I arrive in Caernarfon at 3pm and drive around, looking for a parking space. It’s taken me longer than I anticipated to travel here from Lincolnshire and I am feeling both irritated and unusually fatigued. Eventually, I park in the car park just beyond the Victoria Dock.
I walk back through the town and pick up the trail where I left off last time, among the jumble of narrow streets by the castle. At this point, as far as I can work out from my map, the Llyn Coastal Path comes to an official end and the route continues as just the plain old Wales Coast Path again.
Retracing my steps, I circle the dock. There are some smart ships moored here.
At the far end of the marina is a new development of apartment blocks. I’m sure the views are lovely, but these places always look soulless to me.
The Menai Strait is narrow here and looks more like a river than the sea. The land on the other bank is… well, it must be Anglesey. My plan is to reach the island by the end of today.
But first I have to walk to Bangor. I’m expecting to make rapid progress, as the route is along a cycleway with a straight, flat, easy surface. And there’s nothing much to distract me, except some weird sculptures along the route – looking ancient but in reality very modern.
I start at a good pace, quickly overtaking the strollers ahead of me…
… and being overtaken in turn by the occasional cyclist.
The trouble is that cycle paths make boring walking routes, and I’m relieved after 5 miles of plodding to reach my half-way point, the village of Y Felinheli.
I walk along a minor road that takes me through an area of light industry. It’s a Monday afternoon, nearly 5 pm, and I feel the usual emotion (guilt tinged with joy) as I see people beginning to leave work. How lucky I am to be able to go walking on a weekday!
I come across a children’s play area and, feeling very tired for some reason, sit on a bench for a rest. Perhaps its the dullness of the day, or the tediousness of the route, or the long drive to get here, but I feel I’ve walked much further than 5 miles.
The sign by the playground indicates that smoking is banned. Or is it? The sign is unclear. Maybe it’s only discouraged, although I remember hearing that a beach in Wales – Little Haven – recently became the UK’s first non-smoking beach.
I force myself to start walking again, surprised by my level of fatigue and the strange aches in my muscles. Nearly there. I’m nearly there. I cheer myself up by taking photos of Anglesey across the water. The pretty collection of houses across the water is Moel-y-don.
As I leave Y Felinheli I come across a roadside pub. If only it was open – I yearn for a comfy seat and a refreshing drink – but the place looks derelict. Shame.
Beyond the pub, the path leaves the road and continues as cycle route number 8. By now, every step is becoming an effort.
I check my watch. My pace has slowed. What’s wrong with me? I should be able to maintain a steady 3 mph – or more – on such an easy surface, but I’m having to urge myself to keep moving forward.
The cycle way joins a road and I find myself marching along the busy B4547. It’s rush hour. Traffic heading home. Every step becomes an effort… and then I see a bus stop sign ahead… and my heart lifts.
It’s only another 4 miles until I reach the Menai suspension bridge at Bangor – but it seems a hundred miles away. I check the bus times. Yes, there is a bus back to Caernarfon from here, and only 10 minutes to wait.
I conduct a furious internal discussion with myself:
Logical me: Come on! It’s only 4 more miles.
Emotional me: But I’ve had enough. Time to stop.
Logical me: Stick with the plan. Keep going.
Emotional me: No! I really, really don’t want to walk any further.
Logical me: Call yourself a long-distance walker? You’re pathetic.
Emotional me: I know. The whole idea is stupid. In fact, I HATE walking.
The bus arrives, and I have the foresight to note the name of the bus stop (‘Nant-y-Garth’) before I get on, knowing I’m going to have to get back to this place tomorrow in order to restart my walk.
Emotional me: You should have stuck to the plan. Loser!
Logical me: Too late. I’m on the bus now.
Miles walked today = 6.5 miles
Wales Coast Path so far = 813 miles
Total distance around the coast: 2,320 miles