Machynlleth to Borth

25th March 2018

If yesterday was all about height then today continues that theme but also adds in distance as we not only have 590m of height and 11 miles of walk to contend with for today, we also have about 5 miles of walk left from the leg on Friday to join up.

So we start the day by walking to Borth railway station….not part of the 16 miles for today!!

Sharon leads the way
A railway station with a view

The train (with the same friendly conductor as yesterday) took us to Machynlleth where we picked up from where we left off yesterday.

The first part of the walk is flat through the town and past the clock tower and school.

Machynlleth clock tower

We then turned left and up the Roman steps which were part of the original highway into the town.

The Roman steps on a frosty morning

After a steep climb we “undulated” for a while through the Llyfnant Valley, which was a beautiful wood. It was here we once again met our fellow walkers from yesterday….they had stayed in Machynlleth overnight and seen our train arrive this morning whilst climbing the first big hill.

A further climb

We then had a rapid descent back to sea level and across a river but then, to our dismay, the path climbed steeply again on the other side.

Steep climb number 3
The benefit of a climb is the views

At this point we stopped for lunch and had a long debate about exactly where we were on the map. I felt that we still had one big climb to go, Sharon thought we had already done it.

Lovely sky, buzzards over head and wonderful views

But alas I was right, we did still have another descent to get across a river, and then another climb.

Up we go again

But the view was worth it.

Looking back across the estuary
But a muddy and rocky climb to get there

We skirted Craig Caerhedyn to the West, and a rocky mount made a good look-out point.

Bonnie looking out
So Sharon does the same

Then a final descent to join the A467 and a nice new coffee shop at the village of Tre-Taliesin.

On our way down
Across the river

We enjoyed the coffee and cake, well deserved after 11 miles and well needed with another 4 or 5 miles still to go. Just as we were leaving the coffee shop who should arrive but our fellow walkers who had kept up a good pace today (or we were getting slower!).

Now on to the left-over walk from Friday. This was the flat part of the day, but the downside to that was that it was also across marshland.

This part starts out on a nice tarmac path, great for some pace

But then the ground got wetter and wetter, and muddier and muddier. Every step was giving us that sinking feeling, but by now we didn’t really care.

Marsh marsh baby

Aother fellow walker caught us up at this point and walked the last section with us….he only started walking the path in January 2017 and had already made it from Chester to here and planned to complete the whole path in 2 1/2 years, half of our target. Anyway, Borth station appeared in front of us and then a quick walk down the sea front and we were back at the caravan.

The back of Borth station
Muddy Sharon and Bonnie
And I didn’t escape the mud

So today was 16.1 miles and 590 metres elevation. It took us 5 1/2 hours as we were a bit slower today. The grand total is now 371.5 miles completed and 500.2miles to go. One more walk tomorrow.

Continue reading “Machynlleth to Borth”

South Wales Coast and Severn Estuary Completed

During October we completed a complete chapter of our coastal path book…Chapter 8 from Swansea to Chepstow…which is (according to the book) 118.5 miles long and gains 1780m in height ….who knew Chepstow was so high up!!

We thought it would be nice to link all the walks we have written up together in book order.

So the first walk according to chapter 8 of the book is from Swansea to Port Talbot, which we did in 2 stages, firstly we have Briton Ferry to Swansea which was our first walk of 2017 on 19th April, where the main roads into Swansea soon changed to be a nice canal for the 6 miles we completed. The second stage was Briton Ferry to Aberavon which we completed on 24th September 2017 with the optional extra loop of over 200 storeys of height and 9.7 miles completed.

The next page of the book is Port Talbot to Porthcawl and again we broke this into 2 walks using Margam Crematorium as a start and end point(and with over 18 months between the two parts). Our walk from Margam to Aberavon Sands was our first walk of Spring on 20th March 2016, although you wouldn’t know it from the coats, and it was a contrasting walk between industrial harshness and beautiful beaches over 6.5 miles. The other part started again at Margam, but this time we went from Margam to Porthcawl and this walk had a bit of everything from roads and lanes, and train lines, marshes and mud, dunes and beach, boardwalks, seafront and roast dinner and all within 8.8 miles.

