Barry Island Loop

2nd May 2016

After a weekend of swimming galas and Sharon working on Bank holiday Monday we decided we had to sneak a bit of coastal path walking in, no matter how short – and the Barry Island loop was just the job for late afternoon on a Bank Holiday Monday with the sun shining. But how to get the kids to walk it as well? Of course – the promise of fish and chips and the amusements!!

We parked at Barry railway station, the scene of a previous start point and got our walking boots on – and some decided on a pose.

IMG_2213
Cleo points the way

We had to head down the road and across the causeway to Barry Island, and the main car park.

At the back of the car park a short walk gets you to the coast.

IMG_2220
Coast is behind Cleo and children

Although the sun was out it was quite chilly in the breeze and by now seagulls were using the breeze to stay perfectly still in the air as we headed to Friars point.

IMG_2223
Cleo flies through the air full of energy on the way to Friars point

The walk then took us along the undercover promenade where the smell of chips was too much to resist.

IMG_2228

And along the sea front besides Whitmore Bay to the climbing wall and on round Nell’s point.

We then detoured down to walk along a small beach before walking around a few backstreets to complete the loop. Time for one last pose before we headed back to the car:

IMG_2235
The elf has too many hands

Because of the location of the car, and some extra back and forwards to the amusements we walked 6.1 miles in total but only 3.5 of it counts towards the coastal path, making our total 141.4 miles completed and 728.6 miles to go. There will be a lack of updates for a couple of weeks now while other non coastal path related activities take priority.

Andrew and Sharon

Amroth to Laugharne

24th and 25th April 2016

Sunday now on our weekend away, and the book says that we can do Amroth to Laugharne in a day – coming in at about 13 miles. That is fine – but there are no buses on a Sunday, and our caravan is halfway along the route. So for the Sunday we decide to walk from Pendine to Amroth and back else we would be stranded, and on the Monday complete the walk from Pendine to Laugharne and get a bus back. Job done – but with Sharon still having her sense of coastal rock-climbing adventures in mind and 28.9 miles already in our legs this weekend, this is not going to be easy.

Pendine to Amroth (and back)

So from the campsite we headed towards Pendine Sands and in front of us the hill showed clearly the path we would take.

As we climbed so the beach got smaller and smaller, and our breaths longer and longer…

The view from the top of the first hill (Gilman point) was magnificent

both the views out over the point, and ahead of us Morfa Bychan, a small cove of a beach. But then we saw where the path was leading us – right down to the beach and then back up the other side was another hill which looked even higher than the one we had just climbed up.

IMG_2102

I left this picture full size so that you can see the path cutting up the hillside, around 370 feet up for that peak alone. And this time you stay up high for a bit longer, with some drops but not back to sea level…

Unless of course you are Sharon. Marros beach stretched out below us, with no-one on it. We meet some walkers coming the other way and they asked if we knew a way down on to it because they reckoned that if they could get down then they could walk along the coast at low tide past Telpyn point (Left picture above) and straight into Amroth avoiding the last hill. We didn’t, but helpfully we pretended to offer up a path behind us which might go so far. In return they told us that ahead we could drop down and get on the beach and might be able to time it right to get to Amroth – just under an hour till low tide and Sharon not only wanted to walk the beach all the way to Amroth but also then stop for food and find the time to turn around and get back along the beach as well.

We went for it, and with a bit of rock climbing (but nothing like yesterday) we got around the point and onto Telpyn beach and Amroth.

IMG_2146

It must be said, Amroth is beautiful….even though the official end point of this walk (and the start of the Pembrokeshire coastal path) was right at the start of the beach, we decided to walk the length of Amroth (an extra mile or so) and it was well worth it. We could easily see the seaside house being here – definitely high on the list.

But then we had to turn around and walk back – Sharon was determined to get past the first point on the beach to avoid a hill but I wanted to note the start point of the Pembrokeshire coastal path….

Then we made it around the point before we stopped for a sandwich, and I tested Strava’s ability with a run along the beach (was looking better before we then walked right through it!!)

