Before we begin, yesterdays picture of the day was from 2011 and not 2016. Doh!
Today we see the rare demin coated Gandalf-Stegzy in the wild. This was taken during a walk through Delamere Forest in 2005 back when walking through Delamere Forest was a thing. Now Delamere Forest is mostly a middle class family centric Center Parcs knock-off aimed at those with free thinking, liberated self-expressionist pedestal children with names such as Calendula and Spatula, like many places in Cheshire seem to be these days.
One of my favourite walks starts by parking in the National Trust Car Park on Lon Golff in Morfa Nefyn and, depending on the tide, walking along the beach toward the distant Porth Dinllaen then, after a bite to eat and a pint at Ty Coch (http://www.tycoch.co.uk/), a leisurly stroll up the cliff road and through the golf course back to the car park. Or, if the tide is in on arrival, the reverse.
Ty Coch and the houses in Porth Dinllaen are only accessible via the beach or via the restricted delivery road through the golf course. It is one of those “secret” pubs in North Wales that everyone seems to knows about. It’s really popular on hot sunny days, especially with families (mostly because of the beach/pub combination) and boat owners (the natural harbour there attracting the wealthy).
Ty Coch has been a place I’ve always tried to visit when I’m in the area. It is a unique place steeped in history and natural beauty (a short walk around the headland often results in seal sightings). Its really handy for mid-walk refreshments and, at one point, it did live music of an evening in the pokey little bar area. I often think about whether there are other places like it in the UK – regularly cut off by the tide and only accessible via foot or sea. I’m sure there are. Do you know of anywhere like it?
Ten years ago, I went on a long walk to clear my mind and have an adventure. I took my Walkman/Creative Jukebox MP3 player, my denim jacket and a packet of crisps.
Intending on only being a couple of hours, I went on a long 4 hour walk through the rugged Yorkshire countryside (which you can read about in more detail here. It was on that journey that I discovered an abandoned farmhouse which was alive with rabbits, sheep skeletons and lots and lots of rabbit poo. Did the rabbits eat the sheep? Did the rabbits build the farm house? Who knows?
Eitherway, I like this photo as it is very stark but it could do with a looming angry cloud in the sky instead. Especially as, when I eventually arrived back at my car, the heavens opened and it did not stop raining until the next morning.
After having carefully planned my working week to coincide with a visit to the North West to make it easier to travel to Wales, I set off from Liverpool on Thursday morning bound for Pistyll near Caernarfon to begin the third phase of the walk around the coast of Wales.
At this pace, I suspect I will have completed the walk some time in my late 80s. Probably on a mobility shopper.
Regular readers will recall that last year we ended our walk at Porth Towyn having set off from Porth Oer. Because we were starting further up the coast, it made sense to change our usual campsite to a new….untested one.
The camp site was very clean and peaceful with fantastic views across towards Nefyn (our goal for the Friday) to the South west and towards Nant Gwrtheyrn to the North East with St George’s Channel to the north.
However as we had arrived earlier than expected we decided that, though too late to start our walk properly, we could start a bit of next year’s planned walk.
This took us towards Nant Gwrtheyrn, though we did not reach there until later in the weekend. Instead we were treated to a lovely bog blocking our path, sheep, second homes and a quaint little church, St Buenos.
On the Friday, we awoke to a lovely rainbow across the bay. Little or no rain during the night but plenty of snoring from me.
This year we began where we left off and made our way across the once more sunny cliffs and dips leading towards Porth Dinllaen. Glorious views. Glorious weather.
Four hours of walking later we crossed Nefyn Golf course and reached Porth Dinllaen.
During the previous night we had espied a strange structure out in the bay. It looked like a drilling platform and part of me was concerned that the greedy oil people had set their eyes on a protected area of outstanding natural beauty.
Fortunately, this was not the case. The platform was actually for the construction of a new RNLI Lifeboat launch slipway. So it wasn’t too bad.
The construction site had an interesting staircase winding its way down the cliff side allowing access to the official coastal path bringing us out at the lovely Ty Coch Inn where we ended our second day’s walk with a delicious and rewarding pint before heading back to the campsite.
