250 (pm) Bangor to Aber

I pass through the archway and into another world – a long stretch of path, surrounded by trees, running above a stream and threading the length of a secret valley. I wasn’t expecting to find this. A lovely surprise.

a01 North Wales Path, Bangor, Ruth walking the coast

I’m walking along the beginning of the North Wales Path, a 60 mile long-distance trail that meanders all the way from Bangor to Prestatyn. For the next couple of miles the Wales Coast Path follows the same route.

A river, called Afon Cegin carved this valley, called Dyffryn Cegin. The path follows the line of an old railway track that once transported slate from the quarries in the hills down to Porth Penrhyn. This path also forms part of Cycle Route 5, a long-distance cycleway linking distant Reading with Holyhead on Anglesey.

a02 cycle route 5 and 82, Ruth's on the Coast Path, Bangor

Although it’s a Sunday morning I only meet a few dog walkers and cyclists. Not exactly crowded.

a03 walking route, North Wales Path, Ruth trekking in Bangor

After a couple of miles my route leaves the valley path and climbs up to join a narrow lane beside a ford.

a04 ford, Dyffryn Cegin Valley, Ruth on the Wales Coast Path

Now I’m out in the open, I can see dark clouds are rolling in from the west, and I realise a rain storm is hammering down on Bangor behind me.

For the next mile I walk along the quiet road,  but I haven’t got very far before the rain reaches me. Not ordinary rain. Massive blobs of water come hurtling down and the tarmac turns into a sea of bouncing pellets. I shelter under a tree (the one overhanging the road in the photo below)… and wait.

a05 country road to Llandgai, Ruth's coastal walk, North Wales

After ten minutes the rain settles into a grey drizzle. I pull up my hood and carry on, wishing I’d brought my umbrella.

A little further along, and the paths (both the official Wales Coast and the North Wales Path) leave the lane to pass across a meadow of tall grasses. I’m filled with dismay because I realise the grasses will spray my legs with rain water, which will trickle down my legs and fill my boots. I hate getting wet feet!

I’ve brought neither my waterproof trousers nor my gaiters, as I hate both the process of pulling them on and actually walking while wearing the wretched things. But now I’m beginning to regret that decision.

I pull out my map. Yes, it’s possible to avoid the grassy walk by continuing along the road. Onwards.

My quiet road joins a busier one and I cross over the busy A5 beside an impressive gateway. This is the entrance to Penrhyn Castle, a 19th century mansion, now owned by the National Trust.

a06 entrance to Penrhyn Castle, Ruth Livingstone

The extensive private grounds of this castle have forced the coast path to detour inland, but I’ve reached the furthest point of disruption. From here onwards I’ll be walking towards the coast again.

The rain has stopped. I follow a quiet lane through the village of Llandygai, where I pass a pretty churchyard. The rows of stone graves are softened by the waving heads of long grass.

a07 llandygai church, Ruth walking the coast, North Wales

A man overtakes me at a jog, carrying a child on his shoulders. The child turns round to look at me and gives a quiet smile of triumph. ‘I’m moving faster than you!’

I leave the village and join a busy road. It’s only a B road but full of fast-moving traffic. I pass a bus stop where I see the man and the child again. Waiting for the bus.

The B road runs out of pavement, so I detour into a tiny place called Tal-y-bont, hoping to pick up the official coast path again as it passes through the village. But I manage to lose my bearings and find myself back on the B road again, only a little further along. At this point there is a pavement – hooray – so I can carry on along the road without the risk of imminent death…

a08 road walking, Ruth hiking in North Wales

… until I reach a turning, and rejoin the official Wales Coast Path route. It follows a quiet lane that takes me down towards the shore.

For once I don’t resent yet more road walking. Although the rain has stopped, the hedges and verges are laden with water, and I’m grateful for dry tarmac beneath my feet.

It’s a pleasant walk, skirting the tall stone walls that guard the perimeter of Penrhyn Park. The only traffic I meet is a tractor, because there is nothing much down here – no village, just a scattering of cottages, a couple of farms, and a  nature reserve called The Spinnies.

a09 lane walking, Ruth trekking North Wales

The road itself comes to an dead-end at a car park, but the coast path detours off to the left just before this,  still clinging close to the wall that marks the perimeter of the Park.

a10 The Spinnies Nature Reserve, Ruth's coastal walk, North Wales

At the turn-off, I come across an odd gate. I’ve met many types of gates on my walks, but this is the first I’ve met constructed like this one.

a11 gate Ruth LIvingstoneIt opens by hinging upwards.

Very unusual. In fact, it took me a little time to work out how to open it, and I wonder how many people give up and continue onwards to the car park?!

Took me even longer to take a photograph of the open gate because as soon as you let go of the bars, they sink down and close again. You have to move quickly to catch the mechanism in action.

a12 slate fencing, Ruth Livngston

The other unusual feature of this part of the walk – although this is one I’ve come across before – is the structure of the fencing. This is made up of thin slabs of slate, bound together with either cord or wire.