 

At this point we had a choice – someone showed us where we could get off this beach further down and back over the 2 hills to Pendine – or we could go for it and try to get round another point with the rapidly encroaching tide. Guess which Sharon chose, despite the warnings of some fishermen that it would be tricky…. so rock climbing we went again, carrying Cleo all the way, and it was a good 15 minutes of climbing..

But we made it, leaving just one hill to climb and then we were back in Pendine – today was 13.7 miles and a massive 1930 feet of ascent, despite the beach cheats!! But only 6.8 miles of coastal path. Meaning 130.7 miles completed and 739.3 miles to go.

Pendine to Laugharne

And so a leisurely morning for our last walk of the weekend, and it needed to be with blistered feet and 42.7 miles already walked this weekend.

So we set out from Pendine and the coastal path pretty much followed the road right up to Broadway.

The path then suddenly went up some steep steps and into Dylan Thomas land – starting with a sign about the famous Llareggub uprising (in case you need it explaining – read it backwards)

IMG_2173

There are benches with famous lines from his poems all the way along, and then the estuary hits you with splendid views of Laugharne castle

A few landmarks – Dylan’s original house, the shed above the boathouse where he wrote, and a pink house (nothing special about the pink house except that we saw it from a distance on Saturday and since then every time we went past a red house Sharon asked if it was the pink house, yet she missed the actual one in Laugharne, so I have to include a picture of it for her!!)

Add the end point was the bus stop where we got to on Saturday

IMG_2198

As we sat in a lovely cafe in the town centre eating a fab breakfast, and then some fab cake as well (two meals in one!!), we realised we had walked 7.2 miles today, making 49.7 for the weekend in total and all of it was coastal path, making 137.9 miles in total and only (ha ha only) 732.1 miles to go. Roll on the next weekend,

Andrew and Sharon

Llansteffan to Laugharne

23rd April 2016

It is unusual for us to walk on back to back days, but with the caravan booked for the whole weekend  we planned 4 days of walking and this is the second and by far the hardest. The book says it is 15 miles in total, and also very hilly (that will please Darren), and it is quite a trek just to start out.

To be honest – we only planned to go as far as St Clears today (about 10 miles) – hence we parked the car there in the morning (7.30!!) and got the dog friendly bus into Carmarthen, had breakfast at Wetherspoons and waited for the dog unfriendly bus (back in the rucksack again Cleo) to Llansteffan. Off at the same bus stop as yesterday but this time we went left not right and headed for the beach and the castle.

For once we were prepared and even knew that low tide was just before 2, so as we walked along the beach we could see the tide receding. The official coastal path then heads up the hill and past the castle – but Sharon has this wonderful theory that we should try to always be as close to the coast as possible, and that if the path sometimes goes in land a bit, then we should seek alternative routes.  Today was one such day. The beach was so appealing to Sharon that she decided to see if we could walk on it for as long as possible and miss a few of the hilly bits.

Our feet were sinking quite deep in the sand, at some points above the tops of the walking boots, but the sun was shining and we had the whole beach almost to ourselves.  We reached a rocky part and after climbing over a few rocks we saw a guy and his dog sitting on the rock waiting for the sea to retreat far enough for him to get the fish out of his net.

We asked him if we could carry on along the rocks and get to the next beach and a way up to the coastal path. He laughed a bit and said it would be possible in about an hour once the tide went out enough and that on the next beach there we would see a blue rope which would lead to our exit. So off we set (with his cries of “good luck” still in our ears), more mountaineering than walking and definitely slower than if we had walked up the hill, but it was fun.

At times the drops between rocks were 10 feet or more and we eased ourselves down the slippery rocks until finally we made it to another beach. We walked along looking for the blue rope but to no avail, and at one point almost got completely stuck in the sand as we sank up to our sock tops in it.

IMG_2064
A bit too sinky!!!

We passed a man farming muscles, and then continued around a corner where we could then see no way past – it was all estuary or marshland and after a bit of exploring we turned around and walked back along the beach till we found another fisherman who showed us where the blue rope was – to be fair, we had to go in through a stream and woodland before finding it and then use the rope to climb up a very steep hill.

