The Compostual Existentialist

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The Walk (Part 3) –Wales Coastal Path 2013

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.

This year’s campsite was at the amusingly named Penisarlon Camping Farm near Pistyll.

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.

Looking towards Nefyn

Penisarlon Farm looking towards Nefyn

Looking towards Nant Gwrtheyrn

Looking towards Nant Gwrtheyrn

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.

Lit by candles in the winter

St Buenos Church near Pistyll

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.

Up above the sea and houses

Up above the sea and houses Rainbow flying high!

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.

Nick at the start

Nick at the start

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.

Platform

Is it an oil rig? Is it a fracking point? No! It’s a slipway submarine construction diving platform

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.

enjoy a pint

Coch! It says Coch!!

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.

Nant Gwrtheyren

The start next year

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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.

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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.

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Welsh Coastal Path – 2012

Welsh Coastal Path – 2011

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Holiday 2012–Part 1: A Walk in the Rain

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.

523909_391448184254980_1169956727_nThe 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.

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Looking North

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Nick enjoying a well earned break

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There are many mysterious places along that stretch of coast. For example these stairs cut into the hill side and seemingly inaccessible static caravans.

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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.


There and back again and There and back again–Pt 3

251421_179327182133749_100001694063812_434487_2068345_nThe first day of walking was most enjoyable. Tired by evening we dined on barbequed steak and salad. Not as straight forward as it should be. Partly because the crappy Tesco Instant Barbeque was impossible to light in the light breeze that had picked up during the day but after an hour of cooking later the still rare steaks were ready.

Wednesday’s plan was simple. Turn out of the campsite, left along Lon Uwchmynydd and turn right along the coast before heading north towards Porth Oer. Now we were entering completely virgin territory for me. The lack of accessible roads and paths in this part of the country meant that I was unfamiliar with the scenery on this part of the route.

However the mist was rolling in from the sea.

Haunting BleatsFor those of you unfamiliar with this area of North Wales, the weather here is bizarre. You could be stood in blazing heat in one field and then in the neighbouring field shrouded by an eerie cloud of cool sea mist. So while walking through dramatic scenery here the bizarre mists shrouded the views of the sea. Occasionally we would enter into sloping valleys with babbling streams and haunting bleats from hidden sheep only to hear the gentle lap of waves from the sea against the shore.

224446_179331928799941_100001694063812_434496_116962_nEventually we rose above the clouds by climbing Mynydd Anelog. Blazing heat seared our souls as we strode across Welsh coastal moorland. Views over to Porth Orion and Mynydd Carreg enhanced by gorse and heather covered terrain complimented by hazy blue skies.

216990_179333132133154_100001694063812_434503_4110605_nAn hour or so later, limbs aching and skin tingling with sunburn we reached Porth Oer where we dined in the beach cafe and discussed plans for the remaining day of the holiday. By evening we were both very tired and following a slightly disappointing meal at the local seafood restaurant Pen Bryn Bach opted to walk the 2.5 miles into Aberdaron for a pint returning to the campsite by walking dark lanes.

The next day was hat hunting day. Scouring the local towns and villages for a shop that sold suitable hats. Pwllheli and Abersoch provided no bounty except for beer, money and cider. A new hat seemed an impossible dream.

Friday arrived and we decamped. We drove to Porthmadoc wherein, following the successful attainment of a new hat, we gorged ourselves on a mighty cooked breakfast. Fully sated we parted our ways Nick heading back to Crosby and I returning the long way back to Leamington Spa.

6 hours drive later…I arrived. And so began the second leg of my holiday.


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There and back again and there and back again Part 1

Picture if you will a pub in Liverpool about 4 weeks ago.

**wibbly visual effect used to signify reflection on past events**

 

Stegzy:- You’re on holiday next month. I’m on holiday next month…let’s go camping!

Nick:- Yes that sounds like fun.

Stegzy:- Look I’ve put it in my shiny new HTC FLYER on the CALENDAR. AUGUST. 20th

Nick:- Ace! Can’t wait.

**Cue calendar flipping sequence signifying moving forward through time**

So I’m set. Set for a walking and camping trip to North Wales. At the end of August.

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Blissful….

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However……

 

**Calendar flipping sequence ceases 24th July**

Stegzy:- Bloody hell. Nick’s a bit keen. He’s been texting me all week asking about what we will be doing during our holiday in August.

Zoefruitcake:- Maybe he is excited.

Stegzy:- Hmm…this text is worrying. It seems to hint that there may be an issue with the month…..

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Oh cocking hell!

So I called him. Was he winding me up? No. He wasn’t. While talking I made up a list of items to chuck into the car for an impromptu camping trip. Problem was…I didn’t have a tent anymore. Well I did. Just it was in Yorkshire. With the wife. Fortunately everything else, the table, the chair, the stoves, pans and ancillary camping equipment were safely in a pre-packed crate in Zoe’s Craft Hut. The tent….that was in Yorkshire.

