Chester to Flint – Wales Coast Path

« 1 of 2 »

We did this section out of sequence as a result of the guidebook suggesting accessing the start of the 870 mile WPC from Chester starting at the Cathedral. We subsequently switched back to South Wales.  We started the walk around 1pm, having picked Lucy and Kim up from the train station, we deposited our luggage in a lovely AirBnb property and off we set.

The weather forecast was for a cloudy day with rain coming in around 5 pm.

There was a time when the Welsh were forbidden to enter Chester before sunrise or stay out after nightfall – but no such curfew applies today.

We made our way out of Chester via the Town Hall, said to have only three faces to the town clock, as the citizens of Chester didn’t feel the need to have one facing Wales, as they couldn’t be bothered to spare the Welsh the time of day. I am glad to say we found the people of Chester charming and very welcoming.

We carried on via Northgate, past Pemberton Tower and the Water Tower, it was easy to see that Chester is one of the best preserved Walled cities in Britain.

On reaching the Welcome to Wales sign – the walk is pretty straightforward onto a long straight stretch of a cycle path, beside the river Dee

An hour into the walk we were soaked to the skin – the rain came early. We gave up at the Jubilee Bridge or Blue bridge at Queensferry – called a taxi to get us back to our townhouse, looking more like the female cast of “Last of the Summer wine” than the cosmopolitan women we perceive ourselves to

The guide book had specified the four towers of the gas powered Connah’s Quay power station as a key landmark for the walk. Today was the first time we had been able to sight it through the gloom and rain.

So, back to the Jubilee Bridge, a bascule bridge, sparkling blue in the sunshine. This stretch of WCP is mainly dominated by industry, so from bridge to bridge we go Jubilee, then Hawarden railway Bridge, built by the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railways, originally as a swing bridge, but now welded solid!

The warmest temperature in Wales was recorded here 35.2 in August 1990. We could have done with a bit more warmth on a chilly February day!
The other bridge on the skyline is the Flintshire Bridge, the largest asymmetrical bridge in Britain, opened in 1998, and built at a cost of £55 million. A testament to the importance of the industrial Deeside and the impact on the Welsh economy.

The path continues past the Wepre riverside SSSI past the side of the Old Quay Pub. Much of the final leg of the walk is along the road, not very interesting, until we finally return to the marshes and come upon Fflint Castle, one of the first built by Edward 1 to control the Welsh. The design of this castle is very different from the rest of his domineering castle portfolio , in fact it is the only one of its kind in Britain.

The castle was burnt down by the custodian in 1294 to avoid it falling into the hands of Madog ap Llywelyn and his Welsh followers.

Lucy bursts into an extract from Henry IV as we approach the castle. Here Henry Bolingbroke, son of John of Gaunt captured Richard 11 in 1399. “Fake news” is not a new phenomena – Richard’s reputation has been given a bad rap over time. If you were king from the age of ten years you would also make a few mistakes along the way. There is a legend associated with Richard’s dog – who apparently was loyal to Richard and never strayed from his side, but when Henry came to Flint the dog left Richard’s side and lay down at Henry’s feet – I think I might have taken a bit of liberty with the legend but you get the gist.

 

Flint to Ffynnongroyw – Wales Coast Path

« 1 of 2 »

An appalling national weather forecast doesn’t necessarily mean it will rain where you are in Wales.

We got up early to try and avoid the rain due to come in around 11am – in fact it rained at 1.30pm and we had completed our walk.

Starting at Flint castle, one of Edward 1 first strongholds in Wales, this is an easy walk along the River Dee.

It is had to believe that Flint Dock used to be a busy harbour built to carry lead from the mines in Halkyn mountain. In 1778 a ship taking grain from the area was taken over by local miners, as locally there was severe hardship and it seemed the right thing to do to combat the shortage of food, mainly bread.

The beacons along this stretch are nicely designed, with the dragon beacon at Bagillt being the most impressive.

