251 Aber to Conwy

Unfortunately, the bus driver doesn’t understand my pronunciation of Abergwyngregyn, so I’m reduced to saying ‘the next village please’. We hurtle along the A55, The North Wales Expressway, before veering off into Abermumblewhatever.

I walk out of the village and pass a police car parked on the verge of a deserted country lane in the middle of nowhere. What rural crime have I committed? I try not to look guilty, wondering why police cars always have that effect on me. Half a mile later I discover I’m going the wrong way and turn back, only to discover the police car is still there. Is it just my imagination, or does the officer give me a long, hard stare?

I wander around Abergwyngregyn  for a while, until I finally work out how to cross the A55 and find the coast road. This means I have to pass close to the police car – yet again.

After such a bad start, I’m feeling lonely and missing my hubby – and so I’m pleasantly surprised to find a companion on the road, even if it is only a rather cheeky sheep.

01 goat encounter, Aber, Ruth walking the North Wales Coast

He (or she) decides to follow me. I remember the policeman and wonder if I’m going to be accused of sheep rustling. Luckily the animal soon loses interest in me and starts munching on the leaves of a particularly tasty bush.

It’s a dismal morning, spitting rain and with low clouds covering the hills. But I’m happy to reach the nature reserve of Morfa Aber,  where I parked my car yesterday, and pleased to be back on the shore again.

02 Ruth walking to Llanfairfechan, North Wales

I soon realise this section of the coast consists of a number of interconnected nature reserves, all linked via the coastal path. After leaving Morfa Aber I come to Morfa Madryn.

03 Morfa Madryn, Ruth's coastal walk, North Wales

I’m walking with my big green umbrella. It’s a little hard to control in the breeze, but I manage to take a self-portrait beside another nature reserve at Glan y Môr Elias.

04 walking with an umbrella, Wales Coast Path, Ruth Livingstone

The next nature reserve is not marked on my map, but a sign says it’s called Traeth Lafan. [Later I learn Traeth Lafan is a new area of low-lying land, formed from the debris created when the tunnels carrying the A55 were excavated. I will reach those tunnels all-too soon.]

Another sign tells me I must keep off the spit of new land, called Shell Island, during the bird breeding season between March and August. I don’t fancy walking there anyway. It looks very muddy.

05 looking to Puffin Island, Ruth in North Wales

Inland the marsh is covered in green and puddled with pools of brown water. Wild flowers dot the landscape. It’s really very attractive – for a swamp.

06 Glan y Mor Elias, Ruth's coastal walk, Wales

It stops raining. I begin to meet dog walkers and soon reach a firm promenade. Marsh gives way to a mix of sand and rocks. Groynes – in advanced stages of decay – march across the beach. Ahead is the Great Orme, still looking like an island.

07 groynes, Ruth Livingstone approaching Llanfairfechan, North Wales Coast

The promenade leads to an area of parkland, a boating lake, and a village tucked under the steep slope of a hill.

08 Llanfairfechan, Ruth walking the coast, Wales

Assuming I’ve reached the village of Penmaenmawr, where I was planning to have lunch, I’m surprised to find I’m well ahead of schedule. I stop for a meal in a decrepit looking café, where the food takes a long time to arrive but turns out to be nicer than the décor.

During lunch, I pull out my map and realise my mistake. I’ve only reached Llanfairfechan, not Penmaenmawr, which is still 3 miles away.

The seafront is attractive, with painted houses and an open area of greenery…

09 Llanfairfechan, Ruth's coastal walk, Wales

… but I soon have to turn inland, passing under a railway bridge and walking through residential streets.

Llanfairfechan seems rather a sad place. Houses that once would have enjoyed a sea view now overlook the thundering traffic along the A55. The hill above (called Penmaen Mawr) doesn’t even lend its name to the village it overshadows, but gives it to the village on the other side instead. Yet the hill dominates as a dark presence and today its peak is cloaked by low-hanging clouds.

The noise of traffic grows louder. I see the mouths of tunnels ahead and here the coast path crosses over the twin lanes of the A55 via metal bridges.

