Wednesday 4th May 2011 From St Dogmaels to Aberporth. 13.7 miles. Weather sunny and breezy. Started the day with a further visit to Cyril Burton who gave me a couple of salmon and sea trout flies which he had tied for me. He is keen for me to use them in Scotland and I promised him that if I get a chance to have a fish and am successful, I will dedicate the fish to him and send him a photo of my catch! Such is his generosity that, had I not been able to carry it along with my two walking poles, he would have given me one of his beautiful hand-crafted walking sticks to take with me. I hope to return and see him again and fish together.
The new insoles in my walking boots have made my feet sore as they adapt to their new shape. Saw a dolphin! Made it to Aberporth and found a place to stay. Bought a heavy guide book for the Ceredigion coast Path from the Tourist Information Centre in Cardigan, and am excited at the prospect of being able to be chaperoned along another official trail. This is such a beautiful stretch of coast.
Thursday 5th May 2011 14.7 miles. Walked from Aberporth to New Quay. Rain at first and then cleared. Feet continue to be sore. My B&B hosts at Highcliffe Hotel transferred my rucksack contents to my digs in Newport and I am trying to give my feet a chance to recover! Stunning scenery and impressive cliffs.
Friday 6th May 2011 New Quay to Llanrhystud via Aberaeron. 14 miles. Weather sunny with cloud and showers inland. Luggage transfer again today. Feet still sore but slowly getting better. Some more lovely scenery. Met Nigel Nicholas who is in charge of the Ceredigion Coast Path. Stayed at “Sgubor-Wire” in Llanrhystud.
Saturday 7th May 2011 Llanrhystud to Aberyswyth. 10 miles. A few showers. Made it to The Richmond Hotel by 5.00 pm. One of my earliest arrivals ever. Enjoyed the late afternoon by the river. Trying to sort out a way of crossing the River Dovey to avoid a lengthy 30 mile detour along a treacherous main road with no pavement.
Sunday 8th May 2011 Aberystwyth to Twyn. Weather mainly sunny with the odd shower. Having completed the Ceredigion Coast Path, I managed to get a lift across the River Dovey with the rescue boat from the Dovey Yacht Club. The Yacht Club provided me with a warm welcome, tea and lunch and the chance to watch the final laps of the Grand Prix!
Ended the day in Twyn. Too late for dinner anywhere though. That’s when my horded snacks come in handy!
Monday 9th May 2011 A lovely day of scenery looking inland to the mountains of Snowdonia. Walked along well-made paths and some lanes. Crossed the Mawddach Estuary into Barmouth. Found a fabulous B&B with a window overlooking the beach.
Tuesday 10th May 2011 Walked from Barmouth to Harlech. 12.8 miles. Weather was dry except for a shower first thing in the morning. Banked the contents of the collection box for the Charity and therefore lost some weight! Mainly road walking today, including some A-roads. Staying in a B&B in Harlech.
Wednesday 11th May 2011 Weather cloudy with sunny spells. 19.4 miles. Harlech to Criccieth. Exhausted. Mainly road walking so particularly tough on the feet. Saw Snowdon clearly. Went via Portmeirion and was shown round by Glyn Davies. An interview with him may appear on the website later in the year. I met a couple of people today who had previously met me whilst walking round Devon and Cornwall! Also – a rather strange thing - as I walked past a boatyard this afternoon I overheard a very distinctive voice and looked across to see that the person talking (who is equally noteworthy by her appearance) was indeed the same person who had produced a short review of some camping gear on “YouTube”. What are the chances of that?!
I started the Llyn Peninsular Path and have been warned by other walkers that it is poorly way marked and often deviates from its official path. In fact one person I met said she gave up trying to follow it in places as it is virtually impassable in some sections. Just as long as I keep the sea on my left I will be fine!
Thursday 12th May 2011 Weather dry with plenty of sunny spells. Walked from Criccieth to Abersoch. Followed some of the Path but tediously circuitous and often cutting inland and on soft sand! Also impassable on some tidal sections so made progress along A- roads. Realised this morning that the two Welsh flags attached to my rucksack have expired in the windy conditions. The muscles in my feet are very sore. Abersoch is a nice place. Had an Italian dinner. Lots of motor cruisers for sale.
Friday 13th May 2011 Sunny and then some showers at the end of the day. 14.7 miles. Decided to stick to the lanes for most of the day. I enjoyed a long beach section with a bit of a scramble to get back up onto the path. The tide was coming in. I realised I had been followed by a couple of anxious walkers who assumed (incorrectly) that I knew perfectly well that the path left the beach at a specific point and involved a scramble up a low cliff to continue along higher ground! I didn’t, but my trusty “Satmap” did! Earlier in the day I had been forced to turn back when the way mark had sent me away from a farm and through a field of frisky bullocks with no exit! Looking on the map, the path was supposed to run through the farm yard but a bit of DIY signage was discouraging walkers from doing so! Stayed in a huge hotel room in Aberaron directly on the beach and I slept with the window open listening to the waves. Lovely.
Saturday 14th May 2011 Weather mainly dry with periods of rain. Stuck to the lanes for most of the day to avoid further unnecessary diversions and dead-ends. Walked from Aberdaron to Nefyn. Visited a beach known locally as “Whistling Sands”: in dry conditions this particular sand squeaks when you walk on it. Today though, I only managed a “scrunch”!
My feet are still painful, not only from sore spots on my skin but also from the muscle tissue inside the sole. Decided tomorrow (Sunday) shall be a rest day.
Sunday 15th May 2011 Had a rest day at the “Nanhoron Arms Hotel” much to the relief of my feet.