Next in the book comes Porthcawl to Southerndown, which we did again in 2 stages. We joined up Ogmore to Porthcawl on the 1st May 2017 and here we had the famous stepping stones incident (Andrew is still trying to forget it), a beach walk, the fun fair and chips before a storm, which was 6.2 miles. Then on a beautiful August bank holiday this year we joined up Ogmore to Southerndown walking both ways on our busiest section of coastal path (except when Sharon led us off the path and almost over the cliff edge) and 3.8 miles completed.

Part 4 of the chapter is Southerndown to Llantwit Major, and we did this in one (allbeit backwards) so Llantwit Major to Southerndown on 17th January 2016 as one of our first walks. A foggy start, plenty of cliffs and mud, St Donat’s castle for lunch, past Nash point and slipping and sliding for 10 miles and over 654 metres of height.

Next up is Llantwit Major to Barry, and we completed this leg on 4th June 2016, again with a lot of cliffs and fields, Abertawe power station and the famous Golden Steps – the 11.8 miles ended at Cold Knap point, and we had already completed the optional 3.5 mile Barry Island Loop on a windy 2nd May 2016.

The 6th part is Barry to Cardiff which we did in two stages, starting with Penarth to Barry on 13 March 2016 which included a steep start, the pier, mud, Sully Island, the road with never ending lamp-posts and an ice-cream to finish the 11.5 miles. On the same weekend we also did the Cardiff to Penarth part including the optional Penarth loop – it was a beautiful spring day in the sunshine to complete the 2 miles of coastal path.

The 7th section is Cardiff to Newport which we did on valentines day 2016, and it involved a Greggs (that doesn’t narrow it down much!!) the gypsy site, not stopping for food at Tescos and then regretting it when the Chef at the pub had gone home (so crisps and coffee) and the missing bridge over the railway line for a very painful 14 mile walk.

The 8th and 9th sections in the book are from Newport to Goldcliff to Caldicot, but we mixed it up and did these in 2 slightly different sections. Newport Wetlands to Duffryn was on 10th April 2016 and will be remembered for 2 things – the transporter bridge and the famous “where are the car keys?” incident, luckily it was only 6.7 miles. We also walked Caldicot to Newport Wetlands on 28th February 2016 which was a very painful walk of 12 miles, with a bit of hobbling and the Goldcliff tea rooms.

And the final leg – which ironically started off our whole adventure is Caldicot to Chepstow which we started from Chepstow and headed to Caldicot on 1st January 2016. The famous bandstand starting point (so much better than the other end in Chester), sculptures, pretty sheep, the Severn Bridge and Black Rock over 9.5 miles.

And that is our South Wales adventure – if you were keeping count that was 122 miles in total for us with the optional loops and a few detours. When we set out we said 2 years to complete it all – we were a bit out, but we will get there!!

Andrew and Sharon

Oxwich Bay to Rhossili

19th August 2017

On a dry but very windy day we decided to walk in the Gower from Oxwich Bay to Rhossili. We had wanted to include the walk out to Worm’s head but the tide times and the bus times wouldn’t coincide – so we parked in Rhossili and got the bus to Towers.

The sign at Rhossili where we will end up
Sharon and Bonnie at the bus stop
Towers – with the road leading down to Oxwich Bay

We walked down the road to Oxwich Bay and found the coastal path sign before walking along the beach front.

The sign at Oxwich beach
Oxwich Bay

We passed St Illtyd’s church before starting a very steep climb and descent (apparently to avoid a landslip – so the book tells me).

Up we climb

And then we walked around Oxwich point and along to Lucas Bay.

