Tuesday 15 March 2016

Walking for Velindre 2016

Having walked for fun last year on Offa's Dyke, this year we are planning more fundraising, walking various paths - so see new blog....Walking for Velindre 2016...

And if you would like to donate...my Justgiving page...

Thank you!!

Friday 4 September 2015

Post script - Castlemartin West - 17th August, 2015

In addition to the Final Lap!!, we always knew there was this particular part of the Path that we had missed. This due to the fact that the MOD owns this part of the coast and has done since the war. It was used extensively for training for wartime activities - a lot of them secret, and it is still used today quite extensively. For those of you who know the Pembrokeshire path, you will know that you can only cross certain parts of the southerly path at certain times when no firing is taking place. We had been lucky on the walk that we had been able to pass across to see St Govan's Head and chapel and the Green Bridge but that was partly due to doing the walk in the winter I think!
Castlemartin West is only open to walkers a very few times a year. These walks can only take place with guides who are volunteers from the Pembrokeshire path wardens. We had duly booked on this walk at the beginning of the year so were really excited to now be able to cover this ground! Back to Castlemartin...
The group of about 24 of us met at Merrion camp by 10. A new experience for us on a guided walk! It was a beautiful morning - warm and sunny. We drove our cars and the mini bus to the car park at Stack Rocks. First of all we took a look again at the Green Bridge -

- fabulous views and not nearly as windy as last time we'd been here when we nearly got blown away!

We also heard that a cliff bridge had collapsed after the storms - strange to think it had been attached on our last visit....
Before....there it was in the middle looking at it on approach..
....and there it was looking from the Green Bridge in October, 2013
and after.... as it is in August, 2015
So off we set onto forbidden territory. It was exciting to be walking here although we were warned not to touch anything that looked like ordnance - and we did see quite a lot of old shells and so on and evidence of bouncing shells all day. The guides were super all day - Vicky and Ian. We heard so many interesting facts about history, landscape, wildlife - and as you will see, also saw so much on an idyllic day!
First of all we headed to the Wash. As we walked we saw lots of cocoons in the grass and discovered these were the eggs - and now caterpillars - of the marsh fritillaries...
The Wash is a special little cove which we recognised we had seen from the last headland of our October, 2013 walk, Mewsford Point near Bullslaugter Bay. Today the grass path down to the Wash was full of golden samphire...
....and normal marsh samphire and plenty of sea lavender. The view was terrific on rock which must be very slippery in wet weather - today it was stunning!
And within the rocks which again are limestone here, were so many fossils. I can't remember all the names now - that's something else I have to check out when I have time! But here a couple of pictures of them. There were SO many!

And apparently another good place to see a lot around here is at Stackpole - when the tide is out!

Back up to the path again on the top, we soon found more lovely flowers - the eyebright..
..amongst others. So many of these marine plants grow kind of in miniature because of the weather conditions. There were also lots of scabious which is the main food attraction for the marsh fritillaries. Ragwort is apparently the main food for cinnabar beetles - I told you we found out lots of things!
As we walked along with marvellous views out to sea, we also passed the odd rusty old tank or 2, testimony to past and present!
The cliffs on the whole stretch of coast here are just amazing....
and once around that particular headland, we saw a huge blowhole. Clear to see that it won't be too long before there is another cliff collapse going to happen. The noise that the sea must make here in winter must be phenomenal!
I gather that with younger groups, the guides do take people crawling along the grass to peer into this hole - glad we were deemed too old!

More my cup of tea was spotting 3 choughs as we walked along - and they were not at all spooked by our approach. It was amazing to see them so close and I got quite a lot of photos of them, both in the grass and in flight! I had my camera with me today so wasn't relying on a camera phone so they were much better quality..

And our next port of call was the magnificent Pen-y-Holt Bay...
It was such a beautiful place and we sat here and had lunch overlooking the amazing view. There is a collapsed arch which collapsed I believe in Victorian times...

