Llandegla to Trevor, Offa’s Dyke – Day 7

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Heading to Trevor we ran into our first bit of excitement of the day. The Horseshoe Pass was closed due to wildfires across the hillside. The air was thick with acrid smoke, while the emergency services detour us down the tint road to Pentredwr.

We eventually get to Trevor and leave a car at the Chapel car park – £2 charge, before heading back to Llandegla to start our walk.

This is my favourite stretch so far. Another coffee at the community cafe, an interesting chat with the community taxi driver who waits in the cafe for passengers off the bus in Llandegla and runs them to outlying villages.

I chanced on the local beers and ciders in the shop, and the volunteer told me that they try and source as much as possible locally.

We followed the road out of the village, through a field and up the rise, soon entering Llandegla Forest. This stretch is busy with cyclists from the Llandegla Cycle Centre. We paused frequently to check our bearings through the forest.

The wide expanse of moorland stretches out before us, fortunately some strategically placed railway sleepers help us through at a good pace. We hit the road and turn towards World’s End. A couple of climbers could be seen on the rocks.

We focused on the path as we walked along across the scree below the limestone crags. We didn’t want to slide downhill. We stepped to one side to let two mountain bikers pass. They were travelling at quite a pace, which gave us the confidence to walk a bit faster.

It was worth pausing for a few minutes to look back along the route.

Next came the Panorama Walk, with great surround views across the valley and Castell Dinas Bran on the hill.
It didn’t take us long to reach Trevor Hall woods and the descent into Trevor and a very welcome drink at the Telford Arms

Llandegla to Clwyd Gate, Offa’s Dyke – Day 6

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A short, easy walk over field and moorland purple with heather.

The day started with a coffee and bacon bap (roll) at the community cafe and shop. Friendly volunteers are happy to serve and stop for a chat. The only other customer was a young man who was ordering a full breakfast. We started talking, and it was pretty obvious he was in a dark place. Recently released from a mental health facility following an attempted suicide, he said that he had spent days locked in his house, afraid he may try again.
He then decided to walk the Dyke, it was something he had wanted to do for some time. He felt it would help overcome his dark thoughts.

Our conversation lasted for some time, until the cafe started to fill up. On our way out, we stopped to pay our bill, including his breakfast – who knows a small gesture may help him on his way.

Next stop was the Church of St Tecla, a friendly greeting here from the vicar, we are liking the lovely people of Llandegla. An attractive smoked glass window catches the eye. Made in Birmingham around 1799.

We were soon walking across fields and moorland. One lane diverts to Llanarmon yn ial, some 1.5 miles to the east. This village has accommodation at a community run inn and the church is well worth a browse.

Heading on towards Clwyd Gate we were in sight of our car when the skies open and we were soaked in minutes.

Coed Llangwyfan to Clwyd Gate, Offa’s Dyke – Day 5

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A bright, sunny day and we continue onwards. In Scotland we collect Monroes in the Clwydian Range it is all about the Moel.

Moel Arthur at 1496 feet is the first challenge. Turning right from the car park, you reach a sign to the left taking you through to the start of the ascent. Clear signposting up the slope, with some magnificent views across to Snowdonia. We stopped to talk to a group of archaeologist investigating an area of ground near the path.

As soon as you are up and topping out, you head down towards a small car park. Crossing through the car park you start the next slog uphill. Looking back at Moel Arthur you can clearly see the scale of the hillfort. Onwards we go to Moel Famau ( Mothers’ Mountain) at 1820 feet the highest hill on the range, passing through Moel Llys y Coed and Moel Dywyll.

We are amazed by the views across the Vale of Clwyd on such a clear day.

Every time we approached a hill that was close to a car park, it became very busy with people. We had several conversations en route, Australians, French, some locals and as it was the start of the school holidays quite a few Brits. As we plodded uphill, a young woman can be seen fast approaching below – I could not believe she was running up the mountain in the heat.

The rather ugly Jubilee Tower on Moel Famau was teeming with people.

We dropped down to the car park at Bwlch Penbarra, before tackling the steepest slope – Foel Fenlli at 1676 ft. I reverted to my 50 steps, stop, deep breath and continue with 100 steps. The technique worked and we swiftly reached the top.