After a rather sleepless night for Nick (my snoring again!) who ended up sleeping in his car, it was agreed that completing the short trail up to the campsite would be sufficient for this years walk.
Before that we needed sustenance in the form of a hearty breakfast. On the inbound trip, I espied a brown sign directing the visitor to a place called Nant Gwrtheyrn which had a cafe.
Nant Gwrtheyrn is an old village built for quarry workers in the 1800s. If you were to follow the link above you will be able to read the history. The landscape there is a bizarre mix of post industrial archaeology and nature. There’s a church there, a cafe and a collection of stone cottages available for rent by holiday makers.
However, the cafe didn’t open for breakfast so we scuttled back to Nefyn and the continuation of our walk.
The short trail continuation took us from where we left off the day before and along a winding cliff top pathway. Again, plenty of luxury cliff top homes for the wealthy and privileged. Glorious views.
It’s places like this that make you realise that no matter how hard the average Jo works, they will never attain a picturesque view (like that in the panoramic picture below) without luck, windfall or skulduggery.
The path turned in land and took us through the village where we had earlier eaten our hearty breakfast before heading up a very steep looking hill.
Eventually the path turned into something resembling Borneo. Overgrown gorse bushes, brambles and scratchy things took their toll on our bare shins, bitey creepies made a meal on our blood, and burny heaty hot sun scorched our flesh from on high. Yet, after three hours of walking, we reached the campsite and the starting point for our continuing adventure next year.
Rain. It comes and washes away the summer dreams like a proper spoil sport.
My calculations that the time between Wimbledon and the Olympics yet before the school holidays would be a gloriously sunny time were completely out. Beyond out.
And so it came to pass that on Saturday 14th July I loaded up the car for the next leg of my annual Welsh Costal Walk with Nick. With the car laden I began the four hour journey to the north west of Wales via Betws-y-Coed.
Omens and foresight should have shown me that the weekend was to be a tricky one. When I was about an hour into my journey to my first port of call, a text arrived from my colleague to announce he was running late and would be setting off shortly. Fine, I thought, this will give me a chance to mooch about the camping shops in Betws-y-Coed and therein maybe purchase some gas canisters for the camping stove.
On my arrival the rains began. Fair enough, I thought, this is Betws-y-Coed which is renown for rain as the clouds empty their load onto the Snowdonian foot hills so a bit of precipitation is bound to occur in these here parts.
Two hours, a very expensive bacon sandwich (£4.50 for two bits of soggy bacon between cheap slices of bread) and a cup of tea (£1.50 for an egg cup with a splash of milky brown liquid) and several Radio 4 programmes later, Nick arrived and negotiations began for further travel to Porthmadoc where we could buy provisions for the break and some beer. Before following Mr Sat Nav’s directions to Aberdaron and the campsite.
A few days before departure I had placed a reservation as usual at Mynnedd Mawr Campsite only to be told “Just turn up”. So we did. And managed to get one of the last good spots for the tent. The majority of the campsite seemed to be taken up by two very large 10 men trailer tents pitched slap bang in the middle of the site. The thoughtful owners (two Jewish couples in their late fifties/early sixties) had blocked out the lovely view so I didn’t have to look at it. That was very kind of them.
The following day, glorious sunshine blessed our walk which commenced from the end of the last walk (Porth Oer) up the coast toward Porth Tywyn. A good 15 miles of coastal path. The weeks of torrential rain over the previous weeks had made the going quite boggy and our initial steps seemed thwarted but following a brief detour along the beach we were back on the trail in no time.
Glorious views were beheld. Glorious weather too.
Nick enjoying a well earned break
There are many mysterious places along that stretch of coast. For example these stairs cut into the hill side and seemingly inaccessible static caravans.
Or you would be trudging along and have to follow the path through a field of cows…
It’s such a lovely piece of coast line. But the weather there can be unpredictable. By 3pm the clouds were already gathering and the wind had picked up. On our return to the tent it was decided that it was too cold to sit outside drinking beer and that we should retire to the interior of the tent, therein to play dominoes.