and a wonderful stack......wonder who you might think it looks like...
And once more cliffs which have been crushed and bent into amazing shapes...
....we even had a crab fisherman to watch...
And here was the group watching..
From there we followed the coast closely, passing behind the stack - did he look different from this angle?
Along the way were more astonishing cliffs to see..
 And what about this angle? Now we had to reveal our guesses - the vast majority had gone for de Gaulle who is usually the favourite it seems. I had gone for Ted Heath and Ken Dodd was a popular guess.
As we were coming towards an iron age fort (which I was very excited about again!), we passed a couple of rock stacks where Ian asked us to spot a shell....I was looking for ages for a seashell having forgotten that we were actually on a military site so it took me longer than everyone else to see it - can you see it there top right?
Having walked around Pen-y-Holt Bay and its stack, we had also been walking around a small rocky island out at sea which has been and still is a bit of a nasty danger to shipping. There have been several wrecks on it. To me it looked like a big sandcastle today.
And so we came to the fort - of course some of it is already in the sea but there is a lot of it left too. The trainees are warned not to fire in this direction! It is quite an impressive fort which had huge earthworks..
There are ring huts inside which can be spotted more easily form above in winter but the ditch at the western end has fallen into the cove and so it has formed a real transverse section of what the earthworks would have been like so you can get a good indication of how massive it would have been.
So we came round to Linney Head with its old lookout tower, now redundant. The views across to the Dale peninsula and Skomer Island were wondrous..
In the sea off the headland here was spotted a grey seal..
..who saw us very clearly. I was in severe trouble going near the edge...as you can see we were quite high up...
and the cave nearest us was where the seal headed..
Following the coast like glue, we soon had views across to Frainslake Sands (MOD property - think they should share it...) which adjoins the fantastic Freshwater West - or Fresh west to locals.
On the cliffs here was a Tobruk shelter which was a training shelter for wartime as these would have been built in enemy lands - and in fact are still used today..
We couldn't cross the Sands here as we would have been able to before the storms as the cliffs beyond are now a little unstable so we just had a rest on the beach looking out to the Dale peninsula, Skomer and Skokholm islands.
We saw a ferry going out of the Haven. And the beach itself was so pretty - the rock formations an absolute picture..
And so we had to leave the sea behind to cross the Brownslade dunes. 
There were still interesting things to discover. First we passed a now sunken watermill - Frainslake Mill..
and soon passed a limekiln - of course, with so much limestone around! and the land here had belonged to a Mr Myerhill who had set up a model farm here back in the 1700's. He had a large mansion, now demolished but only by the army in the 1970's and an outstanding garden, now just completely overrun. And a little further along the track is the huge farm which had to be given over to the MOD and is now just ruinous.
Such a tragedy to lose so much history. Ironically, the farm manager's house has had a roof put on it, albeit made of tin, because there are a pair of barn owls residing in it! Well, I thought it ironic.

And so we were back at the minibus which was to return us to Stack Rocks car park. What a wondrous day - and a credit to the 2 guides who showed us so much. We reckoned we'd walked about 7 and a half miles on the walk which is "advertised" at 6 - whatever it had been, it was worth every foot of it!

We hope to be doing more return walks to our favourite parts so will keep you "posted"!

Hope you enjoyed reading about it - book yourselves on a walk soon!

In the meantime, we have now walked Offa's Dyke Path too........see blog at:
Pam and Chris Walking Offa's Dyke

Thursday 26 March 2015

Final Lap! 13-16 March 2015

This really is the final lap of the coastal walk proper now. Chris had missed out the Barmouth to Harlech miles last year due to bad feet and was determined to win his certificate by fair means and with pride! So we organised this weekend before Christmas. All the Wales Coast Path helpers were with us to celebrate!
We set off on Friday 13th (always been a lucky date for me!) with great excitement and anticipation to be on the WCP once more. We were driving first thing through some sleet and the hills had icing sugar tops which was a bit worrying but the forecast looked not bad....we hoped! So we arrived at Dyffryn Ardudwy and parked up (expensive at £5 we thought) as we had decided to walk back to Barmouth from here so that we could meet up with Julia and Richard who would be walking back towards us from Barmouth. We said hi to the beach and then headed inland - always annoying to do that on the coast path but the daffodils in the hedgerows made it prettier and it had to be done!

