234 Llanfair PG to Dwyran

My B&B host kindly offers me a lift and drops me off on the A4080, close to Llanfair PG. Today I face yet more road walking, but the day gets off to a promising start with a tree-lined footpath running alongside the road. Much better than walking IN the road.

01 almost road walking, Ruth hiking in Anglesey

I’ve had another restless night with fever and a cough, and no appetite for breakfast this morning. In fact, I’m feeling rather sorry for myself. But then I spot a Postman Pat van at the entrance to a grand drive. Those little vans never fail to raise my spirits, and they really do get everywhere.

post office vans get everywhere, Ruth Livingstone

After a mile or so, the coast path leaves the road, and heads inland. Inland! Normally I would simply continue along the coastal road, but there are no pavements and frequent fast-moving traffic, so I decide it’s much safer to follow the official route.

03 inland diversion, Ruth on the Wales Coast Path, Anglesey

[Later I discover the reason the path doesn’t hug the coast is due to the beautiful stately home I could see across the Menai Strait yesterday – Plas Newydd. The estate does not allow walkers through its grounds, despite the house being owned by the National Trust. Such a pity.]

I walk across fields and nearly stumble over this sleeping sheep. Welsh sheep certainly seem braver – and less easily spooked – compared to normal sheep.

04 sleepy sheep, Ruth Livingstone hiking in Wales

The path takes a right-angled turn, and I’m struck by an intriguing home-made sign. ‘Monument’ and an arrow. What monument?

05 monument sign, Ruth walking the Anglesey coastal path

I check my map, but the footpaths are a little confusing and I suspect the farmer has put up the sign to divert walkers from following a genuine right-of-way close to the farmhouse, but I dutifully follow the signs. And, although it involves a short diversion of the official coast path, I find the ‘monument’.

At first glance it looks underwhelming. A bog-standard barrow. Just a heap of grassy earth covering an ancient burial mound.

06 chambered Cairn, Bryncelli Ddu, Ruth Livingstone on Anglesey

But it turns out to be far more exciting than I anticipated. This is Bryn Celli Ddu and is around  5,000 years old, with an internal chamber that you can walk into. Or, rather, you have to bend down and shuffle into. Still, it’s wonderful to be able to go inside.

07 inside cairn chamber, Ruth in Brycelli Ddu, Anglesey

Around the mound are some standing stones. Before it was a burial chamber it was probably a free-standing henge, and the whole structure is carefully arranged to admit light into the passage at the time of the summer solstice.

I spend some time inside the chamber and am really glad I diverted from the path and discovered this wonderful place.

Leaving Bryn Celli Ddu, I retrace my steps to pick up the Wales Coast Path again and walk along roads for about 2 miles…

08 looking over to Y Felinheli from Anglesey, Ruth's coastal walk

… before arriving back on the shore at a place called Moel-y-don. It’s a pretty collection of holiday cottages, with a little bay punctuated by the ribs of a sunken boat.

09 Moel-y-don, Ruth walking the Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path

I spot a picnic bench, and head towards it. Today, because I’m unwell, I promised myself frequent stops for rests. But am bitterly disappointed when two gentlemen hop out of a nearby car and make for the bench, getting there ahead of me.

They see me looking at them, and mistake my hostile glare for a friendly glance! Anyway, we strike up conversation. They live on Anglesey and are making their way around the coastal path in stages. I can’t resist snapping a photo as they lace up their walking boots.

10 fellow walkers, Ruth hiking the Anglesey coast

The two local walkers confirm what I already suspected: Moel-y-don is a dead-end. It’s not possible to walk along the shore at this point and I must go back up the road to pick up the coastal path where it heads off down a track following a ridge of higher ground.

11 inland again, Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path, Ruth

I walk quickly, expecting the two walkers to catch up with me at any moment.

This area is a strange mix of posh houses and rural deprivation. I pass a smashed up shed where I spot an open-air toilet.

12 outdoor loo, Ruth walking the coast, Anglesey

Then the track leads down through farmland towards the coast. I come across another sleeping sheep lying on the path…

13 dead sheep, Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path, Ruth Livingstone

… although when I get nearer I realise it’s not asleep. It’s dead. Quite recently.

The path runs alongside a stream and takes me down to the foreshore, giving wonderful views across the Menai Strait.

14 back to the coast, Ruth Livingstone, Anglesey

Here I sit on a large stone and eat my lunch, surprised to find my appetite has recovered. It’s always tempting to hurry these breaks, but I force myself to rest for half an hour. While I wait, I watch a lone figure stumbling along the shingle beach and, very slowly, making his way towards me.

As the figure draws nearer, I realise it is Trevor, the only other guest in my B&B and a fellow walker. He is also walking the Wales Coast, but in the opposite direction to me, and we realised our paths would cross today. He decides to stop for lunch too.

15 Trevor, on the shingle beach, Isle of Anglesey

Unlike me, Trevor is a proper walker, carrying everything on his back as he hikes to the next B&B along the route. And he has a decent packed lunch – sandwiches and crisps, while I only carry nuts, fruit and chocolate bars.

