221pm Portmeirion, Porthmadog to Criccieth

I leave Portmeirion behind and rejoin the Wales Coast Path. It follows a somewhat tortuous route around the perimeter of the village.

a01 walk around the perimeter of Portmeirion, Ruth's coastal walk

The wonderful thing about this area of Wales is the wealth of footpaths and bridleways to choose from. I climb a hill and come to a crossroads with a signpost, and wish I had time to go off and explore other walks.

well sign-posted, Ruth hiking the Wales Coast Path

But I spent longer in Portmeirion than I anticipated and need to get on with my coastal route. From the high ground on top of the hill I get a great view of the Afon Glaslyn, with the causeway that leads to Porthmadog.

a03 Ruth Livingstone hiking the Wales Coast Path to Porthmadog

While to my right is a wonderful view of Snowdon.

a04 Snowdon, Ruth hiking in Wales

I work my way down the hill, through fields full of sheep and baby lambs. It looks like the farmer is fed up with lost walkers rambling through his land and has added some homemade signs to a gate.

a05 coast path signs, Ruth Livingstone in Wales

The hillside becomes wooded and the path leads into a track that curves down the side of the slope, heading towards the river valley.

a06 woodland walk down to A497, Ruth in Wales

I really enjoy this section of the walk. To my right, among the trees, I hear a drilling sound. Workmen? No a woodpecker. I catch a brief glimpse of it flying around, but don’t manage a photo.

At the bottom of the hill, the path crosses a railway line. This is Boston Lodge Halt and part of the same Ffestiniog line as the Minffordd station I came across earlier. Nearby are some engineering sheds where carriages and engines are serviced and repaired.

a07 Boston Lodge Halt, Ruth hiking the Wales Coast Path

I join the A497 and follow a joint walking/cycle pathway alongside the road as it runs across a causeway. I’ve lost the sea view, but to my right is an expansive plain of marshland, threaded through with water ways and with a wonderful mountainous backdrop. On the far side of the plain is a large quarry.

a08 Garth Quarry across the marshes, Ruth's coast walking

The causeway is a mile in length, but seems longer. Although the path is shielded from the road, I can hear the constant rush of traffic on my left. The railway line also runs close the path, and I wonder if a train might pass by. But there seems to be nothing running on the line today.

a09 long causeway, Ruth on the Wales Coastal Path, Porthmadog

At the end of the causeway stands an impressive wooden figure. It’s a tribute to William Maddocks, who built the causeway in 1811.

a10 statue of Madocks, Ruth in Porthmadog

Also at the end of the causeway is the Harbour Station and the end of the Ffestiniog line. I stop and have lunch at the station café, eating it outside in the sunshine in my t-shirt. Not bad weather for mid March!

a11 lunch in station cafe, Ruth in Porthmadoc

Next weekend is Easter weekend, and the whole of West Wales seems to be in a frenzy of preparation for the start of the holiday season. There are people painting windows, men on scaffolding, hammering and banging everywhere.

I walk along the harbour, wondering who owns all the smart yachts in the water. The locals don’t seem particularly affluent.

a12 marina at Porthmadog, Ruth's coast walk

The path follows a street that passes behind the back of shipyards, chandlers shops, marine storage areas, etc. I see a giant crane lifting a yacht out of a yard. Yes, everyone is getting ready for the summer season.

Further along is a lovely cove, name unclear on my map. Borth-y-Gest?

a13 cove at Porthmadoc, Ruth on Wales Coast Path

And then the path meanders along wooded slopes. Through the trees I catch glimpses of rocks and little beaches below.

a14 path above shore, Ruth hiking in Porthmadog, Wales

I reach a place where the path ahead is closed, and a sign says the route has been diverted. The map displayed is far from helpful. Am I at point A or C? I pull out my OS map and my Garmin, but still can’t make sense of the information. There is no scale and no indication of where I am now.

a15 less than helpful diversion sign, Ruth in Wales

I follow the diverted route, but soon lose the waymarks, and meander aimlessly through a camp site until I eventually hit a road. I seem to be miles away from sea. Am I still following the diversion? I don’t know. There are no clear signs.

