Category Archives: North Wales Path.

NORTH WALES PATH – Day 5.

Kinmel Bay to Prestatyn.  More surprises.

First of all an addition to yesterdays walk – at the start in Rhos I passed the Caley Arms pub but didn’t realise the significance of the name or the sign.

The Caley family were prominent landowners in the area as well as in Yorkshire, One member of the family, Sir George Cayley, was an eminent inventor. He designed a practical flying machine 50 years before the Wright brothers. In 1853 he built a machine that could carry the weight of a man. This glider, the “Cayley Flier”, paved the way for the Wright brothers’ powered flight in 1903, as the Wrights acknowledged.                                                                                       The “Cayley Flier” flew for about 275 metres across Brompton Dale (in Yorkshire) before crash-landing. This was the first recorded flight in history in a fixed-wing aircraft, so it is fair to describe Sir George Cayley as the true inventor of the aeroplane. Sir George, 80 years old at the time, didn’t risk flying the plane himself, ordering his coachman, John Daley, to fly it for him. After the alarming experience, the coachman promptly resigned.                                                                                        Llandudno & Colwyn Bay History Society

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As I crossed the railway at the start of the day I noticed a man with a large lensed camera waiting on the bridge – that usually means a steam train is due. So I stopped and chatted and soon it came full steam down the track. LMS 46115 Scots Guardsman running tender first. As a kid I used to watch these magnificent engines powering through Crewe. 

I set off more sedately on a cycle path alongside the River Clwyd and marched to Rhuddlan with its famous 13thC castle. The town’s main street had a few shops and for my morning coffee the small but friendly Farmhouse Kitchen. With all these diversions I was making slow progress but speeded up on the little lanes out of town. I was now in agricultural land, sweetcorn and grains, and not many people use these paths. Waymarking was poor and I guessed my direction across most fields. The edge of one field was virtually impossible to walk without trampling the crop. Eventually I emerged in a village called Dyserth which seemed exceptionally busy for its size, turns out it is the site of a famous 70ft waterfall. Leaving the NWP I scramble up beside it and follow paths in the woods above to suddenly emerge at a rock face overhanging the stream. A couple are just pulling their ropes down having done a fine bolted crackline up the side face, they tell me name of the rock – unsurprisingly Waterfall Buttress.

Some creative walking [trespassing] finds me back on the NWP which follows an old railway line into Prestatyn. But for a final flourish I divert on steep paths to climb Graig Fawr a limestone hill 151m high and giving excellent 360 views. Again curiously the NWP avoids it.

Across Colwyn Bay to the Ormes.

Across Colwyn Bay to the Ormes.

Prestatyn the end of the NWP/

Prestatyn and the end of the NWP.

Over to my right are the hills we followed when finishing backpacking Offa’s Dyke many years ago. I remember on reaching the beach in Prestatyn we just stripped off and rushed into the waves and were probably lucky not to be arrested. Today I meekly caught the train.

So the North Wales Path – over 60 miles of mainly good paths and cycle-ways from Bangor to Prestatyn; giving a fair balance of coastal and hill walking, as the logo depicts. Larger scale mapping would be a great help. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last five days and think this short route should be better publicised to be appreciated and used by more walkers.

 

NORTH WALES PATH – Day 4.

Rhos to Kinmel Bay. Highs and lows.