Port Eynon in the distance
Lucas Bay

We had decided to stop for lunch at Port Eynon, and found ourselves walking both against the strong wind, and against 98 two person teams completing a run/swim from Rhossili to Oxwich – so on narrow parts we had to stop and let them through. We also found that part of the path had fallen into the sea so needed to detour inland and back out again.

Doh – lunch is delayed

In Port Eynon we got some cakes at the Life Boat open day and sat down to eat them when we heard “Dad!” “Sharon!” and saw Dan with his head stuck through a hole receiving a lot of sponges in the face – he was running the stall for the life boaters.

Dan enjoying a soaking

After Dan showed us the sights of Port Eynon we continued up and around to Port Eynon point.

Port Eynon beach
The Salt House
Port Eynon Point

The walk then follows the coast all the way to Rhossili – but boy is it hilly. We walked over Overton Cliff, Common Cliff, and Horse Cliff, and the altitude was clocking up.

Fabulous views but very hilly
A great coastal path sign
And the wind was whipping up the sea into a froth

In the sun it was very warm, especially up the hills.

So trendy
Bonnie leads the way
More stunning scenery

And we picked the best view of the day for our afternoon coffee and cake.

Cake tastes better with this view

We set off again having refueled and finally we could see Worm’s head in the distance.

There’s Worm’s Head

By now it was about 4.30 and we had been walking for over 12 miles, but we pushed on up a few more hills to walk around the top of the cliff above Worm’s Head and to Lookout point.

Sharon Looking out at Look out point
Rhossili Bay for another day

And we had made it back to Rhossili- A harder day than I had thought it would be, but then I was only just recovering from a night of being sick 30 hours earlier. There are more photos on the Walkies Bonnie Facebook page.

The total walk was 14.9 miles, and 14.2 of that was coastal path – and the total height gained was 2,076 feet.

Our grand total now is 306.4 miles walked and 563.6 miles to go.

Llandudno to Llanfairfechan (via Conwy)

6th May 2017

Day 2 of the weekend and we are leaving the bikes behind today. The first part of the day will complete the Llandudno to Conwy walk while the second will walk the section from Conwy to Llanfairfechan.

The start point is the end point from yesterday

At this point we were unsure which route to take later in the day from Conwy; the traditional coastal path route of 9 miles or the mountains of the alternative route which is 11 miles and has 600 metres of ascent to get to the highest point on the whole coastal path (hence no bikes today!!).

We are heading for here

It was overcast but dry today, and the first few miles were flat and sandy as we followed the river Conwy estuary to reach the bridge to cross into Conwy.

A mountain dog, she loves the sand.
Sandy walk
The bridge in the distance
The estuary

The castle at Conwy is very impressive and dominates the town.

Conwy castle

We stopped for a look around the shops before heading for the quay and our next British record….Britain’s smallest house.

Smallest house in Britain

By now we had walked over 4 miles and it was decision time….11 miles of mountain walking or 9 miles of flat walking. For once we took the safe option and went the coastal way.

We came from there

But we stopped for a selfie in front of the mountains!!

Bench selfie with the mountain route behind us

In hindsight we made the right choice; the views of Anglesey were fabulous plus Bonnie was struggling after 12 miles. Most of the walk followed the A55 and the train line, at one point far too close with lorries winding their way around the coast less than a metre from us.

Anglesey

We found a picnic bench for lunch with nice views over the Menai strait. Then a final push to get to Llanfairfechan including one quite steep climb, then over the A55 and to the car park.

Lunchtime

We made it

At the last traffic lights the red mountain route joined back up with us, and we waited for the bus to take us back to Llandudno and the waiting car.

Red route joins up

In total we walked 12.1 miles of coastal path. In hindsight today was a much better candidate for bikes than yesterday as we pretty much followed the bike path the whole way. This makes 270.2 miles completed and 599.5 miles to go. On the way back we were already planning tomorrow’s walk as well.