After walking along the road for a while, I come across a lane which is promisingly called ‘Beach Road’.  After a mile, the road turns into a track, and then… I’m back on the shore and standing on the edge of an amazing beach.

a16 beach again, Ruth in Wales

This is Black Rock Sands. I have the thrill of leaving the only footprints on this part of the beach as I walk along virgin sand, close to the waves.

Inland are dunes, the occasional glimpse of a holiday chalet, and behind are the mountains. The beach is a couple of miles long and virtually deserted, apart from the odd car and dog walker.

a17 Black Rock Sands, Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path

At the far end of the sands I turn inland and follow a minor road as it leads up to the high ground of a headland. I walk past fields of sheep with their new lambs. They are very noisy, filling the air with their bleats as they constantly call to each other.

When I reach the top of the hill, I have a wonderful view across the sunlit dune system and back along the beach. In the distance is the far bank of the estuary and sands of the Morfa Harlech nature reserve. .

a18 looking down on Black Rock Sands, Ruth hiking the Wales Coast Path

I follow a track through farmland and down the other side the headland. I’m walking into the west, with the sun in my eyes, so photography is difficult. But I do manage to catch a shot of the little train as it rumbles past.

a19 looking towards Criccieth, Ruth on the Wales Coastal Path

My path joins the railway. This isn’t the Ffestiniog line, but part of the national railway network. In the golden light of the afternoon, everything – including the tracks – is coloured russet and tinted with gold. It’s beautiful and slightly surreal, like something out of the American west.

a20 railway line, Criccieth, Ruth on the Wales Coast

I’m on the edge of another area of reclaimed wetland. And I can’t believe this is Wales in March. It’s beautiful.

a21 railway walking, Ruth in Lleyn Peninsula

Blinded by the low sun ahead, I have to turn around to take photographs. Behind me the view is pretty impressive.

a22 looking back, Ruth on the Wales Coast Path, Criccieth

I wish I could say the approach to Criccieth was beautiful. The path narrows and I become sandwiched between fences…

a23 approach to Criccieth, Ruth's coastal walk, Lleyn peninsula

… before eventually emerging onto the promenade. The sun is sinking behind me and the view to the east is wonderful, with the clouds just beginning to turn pink.

a24 Criccieth, Ruth hiking the Wales Coast Path

Criccieth has a castle in an impressive position on a promontory. I walk through the town in the dusky light.

a25 Criccieth at sunset

It takes me a while to find the station, where my car is parked. I’m tired but deeply happy. It’s been another glorious day of walking.


More information on the Porthmadog Causeway:

William Maddocks built the crossing to Porthmadog, called The Cob, and it was completed in 1811. He introduced a toll, which The Maddocks family collected for over 150 years. An act of parliament set the cost of a car crossing at one shilling (5p). In 1978, the causeway was bought by a charity called the Rebecca Trust, who continued to collect the 5p toll and distributed the monies to local charities.

25 years later, as people were fed up with the terrible queues that formed as a result of the toll booth, the Welsh Assembly Government finally bought The Cob and abolished the toll. The last 5p was collected on Saturday, 29th March 2003.

Miles walked today = 14 miles
Wales Coast Path so far = 686 miles
Total distance around the coast: 2,293 miles


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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26 Responses to 221pm Portmeirion, Porthmadog to Criccieth

  1. Linda Jackson says:

    Hello Ruth:
    Thanks for another wonderful post, I almost felt I was walking beside you. From your photos it looked like a perfect day to walk. Here in Nova Scotia, spring is slow to arrive and we still have some ice in our river but as I sit writing this I can hear geese and spring birds and I see a bald eagle lazily patrolling the water, on the hunt for breakfast no doubt! It’s time for me to go walking. I look forward to your next post.


  2. Good to catch up with your wanderings again. We certainly have had some lovely days recently, all downhill at the Easter weekend though.

    • Hubby and I were planning a trip to Wales for Easter. (He cycles, I walk.) But the forecast looked terrible and so we stayed home instead. Shame. Here’s hoping for some good spring weather ☀️

      • You were wise to stay at home this Easter – I walked 40 miles of the North Pembrokeshire coast path this Easter weekend – it was an experience! – there was rain,wind and hail but at least I had sunshine on Good Friday! You are starting one of my favourite stretches – the Lleyn Peninsula. I’m looking forward to reading all about it

  3. Rita Bower says:

    Seems you had a really beautiful day’s walking…with views on every side! It looks wonderful. I’m so looking forward to the Wales coast path. I’m excited that I’ve now finished the SW path – unfortunately the Devon weather wasn’t nearly as good as Wales last weekend!