Monday 16th May 2011 Weather cloudy with periods of rain. Walked from Nefyn to Clynnog fawr. Got very frustrated with the path with its confusing route. It led me to a working quarry and then simply left me there with no further signs. I followed the main track through the works with the occasional lorry passing by. As I left the quarry works a van drew up beside me and a very pleasant man explained that there was in fact no public right of way through the quarry. He went on to acknowledge that the route of the path was indeed unclear and that they were trying to get it sorted out with the local council. He took a genuine interest in my walk and departed having made a donation into my collection box! Spent the night at a lovely B&B in Clynnog fawr.
Tuesday 17th May 2011 Weather dry with bright spells. Walked from Clynnog Fawr along lanes and alongside A-roads. Then along the Menai Strait coast with views across the narrow stretch of water towards Anglesey. Arrived in Caernarfon and visited the Tourist Information Centre who gave me details of a place to stay in “Y Fenheli” known as “The Pink Palace”. Whilst in the TIC, a foreign couple were trying to get their travel schedule re-organised. As a result of a misunderstanding with pronunciation, their travel agent had sent them to Caernarfon in North Wales when they had meant to arrive in Carmarthen which is in mid-Wales, some distance away from where they were now.
I had also been spotted by the local firemen who had made a point of stopping and coming into the office to make a donation. There was also the offer a cup of tea at their station should I have needed it. Thank you.
A couple of hours later I settled in at “The Pink Palace” with views across the Menai Strait and took advantage of their laundry facilities!
Wednesday 18th May 2011 Weather dry and cloudy. 17 miles walked from “Y-Felinheli” to “Llanfairfechan” via the first bridge across the Menai Strait onto Anglesey along an “interesting” walkway avoiding the traffic. Then along a short two mile section of the Anglesey Coast to the suspension bridge and back onto the mainland. The water was rushing through the Strait and I watched a high powered motor cruising gunning its engines to make passage under the bridge. Through Bangor, and then along quiet lanes beneath the western fringes of the Snowdonia mountains. Arriving in “Llanfairfechan” I struggled to find a place to stay. According to their websites, a number of local pubs and hotels provided accommodation. The reality was that on arriving there, none of them provided accommodation any more. As I searched for a suitable place to pitch my tent I was directed to a lovely B&B down next to the sea.
Thursday 19th May 2011 Weather was sunny for most of the day. Walked from “Llanfairfechan” to “Llandudno” (18.2 miles). Some A-road walking including some tunnels drilled through mountains! Lovely waterside walk through Conwy’s marinas and Castle. Rounded “Great Orme’s Head” – rugged but with a line of luxury houses with wonderful views over the sea. Completely spoilt for choice with accommodation. Apparently there are around 22,000 beds to stay in here!
Friday 20th May 2011 I was collected at 9.30 am by Sandy Williams and Tracy Stockin of the North Wales Alzheimer’s Society and driven along the coast to Pensarn. I was joined by Andrea Newnham who is the Dementia Support Worker for Denbighshire along with her two dogs. We were also joined by Ron and Hilda Foxall. Ron has been diagnosed with dementia and Hilda cares for him at their home. When we arrived in Rhyl, we were met by Mike Theaker whose wife has dementia and he also looks after her. Eileen Clarke also joined us where we had tea and cakes and a long chat courtesy of the “dementia café service” run by Alzheimer’s Society in Denbighshire. This is based at the Glan Traeth Day Hospital which is an NHS memory assessment clinic. This is also where the Alzheimer’s Society has its Denbighshire office.
It was lovely to meet people involved with the Charity locally and to have their company during the walk. After our time together, Sandy kindly drove me back to Llandudno where I continued along the coast to Colwyn Bay.
Saturday 21st May 2011 Weather dry with showers at the end of the day. From Colwyn Bay I walked back up to Pensarn and then on to Prestatyn. Along the verge of the A548 and ended up at last light staggering up inland to Holywell where I found accommodation in a hotel at the top end of the town.
Sunday 22nd May 2011 At 2.20 this morning some joker set off the fire alarm. After ten minutes of an ear-bursting din, I joined the rest of the guests in the reception area looking bleary-eyed, expecting a member of staff to be switching off the alarm. The only member of staff on the premises was the chef who lived in a flat at the other end of the building and he wasn’t able to help. I rang all the mobile and landline numbers displayed on the reception notice board, leaving messages left, right and centre. Meantime another guest rang the fire brigade who turned up in two rigs. They were unable to switch off the alarm. After an hour of me continuously ringing the “emergency numbers” listed by the hotel, I finally managed to rouse the hotel owner’s son who was on holiday in Cornwall. He made a call and half an hour later a member of staff arrived from the other side of town who was able to switch of the alarm. The fire service weren’t impressed. Neither were the guests!
Later that morning I set off, walking through Flint past its castle and crossed the River Dee, officially leaving Wales and returning to England… Cheshire in fact. By the end of the day my feet simply gave up. I made it to Parkgate and found a room in a great place called The Ship Hotel. Again, my room had superb views across the Dee Estuary.
Monday 23rd May 2011 21 miles. A very windy Wirral day with showers at first but cleared up later. Past Heswell, West Kirby, Hoylake, Wallesey and reached New Brighton with views across the Mersey. The gales had whipped up the sand along the beaches and my legs in shorts were well and truly scoured! Cyclists along the cycle paths were hardly able to make progress into the wind. At least I was walking the other way, being blown along by gusts of 50 and 60 miles per hour! Very excited to be looking across towards Merseyside and at the prospect of taking a ferry across the Mersey tomorrow morning.
Monday 23rd May 2011 I took a ferry across the Mersey which included a short river trip to see some of the sights. What a great city. I am so excited to have reached this far. Took a train back down to London for a few days and will return to Liverpool on Monday 6th June to continue along the coast to reach the Scottish border!