253 Colwyn Bay to Prestatyn

I park beside the derelict pier in Colwyn Bay and set off along the shore, walking eastwards, into the morning sunlight.

01 pier at Colwyn Bay, Ruth's coastal walk, North Wales

It’s 10 o’clock on at Wednesday morning and there is nobody much around. A couple of girls walk past, dressed in jogging gear. But they’re not running, just walking. And talking. Incessantly talking.

02 walking east, Ruth in Colwyn Bay

I pass a group of two-dimensional metal figures. Very effective. The best feature of Colwyn Bay so far!

03 metal figures, Colwyn Bay, Ruth's coastal walk

[Later, I search on the Internet but can’t find information about this piece of artwork. Shame.]

Further along the beach I spot a group of people in high-vis jackets doing something on the beach. Council workers clearing litter, maybe? But they look unusually small. When I get closer I realise it’s a nursery school outing.

04 high vis children, Colwyn Bay

It takes me almost 1/2 an hour to reach the end of the promenade, where the path carries on beside the shore – a dual walking and cycle route. (It’s the same old cycle route number 5 that I’ve been following, off and on, ever since Bangor.)

A short time later I turn around to take a photo looking back along Colwyn Bay. Maybe I’ve been too rude about the place. Looks quite nice in the sunshine. And there’s the Little Orme in the distance.

05 Colwyn Bay, Ruth hiking the North Wales Coast

You can’t escape the fact that a cycle route makes a pretty boring walking route. I do get to meet a few cyclists. But no walkers.

I pass a section of riprap rocks, augmented by some precast concrete shapes. Each piece of concrete is carefully numbered, which seems a bit weird. Why? And here’s another derelict pier…

06 quarry jetty, Colwyn Bay, Ruth's coast walk

… except it turns out to be a working jetty, with a long system of conveyor belts carrying  rocks (or gravel?) from an active quarry on the other side of my path.

07 quarry conveyer belt

I have seen so many abandoned quarries and derelict jetties in Wales over the past few months, it’s quite a surprise – and a pleasant one – to see some working industry.

My path goes on, rounding gentle curves in the coastline. Colwyn Bay is well behind me now and I’ve lost sight of the Little Orme.

08 cycle route, Llanddulas, Ruth's coastal walk North Wales

I come to a small car park. This is Llanddulas, according to my map. There are no benches, but I sit on a rock for a rest and a snack. Then onwards… through a caravan park. At least this one is pleasantly landscaped and with sea views.

09 caravan park, Llanddulas, Ruth's coastal walk

I leave the path and walk along the beach. It’s shingle, and hard work, but makes a change from plodding along the tarmac.

10 shingle beach, Ruth walking to Abergele, North Wales

After a couple of miles I reach Abergele and find a café on the sea front. It’s just 12:30 and I’m not very hungry yet, but decide it’s time for a quick lunch. I only order soup, but it takes ages to arrive. What should have been a 1/2 hour break, turns into a full hour.

11 Abergele beach cafe, Ruth hiking in North Wales

When I leave, I realise the little Abergele station is nearby. And the platform looks crowded. How unusual. I overhear people talking. They’re waiting for a train to arrive, but it’s going to be another 40 minutes.

12 crowd at Abergele railway station, Ruth Livingstone

I notice the cameras. And a man sets up stepladder to get a good view for his photograph. The penny drops. They’re waiting for the Flying Scotsman. How exciting!

From here the path runs, long and straight, beside the railway line, for as far as the eye can see. With 40 minutes to go, I decide I won’t sit about waiting, I’ll keep walking.

Is it my imagination, or is there a strange smell coming from somewhere? Like manure, except it can’t be. The area is covered in holiday parks, not farmer’s fields.

Onwards. Every available footbridge has collected groups of eager train spotters.

13 railway bridge at Towyn, Ruth walking past Abergele, Wales

Eventually, at a place called Towyn, I stop and join a group of people on a bridge. We wait. And wait.

The woman next to me has a short-haired dog on a lead, who seems very friendly. I bend down to pet the animal and ask what breed it is. The woman looks as if she’s about to burst into tears. ‘It’s a springer spaniel,’ she tells me. ‘I took it to a grooming parlour today, and look what they’ve done to it.’  I have to agree the dog looks ridiculous and I wouldn’t have recognised it as a springer. The animal  rolls over and begs me to tickle its tummy, not seeming to mind its recent close shave.

We wait. And wait. I check Twitter and chart the progress of the train. People around me think I have access to a secret timetable and keep asking, ‘How much longer now?’ I realise I’ve become the unofficial – and totally unreliable – timekeeper of the event.

‘Can you smell something funny?’ a woman asks her husband. He can’t. But I can. There’s a definite pong in the air.

We wait. I try to remember how to work the video function on my camera. We wait some more.

Finally, someone spots a puff of steam in the distance. It’s coming! I swing my camera up and, by a miracle, manage to video the train passing beneath us.


It’s over in a flash. ‘Is that it?’ asks the woman with the dog. I’m not sure what she was expecting.

I walk onwards. The beach below the path is long and empty, but there are few access routes down to it.

14 beach, Abergele, Ruth's coastal walk

The whiffy smell persists. A pong. Like a sewage works. I can’t see any water treatment plants, only holiday parks.

The static caravans seem to go for ever. Without any scenic landscaping, and with no view of the sea, it’s hard to understand why anyone would want to come and stay in one of these tin boxes. I hope they’re cheap.

15 holiday parks, Ruth walking the North Wales Coast

I find a slipway down to the beach. It’s good to get away from the tarmac but down on the sands the sewage smell becomes stronger.

16 Ruth Livingstone, Abergele Roads

I reach the mouth of a river at a place called Kimmel Bay. The sand dunes make a nice change from shingle and riprap rocks. And there, over on the other side of the river, is Rhyl.

