From the back of The Pilot Boat pub the coastal path sets off across fields. Below me, on my left, is the marshy inlet of Traeth Dulas where I walked yesterday. Sadly a murky fug obscures the views and I can’t get a good photograph.
The path climbs steadily over the fields until I reach a marshy plateau where a flock of sheep are feeding. Strange to find so much water on the highest point in the area.
These lambs are old enough to stray away from their mother, and bold enough to come close. I love the two-tone colouring of Welsh sheep, and this pair look as though someone has sown brown patches on their knees.
The path leads down off the high ground and joins a track, were I meet a group of elderly male walkers coming towards me. Two old boys struggle in the rear and I can’t resist a photograph. One is carrying an umbrella, Nicholas Crane style.
I’m pleased to reach the coast again, and set up the camera for a self-portrait. Behind me is a spit of land and, because I’m feeling full of energy today, I walk around to the far point and back again.
On the way back I spot a short track leading down to the beach. PRIVATE signs always annoy me. This one I take as an invitation. Not a public right of way? OK. But it doesn’t say keep out, does it?
The beach consists of soft sand below a crumbling sandstone cliff, and is only slightly less-than-perfect because the lower part is coated in seaweed. The slope shelves more steeply than other beaches I’ve come across recently, and I suspect this would make a good swimming spot.
At the far end of the beach – which is served by a public footpath – a young family is sitting on the sand.
I climb back up the slope and rejoin the path. It follows the coast around another little beach.
I haven’t gone far when I notice a dull ache in the back of my left calf. Did I feel a twinge there yesterday? Maybe I did. But it doesn’t feel bad enough to be anything serious. Onwards.
And then, over the course of a minute or two, the pain gets dramatically worse. So bad, in fact, it makes me shout out. I stop and roll up my trouser leg to look at my calf, convinced it must be swollen and inflamed. My leg looks fine. And, now that I’ve stopped, the pain disappears completely.
I rest for a while, taking photographs of the shore below me. The rocks are a reddish colour and remind me of south Devon, while the sea contains some vivid green slime. On the slopes above are pink-purple fox gloves among darker green grass. I love the medley of different colours and textures.
As soon as I set off walking again the pain returns. I must have pulled a muscle. ‘It’s only pain,’ I tell myself, and try to force my muscles to walk without limping, but that’s impossible. Thank goodness I have a walking pole with me.
I stop again and take a couple of paracetamol tablets. Other walkers have appeared and I am aware that I look ridiculous: in full walking kit but hobbling like an old lady.
Onwards. The pain is horrible. I struggle to make a pace of 1 mph, at most. (Funnily enough, I find the embarrassment of walking with a pronounced limp almost worse than the pain. Stupid pride, but I can’t help it.)
I reach Lligwy Bay and a car park.
Sitting down to ease the pain, I realise there is no way I’m going to be able to get as far as Red Wharf Bay today, as planned. I pull out my map. The nearest bus I can catch is at Moelfre, only a couple of miles away. Only a couple of miles? Yes, but at this rate it might take me a couple of hours to get there.
I struggle to walk down to the beach – and discover going downhill is much worse than walking on the flat. Still, I manage to enjoy the pretty beach, which has a little river flowing across it.
I cross the river by the footbridge and walk to the end of the beach along a bank of sand dunes – grateful that the soft sand disguises my pronounced limp. By now it’s taking an intense effort of will to keep moving.
Crossing over another car park I find, luckily, that the next section of path is empty of people, and nobody can see my pathetic progress as a I hobble and stumble along.
I get used to the pain, or perhaps the paracetamol starts kicking in. I manage to speed up a little. Maybe I’m doing 1.5 mph now?
Ahead I approach the outskirts of Moelfre. A couple of women come towards me on the path and try to engage me in a conversation about a popular TV programme. Do I know the name of the presenter? Because they’ve forgotten it. I’m afraid I’m rather short with them. My total attention is needed for walking.
The path climbs up a rocky slope and I discover going up is much easier than going down.
Looking back, I see an unusual monument sitting on top of a promontory. I wonder what it is, but can’t summon the willpower to go and take a look. It’s not just the pain. Walking with a limp is surprisingly tiring.
I round the tip of the headland and pass close to the island of Ynys Moelfre. Actually, I hear the island before I see it, because it’s covered in sea birds – gulls and cormorants – and the noise is tremendous.
Onwards. I hobble around the point and past a lifeboat station.
The path becomes a promenade and is quite crowded. I climb some steps and take a look at a couple of sculptures.
There is a magnificent statue of a seaman, hanging onto his wheel.
And a couple of very dramatic metal pillars with fantastic scenes in 3D relief on their curved inner surfaces.
This one depicts a ship being hurled by ferocious waves. It really is a great piece of art. It’s an amazing achievement to capture such frenetic movement and fluidity in a piece of solid metal.
An information plaque tells me the sculptures, along with the monument I saw earlier, are memorials to a terrible shipwreck that took place just off the coast here in 1859, when a ship called The Royal Charter was lost at sea, along with over 400 lives. You can read the details on Wikipedia.
I limp onwards. The sky is dull now and so my overall impression of Moelfre is one of greyness. Grey metal. Grey shingle. Grey houses.
It’s only a short hobble to the bus stop.
What a frustrating day! Having started out full of energy and feeling 100% fit, I’ve ended up in pain and forced to cut my walk short. Just under 6 miles in 4 hours. And now I’m worrying about tomorrow.
Miles walked today = 6 miles
Wales Coast Path so far = 960.5 miles
Total distance around the coast: 2,467.5 miles