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”

Aberdyfi to Machynlleth

24th March 2018

Day 2 of our weekend and the hilliest day with 620 metres of height ahead of us. But first our journey to get there. Today we drove to Machynlleth and got a train from there to Aberdyfi. But not before Sharon discovered the cleanest railway toilets in the country.

Machynlleth station
The cleanest toilets on the rail network
Bonnie and Sharon waiting for the train

Once in Aberdyfi (which is our first walk in the Meirionnydd section of the coastal path) we headed along the coast on the flat and found a nice little cafe for breakfast. Fully recharged we headed off on our walk through the town, but soon we were directed up to the left up a steep slope.

Up we go

The path started up steps and soon opened up to fields and woodlands, with a stream running through the path….

And a field which included one where the sign had been knocked down, so Sharon was able to make her own directions.

Which way?

Already the views were magnificent, but today was going to be about estuary views rather than beach.

Looking across the estuary
Sharon alone in the world

At this point we caught up some fellow walkers who we had seen setting off while we had breakfast, they were also on day 2 of the weekend and heading the same way as us but at a slower pace.

At times we couldn’t see the estuary but instead could see inland towards Snowdonia National Park and the Happy Valley.

Cwm Maethlon or Happy Valley

We climbed higher to Tyddynbriddell hill where a slate marks the spot where King Arthur’s horse Llamrai’s hoof scarred the rock according to legend.

Continue reading “Aberdyfi to Machynlleth”

Aberystwyth to Borth

23rd March 2018

Yes it is time for one of our 4 day walking weekends, and we are heading halfway up the west coast mainly in Ceredigion for this weekend. But before we start in Aberystwyth we have time to have a selfie with our coffees (thank you Suzanne and Laurence for the voucher).

We parked the car up in Borth near our base for the weekend and got the bus back to Aberystwyth for a short afternoon walk to start the weekend off gently.

The sun was shining as we headed along the promenade at Aberystwyth to Constitutional Hill. This is quite a steep climb, and has the hillside cliff railway which was not open today.

The promenade
Half way up the hill

And hills were going to become the theme for this weekend, as we realised we have chosen to do the 4 consecutive walks on the coastal path with the highest combined total height gained of any stretch of coastal path at 1960 metres, but more of our pain later in the weekend! For today we got the Strava record for fastest ever hill climb in the section, and we stopped for photos on the way doh!!

Still half way up

At the top the view towards Clarach Bay was wonderful and it was less than a mile to get there.

The view towards Clarach Bay
Typical views

For most of the rest of the walk the views were from the cliffs down to the rough sea below. We did drop down at Craig y Delyn to sea level but decided not to risk the beach route so then continued back up the hill to the War Memorial.

Dropping down to Craig y Delyn
The war memorial

And in a sign of how easy today was we were still smiling at the end of it.

So today was 5.7 miles walked and 320 metres gained. Our total is now 342.4 miles completed and 529.3 miles to go. Tomorrow is going to be much tougher.

Mumbles to Oxwich Bay

24th February 2018

Our first coastal path walk of 2018, and it’s going to be long one. We started off with a drive to Swansea where we left the car strategically close to a bus stop for later. We then biked the 5 miles down to Mumbles pier and a nice breakfast.

Ready to bike with Bonnie in her basket
Our breakfast view
In a dog friendly restaurant, so Bonnie was very excited

So at 10.25 we set off from the restaurant and headed up some steps to Bracelet Bay and Mumbles lighthouse, before passing Rams Tor and Limeslade.

Up up and away
Rams Tor

There was then a nice new concrete path to take us towards Langland Bay, but not before a rather steep climb up steps.

More steps – a theme of today
A few of the outcrops we will pass today
Langland Bay

And on we went after stopping for a not particularly nice cup of coffee at the Surfside restaurant. 2 miles later we arrived at Caswell Bay, at which point we had to take to the road as the tide was in.

After some more climbing we reached Pwildu bay, with a stream running to the beach and a bridge to cross over the river.

Climbing up through the woods from Pwildu Bay we met a fellow walker – who was walking from Mumbles to Southgate for the 2nd day running (his phone had told him to walk 208 miles this month apparently, and he listened to it!!).  We chatted and walked for a while but we were clearly slowing him down so we said our farewells and he headed off into the distance……

Our fellow walker heading off into the distance

We then headed towards Three Cliffs Bay and a stop for lunch at the halfway spot.

We then dropped down a steep sandy path (glad we didn’t have to walk up it) to a flood plain and stepping stones.  Now anyone who has been following our adventures will know that Andrew has had issues in the past with stepping stones – but not today – all the practice paid off and Andrew cleared them without stopping.

Sharon lagging behind

After walking past Great Tor on the cliffs we knew we could drop down to the beach to complete the walk to Oxwich Bay.

Great Tor

And that was our 12 mile walk, done by 2.45pm.

The end of the walk, joining up with the previous walk

But then we had to wait for the bus, so we popped into the hotel for a nice afternoon pot of tea, and very reasonably priced as well.