Sharon led the way up the hill and at the top we found the coastal path and the more traditional view.

We were quite behind now so decided to stick to the coastal path for the rest of the journey, even though it had to go inland at times, and it was a mixture of lanes and fields.

We found a lovely quiet spot for lunch and a snooze in the sun.

IMG_2074
Lunch time and snooze time

At one point we went past a farm and the sign said to go through the farmer’s field, so we did and then got completely lost wandering from field to field, stepping boot deep in cow slurry this time (Andrew!!) and after an hour we gave in and went back to the farmhouse to ask for help. Turns out the route was through a field of cows (who were very interested in Cleo) and the farmer had taken down one of the signs to avoid people using it we think. We found an alternative route through a neighbouring field and continued up and over the hills.

Finally we approached St Clears – well as close as the coastal path went to St Clears by the boatyard.

The coastal path then headed off to the left to Laugharne, or the car was right to St Clears – but even that was 1.5 miles away so we decided (foolishly) that we might as well finish off to Laugharne and then get a bus back to get the car.

I was running out of phone battery life at this point and we needed to rush for the bus so pictures are limited, but it was much the same as the other side of the estuary and we spent a lot of time on or near the road. Finally we made it to the bus stop in Laugharne just in time for the last bus of the day. Laugharne itself, pretty as it looked, will have to wait until we have more time another day.

So the stats – we were supposed to do 10 miles of a 15 mile coastal path walk – but with detours ended up doing 17.4 miles of walking and all 15 miles of the section. Our total ascent was 1501 feet which was pretty impressive. That takes us to 123.9 miles of the coastal path completed, and 746.1 to go. And another walk to come tomorrow!!!

Andrew and Sharon

 

LLansteffan to Carmarthen

22nd April 2016

With a weekend away in a caravan in Pendine booked up we decided to tackle a few legs of the coastal path over the weekend. Friday was the only poor  weather forecast for the whole weekend but with an early enough start we might just be able to beat the rain. The only problem was that having parked in Carmarthen, the bus to get us to Llansteffan to start the walk wasn’t until 11.40 – time for Greggs!!

We were stood in the bus station with Cleo, when a woman approached us and said “they don’t let dogs on the Llansteffan bus anymore, after one did a poo”. Sharon was worried that if she did the same then all middle-aged women would be banned from the buses as well – but our problem was that we needed that bus – and we needed Cleo to be on it.  So we walked around the corner, put Cleo into the rucksack and subtly got on the bus – thinking we got away with it.

IMG_1989
Cleo poking out of the rucksack

I say “thinking we got away with it” as when we got off the bus in Llansteffan the driver said “hope the little fellow enjoys the day”, and I don’t think he was talking about Andrew!!

After a false start in the wrong direction we headed up a very long and steep hill:

And that was most of the walk really – across a few fields, along a few roads (often with the coastal path popping in and out from behind a hedge) and (according to Sharon) mainly uphill, although Strava was to disagree).

We then found ourselves in a lovely BlueBell forest, which proved a good spot for some lunch on a bridge by a stream.

Re-fueled and re-energised Sharon had a game of hide and seek while Cleo took to some showjumping.  Then we climbed some stairs and through a gate to cross the main road:

IMG_2013

Then after some more woodland and some more ups and downs we met some fellow coastal path walkers – although I suspect they are slightly more dedicated as they had been walking for a week and had got from Swansea. We shared a few tales of misadventures and then off we went to have some more!!

An arts centre proved good for a pit stop before we headed along a floodplain, passed behind the B and Q that you always see when heading to West Wales and pass some fish sculptures. The pace picked up as the rain began to fall.

The bus station was on our left but we wanted to end at the train station so that we could pick up from there another day. So we crossed on the Pont King Morgan footbridge and found the station.

IMG_2026
The finish line

So today’s walk was 11.5 miles in total in 3 hours 26,  of this 9.5 miles was of coastal path making 108.9 miles walked and 761.1 to go!!

Andrew and Sharon