That should really be ‘lows and highs’ as I started the day on the front at Colwyn Bay, all a bit drab with its disused pier, overwhelming concrete and lack of facilities. Very few people ventured onto the sands. A poster probably reflecting the fading past. There was however a stunning art work of metal figures.I must have switched off walking along the bay as I went past the inland diversion and had to retrace to find paths up ‘Fairy Glen’, a green corridor following a stream up through Old Colwyn. This gave a chance for a break as I passed the high street. Old style, no frills, Gillian’s Kitchen – coffee and toasted teacake for £1.70, long may these places survive. Back into the glen to climb higher.  The next couple of hours passed in a different world in the hills around Llysfaen. I wandered through golf courses, untracked woodlands, village lanes with tiny cottages, open meadows and limestone escarpment. To be honest I felt lost most of the time, could have done with a 1:25,000 map, but I somehow stayed on the NWP as I kept coming across the infrequent waymarks. All the while there were views across the rolling countryside.  Don’t think many people venture up here. I eventually returned to the coast through an arch of a public house, The Valentine, in Llanddulas. The inn sign gives the wrong impression as the pub is really named after Lewis Valentine [born in Llanddulas] one of the founding members of Plaid Cymru. Then it was back on the coastal walkway/cycleway for 5 miles. The start wasn’t so bad at Abergele, I even found a fairly civilised cafe for beans on toast and a pot of tea. But from then on it was a continuous line of drab caravan parks separated from the beach by the railway. The wind farms out at sea didn’t seem over-intrusive in these surroundings. The few people braving the beach were huddled out of the wind, an epitome of English seaside holiday. As were the passing families with beefburgers, candy floss and cans of beer. The obese amongst these seem to have devised a certain ‘waddle’ to progress, much in evidence. I’m sure I looked just as strange to them with my boots and walking poles. Nobody stopped to chat. From time to time  screaming above the sound of  pop music announced a mini fun fair. Having said all that there were always extensive views; back to the Ormes and forward to the hills dropping to Prestatyn, the end of the NWP.There were a few passing aspects to improve my mood… I’d had enough at Kinmel Bay and found my way through a new marina to the River Clwyd where I’ll start tomorrow. Reflecting now this was a quite a varied days walking.

 

NORTH WALES PATH – Day 3.

Deganwy to Rhos.  Round the Great Orme and over the Little.

I thought today’s post would read – ‘walked round the Orme in rain and mist’

Well for the first hour or so that was the case and I was soaking by the time I stopped for a rest and was thankful for a coffee in the cafe.

Conway Mountain seen across the estuary before the rain.

Conway Mountain seen across the estuary before the rain.

Llandudno West beach - how many memorial seats do you need?

Llandudno West beach – how many memorial seats do you need?

When I reappeared the rain had stopped for the day so I started to enjoy myself and see the surroundings. Limestone cliffs above and below, I was searching out climbing lines and spotting mountain goats. Eventually found both.Near the end/beginning of the road there is a cave called Parisella’s [named after an ice cream parlour] where hard hard bouldering problems abound and always dry! It must be nice to be good enough to be sponsored. I digress. Now for some history …

Not long after …The pier is next to the fading Grand Hotel but the rest of Llandudno is thriving, ‘No Vacancy’ signs everywhere. It was busy on the prom…… my best advice is to catch a bus to Little Orme.

For some reason the North Wales Path misses out the summit of Little Orme, a great mistake. It was one of the best viewpoints yet.

Westwards

Westwards

Eastwards.

Eastwards.

There was only another lady and her daughter [locals] up here and they were lost and panicking, I walked down with them. The 5yr old asked where I had been in the world so I queried where she would like to go –  Abergele was high on her horizon! I had other random conversations today – a couple on the beach told me they were searching for the perfect sea-washed stick for a perch for their pet gecko – a man fishing for mackerel off the beach but waiting for high tide 4hours hence [why didn’t he start later?] – another fisherman hoping to go out later for sea-trout, he always wanted to fish the Hodder near my home.

I managed to get lost also in a mining area on the edge of the mountain, till the salmon fisherman showed me the steep way down, which was in fact signed, the post top left.

The steep quarry.

The steep quarry.

Ended the day back on the prom at Rhos on Sea where I found the delightful St Trillo’s Chapel. its altar stands over a spring and was established in the 6th C but has been rebuilt many times. Services are still held for a congregation of six.

 

NORTH WALES PATH – Day 2.

Abergwyngregyn to Deganwy. The hilly day.