Bangor to Llanfairfechan

7th May 2017

Day 3 of the weekend and the plan was to join up to Bangor. We decided to park in Llanfairfechan and get the bus to Bangor. Unfortunately we missed the stop to get off; ended up in the town centre and had to walk over a mile back to get to the coastal path!! But on a beautiful day like today we weren’t going to worry too much.

Bangor university

We passed Bangor university on the way to Bangor pier….the 2nd longest pier in Wales and number 10 in the UK.

Wales’s second longest pier

The photograph is slightly deceiving as the pier reaches about halfway across the Menai Strait, but here is looks like it is almost touching Anglesey in the background. This is about as close as we will get to Anglesey until we start walking it (amazingly Anglesey is 50 miles more walking than the whole of Chester to Bangor – it will take 11 days and 130 miles to get right round Anglesey).

Anglesey to the left and Llandudno and Llanfairfechan to the right
Llanfairfechan
Tempting to go that way but need to head inland

After a brief walk along the coast the coastal path turns abruptly right and heads inland through the woods. This might change in the future if Penrhyn Castle ever gives access across it’s land.

But the woods were beautiful with the bluebells in full bloom.

Perfect timing

Eventually we turned off the woodland path, near a ford and along a road. A new section of coastal path diverted us off the small lane and onto a pavement through an empty area earmarked for an industrial estate. Then we walked through fields and roads, zigzagging our way back towards the coast.

Over a river
Past some fields
Across a sheep field

We then reached a nature reserve and here we should have stayed on the road and down to the car park, but we were so distracted by the unique opening gate that we entered the reserve instead.

Unusual gate

No harm was done and we popped through an opening and out onto the beach where we sat on the picnic blanket for lunch.

Time for lunch and what a blue sky

From then on we stayed on the coast, sometimes on the beach, other times on a path besides the beach.

Cute house, possible seaside home?

Bonnie showed off her balancing skills along the wall, but sadly wasn’t quite as skilled when she reached the duck lake where she leant forward too far and fell in. We discovered Bonnie can swim but she needed a helping hand to get out, and looked like a drowned rat afterwards.

Good balance
Drowned!!
Llandudno looks like an island

Only in Britain would there be children playing on the beach in bathers in 15 degree weather.

Where is the water?

Before we headed back to the car we stopped for an ice cream and a little snooze!!

Another ice-cream selfie in the sun
Sleeping “beauties”
We’ve been both ways from here now!

So that was the end of another wonderful walk in sunshine with 10 miles of coastal path completed today. We have now walked the first 82 miles of coastal path from Chester to Bangor, and the last 81.5 miles of coastal path from Southerndown to Chepstow.

Overall we have now walked 280.2 miles and have got 589.5 miles to go… below 600!! A wonderful weekend of walking and we have really enjoyed the North Wales coast, it is very beautiful.

 

 

Ogmore to Porthcawl

1st May 2017

We are getting back into the swing of it now (coastal path walking for the second weekend running), and decided to use the May Day Bank Holiday to complete another nearby section – Ogmore to Porthcawl. The advantage of completing this section was the fun fair at the end which persuaded 4 children to join us (to be fair the missing 1 was in Scotland!!).  So logistically it was quite complicated – we parked one car in PorthCawl and all got into the other car and drove to Ogmore.

Ogmore Village – free parking in a layby

It is a short walk down to Ogmore Castle, which we took a look around while waiting for the tide to go out.

Not much of Ogmore castle left
Yes there are stepping stones, but some are under water

Why did we need the tide to go out?  Because it was “easier” to go across the stepping stones than to walk a mile further in-land to find a bridge to cross over the River Ogwr. Even after our wait some of the stones were under water, and the river was still about 2 feet deep. Dan led the way across, Carys was more hesitant, but did well. The worst one was Andrew – the heavy bag was upsetting balance (honest), and “we” took about 10 minutes to get across the stones.  But no-one fell in, so Sharon lost her bet!!

Sharon giving Bonnie a helping hand across the stones

The coastal path then follows a road through Merthyr Mawr, through a car park in the woods and then down a horse track of mainly sand.

