Carmarthen to Kidwelly

18th June 2016

This walk is certainly one of our more challenging, and longest – but it joins up two completed sections (having already walked from Llansteffan to Carmarthen and from Kidwelly to Llanelli). So we set off at 8.15am to drive to Kidwelly station just in time for the 9.30 train. It was a bit of a surprise to have to put our arm out to stop the train, but thankfully it did stop and we got on and paid the £9.60 fare. The train station at Carmarthen was deliberately the end point of a previous walk so directly we set foot off the train we were at the start of the coastal path – and today was one of those rare days when every step taken was part of the coastal path.

Thankfully within a mile of so, through industrial estates, we hit upon a McDonald’s – albeit the worlds slowest McDonald’s – nearly 20 minutes for breakfast to arrive – we thought about sending Cleo through the drive thru.

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Then we were on our way and the main road soon became a slightly quieter road (but with no pavement) and then, once we had past through Croesyceiliog, we turned right down a country lane. Finally, after 3 miles of walking we got our first glimpse of the coast.

There is a certain irony to the next part of our walk as it was shortly after Sharon said that it was the best signposted path she had seen, and asked me to picture it, that we got lost!!

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One of many posts and signs

We are not sure how, but we missed a turning and ended up following a road and added about a mile to our journey but, after a “sun cream and water” break we made it back on to the coastal path and headed down to the estuary, through Ferryside and to the beach.

So after setting off at 9.45 it was now 1pm and time for some lunch. We had over 8 miles under our belts already and so deserved the sandy sandwiches (more mayonnaise next time Andrew – noted) as our feet recovered from the morning. The view from the beach was our previous walk and the castle at Llansteffan. Then on we went, deciding to stick to the path and straight away we headed up some steep inclines.

The next part was all woodland paths and fields, again with no coast line. And it has to be one of the least walked parts of the whole coastal paths, judging by how overgrown it was.

We walked through various farms and gardens along the way,  stopping at a farm house where a very pleasant lady thought that Cleo was her dog and tried to call her back inside. Then through a tropical forest with a step descent then a climb back up through a field again and our first paddling pool of the coastal path.

We then headed through Llansaint and the drop down to Kidwelly began, all along an overgrown track.

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A Cleo level view

Annoyingly we could see the train station across the rail bridge but had to walk to the road bridge – we say annoyingly, but when we got to Kidwelly we saw the castle and, more importantly, the Gatehouse tea rooms.

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Well it would be rude not to wouldn’t it, and even Cleo joined in on the act:

The castle itself looked magnificent and a very reasonable price of £12 for a family admission so we shall return there with all the kids to get our money’s worth.

It was then a short walk up the high-street to get back to the car and, just as we arrived the 4.30 train was pulling in. Not the most scenic of days, but plenty of hills and a variety of fields, woodland, coast and town made this a very enjoyable day. And the stats – 15.5 miles walked taking our total to 186.3 miles, and 683.6 miles to go.  Soon be at 200 miles we hope.

Andrew and Sharon

Pennard Cliffs to Swansea (First and second parts)

11th June 2016

This particular leg of the coastal path is going to be done over a few weekends – not because it is challenging, but because we have just under 2 hours each Saturday that Rhiannon swims in Swansea, which gives us the scope to walk about 3 to 4 miles one way and back again to the pool (which is in the centre of the walk).  So this week we walked west towards the Mumbles as far as we could in the time permitted, with 2 kids on scooters while 1 swam, 1 worked and 1 sat in the car lol.

The walk itself is all tarmac path and very flat so it was easy to walk 15 minute miles all the way. And within 45 minutes we had made it to the mumbles. I started taking pictures on the return journey. But first for the bribery….

It was a cloudy day and Swansea Bay did not look it’s best as we passed West Cross and Black Pill. The kids scooting ahead and then playing on the various exercise machinery.

We won’t count this towards the coastal path until we have completed the whole leg – but for the record today was exactly 7 miles of walking in 1 hour and 45 minutes and of that 2.9 miles counted towards the coastal path. Further updates to this blog to follow as we fill in the gaps on the walk.