10 tunnel, A55, north Wales

A plaque commemorates the opening of these bridges – Pen-y-clip pedestrian/cycle bridges – in July 2009. Only 7 years ago. I wonder how you walked the coast before?

[Later, I discover that in  2003 David Cotton walked through one of the tunnels, along a pavement beside the road, when he walked this section.]

The cycle path runs upwards and then along the side of the hill, giving great views over the sea. It’s a pleasant route, away from the thunder of the road, with wild flowers colonising the walls on either side. Surprisingly I meet nobody else up here. No walkers. No cyclists.

Rounding the corner of the headland, the path dips down to join the road again for a short while. Ahead is another hill called, Foel Lus, with its top covered in clouds, and the village of Penmaenmawr lies below.

11 Penmaenmawr, Ruth's coastal walk, North Wales

There is an alternative route you can follow for the Wales Coast Path. The alternative way heads inland from Llanfairfechan, meets up with its old friend, the North Wales Path, and climbs over the hills to Conwy. But I have chosen the path that sticks closest to the shore. And, looking up at the cloud-covered peaks, I think it was probably a wise choice.

After reaching another ruined residential street, the path takes me down and under the A55 (what a roar!) and then over the railway, before leading down to the shore again.

I meet my first cyclist of the day. And have a good view of the Great Orme, which doesn’t look so big from here.

12 cycle route, North Wales Coast, Ruth Livingstone, Great Orme

(When I was young I stayed in Llandudno when my family flew over from the Caribbean to spend a summer in Britain. In my memory the Great Orme was huge. What happened? Has it shrunk?)

I reach Penmaenmawr and walk along a wide pavement.

13 Ruth walking the promenade at Penmaenmawr

It’s attractive and I love the waterfall and the bunting, but is there anything sadder than a deserted paddling pool?

14 deserted paddling pool, Ruth walking through Penmaenmawr

Penmaenmawr does, however, have an excellent graffiti wall, although the art work is clearly properly designed and commissioned. It advertises a skate park.

15 Pen skate park, Ruth walking the coast of North Wales

Beyond Penmaenmawr the official path/cycle route turns inland to run along the landward side of the railway line, but I choose to stick close to the sea, walking along a path that eventually peters out at a slipway.

I climb down to the beach, hoping I’ll be able to find a way back up and over the railway line a little further along. The map suggests there is a footbridge at a place called Dwygyfylchi.

16 railway line, Ruth hiking along  the North Wales Coast

It’s a wonderful stretch of sand, rippled by the waves. After a mile I’m relieved to see there actually is a bridge over the line. There it is, to the right of the photo below.

17 beach towards Llandudno, Ruth trekking the Wales Coast Path

I cross over the bridge and rejoin the cycle route.

It’s hard to say anything nice about this section of the walk. The traffic noise is unpleasant. The pavement is hard beneath my feet. Everything is brick and concrete. Or metal. But at least I don’t have to walk through the tunnel, as the cycle route leads up and around the outside of the cliff.

18 cycle route near tunnel, Ruth trekking towards Conwy

The hill the path winds around is called Penmaen-bach, a smaller twin to Penmaen Mawr. I think it may be possible to walk around via the beach, if the tide is low, but I’m not sure.

On the other side of Penmaen-bach, the path dips down to run alongside the road for a few hundred yards, before crossing over the railway line via another footbridge.

19 Conwy Sands, Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path

The cycle way sticks to the higher land, but I climb down a low bank of dunes and walk along the beach. Ahead is a glorious two-mile stroll along soft sand.

20 Ruth Livingstone walking along Conwy Sands

Looking back, I take a photograph of the clouds dropping rain behind me, just over the lumpy shoulder of Penmaen-bach Point. Now, I can see the tide has covered the sands below the headland. Good job I didn’t try to walk around via that beach today.

21 rainclouds, North Wales Coastal Path, Ruth Livingstone

This stretch of beach curves around to meet the Afon Conwy. It’s hard to tell when seashore turns into river bank; the sand remains bright and clean but becomes very soft and my feet sink with each step.

