My B&B host drops me off at the bottom of a quiet track, and I cut across a muddy yard to reach the coast path. It’s a windy day. Porth Ferin is deserted and, since the tide is high, its little beach is covered with water.
I head north eastwards along a newly created section of the coastal path, where recently erected fences keep me hemmed into a narrow strip of land above the sea.
Unfortunately, this is farmland, and the sheep have not been deterred by the new fencing. They’ve obviously been enjoying the lusher grass along the shore, and the coast path has been churned into a slippery mess by their hooves.
I make slow progress, because I’m fighting against the wind and slowed down by mud. At one point the path is totally obliterated by a landslip. A mudslide. I clamber across with difficulty.
Here are the likely culprits – a whole flock of them. Why have you left the path in such a dreadful mess?
Looking ahead I see the cliffs are ridged with corrugations, folds and furrows, and scarred with patches of bare earth where the ground has slipped away. This whole section of coastline, along with its newly created coastal path, seems determined to slide into the sea.
The area feels lonely and remote, and I meet no other walkers. Despite the sunshine the wind is fierce – blustery and cold. I cross over a waterfall, where the water is whipped by the wind and appears to be flowing uphill!
After rounding the headland of Penrhyn Colmon, I come to Porth Colmon, and one of the few points of road access along this stretch of the shore. With the change in direction, I find a temporary respite from the wind.
Climbing up and out of Porth Colmon, I walk along low cliffs above the bay of Traeth Penllech. The full force of the wind hits me again. Gusts of 21 mph were predicted, but this feels stronger.
The path dips up and down, at one point going down onto a beach, where I have to wade across a stream. I take the opportunity to wash the worst of the mud from my boots.
It really is a lovely walk, despite the wind and the constant mud.
I stop for a picnic lunch, hunkering down in a hollow to shelter from the gale, and trying not to worry about the huge cracks in the earth on either side of the gully – evidence this whole area is destined to slide into the sea.
After lunch I reach a lovely sheltered cove, Porth Gwylan. On a fine day this would be the perfect spot to spend a day on the beach.
Beyond Porth Gwylan the path runs across flat and open heathland. It’s boggy underfoot, and my boots become coated in heavy, yellow mud. The wind is ferocious. Huge waves splash up against the cliffs below. In the distance is some sort of ruin.
As I get nearer, I’m surprised to see a small car park and few people huddling in the shelter of an old wall.
I walk past the ruined building, disturbing gulls and oyster catchers, and look ahead. Below me is a small fishing cove, with a collection of fisherman shacks. Ahead is a village. Towyn? Rhos-y-llan? And, rather sadly, a small caravan park.
I take a self-portrait of myself, leaning into the wind.
The next section of path is extremely difficult, despite the apparent closeness of civilisation. The fencing forces me to stick to the slope, but the slope is crumpled and crumbled, studded with sheep prints, and very, very, muddy. I slip and slide and curse the farmer for fencing off his fields while still allowing his sheep to trample the path into oblivion.
Actually, I am surprised the path isn’t closed. It’s dangerous in places. Even the flatter stretches are difficult quagmires.
Eventually I reach firmer ground, cross over the caravan park, and set off on the final leg of the walk. The sky is dark, threatening rain.
I stop and pull on my waterproof trousers – with difficulty because my boots are caked in mud and the ground is very soggy when I sit down. No sooner have I got my waterproofs on, the sky clears. The wind is howling a gale, knocking me sideways. I’m staggering so much I must look drunk (luckily there is nobody else out and about to see!). My waterproofs make it worse because they catch the wind like a pair of sails.
Sitting down, I remove my waterproof trousers again. That’s better. But a few minutes later I look out to sea and notice another rain cloud is rushing up behind me. Back down onto the ground I sit, and pull on my waterproofs again. Just in time…
… the rain comes lashing down. But the wind is moving the clouds so quickly, the storm is over almost as soon as it’s begun. And I’m treated to an amazing rainbow.
I know other walkers have used this path, because I can see the treads of their boots in the mud. But up until now I haven’t met any. Now I meet a couple coming towards me. They are soaking wet, and tell me they got caught in the storm on the golf course. Golf course?
They also tell me the mud here is worse than they’ve ever known anywhere else. I agree. I’m about to tell them the mud is going to get very much worse in a moment – just wait until they get around past the caravan park – but I bite my tongue. They look depressed enough.
Onwards. Ahead is another cove where the stream, Aber Geirch, empties into the sea. My map also tells me it is crossed by a ‘pipe line’. Yes, there it is. A brown streak running under the cliffs on the far side.
The walk down to Aber Geirch is very tricky. The path turns into a river, but not a clear-flowing stream, more a boggy mass of mud and slime. The climb up the other side is a rocky scramble, somewhat terrifying but mercifully clear of mud.
I reach the golf course. It’s strange after miles and miles of mud and rocks to come across manicured lawns. There are even a few mad golfers, trying to hit balls despite the howling gale.
The coast path follows the edge of the shore and I look across another little cove, Borth Wen, towards the isthmus of Porth Dinllaen. I was planning on walking to the end and back again, but I am feeling exhausted, and the lighthouse at the far end seems a million miles away. (Actually, it’s not a lighthouse but a watch tower, although I don’t know that at the time.) I decide I’ve had enough.
I turn inland, and follow a rough track up the hill towards the golf clubhouse. It’s a private road but also a public right of way.
At the top of the hill I use my zoom lens to take a photograph of the hilly coast ahead. But that walk will have to wait for another day.
My car is parked in a village called Morfa Nefyn, but which everyone calls plain Morfa. It’s a long slog up the road but at least, for a welcome change, I have the wind behind my back and it pushes me along.
Miles walked today = 13 miles
Wales Coast Path so far = 764.5 miles
Total distance around the coast: 2,371.5 miles