Not a day to linger we set a brisk pace passing Bettisfield Colliery now a scrap yard, hard to believe that 500 men used to work here.

Onto Greenfield Dock which used to be a very busy link for the people of Liverpool, Wirral and surrounding areas who used to take the waters at nearby St Winifred’s Well, Holywell.

At Llanerch y Mor we come across the Duke of Lancaster, the ship not the person. Docked here as a Fun ship in the 1970s, it had previously been used as a ferry from Belfast to Haysham – it is by now rusting badly and looks rather sad.

Beyond the fun ship, we spotted hundreds if not thousands of oystercatchers nesting – one of the joys of winter walking is the easy sighting of various birds.

We took the easy option along the cycle track past the busy Mostyn Dock. In hindsight we should have taken the higher route through the woods, as this is a very busy road, we were glad to cross over into the village of Ffynongroyw (Clear Well). To access the well there is a path from the village via Well Lane. It also happens to be the birthplace of renowned Welsh harpist Ossian Ellis.

We ended our day fittingly, at the commemoration to the Point of Ayr Colliery, as this walk is a poignant reminder of Flint’s rich industrial heritage.

Ffynnongroyw to Kinmel Bay – Wales Coast Path

« 1 of 2 »

Snow is forecast, but we are wrapped up warm and ready to go from the winding gear commemoration at Ffynnongroyw. Crossing the busy A548 we are soon out on the exposed wasteland of the Point of Ayre Colliery.

A hail storm slaps us in the face. There is a bitterly cold wind. A large gas works looms, we hurry down towards Talacre and the Point of Ayr the entry point to the river Dee.

At the car park the dog walkers were out in force, reminding me of a certain Peter Kaye car comedy sketch. We went up to the viewpoint, but decided to keep off the beach, the first or last beach in Wales depending on your direction of travel.

We follow the low tide route through the dunes, which offered a little protection against the wind, passing inland of lighthouse which had seen better days.

We head for the Gronant dunes at Presthaven sands holiday park. The dunes has a noted inhabitant – the natterjack toad.
Following a walkway we find ourselves on Barkby Beach passing some marsh land.

We soon head back into the shelter of the dunes. Bright blue skies, sharp hail showers and a biting wind had us hurrying to the Beech Hotel for a fine lunch of Welsh Cawl.

From here it is a straightforward promenade following a concrete walkway along Ffrith Beach passing the jolly holiday towns of Prestatyn and Rhyl. At the Very ugly Pavilion building in Rhyl we stepped inside to warm up.

The walkway continues across the footbridge to Kinmel Bay ending a very cold winter’s walk

Kinmel Bay to Porth Eirias Colwyn Bay – Wales Coast Path

 

Torrential rain early morning saw us starting our walk later than usual.

It would take a bigger optimist than me to find many pluses for this stretch of the WCP.

Out to sea, standing like sentries on the horizon are hundreds of wind turbines. Turn to look inland and we are faced with seemingly endless, row upon row of caravans. Coupled with grey skies – not a walk to lighten our spirits.

The path runs along cycle track 5, a bonus as we cover the miles quickly. A large breakfast at the Beach cafe at Pensarn – Abergele, served by cheerful, polite young staff puts some pep back in our step.

Gwrych castle comes into view looking across the A55 towards the limestone cliffs. I can’t make out whether it reminds me of Disneyland or Grimm’s fairy tales.

A family on bikes approach us, followed by several others. The older kids must have had big bikes for Christmas, as they are still a bit wobbly. It puts a smile on my face and lifts my mood. Several other cyclists whizz by. It makes me feel positive – the cycle route is an asset and well used.

I remind myself that thousands of families enjoy great times in these caravans every year, and while not easy on the eye, who am I to hasten by and judge the scenic aspect.

At Llandulais the cycle track climbs a little before passing by the jetty that handles the limestone from the quarry across the road.

Rain brings our walk to an end at Porth Eirias where we pop into Welsh chef Bryn Williams restaurant, but we have left it a bit late to be served. It had been that sort of day!