Crossing some fields, this time with many new lambs, we soon headed up to the road and having passed around Tal-y-Bont, we had good views back towards the Llyn and to the beach below us...... a shame the tide was in or we could have beach walked! (My never ending WCP cry!!)
.....and ahead towards Barmouth and over the estuary to Llwyngwril with memories of that lovely walk almost a year ago now! The sky was quite glowering which added to some of the views...It did seem strange to be going the WRONG way round again!
And soon we arrived at the Barmouth sign to welcome us once more...
It wasn't long then before we spotted Julia and Richard heading towards us. They had had a long journey to get to us from Surrey!
Julia and I remembered our walk here, the couple of times when we got lost particularly! We had liked this little church on our walk last year - what a lovely place...
It wasn't long before we were dropping down to the promenade across the railway, ready for lunch! And with wonderful views of the sea and the whole of Barmouth Bay..
We had made good time achieving our 6 miles and headed across the dunes to meet up with the next WCP comrade, Chris's sister, Joanna. 
We drove to the lovely house we had booked for the weekend, Tan Llan just up the estuary in Llanelltyd, passing a snow dusted Cadair Idris en route! What a spectacular mountain!
During the evening, after we had enjoyed a good meal at the Last Inn in Barmouth (Julia's favourite!), the rest of the party assembled......Helen, Greg and the boys (our partners from the end of Anglesey) then Jane and Arthur and the girls (partners from the Llyn peninsula) and then Catherine and Olwyn (partners from Pendine to Stackpole). 
Saturday 14th March
After a wonderful night's sleep in the luxurious house, we set off with a cunning plan of where to leave which cars which actually worked perfectly! All foregathered on the beach at Dyffryn once cars were in place....
It had been decided that the remaining 9-10 miles to Harlech was too far for the smallest so the party split. 
Chris was accompanied by Jane, Julia, Catherine, Greg and Richard for the whole distance. 
Off they set.....
...........soon disappearing ahead of us....

..............whilst I walked with Joanna, Helen (suffering with sciatica), Arthur, Ben, Alex, Olwyn, Abigail and Susannah. We had parked a car at Llanbedr so our party needed to walk to shell Island. What a fun day!
As we set off around midday finally (!) the sky was bright with wonderful light over the sea...and the children loved the dunes...There was hardly anyone else on the beach until we arrived closer to Shell Island.
The children were all so good and enjoying themselves. But after we had stopped for lunch in the dunes, the cloud seemed to make the temperature drop and although there was no complaining, I was aware that we still had a way to go and the little ones were really cold.....
As we left the beach at Shell Island - I think we had walked 3 or so miles in fact - I called the forward party thinking they would nearly have finished and be able to assist with cars and was surprised to find they had only just passed Llanbedr. I was in trouble for such comments.........in fact they averaged 2.7 mph that day!

So in the meantime, here they were heading off the beach...
It seems the signposting is better than last year here as Julia and I ended up walking across the causeway and now the signs are clear to see. Then they headed over the dyke beside the river after the car park in Llanbedr.....
..........and then out around the estuary at Pensarn station ( the bridge is repaired now so they didn't get lost on a diversion here as Julia and I did!!)
They passed the lovely little church at Llandanwg - Richard loved the word....
..then headed up to the road for a short distance before heading back down to the beautiful Harlech beach....
...Chris was especially pleased to be here at last!
And so having crossed the railway and scrambled across the rocks...
............. they were beach walking once more, 

.and almost at the end...
......just heading up to the car park near the imposing castle...
...and ready to celebrate!
I'm afraid I don't have photos of my little party finishing at Shell Island. I was just so relieved to find the cafe open there!!!!! It was warm and we had food and drinks whilst poor Arthur had to retrieve the car, easily a mile and a half further. Oh dear my planning had gone a bit to pot! We rendezvoused with an extra car and got home before the Harlech group but only just really in the end. Warm baths and showers and we were ready for the meal that Arthur prepared earlier.
We were also celebrating my niece, Catherine's birthday!

And so the Path is completed.....we will be returning to favourite places but that will probably be later in the year after we have walked Offa's Dyke....all booked now so a new blog will be following I feel sure!

POSTSCRIPT : Sunday 15th and Monday 16th March
We had a relaxing Sunday with much table tennis played before Richard prepared a superb brunch before the various groups left once more. How quickly it went!! Julia and Richard stayed with us for an extra night and we wanted to walk up Rhinog Fawr the next day. Sadly it was raining as we left the house but as we approached Harlech it brightened so we headed up Cwm y Bychan, the start place for the walk and set off after all.

 It was a super walk, quite steep going up the Roman steps where we had walked last in 1989, don't think Julia could remember! But there we were.....
It was very rocky so quite scrambly in parts.
We were quite aware that we had in the end set off quite late and that Julia and Richard had to head back home today so we decided not to go to the top so made it as far as the beautiful little lake, Llyn Du, Black Lake....with the summit of Rhinog Fawr behind...
...and then we headed down. Ahead here was looking over towards Trawsfynydd with its now disused nuclear power station (couldn't see it from here, it was a bit misty!) and the Arenig hills beyond.
So the weekend finished as we drove our separate ways leaving the car park and its view of the Rhinog Fawr....
...it will still be there another day!

And in the end....Chris did get the certificate!!