I tell him not to miss visiting the ancient barrow, and warn him he will soon meet the two local walkers, who I’m still expecting to catch up with me at any moment. He seems surprised and asks if I talk to everyone I meet. (Trevor is a Londoner!)

He, in turn, tells me about some enormous stepping-stones ahead, which are quite tricky. And also warns me it’s difficult to find the linking footpath that leads back to our B&B. (Later, I realise I should have paid more attention to this advice and asked him for clear directions.)

My half-hour is up. I leave Trevor enjoying his lunch, and set off on my trek across the shingle. It’s hard work.

16 shingle beach, Ruth on the Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path

I’m actually pleased to pick up the path at the other end of the beach, even though – yet again – it takes me away from the shore. Still, there are great views across the Menai Straits to the mountains of Snowdonia. I think Snowdon is the twin-peaked hump on the left of the photograph below.

17 Snowdonia over Menai Strait, Ruth hiking in Anglesey

I join a road along the shore and have high expectations of coming across a café or a pub. In fact, despite my recent lunch-break, I’m still feeling poorly and finding the walk rather an effort. Another break would be fine!

18 towards Mermaid Inn, Ruth coastal walking, Anglesey

I walk past an old tug – or is it a dredger – sitting in someone’s garden. I love the colours on its hull – blue-grey streaked with rust. And I love its name – UPHILL STRUGGLE CAERNARFON. Yes, that sums up my recent walking to and from Caernarfon. Exactly.

19 Uphill Struggle, Ruth walking the coastal path, Anglesey

I come to the end of the road. Disappointingly, I haven’t passed any cafes. And the promising building at the end – called the Mermaid Inn on my map – turns out to have been converted from a pub into a private house.

Sitting on the beach, I have another snack and a drink, and look across the water to Caernarfon, where the castle towers are silhouetted against the mountains.

20 Caernarfon Castle, Ruth walking in Anglesey

Now I must leave the shore – again – and turn inland along a road, passing through farmland.

21 inland towards Dwyran, Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path, Anglesey

I wave to these young heifers. I’m not fond of cattle, finding them scary, but this gang look quite friendly. Still, I’m glad they’re on the other side of the fence.

22 cows, Anglesey, Ruth's coastal walk

After a mile of road walking, the path heads off through fields. But I can’t open the first gate. Is it locked or just rusted shut? I don’t know. I consider climbing over, but decide to follow the road a little further and pick up another footpath, which seems to follow a track, and should be easier to access.

The detour turns out to be a mistake. The ‘track’ is a rutted tractor route through farmland, with wide puddles and thick mud.

0x muddy route

And, yet again, the public footpath is obstructed with fastened gates. I suppose I could have untied this piece of string, but it was easier to climb over the rickety fence.

23 tied up gates, Ruth on footpath, Anglesey

It’s a relief to meet the official coast path again, although the route remains muddy. Of course this section of the Wales Coast Path is also called the Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path, and has rather a pretty logo on its signposts.

24 Anglesey Coast Path logo, Ruth hiking

Now I’m keeping an eye out for the linking footpaths that should take me up to my B&B in Dwyran. There are two possible routes. The first one would take me across a field of cows with young calves. I decide not to risk it.

cows and calves, Ruth's coastal walk, Wales

A short while later I think I find the second footpath, which seems to follow a raised bank. But there are no footpath signs and a fence bars the way. I could climb the fence, but someone has decorated it with an intimidating garland of barbed wire.

25 obstructed footpath, Anglesey, Ruth's coastal walk, Dwyran

If I carry on a little further, I will reach the road and can walk back to my B&B. It’s a 2 mile diversion, but better than being trampled by furious cows or maimed by barbed wire.

Onwards.

I’d forgotten about the stepping-stones. They cross a river – the Afon Braint – at a place called Gatehouses Ford. The photo below doesn’t really do them justice…

26 stepping stones Gatehouses Ford, Ruth on the Anglesey coastal path

… because they’re enormous. Each block is the size of a small car. Well, almost. And the tide is low, so the stones stand high above the water, with wide gaps between. Not so much a step to get across, more like giant strides.

27 giant stepping stones, Dwyran, Ruth at Gatehouses Ford

According to my B&B host, these stones are 3,000 years old. Wow. They’re pretty impressive. And a significant injury awaits if you fall off one of them.

I cross the stones with some difficulty, but arrive safely on the other side. From here a pretty path takes me towards the road.

28 Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path, Dyffyn, Ruth Livingstone

The path turns into a track and eventually I meet the main A4080. The coast path turns left at this point, but I turn right, heading towards Dwyran. Luckily traffic is sparse, as there are no pavements. I find this last stretch of my walk, although only a mile, long and tough. On the way I pass a garage-cum-village-shop.

29 the only shop in Dwyran, Ruth Livingstone in Anglesey

Later I discover this garage is the only shop in Dwyran, and sells bottles of cold coke and large slabs of chocolate at excellent prices!

