Friday 28th January 2011 Weather: bright and sunny with a bracing north-easterly wind. I continued along the Bristol Channel and at one point had to turn round at a nature reserve as there was no permitted path through it. Had to take a couple of inland detours because there wasn't any access to the water’s edge. The pub I hoped to stop at for a bowl of soup at lunchtime had closed down, so I plodded on with an empty stomach reaching the RSPB reserve at Newport Wetlands where I was accompanied up to the café by a couple of well-wishers who also kindly made donations. After lunch (yes – I got my soup after all and had the chance to stock up on some snacks!!!) I was joined by another supporter and keen photographer called Martyn who walked with me for a mile or so. I had wanted to use the transporter bridge across the River Usk but it was closed! So I took an upstream detour and crossed the river using the A48 road bridge. Throughout the late afternoon, I began to experience the friendliness and generous support of the locals. Cars were stopping to make a donation. One person even took the trouble to turn round and stop by me to put some money in my collection box. Very, very heart-warming. After dark I stumbled upon “The Waterloo Hotel & Bistro” – what an amazing place. I spent a wonderful evening in their bustling bar and restaurant, listening to a repertoire of songs radiating from the piano at the hands of Stephen Lancefield. A real pleasure.
Saturday 29th January 2011 Weather cold, with temperatures hovering around freezing. I headed off along roads and then risked a path which I feared might lead to a dead-end and a lengthy double back. On my way down, I stopped and chatted to a local who assured me that the path was clear right along the water’s edge: and he was right. Great news. Later in the afternoon, I followed the left bank of the Rhymney River in the hope that there was a way off the bank and away from the river. The only obvious exit, via a gate in a high wire fence was locked. Hmmm! I followed an unofficial path which led me on round the narrowing river bank and it took me through a tiny gap in a hedge and over a water filled ditch onto the verge of a road. My escape route! Then I tried to find a way over “scrubland” at the rear of the Tesco supermarket but was foiled by another water obstacle, too wide to get across. I ducked and dived my way along the verges of various roads towards Cardiff centre and was turned away at the docks in an attempt to find a way through. Well after dark I found a place to stay.
Sunday 30th January 2011 A sunny and chilly day. Headed further into Cardiff City Centre and was treated to a free tour of the simply incredible Millennium Stadium. Then down to the coast and around the impressive Cardiff Bay area. According to my Ordnance Survey map, I spent a good deal of the afternoon walking on water! I arrived in Penarth and had a look at the pier, collected donations and got advice as to where I should head for accommodation.
Monday 31st January 2011 Great to have cars stopping to give me donations. I was shown round the RNLI station at Penarth by Ian Mock and Ben Reynolds, members of the inshore lifeboat crew. Most of their call outs are to rescue people caught out by the fast and rising tides along the coast here. I had to retrace my steps on a couple of occasions due to blocked footpaths and decided to stay slightly inland for the rest of the afternoon to avoid any further dead-ends. In the evening, past Barry Island, I headed up to the perimeter of Cardiff airport and stayed at a hotel there. Yikes! They have a captive market and boy oh boy, I was captured! My accommodation budget took a knock!
Tuesday 1st February 2011 Weather was overcast initially but became clear and sunny later. Quite mild. Walked from Cardiff airport back down to the coast and on to Llantwit Major. Thankfully the path was clear right the way along the coast. Lovely! It curved round the perimeter of the power station at Breaksea Point. I stopped and chatted to a few people, and we all agreed there was a hint of spring in the air. Indeed, I had forty winks on a grass ledge next to a cliff, enjoying a hint of warmth from the sun on my face. I stayed the night in the Oast House B&B, part of the White Lion in Llantwit Major.
Wednesday 2nd February 2011 I was joined at breakfast by Cliff Edge, a wonderful name that befits this great character. Cliff offered to help rally support and publicity for my walk along this stretch of the Welsh coast, and I am grateful to him for his efforts on my behalf. After our chat, I headed out into rain and gales. Rucksack rain cover on, hood up and on along the coast to Ogmore-by-Sea. In the evening I was collected by Norma Morgan, who works in the health service specialising in dementia support, and taken to their home in Bridgend for the night for a delicious dinner and a hot shower followed by an early night. Bliss. In the morning her husband Andrew kindly drove me to the station so I could catch the train back to London. Two weeks of work beckoned to top up the walking kitty.
I will resume my walk on Monday 21st February from Ogmore-by-Sea for two more weeks. Come and join me!