The path trails around the wall, hemmed in by vegetation until, suddenly, it opens out onto the shore.

A beautiful place. Golden grass and lush vegetation. White swans gliding on grey-green water. Dark clouds rolling beneath a brighter canopy of blue and white.

a13 Afon Ogwen, Ruth's coastal trek, North Wales

Despite the lack of sunshine, I manage to take some wonderful photographs.

Turning to my right, I follow the coast path signs. From now on the route hugs the shoreline, a welcome change after a day of mainly inland tramping.

a14 walking eastwards, Ruth trekking the Wales Coast Path

This is the best part of the walk. The sky is constantly shifting between dark and light, allowing patches of sunlight through, while clouds drift low against the hills. The rain seems to have sprinkled the countryside with colour, bringing fresh intensity to the greens and yellows of the fields.

a15 rape fields and clouds, Ruth hiking the coast, Snowdonia

It’s a beautiful and dramatic landscape. Hills to my right. Sea to my left. And ahead is an island… no, I look at my map… it’s the headland of Llandudno. The Great Orme.

I think the best way to illustrate this section of my walk is through the interpretation of some of the photographs I’ve taken in a series of wonderfully fluid paintings by my excellent Artist in Residence, Tim Baynes.

There’s the Great Orme, glowering in the distance above a green sea. ‘A crowd of oyster catchers invade the beach. An evening light slides under dark clouds.’

North Wales 1

Meanwhile the fields sparkle with all the shades of green you can imagine, underneath shifting masses of clouds. ‘The impressive greens of North Wales.’

North Wales 2

And my path continues along the wide spaces of the coast, with not another soul in sight. ‘A solitary way mark towards Great Orme. Wide seascape of North Wales makes us insignificant’.

North Wales 3

To my left the shore turns marshy, attracting flocks of oyster catchers and gulls, who scream and take flight as I approach. The hill ahead is PenMaen Mawr, with the village of Llanfairfechan nestling on its slopes.

a19 approaching Aber, Ruth hiking the coast, North Wales

I’ve booked into a B&B on the edge of the village, and that’s my destination this evening.

The sky clears a little and streams of sunlight flit across the hills. Suddenly I have a wonderful view of the Abergwyngregyn valley.  Up there are the Aber Falls, which I gather are spectacularly beautiful.

a20 Aber Falls valley, Ruth Livingstone on the coast

If I’d stuck with the North Wales Path, instead of following the coastal route, I’d have passed close to the falls. It’s a walk I want to do one day. Another one to add to the list!

Now my path turns inland, skirting around an area of boggy marsh, and joining a track. Ahead is a car park. It’s always a relief to spot my car, patiently waiting for me.

a21 Morfa Aber nature reserve, Ruth Livingstone

I’m pleased with my progress today. Although my leg still twinges occasionally, I’ve managed to control the limping and covered 13 miles with an average moving speed of 2.2 mph. It’s the furthest and fastest I’ve walked for some time. Almost back to normal.

Miles walked today = 13 miles
Wales Coast Path so far = 997 miles
Total distance around the coast: 2,504 miles

Route: first half of the day in blue, second in red.

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
This entry was posted in 16 Anglesey and North Wales and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to 250 (pm) Bangor to Aber

  1. paul sennett says:

    Ruth, Huge Congratulations on finishing Anglesey.

  2. I’ve never seen a gate like that one before – I think I’d have been tempted to climb over if I couldn’t figure out how to open it 🙂

    I’m glad the leg isn’t too bad now, and I’m looking forward to reading the next section of your walk.

  3. jcombe says:

    The North Wales path does look an interesting route, I noticed it went up onto the top of some of the mountains round there. Oddly I don’t remember that gate, perhaps I went the wrong way around there. A shame the NT can’t be persuaded to open up a route through Penrhyn Park. I suppose they are worried about people getting in for free.

    • Hi Jon. Although that footpath through the gate isn’t new, my OS map actually shows the WCP as continuing down the lane and through the car park, so I guess the official route may have changed since you walked that way.

  4. rlbwilson says:

    I love the paintings. Aber Falls are definitely worth a visit one day.

  5. Pingback: NORTH WALES PATH – Croeso i Cymru. | bowlandclimber

  6. Marie Keates says:

    What a welcome surprise, even if it did rain on you. I don’t get on with waterproof trousers either. They make me so hot! That gate reminds me of a level crossing gate.

  7. The combination of your photos and those watercolours… stunning! What a wonderful pairing of artists, and what a unique idea for a blog. I’m slowly working my way through the whole thing, and it’s been an inspiring and enjoyable experience for me. Thank you so much for going to the trouble of creating such a detailed account of your travels!

  8. penc0ed says:

    I love the art work, my husband and I are annual visitors to North Devon and most years pick up a memento to add to the collection from where ever we go.

  9. Karen White says:

    Tim’s paintings are beautiful. I made a mistake referring to Bangor as a town, as of course it has city status. I doubt I’d have worked out that odd gate, I have enough trouble with normal ones!

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