I walk along the promenade and reach the end of Llandudno. The water in an empty pool looks irresistibly blue. Across the bay I can see the folded striations of the Great Orme, dwarfing Llandudno’s Grand Hotel and the pier.
The far end of the bay is guarded by another impressive headland, the Little Orme. But this time there is no dramatic Marine Drive taking me up to the top. Instead, I have to follow an ordinary road as it curves inland around the base of the rocky mass.
I nearly miss the footpath off to the left. It doubles as both the Wales Coast Path and the North Wales Path.
Up the slopes of the Little Orme, the path leads me through thickets of brambles, gorse and ferns. I was hoping for some great views towards the west across Llandudno bay. Instead, I have to be content with sporadic views towards the east. A stormy Colwyn Bay.
According to my map there is another footpath that branches off the main one and leads right to the top of Little Orme’s Head, but either I miss the turning or it’s become too overgrown to spot.
I reach higher ground and the view across Colwyn Bay is pretty impressive. Shame about the dark clouds dropping rain over there. Is that Prestatyn in the distance?
I see a man walking a dog, the only other person I’ve met so far on the Little Orme. Where is everybody? I follow an obvious track through the grass, heading towards Colwyn.
But I soon come to a steep drop – a cliff really – and the track disappears down into a mass of prickly gorse. I realise I’ve lost the proper path and turn back. The man with the dog has disappeared too. He must have gone somewhere…
Now I’m heading toward the tip of the Little Orme and the slope below me gets steeper and steeper. Will I ever find a way down?
Just when I think I’ve gone too far, I spot a path leading down. It’s steep. Very steep. No attempt to zigzag here, just a long straight line.
I head down, glad I’m wearing proper walking boots and glad of my pole.
At the bottom the ground flattens out and I walk along a grass sward below the rocky face of the Little Orme. The original path runs closer to the sea and has crumbled away. It’s fenced off and a newer, tarmac path has been created.
It’s a pleasant spot, a stretch of parkland, and I meet dog walkers and strollers. All too soon, I have to leave the park area and walk through residential streets. This is Penrhyn Bay.
The official path follows the street, but I spot a footpath leading down to the beach. It’s better down here. The rain clouds ahead are even darker than before and I’m worried about being caught in the downpour. But I enjoy walking on the sand.
At the end of Penrhyn Bay I run out of sand. A mass of riprap rocks forces me back onto the pavement. This is Rhos-on-Sea.
I follow the coast road as it winds around Rhos Point. A lower walkway takes me away from the traffic, and I discover a tiny little church. St Trillo’s Chapel. Apparently it’s the smallest chapel in the British Isles and can only hold 6 people.
A little further along I pass the entrance to a marina and, in an alcove with a bench, a homeless man has set up camp. He is lying on his back, staring at the ceiling of his shelter, surrounded by piles of plastic bags and pieces of bedding. It’s a sad sight. (Over the next few days I drive past this point several times and he is always there.)
It’s a bad introduction to Colwyn Bay. And I find little to like about the place. The marina is nice enough…
… and there is an interesting sculpture of a fisherman, woven out of cane.
But the bay itself is soulless. The promenade is empty of features and empty of people. Just the occasional shelter – standard affairs with no character – looking uninvitingly damp and slimy. At least it isn’t raining – although the clouds are still chucking it down over Prestatyn.
Colwyn Bay is supposed to be a popular holiday destination. I’m not sure why. It seems desperately in need of some sprucing up.
I reach the pier. What a mess. A derelict ruin.
At the end of the pier I turn inland, walking under the railway bridge, to find the railway station. I’m hurrying, thinking I only have a couple of minutes to buy a ticket, but I needn’t have rushed. The train is running 40 minutes late.
High points: The Little Orme and St Trillo’s chapel. There is a wonderful YouTube video of the chapel here: https://www.youtube.com/
Low points: Colwyn Bay. You can find out more about the homeless man here: http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/what-been-done-stop-rough-11621901 Seems like he might have been evicted recently. Evicted? From the bus shelter? It doesn’t seem right.
Miles walked today = 15.5 miles
Wales Coast Path so far = 1026 miles
Total distance around the coast: 2,533 miles