214 (am) Borth to Tre’r-ddol

This morning I face a dilemma.

I should, according to my rules, start today’s walk where I left off yesterday: in the village of Tre’r-ddol. But that means a bus ride and I really, really want to take the train instead. Why? Because the railway line runs where there is neither road nor footpath, right along the edge of the estuary of the Afon Dyfi.

And so I drive into Machynlleth, park my car, and catch the little train to Borth. I’m glad I did. The journey is beautiful and Borth station is lovely, with bright flowers and a platform that overlooks open fields.

01 Borth station, Ruth Livingstone hiking in Wales

I stop and take a photograph along Borth beach. It looks so different from yesterday. The tide is in and the sands are covered.

02 Borth beach, Ruth Livingstone walking the coast in Wales

The Wales Coast Path heads inland from Borth, first following a lane that crosses the railway line, and then taking a convoluted course around the edge of fields. I’ve been walking for an hour when I snap the photograph below, where Borth station is clearly visible. You can see I haven’t got very far!

03 meandering footpath across fields, Ruth hiking near Borth, Wales

One reason the walk is taking me so long is because I keep stopping to check my maps. This particular section of footpath meanders around the edge of two consecutive Ordnance Survey Maps. And the Wales Coast Path isn’t the only footpath leaving Borth at this point. The Ceredigion Coast Path does too, along with another long distance trail to Devil’s Bridge. And a number of other local footpaths. It’s all very confusing.

I’ve followed the Ceredigion Coast Path since Cardigan and loved every minute of it. Yesterday, I reached the point where the path ends, at the edge of the estuary. But I didn’t actually follow the official course of the path from Borth to the estuary, because I chose to walk along the beach instead.

Now I come to the point where the Ceredigion Path branches off on its inland route, running parallel to the beach and along the side of a drainage ditch. I think I was right to have avoided this section. It reminds me of similar walks through the Cambridgeshire Fens. Dead flat, dead straight and dead boring.

04 Ceredigion Coast Path, alongside Afon Leiri, Ruth Livingstone

The Wales Coast Path, on the other hand, takes a more interesting route, running around the edge of a vast expanse of marshland.

05 Wales Coast Path from Borth, Ruth trekking in Wales

According to a notice board, there was once an ancient forest here, but as the land grew wetter the trees died and a layer of peat (7 metres thick) gradually formed. Medieval people built wooden walkways to help them cross the boggy land.

This is called Cors Fochno or Y Gaws For (The Great Bog) and is one of the largest peat bogs in the UK and part of the huge Dyfi National Nature Reserve.  It’s a lonely and spooky place.

06 The Great Bog, Dyfi National Nature Reserve, Ruth hiking the Wales Coast Path

I was expecting to make rapid progress across this flat landscape. But the path becomes difficult. Somebody has been dredging one of the drainage ditches on the edge of the bog, and the path is strewn with foul-smelling sediment and slippery reeds.

Stumbling along, I eventually come across the machine responsible for the chaos on the path. The operator stops to let me walk past safely, and gives me a cheerful wave. It’s hard to feel cross with him.

07 clearing the drains, Ruth on the Wales Coast Path, Dyfi Nature Reserve

Beyond the digger, the path widens out and I meet a nature reserve Landrover, bumping down the grassy track. I wonder what will happen when it meets the digger?

A sign warns me I can only visit the bog with prior permission – although I’m not sure how that can be enforced where there is a public right of way (and national trail) running through the bog. And, in any case, it’s too late now! I’ve reached the end of the marsh.

08 sign re visiting Cors Fochno, Ruth Livingstone in Wales

The next field is full of cows. My gate is, of course, on the other side of these beasts. They are black and white which could mean they are an aggressive breed, but luckily they remain seated, while giving me evil stares, as I pick my way between them.

09 cows block the path, Ruth hiking in Wales

I follow a lovely grassy lane, lined with trees and bushes. Ahead I can see buildings. I’m getting close to the village of Tre Taliesin, where I will join the A487 for a short distance.

10 approaching Tre-taliesin, Ruth on the Wales Coast Path

After a brief stop on a bench in Tre Taliesin, for a drink and a snack, I head down the main road – which luckily has a pavement – until I reach the next village, Tre’r-ddol.

10 Tre'r-ddol, Ruth on the Wales coast path, Dyfi Valley

I walk past the pub, the place where I caught the bus yesterday, and feel a sense of achievement. Yes, I may only be back to where I finished my walk yesterday, but I’ve had a great experience – a wonderful train journey and a fascinating walk along the edge of the Great Bog.

Now, onwards… I was planning to have lunch in the pub, but I don’t have time to stop. It’s 10 miles to Machynlleth and I have 5 hours of daylight left.

[To be continued…]


Route this morning:


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, Doctor, woman, etc.
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10 Responses to 214 (am) Borth to Tre’r-ddol

  1. I don’t like walking through fields with cows in & those same cows followed me to the gate, very scary!

  2. jcombe says:

    You’re back on a stretch of path I know now, having walked this route earlier this year. A shame the path is now being dug up, and I didn’t notice that sign about getting permission either, maybe it only applies if you leave the right of way?

    This train route is lovely agreed. It is also unusual in that youre train probably stopped at Dovey Junction which is unusual (unique even?) in having no road or even foot access. The only way to reach it is by train. It exists soley to change trains between the Aberystwyth line and the coast line up to Porthmadog. In practice these days there is usually time to change at Machynlleth instead, so I don’t think it is used much.

    • Yes, Dovey Junction was the most bizarre station I’ve encountered. It seemed so big – with long platforms and it was sparklingly clean. I guess nobody much uses it. Certainly changing at Machynlleth would be much nicer, where there is a café.

  3. Gayle says:

    That digger was dredging the ditch when I walked that bit too – in my case on 17 September 2014. It made what might have been an unmemorable section unforgettable, not because of the dredger itself, but because of the bloated dead cow that it had just lifted out of the ditch and dumped next to the path. Needless to say, I had to hold my breath as I passed by!

  4. Marie Keates says:

    The train ride sounds wonderful, the dredging works not so much.

  5. Bronchitikat says:

    Black and white cows aggressive? They’d be either Friesians or Holsteins, or a cross of both. Milking breeds used to being ‘handled’ and not noted for being aggressive – unless you particularly bother them or have a dog with you. Dogs and cows are not a good mix, particularly if there are calves involved as well.

    Mind you, some of those Holsteins can be 6 foot tall at the shoulder, so it’s perhaps as well they contented themselves with evil stares!

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