Then up the hill for a mile to the bus-stop.

And we got the 118 back to Swansea and the car, and then off to get the bikes.  12 miles completed taking us to 336.7 miles completed and 535.0 miles to go.

 

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

Margam to Porthcawl

8th October 2017

This is another of those days when we need to join up a gap between 2 previous walks – this one is a bit more substantial though at nearly 9 miles. We have previously walked from Margam Crematorium to Aberavon Sands, and walked from Ogmore to Porthcawl, so this one joins up the gap between Porthcawl and Margam. We parked in Porthcawl and headed to Greggs for our energy breakfast. Then waited for the bus to take us to Pyle. Yes, unfortunately we could only get to Pyle so we knew we had a 3.5 mile walk to get us to the Margam starting point!!

Waiting for the bus – some paying more attention to the camera than others

At Pyle it is a walk along the A48 (which used to be the coastal path route until the bridge was built over the Kenfig river but more on that later).

Margam castle and the flag is flying so the queen is in

And within 55 minutes we were crossing the M4 and ready to start the walk proper at the Crematorium.

Over the M4 today

The new route of the coastal path goes around an industrial estate and down a lane.

From industrial estate to country lane

It then crosses both the main London to Swansea railway line (unassisted – just look both ways and run) and then a series of sidings used by Tata steel.

Look, listen and run

This then brought us out onto Margam moor, which was very flat, and involved a simple long straight path.

We were uncertain where to go when the path split, but we were right to head across a footbridge over the reed beds.

It is this way

We then came across a flooded section of path, hence why it is the moors, and for the first time in a long time we got wet socks while wading through it.

Squelching already with many miles to go

The path then became more sandy as we headed into the dunes, and the sand stuck beautifully to the muddy boots.

Sharon sets the pace

Then we arrived at the Kenfig river bridge, which was the reason why this route had been delayed from being open – if you read the 2014 edition of the Wales Coastal Path book by Goddard and Evans it says the route is still under negotiation – it is open now.

We stopped for coffee and a cake here but Sharon was more interested in playing hide and seek. As our blanket was across the coastal path we also had a runner nearly run right through us.

We can see you Sharon!!

After our rest we walked along the dune, with the sounds of motorcross bikes all around. A couple of times we had to dodge out of the way, but the glimpses of the sea made up for it.

Pink Bay gave a great view back along the coast towards Port Talbot and Aberavon.

While ahead of us was Rest Bay and Porthcawl.

The next part of the coastal path goes alongside the golf course on the boardwalk – watch out for flying balls!!

And then we were in Rest Bay, and round to Hutchwns Point.

Rest bay

We stopped at the Atlantic hotel for sunday lunch. You would not have believed it was early October, sat outside by the sea front, and the food was very tasty.

Yes it is October!!

We walked along the sea front for coffee and dessert with another view.

Who says it is all about the food!!  And then we headed around to Porthcawl pleasure beach and the car.

Today was 12.3 miles in total, and 8.8 miles of them are coastal path. This takes our total to 322.7 miles walked and 547.0 miles to go. More importantly this completes Chapter 8 of the book and all the walks of the South Wales part of the coastal path from Swansea to Cheptow.

Andrew and Sharon

Briton Ferry to Aberavon including optional loop

24th September 2017

The purpose of this walk was actually to join up a very short section between Briton Ferry and Aberavon Sands, left from 2 previous walks. But in order to make a day of it we decided to make it a circular walk taking in the red route mountainous section along Baglan as well. So we parked at St Mary’s church in Port Talbot and walked under the M4.

Red route signs

Very quickly the route began a steep climb up grass covered steps, and it just seemed to go up and up and up.

Up the road
And up the steps
Looking back from half way up
Almost at the top

At the top (over 200 floors high according to the fitbit) and the route goes along the ridge besides Mynydd Dinas forest, and gives some superb views over Aberavon and on to Swansea.

The white square factory in the exact centre of this picture is where we will be later on

Then the walk suddenly goes along a road, past a farm and you find yourself in a modern housing estate complete with school – this is Baglan. You then walk along the edge of Briton Ferry forest before dropping down sharply at the McDonalds on the Briton Ferry roundabout – which was perfect – not just to have a wee and a coffee, but also because that is where we ended up on a previous walk.

Another forest
We have been to this sign before, but this time we go left not right

You then head under the M4 and along Afon Nedd, past the Brunel tower

The underneath of the M4
The Brunel Tower

Bonnie was enjoying the river walk as we headed towards her favourite – the beach…..

Bonnie takes the lead
Baglan Burrows
Almost at the coast

Time for one final look behind us at the hill we have just climbed

And we hit the beach, to join up with the previous walk from Margam to Aberavon Sands stopping for a nice panini in the seaside cafe before running for the car in the rain.

A total of 9.7 miles walked, but only 3.7 of them are new coastal path, taking our total to 313.9 miles walked and 555.8 miles to go.

Andrew and Sharon