A steep descent to a conifer forest, across a field following a fence, then up one side of the field eventually looking down at a farmhouse. Slightly relieved, we start the home run down to Clwyd Gate, so called as it used to be a toll road.

This is a pretty strenuous section, but the views make it all worthwhile.

Bodfari to coed Llanwyfan, Offa’s Dyke – Day 4

We positioned our cars early morning, one in Bodfari and the other at Clwyd Gate.

Over the footbridge on the river Wheeler we go, following the path to house with a red post box in front, heading up through the bracken until you reach a height, giving a clear view of Bodfari and its white church.

You can’t escape the radio mast on Moel y Parc as you follow a stoney track uphill, going past an atmospheric barn nestling below. The path takes us to a gateway by a small pull in big enough for a few cars to park. The next sign is a bit ambiguous. Just don’t follow the sign for Clifford byway or you will have to make your way back up to the gate. Go through the gate and head uphill and you are soon out on open moorland. The heather and gorse is beginning to bloom, and I have never seen so many bilberry clumps, although some of the plants are already turning a burnished red from the hot early summer.

You top out at 1442 feet at Pen y Cloddiau, an Iron Age fort, before starting your descent, eventually reaching Coed Llangwyfan on our right.
The Clwydian hills were covered in mist by now, with the first drops of rain in weeks. We togged up in our wet weather gear, before exiting the trees at the car park.

The downpour put paid to our walking for the day, which meant that we were miles away from our cars. The plan was to walk in Llandyrnog and ring for a taxi.
Half way down the road, a light blue jaguar stops, and the driver recognised us from walking the path. We felt guilty dripping all over the car’s cream interior, but not so guilty as to refuse a lift.

Having been dropped at the junction to Bodfari, we were quickly offered another lift by a young woman with a soft Scottish accent, who also enjoyed walking Wales’s paths. It was still raining when we reached the car, and the visibility at Clwyd Gate was limited. We congratulated ourselves on a decision well made, settling down to watch Wimbledon tennis for the afternoon.

Prestatyn to Bodfari, Offa’s Dyke – Day 3

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We parked one car in Bodfari before making our way to Prestatyn and the car park next to the Nova Centre. Posing for pictures at the start/finish sculpture, a much more notable landmark than the squat stone which dignifies the start/finish point in South Wales.

The distance marker here says the trail is 182 miles to Chepstow. In Sedbury Cliffs, the South Wales starting point states 168 miles. Pick a number!
We window shop along Prestatyn High Street, continuing steadily uphill following the signs.

While we posed to take in the sculpture of a Roman Helmet, and taking our guide book out to check the route, a helpful lady stopped the car and pointed us in the right direction. We love fellow walking enthusiasts.

Across the Bryn Prestatyn Hillside, through bracken and gorse opening up with great views down to Meliden and Prestatyn, eventually through farmland.
A small ruin of a two bedroom cottage called Pant y Fachwen provides a perfect stop for a break. It is hard to believe that 9
children and their parents used to live here in the late 19th century.

Later on we reached an old water mill, and once again were reminded of the busy wooden industry that flourished here.
We reached Rhuallt in a good time, eating our lunch on a bench, we followed the sign uphill out of the village, missing a sign on the right hand side taking us in a slantwise direction.

After half an hour and no recognisable signs, a steep hill we saw a road sign for Disserth and realised we were well off the Offa’s Dyke. Esther sweet talked a van driver to take us back down the hill and we were on our way. The right direction following a footbridge over the A55. We met a gentleman near Cefn Du Hill who was walking his dog, doffing his hat to us, we got into conversation. He had known Esther’s father, and falling into step he led us over the hill and down to the next intersection. Wetold us a number of stories about the residents around the path, which added a bit of zest to our walk. We were sorry to see him go.

This early summer of 2018 has been the driest and hottest in years, and parts of the walk is just scorched earth, looking more like the Australian outback than Wales.

We head through the little hamlet of Sodom, yes Sodom, no spelling error! It doesn’t take long before we are walking downhill, alongside woodland of pine and oak, starting the descent into Bodfari, reaching the road at The Downing Arms where the car is parked.
A great start to the North Wales section of Offa’s Dyke.

