Thursday, 24 March 2016

A Change of Scenery

I continued my progress southwards along the Wales Coast path last week with a walk from Fairbourne to Llywyngwril. I had originally planned to walk from Morfa Mawddach station but missed my train due to Google Maps underestimating my journey time (thankyou Mr Google!). I had also skipped the section from Tal y Bont to Barmouth because it largely runs on the pavement beside the main road.

My GPS track for the day. The route was mostly very easy to follow with a few exceptions at the start near Friog. My total distance was only about 5 to 6 miles as I was worried about getting a public transport connection back to my car.
I started out by parking in the free car park next to Fairbourne Rail Station. I headed east out of town past the church.

The route could actually do with more signage here, You are supposed to turn left off the main road - I only knew to do this because I had a map.

Although there is a footpath sign here on this gate by the primary school, it's not specifically a WCP sign.
Even though I thought I was going in the right direction anyway, it was a relief to find a gate with the WCP sign.
Here was a point where I was a little confused. After passing through a farmyard, the owner pointed me down this track to the floor of the little valley which has a WCP roundel on the gate. However, the map shows the route going in the opposite direction further inland. Perhaps I missed a turning? After getting to the bottom of this drive I came to a little lane, and not seeing any signs I continued west back towards the main road.

Eventually I came to this sign which pointed me back the way I came. I walked past the end of the drive from earlier and continued inland.

Thankfully I soon came to this sign and was back on track.

There seems to be a newly laid surface that takes you up the other side of the valley. I have to say it's really steep! It certainly gave my hamstrings a workout.
The ruins of some of the old mine workings - surrounded by trees as they are they're strangely aesthetically pleasing, like a scene from a Lord of the Rings film.
It's a nice change to see some wooded hills on the route.

The view back to the coast, with the farmyard I passed through earlier and Fairbourne beyond.

Another punishing climb!

Quite a lush growth of epiphytic ferns on this tree - usually a sign of unpolluted air.

A wooden bridge over a brisk little waterfall. 

This tree grown right across the path, so you have to be reasonably nimble to get around it.

A view to Snowdonia inland.

Approaching an isolated farmhouse.

Barmouth in the distance.

At one point the path takes a hairpin bend and runs alongside a conifer plantation. Not the most attractive sort of woodland, but after climbing up so far I was glad of the shade, even in March.

There were quite a few standing stones up here. I passed one couple waving dowsing rods over them. I'm clearly not on the right "wavelength" to understand that sort of thing.

Another of the stones. Perhaps they were guide-stones for shepherds during storms or fog?

I think this kind of variation in scenery is a real asset for the Wales Coast Path.

Somewhere down there was my car.

Not a bad spot to stop for lunch. At the top of the climb you come to a little open plateau area.

The route then starts to descend to Llwyngwril. 

There were quite a lot of ruined cottages around.

Llwyngwril in the distance.

The descent was quite steep in places, and this section had a lot of water running down it.

The River Gwril as it runs through the village.

The Garthangharad Hotel - the main pub in the village.

St Celynnin Church from the outside.

It didn't seem to be a terribly old church, but it had a nice stained glass window.
Not far from the church there was a bus stop outside the school which I used to get back to Fairbourne. I was lucky to arrive at a good time to catch it as there aren't many per day. It was a number 28 bus if you are planning a similar walk - timetable here. There is also a rail connection.

All in all it was a very enjoyable little walk, with a nice change of scenery from beaches and wetlands.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

I'm not a Number..!

As I missed out the section between Porthmadog and Llandecwyn the other day, I decided to do this little piece of the route on the way back home. It runs just north of Portmeirion through wooded areas that provide a nice change to the more usual coastal scenery.

I parked by Boston Lodge at the eastern end of the Cob and then climbed up through the woods. There were little glimpses of the Glaslyn Estuary through the trees but you would be very much closed in during the summer months with the trees in leaf.
Woodland scenery is a nice contrast to beaches and clifftops.

Once you exit the woods you get a clearer view back towards Porthmadog...

...and after cresting the hill you get an equally nice view east into southern Snowdonia.

There's lots of these roundels about to reassure you that you're on the right track. Gwynedd Council has done a really good job with these.

A nice view of Ynys where I was walking the other day.
After the path brought me to Minffordd I headed back to Boston Lodge along the main road to complete a circular walk of about 3 miles. Luckily there's a good pavement along the road so it's quite safe, and worth doing if you have an hour or so to spare.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

The journey continues...

Yesterday I tackled the next section of the Wales Coast Path south of Llanbedr. I walked this in the opposite south to north direction to keep the sun at my back (less chance of sunburn that way). I parked up in the same place as before - Llanbedr station car park and caught a bus south to Sunnysands bus stop just south of Tal y Bont. The weather started out a bit cloudier today, which perhaps didn't do this section justice. With the grass still brown from the winter it gave some parts quite a melancholy vibe, but it would be much more cheerful in the summer. My overall distance walked was 9.2 miles.

The starting point on the main road down to Barmouth.

A lot of this walk was crossing fields - fortunately not many of them had livestock at this time of year.

Some bits were very boggy, even after the recent dry weather. They should clear up by summer though.

The next part went through a caravan site. I had to ask directions to find this stile tucked away in a corner.

The bridge over the Afon Ysgethin as you approach Tal y Bont.

More caravans - difficult to avoid on this part unfortunately.

The Ardudwy Way is an alternative inland route.

Back onto open fields... a little bit bleak and lonely at this time of year.

This ruined barn by the side of the route took the bleakness up another notch.

The approach to Traeth Dyffryn - handy to know there's a cafe nearby.

A cheerful little sign by the entrance to the beach.

There's a well maintained wooden walkway across the dunes to the beach.

There's a large shingle bank that you have to cross to get to the beach proper.

Quite a lot of surf that day.

The edges of the dunes were cut into these layers by the wind. You can see how a few million years of pressure might turn this into rock strata.

The beach itself was magnificent - a huge expanse of sand with very few people.

The northern part of the beach where the coast path leaves it to skirt to the south of shell island.

Quite an impressive panorama when you climb up onto the grassland.

This is the nature reserve set back from the beach. It's quite hidden away behind the dunes.

Another shot of the nature reserve with a little lake in the distance.

The next section was a causeway through a huge field of rushes.

I must admit, this part seemed to go on forever.

Llanbedr Airfield, which despite being described as "disused" on the OS map was very busy with gliders taking off.

Here you can see a plane towing a glider into the air.

The long road stretch back to the car.

Back at the train station near my car. It's good to see the train company promoting the Wales Coast Path. The train line is really well suited for exploring it.