    • Are you walking the Somerset coast path en route to Wales? If so, I hear they’ve improved it recently.

      • Rita Bower says:

        My route around the UK is very haphazard! I took the advice of a friend and am not doing it in order! Initially I found this idea hard to grasp and I have to ensure I don’t miss any, but now I find it quite exciting, as I’m never sure where I’m going next! So I walked from Minehead to Bristol last year and though some improvements, I found Somerset the least ‘friendly’ of my walking – too many ‘private signs’ on public footpaths! This meant long detours…as I think you found too. And the Somerset Coastal Path sign is still very elusive! I’m hoping to reach the Welsh border this year, but am saving Wales till 2018, when I reach the big 60!

        • Ah, you’ve done the Somerset not-really-coast path 🙂 You’ve got a treat coming with Wales. I remember feeling sad when I finished the SWCP, thinking nothing would ever match it, but Wales is even better.

          • Rita Bower says:

            Looking forward to it….the photos on your blog are wonderful. And you’re right, I had mixed emotions when finishing the SW path. I’ve been watching some of the ‘Coastal Walking with My Dog’ which gives a few tasters & loved watching the bit around Ilfracombe…which we’ve both done! And Wales looked beautiful…

  4. owdjockey says:

    Hi Ruth, this recent high pressure has certainly reaped dividends in terms of walking days! And things seemed to have dried out when I was there in January, as on the approach to Criccieth I had to walk about 200m along the r***w**.
    Been meaning to ask, do you ever reverse your direction? I know your overall direction is clockwise, but for logistical, weather etc.. reasons do you ever contemplate going the other way?

    • Hi Alan. So far I’ve been walking in a continuous clockwise direction. Just got in the habit. BUT, I am thinking of going back to my starting point and walking anti-clockwise for a while, because it takes me nearly 5 hours to drive to Wales and getting away for a few days isn’t always easy, but I could easily fit in some single-day walks closer to home.

  5. Rita Bower says:

    PS Are you going to include Anglesey?

    • Yes. I’m planning to walk round Anglesey. Everyone says it’s beautiful. Also, it’s part of the official Wales Coast Path route and I’d like to be able to say I’d completed the whole thing.

  6. The golden colours of those photos are fabulous, and because one always thinks they never really do justice to the live event it must have been a good one for the memory bank.

    I don’t have a detailed record of the route I followed (before the WCP was established) but it seems you vary from it quite a lot, especially your dedication to sticking as close as possible to the shore line – bravo!

    I walked into Porthmadog looking across to the crags of Tremadog with mixed feelings. I climbed there with my, sadly, late climbing friend Tony (died of cancer), and had much pleasure there, but later my daughter fell at Tremadog leading a climb called Poor Man’s Peutery and broke her arm putting paid to what was a promising future as a half decent climber.

  7. Marie Keates says:

    What wonderful light you had at the end of your walk. That diversion was a bit of a pain though. I hate it when the maps they put up are only of any use to locals. It was like that when part of the Otchen Navigation was closed a few years ago.

  8. Merryn says:

    Beautiful day! I love that early spring light where it’s sort of filtered through a very high mist and makes everything look like a gorgeously coloured painting.

  9. theresagreen says:

    A great commentary on a varied and interesting stretch of the coastline. You probably know this already, but there is an official Wales Coast Path app available, I don’t know if it may be useful for sticking points? Here’s the link to it if you don’t have it http://www.walescoastpath.gov.uk/plan-your-trip/the-official-wales-coast-app/?lang=en

  10. Karen White says:

    What wonderful golden light in your photos.

  11. Gareth Williams says:

    When you paid 5p to cross the Cob you would get a coloured ticket that was a pass for the whole day if you produced it at the toll booth.

    My Taid (Grandad) knew what colour was valid for each day and simply kept one old ticket of each colour in his glovebox, ready to flash at his mate in the booth. I never saw him pay the 5p once. I suspect not many locals ever did.

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