25th June 2016

Part two of the walk had the same starting point, but this time we turned left towards Swansea, and despite the weather saying no rain – it was raining!!!

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Walking in the rain

We headed along the sea front, with the ominous clouds ahead but plenty of people out and soon the rain stopped.

The walk takes you round to the marina and then across a bridge which opens and shuts to let boats in.  For today that had to be out stopping point before we turned around and walked back.

So that was 3 miles more towards the total coastal path making 186.3 walked and 683.7 to go.  Still time for a quick pose and an ice cream later on of course!!

Andrew and Sharon

Llantwit Major to Barry

4th June 2016

We decided to stay closer to home this weekend and chose Llantwit Major to Barry, partly because it then joins up a missing section and completes the whole way from Chepstow to Southerndown, and partly because we wanted to walk early before the heat of the day.

So we parked up in Barry (again) and got the train to Lantwit Major. After a quick stop at Greggs for Breakfast we were on our way, but first we had to walk about 1.5 miles to get to the coastal path.

As seems to be the norm with our walks we had to head up a steep climb to start the coastal path walk and then we found ourselves walking for over a mile through field after field of rape seed plants and then corn on the cob plants.

There were sometimes views of the coast or an interesting object but mostly it was just fields.

The next few miles saw Abertawe Power Station get closer and closer and then just past Limpert Bay you end up walking for over a mile with a barbed wire fence on the one side and the sea wall on the other – not the best of views but we carried on and once past it we got to a nice marshland area with some ponds.

By now it was lunchtime so we stopped for our picnic on some rather uncomfortable rocks on the beach,

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Sharon rests her feet

Then on to Rhoose point, which is the most southerly point on the entire coastal path.

We then cut through PorthKerry campsite, where we found cabin for an ice-cream and a coffee before carrying on to the country park.

Then we hit “the golden steps” –  they were definitely steps, and lots of them, but I am not sure why they were golden!! After that a short walk across the Bull’s nose cliff we dropped down onto Pebble beach and along to Cold Knap Point.

If we hadn’t already done the Barry Island loop then at this point we could have crossed the beach at the watch tower as the tide was out. But we were able to head to the car and the end of the walk.

13.3 miles walked in total and 11.8 miles count towards the coastal path, making 164.9 miles walked and 705.1 miles to go.

Andrew and Sharon

Moylgrove to St Dogmaels

29th May 2016

Our second walk of the bank holiday weekend was a bit more ambitious and involved a lot more planning. The first plan from Sharon which left us with 2 cars in various places and us in a third place was quickly discarded and a better plan agreed. More ambitious because this walk included the highest point on the Pembrokeshire section of the coastal path and the book described the full walk as “a brute”, thankfully with the kids joining us we decided to do half of it today.

So my car was packed with the picnic and beach equipment and left in St Dogmaels (the end of our walk and the incentive to complete the walk was lunch!!) and we then drove to Moylgrove in Sharon’s car, spotting a mad-hatters tea party themed village on the way. Up front I want to say that I can not do the beauty of this walk justice in the pictures I have capacity for on here, so please go to the Facebook page Walkiescleo afterwards to see all the amazing pictures.

Loaded with water, sun cream and sun hats (as it was going to be a scorcher today) we set off from Ceibwr Bay and the site of Careg Wylan.

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We started with a small drop to cross a bridge in the cove…

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And then the steepest climb of the day was in front of us – this didn’t get us to the top, but most of the day was then about small ups and downs from this base height apart from one bit climb just before the Cemaes head peak.

Most of the walk was grassland with a thin footpath which was baked hard, and we passed a massive group of tourists coming the other way with guides.

We had to stop a few times for drinks breaks and to reapply sun-cream as we reached 2 hours into the walk at around 12 and still had a way to go. Water supplies ran out just before Cemaes Head but Cleo had a plan.

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Then came the big climb to over 500 feet in height, and Cleo decided to have a sit down on the slope for a breather.