Back in my B&B, I drink a cup of tea while looking at the view from my window, where I can see the sunset turning the mountains of Snowdonia a dusky-pink. It’s been a tiring but interesting day.  And I wonder what happened to the two local walkers, who never caught me up after all. Maybe they were heading in the other direction along the path? I forgot to ask.


The mystery of the stepping-stones! It’s surprisingly hard to discover good, factual information about these wonderful stones. Are they really 3,000 years old? Perhaps the variety of names doesn’t help.

  • Gatehouses Ford and Stepping Stones on my OS map,
  • locally known as the Giant Stepping Stones,
  • or maybe the Rhuddgaer Stepping Stones,
  • or even the Afon Braint Stepping Stones.

Eventually I find a post on ‘Afon Braint Stepping Stones’, by Graham Steven on his blog GeoTopoi. Someone in the comments says they can remember the stones being put in place only about 15 years ago (17 years now). But they are marked on an OS map from circa 1889. Perhaps the new stones replaced old stones that had been there for 3,000 years? You would have thought there would be some decent information provided about this striking feature on the path.


Miles walked today = 13 miles
Wales Coast Path so far = 835.5 miles
Total distance around the coast: 2,342.5 miles

Route:


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, Doctor, woman, etc.
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19 Responses to 234 Llanfair PG to Dwyran

  1. Alan says:

    Ruth first and foremost YOU are a “proper” walker (whatever that may be). What people carry on their back is no indicator of how committed they are. I think that after 6 years and 2300+ miles nobody could ever accuse you of being a novice!
    Anyway, I ‘ummed’ and ‘rrrrddd’ about visiting that burial chamber, ……wish I had now.

    • Thank you Alan. I’m a “proper” walker? Yes. Maybe 🙂
      I don’t normally visit sights off the path, but that was one worth making a detour for. Sorry you missed it.

  2. Anabel Marsh says:

    I too would call you a proper walker – and always entertaining. I hope the dreaded lurgy didn’t pull you down for too long.

  3. Trevor Sutton says:

    Ruth, what a delight to discover your blog – and of course to have met you at Taldrwst Farmhouse and along the path the next day. What is so impressive is that you have not only walked this enormous distance, but taken the time to explore and research places along the way such as the giant stepping stones (I said they were big!). I must say I will be a bit disappointed if they turn out to be just 17 years old instead of 3000. Looking forward to reading of your further adventures!

    • Hi Trevor and so glad you found my blog. Yes, I would like to believe the stepping stones are very ancient too. Was lovely to meet you. Was wondering how far you managed to get along the coast and whether you have reached the wonderful Llyn Peninsula yet?

      • Trevor Sutton says:

        I finished at Caernarfon the day after we met and travelled back home the day after. The Llyn Peninsula is next up, hopefully very soon. Your photos show how glorious it is – can’t wait to get started!

  4. Marie Keates says:

    What an interesting walk. The burial chamber was a real discovery and the stepping stones, well done for keeping going when you were feeling ill too.

  5. theresagreen says:

    My reading is lagging well behind your progress around Anglesey, but glad you recovered and were able to continue. It’s not a big island, but as you say it is beautiful, historic and has a great range of habitats for nature. I’m looking forward to you discovering more places I need to visit!

  6. Going to the stepping stones was something I intended to do on my most recent stay on Anglesey but I really needed a sunny day for my photos and the weather was a bit hit-and-miss. I’ve seen a couple of burial chambers on the island and to me it’s a case of ‘when you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all’ as they all seem to be the same, however seeing your photo of this one has inspired me to check it out next time – it looks a bit more interesting than the others I’ve seen.

    Anglesey is indeed full of wonderful things. I thought I’d seen everything and been everywhere on the island as I spend so much time there, that was until I bought a book called ‘How to photograph Anglesey’ and realised there were lots of things and places I hadn’t seen. That book became my ‘bible’ and over the last four years I’ve followed it closely, taking my own versions of the photos in it.

  7. Those stepping stones remind me of the ones at Dovedale in the Peak District. I’m 6ft1in and I had to stride from one to the next! Sad to see another dead sheep but, again, Postman Pat features in one of your Welsh walks! 🙂

    • Hi Olly. These stones were high – quite frightening really. I visited Dovedale in December but didn’t go over the stepping stones. Going back this December, so might give them a go – or not, depending how difficult they look.

      • Ah, I’m glad to hear you’re going back. Hopefully, it’ll be less busy in December. They shouldn’t be too bad if you do them at the start of your walk – otherwise, I remember there being a wooden footbridge closer to the car park.

        All that did me in was the steep descent down steps to the River Dove, near Milldale. Not favourable in wet weather, going up or down. But lovely and peaceful at the bottom, beside the flowing water.

  8. Leech says:

    Rhuddgaer Stepping Stones are about 20 years old. I remember giving the guys a cup of tea when they replaced the old ones

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