As you can see from the screenshots, this was about half past six on the Sunday evening. A call to Clair received the thumbs up for a tent collection while Nick booked the camp site and prepared for a late night visit from me.

I sped up the M69 and M1 to Yorkshire and collected the tent then after a quick bite to eat and a catch-up, I sped along the M62 to Crosby near Liverpool arriving at an ungodly hour of 1am.


Day 2 – Saturday

Went to sleep to the sounds of dogs barking and woke to the sounds of a murder of crows attacking, what I later discovered was, binbags.

5am – Nobody about. Dense fog across the land. How is it that the most beautiful place in the world can hide itself under a blanket of cloud? How can I possibly show off the picturesque vistas to a Llyn virgin when visibility is so low?

By 10am I was bored having walked as far as I dare without worrying that my imminent visitor would be unable to find me. The fog had lifted and the clouds were breaking overhead. I thought walking to the end of the lane to meet zoefruitcake would be a nice surprise.

The surprise, however, was for me. My parents. They too had chosen to visit the area this weekend and had just visited the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty by my campsite and had run into me less than half a mile into my walk to the end of the lane. They invited me to join them on their day out but I declined, explaining about my imminent visitors arrival.

No sooner had their car rounded the bend on the crest of the hill and vanished out of sight but the familiar red of Zoe’s Smart car appeared.

As regular readers will know; I can’t do anything right. Zoe’s car is a 2 seater with no boot. I’d forgotten about that. So after saying hello and providing unneeded directions to the camp-site, I retraced my steps back along the road past Pen Bryn Bach to my base for the week.

As the day progressed I became wary of how boring it might be for someone not sharing the “Love of the Llyn” – sitting in the passenger side being driven through rolling countryside to remote destinations. None-the-less, the days itinerary included:-

  • The view of Porth Neigwl from Rhiw
  • The cairn on Rhiw
  • The Ty Coch on Porthdinllaen
  • The Parents
  • Abersoch
  • Pwllheli (in an attempt to locate a Chinese restaurant)
  • Aberdaron


Camping – Day 1

Damn! I forgot pillows!

Aberdaron has changed. You wouldn’t know to look at it. It is a timeless place after all: narrow streets, humpty back bridge, quaint buildings and people hoping to squeeze every penny they can out of the passing visitor.

It has changed though. Something in the air. Intangible. Maybe it is just me. Things seem further away than they did and the people here…they’re different somehow.

I had half an inkling that zoefruitcake would join me earlier than she suggested. Kind of like a surprise. But after struggling with the six-man tent I thought I’d check my phone for messages.

Now in the past, I’ve been with Orange, Virgin and O2. All had fairly good reception at this location. I am now with T Mobile. Checking my phone I discovered that T-Mobile coverage was non-existent in this part of Wales. Even travelling up the nearest mountains failed to produce even one bar of reception. Not to worry.

Still, I have a good pitch in Mr Jones’ campsite at Mynnedd Mawr. Far from the amenities, far from the road and cattle grid, but with a beautiful view.

As I sit and write, mist and clouds roll in from the Irish Sea and Cardigan Bay, shrouding Bardsey in a cloak of cloud.

The temperature drops, but the light is still strong at 10pm. A foreshadow to midsummer and the crowds that come in search of holiday nirvana. In a month, this very field will be full, the eleven tents here will seem like a back yard sleep over in comparisson, Campageddon will come to North Wales.


Ho Lea Die Part 4

Just when you thought it was safe to pack in camping…..

Steve and Ricky brave the waves to catch our supper

My god! You didn’t think I’d finished did you? It was Wednesday 2nd August. We awoke, nipped into Aberdaron for a cooked breakfast then dashed back to camp to feverishly repack everything into the Vectra. Our next stop was Rhosnieger in Anglesey to meet up with the Elliots. What was to make the holiday extra special was that everybody knew that jimrock, who was at that moment in Neu Yorque in a Merrycar, was going to propose to his long term partner Becky at Niagra Falls. They were to join us on the Friday…but more of that later.

Sensible people look on

An hour and a half later we were in Anglesey. Intent on avoiding making unnecessary phone calls (electrical sockets are few and far between when camping and I needed my “Cellular” to take photos with (Heh imagine telling your 10 year old self you’d be able to take photos with your telephone! Ha the preposterousness never ceases to amuse me) we drove into the campsite and tried to locate our fellow campers. They weren’t in the usual spot. So we surmised they were on the beach. Arriving at the beach we were still unable to locate them. So a quick telephone call later we’d tracked them down to the usual campsite but in a new location nearer the road at the bottom of the RAF Valley Airstrip. Genius! Who needs alarm clocks when you have RAF fighter jets taking off on training flights at the crack of dawn?