A few more shots now of the fabulous views on what, for me, has to be the best day of walking so far for the pleasure of the surroundings – but if we had followed the planned route of the book we would have done 8 miles more before even getting to the start!!

With all the drinking water gone we were starting to dehydrate but as luck would have it we came across a farm campsite called Allt Y Coed which offered bottles of cold water for £1 each, so £5 in the honesty box and we were up and running again, well not running so much as walking!!

The next part of the walk was downhill and along lanes with Poppit sands in front of us.

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And then along the estuary to St Dogmaels which was our end point, and also the end point of the entire Pembrokeshire section of the coastal path – so we have done the first mile at Amroth and the last few miles here, but not the 170 or so miles inbetween!!

And then the reward – a picnic lunch on the beach, and for the adults and Mr Stickman a lie on the sand, but for the kids a run around in the sea.

 

Strava put the distance at 9.1 miles but more impressive was over 2000 feet of elevation. That makes 153.1 miles walked in total and 716.9 miles to go.

Dinas Island Loop and Parrog

28th May 2016

With the caravan sited in Cardigan Bay, and with 3 of the kids in tow, we decided to pick off a few of the shorter paths during half term which would help us make the days more manageable when we return later in the year.

So on a lovely hot sunny Saturday we drove to Pwll-gwaelog (which is just past Newport – the Pembrokeshire one). There is a small free car park next to the Sailor’s Arms pub and we parked there to make our ascent. Although the walk has some height to it, the whole circle is only 3.5 miles but it will save 2.6 miles from a future long walk as we can cut across the middle.

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Pwll-gwaelog is a part sandy bay with tall hills on both sides

After leaving the lovely cove you are immediately faced by a steep uphill along a narrow road followed by a steep uphill up a path.

Quite quickly you reach a decent height of 300 feet or so and the views are back towards Fishguard harbour, out to sea and at the steep drop below!!

Most of the people were walking the other way, but we decided that clockwise would get the best views as we dropped down into Cwm-Yr-Eglwys  later, so we said our hellos and kept walking, it was quite a busy path.

Then after 1.2 miles we reached Dinas head and the peak of our walk at 441 feet.

We had a sit for a few minutes while we took in the views and had a drink, then set off on the downward section, although initially every downward section was met by more upwards walking, and we past through some woodlands and alongside some cliffs with sea birds.

The descent then got steeper and we could see the estuary by Newport as we came down into Cwm-Yr-Eglwys.

Cwm-Yr-Eglwys is a really cute small village with a tiny beach and dominated by a ruined church and graveyard.

It was at this point that Sharon realised that she no longer had Cleo’s lead, and decided that she had probably left it 1.4 miles back at the very peak of Dinas Head when we stopped for a drink. With not many shops around and the lead being rather essential we decided that we would continue with the circular loop back to the car, have a coffee and cake and then set about retrieving the lead. First we had to pass through the campsite where Sharon gave Cleo a helping hand, and then it was a straight flat 0.9 miles back to the car making 3.5 in total.

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I should then put all the same pictures on again as we walked 1.2 miles back to the peak, collected the lead and then walked 1.2 miles back again to the car…but the strava graphics show it best.

It is worth just mentioning our further adventure on the way back.  Sharon had heard about the Pilgrims stepping stones at Newport and although we pass through Newport on a future leg of the walk she decided we would stop in Parrog and walk a mile to the stones. As the tide was out we could then leap from one to the next right across the river….you get the picture.

So it was a short walk along the river bank to reach the bridge which had replaced the stones as the means of getting across the river. We walked over the bridge and asked some locals where the famous stepping stones were and they looked blankly at us.. and then we saw them (just!!).

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Not quite what Sharon had imaged and it turns out the ones she was picturing in her mind are actually near Brdgend!!

So in terms of the total walk today, all in it was 9.9 miles but only 2.6 miles of it was coastal path (first time around) taking us to 144 miles completes and 726 to go.

Andrew and Sharon