Bigsweir Bridge to Monmouth, Offa’s Dyke – day 2

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The path is signposted off the bridge. The road goes uphill quite quickly, as we walked a gentleman stopped in his car to warn us to walk with the traffic as there were a couple of deadly bends up ahead which restricts the driver’s view, so much for following the Highway Code!

We were quickly left into a field leading into the woods. Confronted with the path in front travelling along the joining point we were confused as to which direction to turn, but a finger post some 10 yards to the right pointed the way, we eventually decided that our way of travel was through the Woodland Trust gateway and not up the lane.

Quite a few ups and downs through field and Highbury woods, and then the long, steep descent into the village of Redbrook. We sat in the park and found it hard to imagine that this pretty sleepy village used to be a centre for the tinplate and copper smelting works, with all the horrible smells and pollution attached to those industries. In addition, there was a papermill,cornmill, brewery, trams and railroad and busy river traffic taking products to market.
The path heads up at an angle from the main road beyond the car park, clearly marked up the restricted byway to the bridge that used for the Monmouth tramway, passing the cottages, then cross the road and follow the signs, a long trek uphill as far as the stables. We were sweltering in the heat, dripping with sweat.
A woman driving down the hill stopped to chat. She said the lane ahead was very dusty and exposed to the sunbut we would get a bit of a breeze when we had reached the top and a barn. She was right!

By now we had drunk most of our water bottles dry! Only one left to last the journey.

The Woodland leading to the Kymin was cool and inviting, we spent a bit of time here, reading the apt words hanging on red panels from the trees.
The Kymin roundhouse was built by the Monmouth Picnic Club and the Naval Temple was built to celebrate the battle of the Nike. Today under the guardianship of the National Trust.

A splendid view of Monmouth from here.

Our descent into Monmouth starts from here, follow the pathway, reaching the end of the lane ignore the footpath signs to your right and the private property signs. You need to turn right into a field, leading you down to a very pleasant woodland walk.
Straightforward descent from here into Monmouth. We popped in for a drink at the Mayhill Hotel, and got chatting to the friendly host. They not only cater for walkers but also for cyclists, as they have a bike lock up. All the rooms were newly furnished. The thought of staying in friendly pubs as we move away from home put a smile on my weary face

Sudbury to Bigsweir Bridge, Offa’s Dyke – Day 1

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I couldn’t decide between Nancy Sinatra “These Boots were made for Walking” or ABBA’s “Mama mia here we go again”, while driving towards the Wye Valley and the start of Offa’s Dyke Walk.

Built by King Offa, around 780 to 790AD in response to some savage raids by the Welsh. It straddles the border between England and Wales, and is today regarded as one of the premier long distance paths in Britain.

The path is 177 miles or 285Km long it runs from Sedbury, near Chepstow in the South to Prestatyn in North Wales. We are going to enjoy it in easy stages
Thanks to an eight year old blog by a group of fossilers, which pinpointed a lay-by on Beachley Road, Sedbury as a suitable parking place, and following a bit of a runaround by my satnav in tracking down Bigsweir Bridge outside Llandogo, we did have our cars parked up by 10am and were ready to set off on the first stretch of Offa’s Dyke.

Rhonda,Huw, Esther and I set off from the rather unassuming marker stone at the beginning of the path, the signs with its acorn trademark are relatively easy to follow, Huw takes the lead armed with the map.

It gets quite suburban quite quickly, not particularly gripping, but there is a pleasant view near Woodbridge House, down towards Chepstow Castle and the old cast iron bridge linking Wales and England.

Feeling a bit hemmed in by the high fences and walls we get to quite a steep incline reaching a tarmac path, we didn’t turn left for Chepstow, but headed up hill.

The key highlights from this point onwards was the view down to Wye valley gorge, much of the outlook is obliterated from sight due to the summer foliage. Admiring the large houses with their manicured gardens en route while Huw led the way, the meadows are a golden yellow, the ground is tinder dry, we are grateful for the shade of the trees. The woodlands before and after Devil’s Pulpit makes you think Hobbit and fairytales.

From Devil’s Pulpit, so called because it was thought that the Devil preached from this spot, to try and lead the Cistercian monks in the valley below astray.
Magnificent view from here of Tintern Abbey and very busy spot for walkers to congregate.