I was winning, 10 rounds up, the wind brought with it rain and clouds to further darken the skies. By morning the tent had nearly taken off had it not been laden with the previous evening and early morning rain. The outlook seemed bleak. Further bad weather due.
Rain stopped play. We decamped and returned to our respective homes.
Coming soon – Holiday 2012: Part 2 Devon and Cornwall.
It was such a lovely day today I thought I’d nip out for a walk in the delightful countryside that South Yorkshire has to offer. My destination of choice was the delightful Langsett Reservoir near Barnsley/Sheffield.
Langset near Barnsley in South Yorkshire
The sun was out, the sky was blue. I didn’t have a care and I wasn’t blue. It wasn’t raining. Raining in my heart.
Langsett Reservoir is owned by Yorkshire water and there are many permissive paths. But me not being someone to stick to the boring old main track decided to follow my nose and take a well trod side path to see where it went. And I’m bloody glad that I did.
After crossing a very busy road I was soon walking through a lovely peaceful forest. Not a soul about. Lots of little birdies and squirrels foraging about. Nature can be so inspiring sometimes.
Part of me had decided that I had to do this today because I have gotten a bit fat lately. This is partly down to having a lot of stress from finishing this bloody Media degree of mine.
Another part of me wanted to take photographs because out side the hustle and bustle of urban life, the countryside is the only place left that I feel like I am not intruding or being strange when I brandish my camera.
There was a stream running through the forest. I couldn’t see it because it was hidden under lots of undergrowth but I could hear it. As I rounded a corner I could see a bridge. I crossed this and discovered a lovely peaceful little glade where I could sit for a while and reflect on my future.
After a while some walkers approached from the other direction. We exchanged greetings (why is it that in the countryside people always say “hello” but in cities the same people would just ignore you?) and they told me that they were enjoying their walk especially as they had not seen anyone else all day.
The path split once more. A higher one that crossed the top of a cliff face and a lower one that only went a short distance toward a wall. I took the higher one which led me through another bit of forest and onto a landscape that could have placed me in any of the wooly wild locations in England.
Nothing but trees, rolling hills, sheep and scree. Not a soul around. Perfect for reflection and soul searching.
Stepping over a dead sheep I realised that I was miles away from anywhere. Worse, I had very little battery left in my mobile phone. Fortunately I had thought to check the map before I left just to give me a rough idea of which direction I should head to return to my car. I had been walking by this time, for over an hour.
The sun was beating my face and the path depressingly headed up a very steep hill. Beneath me I could see a river winding its way from the peak district bound for the sea.
At the top of the hill I could see a farm house. I was reluctant to pass through the field of bunny rabbits as it kind of looked like private property. Closer inspection revealed that this was a completely abandoned farm holding. With cattle sheds, sheep dips and live stock holdings. Nobody lived there now except for the many many startled rabbits. Even so, I walked through gingerly for fear of waking a dead farmer zombie or being accosted by some inbred family of mutants bent on making me their father. But in reality I was many miles away from Grimethorpe so this was unlikely to happen.
Once through the farm I headed up the path which in turn headed up the most demonic gradient I’ve seen outside of Scotland. The winding path lead me to a lone standing stone. The view from around there was amazing. I could see the windmills out near Penistone. I could see the hills and forests for miles. I truely was in the middle of nowhere. But what worried me most was the fact that I did not have much battery left in my phone and in the distance, angry black clouds floated in the sky like water filled bin bags.
Wind turbines against the black clouds of doom
I’d just taken this picture of a vividly green tree when the unthinkable happened. My battery died. Miles from anywhere, no phone. No people. “Stuff it!” I thought and I carried on walking.
I wasn’t too worried as I was so chilled out and calm. I also knew that following the path would take me straight back to my car. It took me a good hour further to walk there.
I sat in my car just in time for PM on Radio 4. The roar of civilisation zooming past me in trucks, cars and on motorcycles. Nothing to bring you back to earth than Norbert Dentrassangle hurtling past noisly at 60mph.
A good day. 🙂
Answers to comments to this post through LJ may be delayed.
While rambling through Howell Woods yesterday I mused on how trees are natures factories. This time of year they are beginning their annual processes spurting forth green shoots in preparation for the busy summer months of photosynthesising. Then in October/November they begin cut backs and shed jobs (leaves) before becoming derelict and barren in the dark winter months.