Across the other side of the estuary is a built-up strip bordering the shore. Daganwy, it’s called, merging seamlessly with neighbouring Llandudno Junction.

22 Deganwy from Conwy Sands, Ruth's coastal walk, Wales

Halfheartedly, I had considered extending my walk across the bridge at Conwy to the other side of the estuary, but the effort of walking through the soft sand reminds me of something. I’ve managed to forget about my painful leg for most of the day, but now it’s grumbling again as I grow tired.

I reach a car park. It’s nearly 5pm. Somebody is packing up a kayak. Other people are arriving to walk their dogs. I sit at a picnic bench for a rest and a snack.

23 Car park, The Beacons, Ruth hiking through Conwy Marina

Beyond the car park I’m on hard surfaces again, making my way around the marina. It’s stuffed full of boats and the houses by the water look reasonably new. Quite a prosperous place, I decide, compared to Anglesey and the Llyn Peninsula.

24 Conwy Marina, Ruth's coastal walk, Wales

After a short stretch of road walking, I find a walkway that runs around by the shore, skirting an area of parkland called Bodlondeb Wood, another National Trust Property.

25 walkway into Conwy, Bodlondeb Wood, Ruth Livingstone

It’s a very pleasant – and popular – walking route. After about a mile, I round a bend and see Conwy castle ahead. An impressive sight.

25 Conwy Castle, Ruth's coastal walk, North Wales

The light is fading, Conwy is bustling with visitors, and I’m tiring. Time to stop walking.

I ask a couple the way to the nearest bus stop is. They turn out to be American tourists and haven’t a clue. I head for the railway station, knowing I’m likely to find a bus stop there… and I’m right.

It’s been a day of interesting and contrasting scenery, and another reasonably long walk. I’m pleased my painful leg continues to improve.

Additional info: I’ve assembled a collection of photos of the graffiti wall on my other walking blog, Ruthless Ramblings.Graffiti in Penmaenmawr

Miles walked today = 13.5 miles
Wales Coast Path so far = 1,010.5 miles
Total distance around the coast: 2,517.5 miles



About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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19 Responses to 251 Aber to Conwy

  1. jcombe says:

    I enjoyed this walk a lot. I did it the other way from you, beginning in Conwy and walking west to Penmaenmawr (I continued west through Llanfairfechan on a different day). I was very impressed by the Great Orme and was surprised to see that from Angelsey it does look very much like an island.

    I have the same trouble with buses in Wales. My usual conversation goes “I’d like a single to XXX”. To which the response is usually “Where?” or “Say that again?”. Then I usually get the response “Do you mean YYYY” (which sounded nothing like what I was trying to say) to which I usually respond “I expect so” or if there is still uncertanty resort to showing them on the map. Thankfully for this walk I used the train, so I can use a ticket machine and so not have to try to pronounce anywhere. THank goodness for place names like Rhyl and Conwy along this bit of coast!

    Regarding walking on the shoreline I can confirm that it *is* possible, I did it but I must have been lucky with the tide as I could get around all the cliffs, but there was a bit of rock scrambling in places. But I decided that was preferable to the path beside the A55.

    I feel the same about the police. On one of my walks (around Liverpool) I was stopped by the police who pulled up in a car alongside me having told me that had been watching me for some time. They wanted to know what I was doing “walking beside the dock holding a camera and a map”, I think they thought I was trying to find a way in or photographing it for a terrorist attack or something. When I explained where I was walking to it seemed to satisfy them although I still got the comment “you do know there is a bus?” (even after I’d explained I wanted to walk). I am glad you did not have a similar encounter. I’ve had “encounters” with the Police when I worked in London too who for a while seemed to few anyone taking photographs as a terrorist who must be stopped. Such incidents were so common at one time, they led to this organisation being set up, https://phnat.org/

    Conwy Castle really does look fanatastic in your photos. I regret not visiting it now (I did get to most of the other large castles in North Wales). Still it gives me a good reason to go back!