We mused over a pile of loose change on a tree stump nearby.

Then followed a random meeting and conversation with a woman who was in a dilemma as to whether to buy a futon or a sofa bed. We voted for the sofa bed, and thankfully her daughter agreed.

Chuckling we moved on, descending to the pretty village of Brockweir and a shandy in the pub. We had decided on the lower route along the river, and it was worth it for the reflections in the Wye. The whole world turned upside down, or so it seemed.

The canoeists seemed a lot cooler than we did as temperatures reached 30C. The horseflies which had been an irritant all day latched onto us now with a vengeance as we trudged to Bigsweir Bridge to pick up the car.

Beaumaris to Llanddona – Wales Coast Path

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Our motto for the walk from Macbeth, much quoted by Lucy “I am in blood stepped in so far that should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o’er,”

Here we are at last, the final day’s walking on the Wales Coast Path. We were up early only to be greeted by a dense sea fog. By the time we positioned our cars and set off along the promenade in Beaumaris, there was enough visibility to walk, but not to see the glorious views across the bay.

Beaumaris Castle was a vague, ghostly outline in the distance. From the promenade we entered a kissing gate which led us up through a grassy field. We stopped to talk to a chap who was hoping for the fog to lift. We told him that by the end of the day we would have walked the 870 miles of the Wales Coast Path. He was full of admiration and wanted to know what charity we were supporting so he could donate. Several people had offered to donate to a charity of our choice enroute but we hadn’t really considered the option.

Once off the grassy path we followed the road clearly signposted – onto a concrete wall then a shingle beach, we tried to find some sandy bits as the shingle was hard work. Tip toeing along in the mist, we must have been a sorry sight should anybody be looking out from the houses as we scrunched our way along delicately.

Along the cliff face caves appear to have been dug out, while one boulder looks like an ugly giant’s face, alongside an isolated rock formation.

Before we are forced off the beach by a river running through, we stop to take in the big reveal. The mist has lifted a little and we get a brief view of Snowdonia in the distance. Tantalising!
We head inland following the signs to steps, another shingle beach and yet another long stretch by road to the 11th Century Penmon Priory, with it’s distinctive Dovecote which dates from the 16th century.

Exiting through the Toll Gate we make good time to Trwyn Du and the Penmon Lighthouse. Still draped in mist, we couldn’t see across to Puffin island let alone Llandudno and the Isle of Man. My hair is damp from the clinging mist.

The camper vans parked here for the night we’re getting ready to set off for the day, while we made our way to the whitewashed cafe for a cuppa.

The WCP turns left just before the car park here entering into an area covered by bushes, clearly signposted until you reach a long whitish wall. Continuing until we passed a corner of a house, we are signpost downhill.

From here we lost track of directions, just following the route around and between whitewashed houses, over narrow roads and wooded track to Glan-yr-Afon.

We were reminiscing about our walk so much we must have missed a sign, as the guidebooks talk about Llanfihangel Chapel while we found ourselves at Llanfihangel School, but we soon picked up the working farm which was mentioned in the guide books.

Blimey, I must have been tired as I left my camera on the wall here while I checked on our onward journey. Soon spotted, I raced back to collect it, the camera has been like an additional limb through this adventure.

Lots of work taking place on the path here, so the guidebooks don’t follow the new layout. There is still a steep descent down some steps though, and while we had rather hoped that we would end our 870 mile walk with stunning views across to Red Wharf Bay and Llanddona Beach, but that weird sea mist was still hanging around.

Down on the beach we found a local fisherman who was happy to take our photo, before we jumped in the car for taking on that testing road up to Llanddona village and home.

Llanddona to Dulas – Wales Coast Path

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As I drive down to Llanddona beach from the village I hold my breath. The road is winding, narrow and steep.  It was a relief to reach the car park as our friend Esther drives up in her distinctive VW beetle.

It is early morning and promises to be a glorious day.

The tide is out and we set off to walk as far as we could along the beach, before heading back to the sign posted path over the marshes. This is a glorious curve of coast to Red Wharf Bay and most of it follows the shore line. Over the little bridge we go before rounding the curve and stopping off for coffee at The Ship Inn, already very busy despite the early hour.

