Stage 72, 14th May: Menai Bridge to Deganwy
Having discovered another blister as I put my socks on, I was just a tad miffed as I left the camp site knowing that I had a few days of unforgiving tarmac ahead of me. A brief section of up steps and down steps through woods edging the straits gave me some encouragement. But without even a half decent view of the Menai Bridge I felt a little robbed and the next few miles of hard black stuff around Bangor, Bryn and Tal-y-bont to cross the Afon Ogwen brought my spirit down inch by inch. An approaching walker with big rucksack made me smile with the expectation of a conversation. But as he approached his eyes moved to his feet and he walked by without even acknowledging me. I turned for a loud and forced “hello” which was also ignored, but he turned his head a little sheepishly with my next rather….errr….stern words reminding him of common courtesy.
I finally got a soft path for a few miles along the sea front to Llanfairfechan with the added bonus of a swan’s nest with new hatchlings to linger at whilst trying not to disturb or upset the parents. After this I had the joys of a tarmac cycleway alongside a busy trunk road and a railway, so I just had to cheer myself up at Penmaenmawr with a Mint Magnum.
The Magnum brought sense to my world and I rebelled against the Wales Coast Path and its hard soulless surface. I scrambled my way down to the usually inaccessible beach to walk across the blissfully soft but very wet sands with a stunning view across to Great Orme (photo) and on towards Conwy where I was forced to rejoin the same cycleway to round the estuary, cross the bridge and finish my day at Deganwy.
Stage 73, 15th March: Deganwy to Pensarn
With more bitumen to tread I was glad of a short day and once away from the West Shore of Llandudno I had a long gradual climb around the road to the headland of Great Orme which was marked at 50 metre intervals along the kerb and neatly counted me back down again to the main Llandudno North Shore with its elegant Victorian frontage and rather quaint traditional pier lending rare and pleasing dignity to a traditional seaside resort.
A brief 15 minutes off tarmac took me around the next headland of Little Orme and then it was tarmac, tarmac and more tarmac all the way. Major refurbishment works to the sea defences and promenade were underway at Penrhyn Bay and there was a huge amount of sand moving going on, including pushing much of it straight into the sea which felt and looked somewhat futile to me.
The walkers equivalent of a desert continued as I followed the cycleway with no soft verges or view of note to offer an escape. Add in the occasional MAMIL creeping up on me from behind at speed and my mood was darkening to such a degree that I was seriously considering letting my walking pole slip into the spokes of the next budding Bradley Wiggins’ wheels. Time for a Feast….if only because I hadn’t had one for a while.
Stage 74, 16th March: Pensarn to Greenfield
With the hottest day of the year due, another day on the cycleway and the promenades of Rhyl and Prestatyn didn’t seem too appealing. Nor did the amusement arcades thumping out their garish crashes, clangs and beeps nor the burger bars, trinket shops and bowling alleys which all contrasted so starkly to the rather genteel and tasteful townscape of Llandudno yesterday. It all seemed a bit sad to me and though I don’t mind a little bit of naff fun, this was overdoing it. Add in the anonymous row upon row of identical static caravans and I am sorry to say that my return visit is unlikely to be voluntary. I’m sure my brief sojourn missed the good bits, but first impressions count on this walk, so I am sorry if I missed a hidden gem or two.
After Prestatyn I had a lovely few miles of what felt like rare beach and dune walking before a huge holiday park interjected and spoilt my flow down dune lined sands to the Point of Ayr and a walk around the gas terminal. If you had asked me which country the Point of Ayr gas terminal on the banks of the River Dee was, Wales wouldn’t have been my answer. So, if nothing else, at least I got a decent geography lesson today.
From here I began my trek towards England in earnest as I headed up river and inland to Ffynnongroyw and rejoined the road to Mostyn. Alongside the marshland walk to Greenfield I came across the very peculiar sight of the former ferry and cruise liner ‘The Duke of Lancaster’. In 1979 it was beached with the intention of turning it into a floating leisure and retail complex. The project never came to fruition due to long running disputes with the local council and now it sits adorned with graffiti and rust with rumours afoot that plans for a renovation and sale are underway. I suspect it will still be gently rotting away there in another 35 years time.
Rest Day, 17th May: Somewhere in North Wales
I’m not entirely sure where I am as I sit down and write this, catch up on my laundry, thank Mike yet again and see him off on his long journey home whilst I wait for ex work colleague and friend John to arrive. But I am told that Caerwys is near Mold and that finding a campsite near to yesterdays finish is about as easy as finding a nice little bistro in Rhyl. Nevertheless my stopover is another cracking little find and I am happy for a day off.
Miles to date: 1,504 Ascent: 247,500ft