I also mused on the number of very happy squirrels lolloping about in the undergrowth. They seemed so peaceful and happy, probably because they are mostly left undisturbed by man. My detective skills got a touch of virtual WD40 too as I noticed little tell tale signs of badgers. Such a lovely woods. So peaceful.
The woods come under the control of Doncaster Council. Doncaster Council are notorious for being lazy money embezzelling wasters, apparent from the poor state of the signage littered about the woods. Most of this signage looks like it last saw glory days in the early 90’s. The faded and vandalised information posts detail local historical facts. I was unaware that South Kirkby has an iron age hill fort. I knew that Brierley has a stone circle of sorts. It seems this region of South Yorkshire is a veritable mine of ancient historical monuments. Now mostly crumbling away. Uncared for by the governing council bodies and forgotten about by the locals. A shame really.
The only indication that the woods were there was a tiny little damaged brown sign on Common Road gesturing that I cut across fields rather than take the purpose built access road. Potholes and tractor damaged hedges illustrate the need for more money and affection from governing bodies. Indeed the car park had seen better days too. Resembling a litter strewn crater, the car park is obviously a favourite night time haunt of local youths complete with burnt remnants (possibly of vehicles) and broken glass.
Sawn and naturally fallen trees indicated that some forestry had gone on at some point. Though it was possible that the sawn trees were just kids messing about with stolen chainsaws. Furthermore, there was indication that the area is used for other purposes. Yesterday’s picture showed the “Archery Area” warning, but I also witnessed signs telling the casual visitor that the discharging of firearms was forbidden. Probably ignored judging by the tell tale dimples in the sad and sorry metallic sign. Likewise, the sign forbidding the use of off road motorcycles was similarly ignored by the helmetless youth who noisily sped past it bound for his one day fatal date with a head on collision.
But beyond the shabbiness the woods were tranquil. The woods were haunting. The woods teemed with wildlife and promise of better days. Maybe this is the wood’s winter. It certainly looks like it once had a burgeoning spring and a busy summer visitor wise. But I hope it survives it’s current winter of mismanagement.
On Tuesday I stupidly thought it would be a good idea to walk from Barnsley to Brierley. This thought only became reality because I had £2.30 and I needed £2.60 to get the bus. As a poor Student I was reluctant to withdraw more money from the bank because I now need to learn to live within my means.
So I set forth.
BAD MISTAKE. The journey was good to begin with. I followed the bus route until I got to a cross roads where I thought going over the hill rather than around it would be a more direct route. By the time I had reached Cundy Cross and Lundwood my feet were killing me. But I soldiered on into Cudworth and by the time I had reached my sister-in-law’s house my feet hurt really bad.
“It will pass!” I thought.
Wrong again. My left foot hurts really bad. So then I think about possible causes. Had I strained it? Had I sprained it? Had I broken the bone? Was it gout? Was it galloping knob rot? Syphilis? Beri-beri? Rickets? Then I hear my doctors voice.
“You are very young. I went on holiday and I saw ancient friezes. But you are very young. You have a goutous disposition”
So, out of boredom, I checked on the internet for a bit of healthy self-diagnosis. Indeed the ache I am experiencing does sound similar to that described by the Gout Club and it is in one of the indicator areas of the foot. I have had fair bit of meat recently and I did over indulge myself at the weekend with jimrock and others. Then I see the list of foods to avoid, which curiously features foods I have previously been told were beneficial for people with cardiac problems (oily fish, cherries, lard, red wine etc). This leaves me thinking “Well fuck it then. Wheres the belly pork?”
Today is Thursday. My foot still hurts. To distract myself my thoughts turn to going to the pub and I’m also thinking about forthcoming events such as the Wakefield Beer Festival, The Barnsley Beer festival, The wife’s birthday minibash and my fourth wedding anniversary.
I have an idea. Its a vague idea. Needs work. There’s a fantastic part of the world that I keep on banging on about called the Llyn Peninsula which is in Wales. Its remote (kind of) and has a fantastic 40 mile walk. I want to do it.