head out of Aberdyfi off passing the Literary Institute on the right, turning sharply uphill to the left at the point where it says Araf/Slow on the road. The climb and steps are quite steep, but the views over the town and harbour is worth the breathless effort.
Leaving Aberdyfi behind, bear right onto the quarry road, and before you know it you are heading left up the gorse covered Cefn Rhos, passing a stream heading uphill.

It has been raining heavily, the fields are pretty churned up, the cattle stare down at us from their vantage point on the hill, probably wondering what on earth we were doing there in such weather!

Go through a gate to the left of the farm yard and barn. We are now making good time along the road above Cwm Maethlon – Happy Valley. The rain has turned to a steady drizzle, but well worth pausing to enjoy the view.

We reach the slate marker for Carn March Arthur -legend has it that Llamrai -King Arthur’s horse left a hoof print while dragging a monster (Afanc) out of the nearby lake.

The tracks across the moors become quite rutted and filled with water – in an effort to avoid getting wet over our boots we steered off the path only to find it harder to cross the boggy terrain. This was Lucy’s first baptism by Bog, which necessitated a change of clothing when we got to firmer ground.

The sign posting is great – an easy walk passing a felled forest wood eventually reaching the main road – crossing over to Cefn Crib caravan Park.

This is where it all went horribly wrong. A car was parked in a gateway – little did we know that behind that car was a low lying sign for the coast path. We missed it and continued down a track, and with no other sign in sight we followed the green and yellow signs through mud, and bog and unfortunately a wooden bridge had been blocked off because it was rotten – so there was no way of crossing over to continue our way to Plas Talgarth. Another half dozen Bog baptisms and a dip in the river before we made it into the main road.

We were so grateful to Deilwen at Gogarth Hall Farm holidays who took pity on us, made us a cup of tea and called us a taxi. Thank the Lord for kind people.

Needless to say, we didn’t reach Machynlleth but after a peaceful evening and a couple of glasses of wine we completed the walk the following morning. Next day, the dawn was bright and beautiful – Storm Brian had disappeared and we decided to walk back from Machynlleth towards Cefn Crib caravan Park where we went horribly wrong the previous day!

Passed the Gothic clock tower we went enjoying the sunshine, across Dovey Bridge turning left and then a right, up a lane unsuitable for heavy vehicles. It is a steep climb, but the autumn colours and the view from the top was well worth the effort.

Right turn off the lane and the climb continues to the crest of the hill then down through a forest path until we reach a forestry road. Turning left, We were glad of the shade as it was getting a little bit warm climbing up the hill – walking in the shade of the forest cooled us down .

This walk was well signposted, we stopped at Pennal to take in the church and gardens dedicated to the Princes of Gwynedd. The neatly arranged gravestones gave insights into the social history of the area. We decided to walk along the main road to Cefn Crib , not taking any chances with getting lost