It was good to see everybody. Becky’s sister and brother Sarah and Ricky with their respective other halves Steve and Ashley and Big Steve (Becky, Sarah and Ricky’s Dad) and his Missis Rach.

The next day we loaded up Big Steve’s van with fishing rods and beach stuff. Ricky drove it down to the beach while Mrs Gnomepants, Big Steve, Rach and I cycled the mile or so to Cable Bay Beach. On arrival we immediately tied our bikes together and hiked along the fisherman’s foot path along the rapidly disappearing cliff tops to the rocks by the old ex-MOD base.

You see. I wouldnt go down to where they were because I dont fancy ending up in something like this

Still, There’s no stopping some people!

It be over there

After we had fished the Irish Sea of all it’s Mackrel we headed back along the coast to Porth Trecastell where we lazed away the rest of the day rockpooling.

Porth Trecastell (Cable Bay)

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That evening we dined on fresh mackrel cooked on the barbeque served with new potatoes, peas and garlic butter. Amazing stuff!

The next day the weather took a slight turn for the worse. It was muggy, cloudy and frequently showers fell on the land. Unperturbed we soldiered on and took ourselves out to a Jam Farm, Caemaes Bay and Amlwch.

The Jam farm was a bit sinister. Still the jams we sampled there were pleasant if not a bit pricey (£5 for a jar of honey! Fuck that!) I got a nice jar of Winter Ale Chutney which I will review on Muckybadger when I get round to it. After a scone and a cup of tea we journeyed onward to Caemaes Bay. The weather becoming increasingly erratic. Rain falling then stopping, Humidity rising then rain again, the slight breeze increasing fractionally. A good BBC Shipping Forecast might have been able to predict what was to come.
Stopping in the one horse town that is Amlwch (Anglesey’s third town (Beaumaris being the second, Holyhead being the first) the grimness of the weather was heightend only by the grimness that is Amlwch. (Do you know? I still find it amusing trying to imagine how my Merrycan and European chums are pronouncing Amlwch…do a voice post if you dare! heheheh). Amlwch is a tiny place, at one time in it’s history it was probably a bustling happening place. Now, however, it is a shadow of it’s former self. The market was packing up, every other shop was closed or boarded up, even the people looked miserable. The main street through the town saw about one car every 10 minutes and even then two of those were people who had turned round to try and escape. Sad really. I imagine lots of little towns like this all over the world. It kind of reminded me of Grimethorpe with less people. But I doubt any of you guys have been to Grimethorpe so you probably wouldnt get the comparison. Erm….like Garston with less shops…..Blackboy Hill with no traffic, people or shops….Littlehampton 20 years ago…That place in America where they built a lake only for the economy to collapse and the holiday chalets they built there never got bought…..Well, anyway, it was grim.

We returned to camp and were shortly joined by the happy couple that is jimrock and Becky. Becky had accepted jimrock‘s proposal and there was much celebrating and mirthmaking to be had.

By this time the weather had taken a turn for the worse. Gale force 10 winds ripped through the campsite from the Irish Sea, the winds bringing with them, rain and fish and deep sea trawlers. I didn’t get much sleep that night. I kept having to pop outside to secure the guy ropes that kept coming free from their tentpegs. The group marquee was, at times, diagonal in the winds. I half expected to see it fly off to the near by railway line and cause untold travesty! By 4am I still hadn’t managed to get any sleep. Radio 4 had long since turned into the World service and no end of programmes discussing the anniversary of the partitioning of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan would bring sweet sleep to me. My mind was wracked with the thought of one of the caravans above the camp being blown free from it’s moorings and rolling down towards the camp.

I guess I must have passed out by 5am. By 8am the winds had died down a bit. The weather was still shit and as we all emerged from our tents we each decided that staying on Anglesey in the rain would be foolish. Instead, we would journey to Conway.

They love Neu Yorque so much they bought the t-shirts

A street in Conway

The other side of the Menai Straits was uncannily bright and sunny. A black cloud of gloom hung over Anglesey but Conway (less than 20 miles away) was perfect weather. So while jimrock listened to the Grand Prix Qualifying Rounds on the radio had a much needed nap, the rest of the party took to exploring Conway.

The holiday was starting to take a sour turn. The weather breaking some people spirits, the Grand Prix being a distraction to others, the prospect of further bad weather likely and the parting of the ways as Sarah and Steve departed for Peterborough the next morning.

Still…I was having a good time. I took to enjoying the rain. Enjoying the company. Enjoying the evenings playing dominoes and drinking beer. I wasnt going to let a bit of rain spoil the holiday.

However….I shall relate the final part tomorrow evening…