Well signposted here
Down the horse track

For about a mile the ground is hilly and sandy, and then you come out on the river Ogwr again, and can see Ogmore across the other side of the river. So this is an example of about a 5 or 6 mile detour to get across a small rivermouth.

Looking back to Ogmore
Sun cream time – Dan may have overdone it

We stopped on the beach to put some sun cream on, and for a nice cake.

Then we recreated an Enid Blyton novel – The Famous Five sit on a log.

The next few miles were then walking along the beach; the actual coastal path runs behind the beach on the sand dunes but Bonnie much prefers the sand – she even recreated the famous Cleo jump…..

Trecco Bay in the distance ahead of us
The tide was out

And before you know it you are walking alongside the Trecco Bay holiday park and Porthcawl comes into view. The little sticking out bit with a small lighthouse is worth a stroll.

A small headland
Carys looking over to Porthcawl

The coastal path then goes inland to avoid the amusement park – but we decided to detour in for a few rides.

Rhiannon and Elise in front – Sharon and Carys behind – this is before it went about 50 miles an hour and made them dizzy

Luckily the coastal path goes right by Beales fish and chip shop – the best chips in Porthcawl as the queue out the door confirms. We had to stop and taste them!!

But then it was time to do the car swap again, before the looming storm clouds started a downpour.

And it certainly did downpour

So this walk was 6.2 miles in total. We still have remaining a little 3 or 4 mile section between Southerndown and Ogmore for an evening stroll, or otherwise we would have completed from Chepstow to Porthcawl. But the 6.2 miles walked today makes 246.1 in total, and 623.8 to go still.  Roll on next weekend when we will get below 600!!

Andrew and Sharon

 

Briton Ferry to Swansea

19th April 2017

I can’t believe it is April and this is our first coastal path walk of the year. We have had to wait for Bonnie to be old enough and strong enough to walk with us, but over the last few weeks she has already proved herself more than ready, easily walking 8 or 10 miles and loving it.

So on our way down to Pembrey we decided to stop off and join up a little bit more of our South Wales part of the coastal path. We have gaps from Southern Down all the way to Swansea that we will pick up over the coming weeks so that soon we will have completed from Chepstow to the Gower.  So today we parked at Briton Ferry ready to walk the 6 miles into Swansea and join up with the stopping point of a previous walk in Swansea.

The start point
Over the road we go

The signs that are so familiar – left for Port Talbot but right to Swansea (we will see this sign again when we join up Port Talbot to Briton Ferry another day). And here is Bonnie on her first coastal path walk.

The first couple of miles are along main roads, with a view of the M4 and the dual carriageway into Swansea, so really nothing to write about.

Then the coastal path surprisingly takes you off the road you would normally drive into Swansea on, and towards Jersey Marine.

The M4
The other side of the M4

Turning left at Jersey Marine leads you to a lovely canal walk for about 2 miles, it is the Tennant Canal running alongside Crymlyn Bog.

Tennant canal

If it had a bench to stop for lunch then it would have been perfect but at the end of the canal we found a rock to eat our sandwiches on, and give Bonnie a well earned rest.

Time for my lunch

Then on into Swansea, over Fabian way, and past the Premier Inn, to get the marina.

Over Fabian Way
Swansea Marina

To join up with our previous walk we had to cross over the marina on the bridge and find the coastal path sign by the coffee shop….

The finish point

And then we decided that rather than walk back the 6 or 7 miles to the car we would take Bonnie on her first bus ride – but £4.30 each for a single journey – the driver must have been Dick Turpin in a previous life.

Looking out the window

So not our longest walk – 7.5 miles in total of which 6 miles were coastal path – making 239.9 miles completed and 630.0 miles to go.

A big weekend of walking in 2 weekends time will get us below the 600 mile point.

All the pictures from this walk are on the Walkies Bonnie facebook page – request access to this closed group by contacting us from the homepage of this site.