A hot and sweaty 250m climb up a steep lane was a jolt at the start of the day. The little car park at the top was already full as we are on the edge of the Carneddau. a popular walking area. Having said that I saw no one for the next few miles.  The track heads up alongside ugly pylons presumably taking hydro electricity to England. I was musing on their incongruity and how it could have been avoided when I saw men hanging from one of the pylons – repairs underway, looked very scary as I know they don’t always disconnect first. DSC02627   From up here there were obviously good views to the coast and Anglesey and  down to the A55 corridor. I was feeling quite superior that I had chosen the high route. Then it was steeply down to the edge of Llanfairfechan where farmers were repairing a wall with awkward angular rocks, they commented on the easier ‘flatter’ stones we use in the Pennines.                   A complicated series of tracks through sheep country gained height once more for a couple of hours of exhilarating walking on snaking green paths through heather and gorse. Waymarking was sparse and I needed to keep referring to the OS map. Stone circles, lonely farms, idyllic streams, wild ponies, buzzards overhead, stonechat chatting. The old Penmaenmawr  stone quarries were skirted where once stone was lowered to jetties on the coast and apparently in their heyday dust covered the local villages.  As I approached the Sychnant Pass there were more walkers in the hills. On the other side multiple paths cross Conway Mountain but curiously the NWP chooses to traverse below its summits. I couldn’t miss out the high point and was awarded with stunning birds eye views down to the boats at Conway, the Great Orme at Llandudno and the Carneddau foothills I’d been traversing.  Surely a mistake to bypass the ever so close summit on a North Wales walk. At one point I looked straight down to a caravan park cut of by roads and railways, I wouldn’t have though the ideal holiday. The walled town of Conway is always busy and today there was a fair in full swing. The day was sunny and warm so I continued past the Castle and over the bridge to walk the promenade to Deganwy, this deteriorated in new housing developments denying coastal access – who allows this? A sour end to a wonderful day’s walking.

NORTH WALES PATH – Day 1.

Bangor to Abergwyngregyn.  Aber Falls.

Couldn’t get that tune ‘The Day We Went To Bangor’ out of mind all morning. If you can’t remember listen here –

This rendition probably sums up the North Wales seaside resorts then and ?now. As an aside Jasper Carrot had a splendid parody involving Blackpool.

Anyhow to get back to this morning, industrial outskirts of Bangor led to country lanes and my route left the Coastal Path near the entrance to Penrhyn Castle. Walking up the Ogwen valley I came across what appeared to be a fairly well preserved mill  with an under flow wheel. Further on I passed Cochwillan Old Hall, a late 15th century house, apparently one of the best examples of a Welsh medieval estate houses. A good start. On a more mundane note many of the fields and lanes here have slate stone ‘hedges’.Buzzards were occupying the airspace above the rough fields. Little used lanes took me up into the foothills of the Carneddau and onto an old track traversing at about 250m above the coast. There were good views back over Penryhn Castle, Bangor, the Menai Straits and Anglesey.The diminutive Puffin Island off Anglesey was ever present.Turning a corner the view changed from the coast to the hilly interior and ones eyes are drawn to the twin Aber waterfalls. The North Wales Path crosses directly below the falls, the larger easterly one being the most visited from the valley. Up till now I had met no one but suddenly there were throngs of tourists.I had my quick fix of photos with the crowds and the quickly descended the wooded valley for a coffee in the excellent community Yr Hen Felin cafe in Abergwyngregyn, that’s a mouthful to pronounce.

 

NORTH WALES PATH – Croeso i Cymru.

 

My welcome to Wales was a Midlands’ accent spoken by mine host at a B and B in Llandudno. The heat wave had passed and I was looking forward to 5 days walking on the North Wales Path, running 62 miles from Bangor to Prestatyn. Not sure whether it is ‘The’ or ‘A’ North Wales Path but it has made it onto the OS Maps and is waymarked.DSC02511

It seems to take a more interesting route than the coastal path as it keeps dipping into the hills above the coast and avoiding the holiday excesses of the promenades.  A chance remark on Ruth’s Coastal Walk blog had me looking into this route a couple of weeks ago.   https://coastalwalker.co.uk/2016/07/04/bangor-to-aber/#more-14204

There is a Web site where you can download the mapped route at 1:50,000 which I hope will be sufficient.

As the holiday season is in full swing I had difficulty finding last minute places to stay at the end of each day so plumped for this B and B in Llandudno, Rosedene Guest House to give them a plug. [PS They were excellent, good room, brilliant breakfasts, one of the best B and Bs I’ve stayed in.]        http://www.rosedenellandudno.co.uk                                                                                         I realised that public transport was all I needed as there is an excellent service Arriva Cymru Coastliner connecting all the villages on the North coast. The buses talk to you, in English and Welsh, telling you the next stop which is also displayed – so you can’t go wrong. My lodgings turn out to be a couple of minutes from the Llandudno bus terminus at The Palladium [another imaginative Wetherspoon’s conversion, here from a 1920’s cinema] – so beer and bus on tap. The B and B has its own cat which sits on the pavement outside and greets all passers by, I think it is a local celebrity.

PS – as well as the nationalistic Welsh Dragons I noticed a few blue EU flags flying today!