Porthgain used to be a busy port. Slate was brought in from the nearby quarries and cut up using water-powered mills, before being loaded onto ships. Waste from the quarries was used to make bricks and, later, crushed rock was exported for road making.
All that remains of this activity are ruins, including the impressive brick-storage hoppers which dominate the west side of the inlet. Porthgain is now primarily a tourist centre.
I walk up the east side of the inlet, the path climbing steadily. Across the mouth of the harbour is a navigation marker – a square column which was once white, but is now faded to a nondescript dirty-grey.
While on my side of the inlet is another navigation marker – a round column covered in bright-white paint.
The wind is brisk, and the clouds are rapidly clearing. It will be another lovely day.
This stretch of coast is north-facing, so I am walking into the morning sun, making photography difficult. Ahead is Gribinau Bay and Ynys-fach island – which is an odd shape. It looks as if someone has ironed the top.
The path follows the top of the cliffs and I am relieved to find the route is fairly flat and easy. (My confidence has taken a knock after my bout of dizziness yesterday.) The first village I will come to is only 2 miles away along the coast. Trefin. If I feel unwell I will stop there. It has a pub!
Above Trefin, I come across a single standing stone. It is unmarked and I assume it is an ancient obelisk. I’m amazed to see it seems in good nick and hasn’t been felled by weather and storms.
A short time later, and I walk past a whole circle of smaller stones. They are in a wonderful spot, overlooking the inlet that leads up to Trefin and I stop to take several photographs. I wonder what ceremonies took place here? I notice the circle isn’t marked on my map. Odd.
Walking down into the inlet, I come to the ruins of an old water-mill. The stream still runs across the rocky beach and into the sea.
My eye is caught by a couple of bright canisters, which stand on the old grinding stone just inside the mill. A sign explains ‘THIS EQUIPMENT IS BEING USED FOR A TEAM BUILDING EXERCISE…’ and a young man appears, apologies for the intrusive canisters, and offers to move them if I want a take a photograph of the mill. But I like the splash of colour they make.
He is running the team-building exercise and is waiting for a minibus to arrive. After they’re finished here, they will go up to the stone circle, where there will be another task to complete. Then they will go on somewhere else…
I ask him about the stones. ‘Are they prehistoric?’ But he doesn’t know anything about them.
Onwards. The sunshine has brought out a few strollers. I walk past more ruins as I climb up to the top of the cliffs. The coast here is beautiful – indented by numerous small coves, separated by long fingers of rock which spread out into the ocean like giant talons.
Although much of the route is flat, following the top of the cliffs, I do come across the occasional dip – like this one down to Pwll Llong, where another stream empties into the sea via a waterfall.
I begin to see seals. This one is swimming in a sheltered pool among the rocks.
And more walkers appear. The weather is confusing. Warm sunshine, but intermittent clouds and a cool wind. People are wearing a variety of clothing – from shorts and tee-shirts to bulky anoraks. I’m keeping my fleece on.
I reach Abercastle, at the apex of another long, thin inlet. It’s hardly a village – a small collection of houses (mainly holiday homes I think) and with neither a pub nor a café. Just a car park.
On the shore I spot some odd-looking choughs. Red beaks – yes – but white waistcoats? Then I realise they are oyster catchers. The first I’ve seen for a long time.
Leaving Abercastle behind, my next major waypoint is a pair of twin beaches called Aber Mawr and Aber Bach. I really enjoy this part of the walk. The path is lovely with a sprinkling of wild flowers along its borders…
… and seals in every cove…
… with just a few ups-and-downs to tire my legs. I take my time on the steep slopes.
I love the Welsh names on my map. They are economical with vowels, fond of double ‘l’s, and stick ‘w’s and ‘y’s everywhere. The long strings of consonants are both exotic and confusing. Pwllstrodur, Aber Mochyn, Porth Glastwr, Trwyn Llwynog.
Rounding a headland, I see the twin beaches ahead. Good. I’m reaching the halfway point of my walk today.
I stop on the beach at Aber Mawr, and have a break. Time for a drink and a snack.
The lovely weather has brought out strollers. I can’t see a road and wonder where they came from? I would like to stay here longer, but I need to get on. My husband is picking me up from a place called Pwll Deri at 6pm, and I still have a long way to go.
To be continued…