    • Well done for walking around via the beach. I’m sure it was much nicer than following the cycle route.
      Re police cars and walkers: The Sci-fi writer, Ray Bradbury, tells an anecdote of how he was out walking one evening in America and was stopped by a cruising police car. The officers couldn’t believe Bradbury was simply going for a walk. In the end they drove off, but not before warning him not to do it again! It was this incident that inspired Bradbury to write a famous short story, ‘The Pedestrian’. http://www.riversidelocalschools.com/Downloads/pedestrian%20short%20story.pdf

  2. I think Abergwyngregyn is one of the easier place names to pronounce – Abber-gwin (rhymes with grin) – greggin .

    I love the graffiti wall at Penmaenmawr, it’s so colourful and vibrant 🙂

    Strange to think you were at Conwy marina only a day before me – a couple of those houses overlooking the marina are for sale, I looked at the details in the window at the boat sales place and they definitely aren’t cheap.

    • Eunice, I need you with me to translate my poor attempts to pronounce Welsh names. I remember a bus driver once telling me off because, according to her, Cwmtydu was pronounced exactly the way it was spelt, If that was true, ‘Kwimtidi,’ was how I would spell it. 🙂

  3. I took the inland mountain route on the North Wales Path – my journal says “rewarding and strongly recommended”. I also walked over Shell Island. It is said to be the largest campsite in Europe (I think) and that gave me some foreboding, but it was really quite pleasant.

    • Hope you don’t mind me mentioning it but have you got your Shell Islands mixed up? I’ve never heard of the one Ruth mentions here, it must be something relatively new, but the one you refer to, which is basically just one huge camp site, lies much further down the coast between Barmouth and Harlech. I went there years ago, in good weather it’s great but in bad weather just as miserable as anywhere else 😦

    • Di iles says:

      Yes I did upland route too, thought it was a stunning walk but want to go back and do the low land route too.

  4. Di iles says:

    Looks lovely Ruth, it’s made me want to do that route now. I mentioned in previous comment I did the upland route and loved it, coast is in view most of the time and views are stunning . Totally recommend it Ruth as Conrad has.

    • I would imagine the upland route is actually much nicer than the coastal one, Di. The problem is I have a rule about sticking as close to the coast as I can. (And, on this particular day, the upland route may have been unpleasantly foggy due to all the low lying clouds.)

  5. Di iles says:

    I completely understand your rule Ruth, I felt I’d cheated when I took the inland route even though it’s longer. I will go back and do the lowland otherwise I’ll never feel like I can truly say I’d walked the whole Welsh coast 🚶

  6. Ray Perry says:

    Perhaps you might consider carrying a Dainty umbrella. It’s very small but does the job of keeping the rain off your head and camera. I used mine on the Wainwright Coast to Coast walk a few years ago where it survived 45 degree sleet as well as pouring rain. I take it everywhere when I am out walking since it slips easily into cargo or jacket pockets.


    Great blog, by the way. I keep wondering how you remember all the detail that you associate with each photo.


    • Thank you. That umbrella looks ideal. Great tip.
      I love writing up my blog because it’s a way of reliving each walk. By looking at photos (I take 100+ each day) and referring to the map, I remember plenty of details – prob too many!

  7. Marie Keates says:

    I loved the colourful little houses and the following sheep but I’m glad you didn’t have to walk through that tunnel. I can’t think of anything worse. Police cars always make me feel nervous too.

  8. Karen White says:

    Those houses at Llanfairfechan are delightful. How heartbreaking it must be to buy a home with a sea view and then later get a main road built in front.
    The time I feel most guilty when I see a police car is when I’m innocently taking photos!

    • I’ve been told off for taking photos a number of times. Once on a nudist beach (I didn’t realise it was a nudist beach!) and once by a security man in Barrow, but never by the police… yet 😁

  9. Karen White says:

    I like the Ray Bradbury story, I used to read his books a long time ago but never came across this short story. Let’s hope his tale never becomes a reality!

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