For some reason whenever I pronounced Red Wharf Bay it came out as Red Dwarf Bay and so it shall be forever more. Passing by the car park, we continued to the end of the road where the signpost takes us up the hill through a caravan park, towards the end of the site forking off to the right of the main road we missed a low level sign, and found ourselves in a new luxury chalet development called the View, which we didn’t have time to enjoy, as realising our mistake we retraced our steps downhill.

For the first time in months we feel hot under the noon day sun – just saying, not complaining. We reach the wooded path with glimpses of clear blue sea, large limestone quarry face tower above us on the left of the path.  We step onto the road at Benllech and stop for our picnic lunch on the benches facing the beach.  Families are out enjoying the early May bank holiday sun.

We gather ourselves and reach another caravan park, following the diversion signs, apparently there had been a significant cliff fall. I think we would still be wandering around the park if it wasn’t for a very kind chap popping out of his caravan and showing us the way onwards – the signs are pretty discreet to say the least.

A very relaxing walk onwards through Traeth Bychan and Penrhyn Point follows, with crystal clear blue water on our right.

Moelfre was to be our next stop – tea and cake at Ann’s Pantry beckoned.  A group of ladies were opening their fourth bottle of prosseco, I was envious!

We walked across the front up to the Wool shop that Esther used to go to as a child, holidaying with her aunt. Happy memories. Passing below the commemorative statue to coxswain, Richard “Dic” Evans awarded the RNLI gold medal, having served on 179 launches and saved 280 lives.

After the lifeboat station we covered some ground across the cliff tops, stopping to take in the Royal Charter Memorial just above the path. This clipper was on the last leg of its journey from Melbourne to Liverpool in October 1859 when it went aground. 460 lives were lost along with the cargo in a hurricane force 12 storm.  There was a great deal of gold on board, and the largest gold nugget found on Anglesey was discovered as late as 2012.

An easy walk to yet another sandy  beach at  Traeth Lligwy  with  the car park packed with camper vans, through the  sandy dunes over a footbridge to another car park, follow the signs to reach Traeth yr Ora, where you can go down to the beach but the path turns inland.

We then followed the path inland for quite a long stretch before  eventually reaching a small pond, continuing to the right of the pond we made our way wearily to the Pilot Boat Inn on the A5025.

Dulas to Amlwch – Wales Coast Path

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Having lunched in Porth Amlwch after our morning walk from Dulas, we decide to drive to Cemaes and walk back to Porth Amlwch, mainly because we felt that  walking  towards the decommissioned Wylfa  Nuclear Power station might detract from the mood of the moment, also we wanted to leave the car in Cemaes ready for next day’s trek.

This turned out to be one of my favourite walks, in addition to the natural beauty, this stretch has a wealth of easy to access heritage sites.

We set off across the harbour stopping to take in the Tide and Time St Patrick’s Bell, before heading for the headland.

Reaching Porth Padrig beach, the rock formation Y Ladi Wen – the White Lady stands out against the backdrop of the golden cliffs. No wonder Anglesey is a joy for geologist field trips.  Hardly surprising that the island is part of the European Geoparks Network and the Global Geoparks Network.

We walked across the beach and scrambled up the other side.  Our next stop was the enchanting Llanbadrig Church. Named after St Patrick who is said to have been shipwrecked on the island. There has been a church on the site since 440AD. This simple church is a tranquil stop off point.

Climbing over the stile in the churchyard, I try and make out the hazy outline of the Isle of Man.
From here, the walk gets more strenuous, with steep steps to Porth Llanlleiana. The clay works here were built over a nunnery, and created porcelain until it closed in the 1920s.

We made a choice here to stick to the more strenuous route rather than divert to an easier stretch, and continued to Hell’s Mouth – Porth Cynfor, another steep descent and ascent!

Moving swiftly on, we were fascinated by the completeness of the Borth Wen brickworks, from the ruined winding gear on the hill to the chimneys and kilns. It also features a natural arch that looks like an elephant’s trunk.

From here there is a nice, easy section to Bull’s Bay, the rocks here are over 600 million years old, which is how old I am beginning to feel. We watch a group of rowers in the bay, before pushing on to Amlwch, and are happy to see the bromide extraction plant come into view.

A brilliant day’s walking.