17 Kimmel Bay and Rhyl, Ruth hiking the North Wales coast path

I cross via a footbridge and meet some more metal people. It’s easy to guess what two of them represent: a footballer and a guitarist. But the third… a preacher? Or a fisherman saying ‘it was this big’?

18 metal figures, Rhyl, Ruth's coastal walk, Wales

[Later I discover this sculpture was designed to honour three local heroes, according to News North Wales. A footballer, a musician, and a climate scientist. I’d never have guessed the last one.]

Onwards. I march through Rhyl, passing amusement arcades and ice cream parlours. Groynes stretch across the beach. There are very few people about.

19 beach at Rhyl, Ruth's coastal walk, North Wales

I see a sign that explains the unpleasant smell. Well, doesn’t explain it exactly, but at least I know the pong is not all in my imagination.

20 warning sign, Rhyl

‘Swimming not advised today.’

Followed by a pictogram of a person swimming in… in urine? Something yellow.

‘Lower water quality is predicted.’

Lower than what? And why?

Later I learn that, despite the fact I remained dry on my walk around the Ormes yesterday, it bucketed down with rain all day here. I can remember the dark cloud that seemed anchored over Prestatyn. Apparently the drains weren’t able to cope with the deluge.

At the far end of Rhyl I stop for an ice cream. Many years ago, in the days when my husband and I had to take separate holidays because we couldn’t find a locum GP to cover our practice, my hubby came here with our three daughters. Their impression of Rhyl was not good. ‘Why?’ they asked. ‘Why Rhyl?’

I must say I agree with them. Why come here? Well, on a nice day, the beach is pretty impressive.

21 more beach, Rhyl, Ruth hiking the Welsh coast

I leave the pavement and walk down along the steps of the sea wall. Nobody about today. Only an abandoned toy scooter hints that families might come here and enjoy these sands.

22 sea wall, Rhyl, Ruth's coastal walk, North Wales

A stroll down to the edge of the water, and see a young family – virtually the only other people apart from myself along this two-mile length of beach.

23 empty sands, Ruth walking towards Prestatyn

Further along and the sand gets softer and softer. It’s whiffy down here too. I decide I better head towards firmer land again.

A couple of bright diggers are resting at the top of the beach. They’ve been digging a drain. I walk over a couple of large pipes. Are they improving the sewage flow? Do I want to know?

24 drainage problems, Rhyl beach, Ruth Livingstone

I join the esplanade, which becomes positively crowded as I get closer to Prestatyn. The sky has clouded over, and I speed up, not wanting to get caught in the rain.

25 walking towards Prestatyn, Ruth hiking the North Wales Coast

I’ve been walking through flat countryside, but now, to my right, I notice a definite hump in the land. (The significance of this ridge becomes obvious later.)

26 high ground above Prestatyn, Ruth hiking in Wales

A young man is weaving his way along the path. He shouts out randomly and I, along with all the other walkers, do our best to ignore him. Either he’s high on drugs or very drunk. We give him a wide berth.

I reach Prestatyn. The esplanade is wide and well-kept, but empty of people. There is another metal sculpture, this one is made of gleaming steel and is an abstract design. They seem to like metal artwork in this part of North Wales.

27 metal sculpture, Prestatyn, Ruth's coastal walk, Wales

At this point I turn inland to find the railway station. But am surprised to come across a National Trail signpost. Chepstow 182 miles.

28 Chepstow sign, Ruth's coastal walk, Prestatyn, Wales

182 miles! It’s actually over 800 miles along the Wales Coast Path. And, in my case, over 1,000 miles, taking into account all the diversions and circular detours I’ve made along the way. What a ridiculous sign. 182 miles indeed!

Then I take a closer look at the signpost. Offa’s Dyke Path is etched on the upright post. Ah! Not the Wales Coast Path, after all.

29a end of Offa's Dyke, Ruth hiking in WalesThen I see a pile of rocks nearby and another sign.Yes, this is the end of the Offa’s Dyke Path. Or the beginning, depending which way you go.
b19 End of Offa's Dyke, marker stone, Ruth at Sedbury Cliffs

Funny to think it nearly 20 months since I stood at the other end of Offa’s Dyke, in Chepstow, at the start of my Wales Coast Path walk. Here’s a photo of it – on the right.

And neither marker looks particularly impressive.

I realise something else. The North Wales Path ends here too. Or begins. So this really is a meeting of ways.

One day I will do the Offa’s Dyke Way. Then I can claim to have done a full circuit of Wales. But today I have a train to catch, and I start walking along the road, aware now that the ridge of land ahead is more than just a roll in the landscape. It’s Offa’s Dyke.

30 Ruth hiking through Prestatyn

Later, I learn four interesting facts about the beautiful metal sculpture on the sea front at Prestatyn.

  1. It was commissioned to mark the end of the Offa’s Dyke Path, although, sadly, nobody will know this without a sign explaining its pupose.
  2. It’s official title is DECHRAU A DEWEDD or Beginning and End.
  3. The circle at the top is supposed to represent the sun, but local people have given it an obvious nickname: the Polo Mint.
  4. And, apparently the structure has fallen foul of the ‘elf and safety’ brigade: according to the BBC news.]

Miles walked today = 15 miles
Wales Coast Path so far = 1041 miles
Total distance around the coast: 2,548 miles


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.

25 Responses to 253 Colwyn Bay to Prestatyn

  1. This is stunning – I’ve spent many a happy holiday in Prestatyn and your pics are stunning!

  2. Hi Ruth,
    looking at streetmap.co.uk it looks like the end of the official wales coast path should be at the border, on the North bank of the Dee, very close to Chester. When I eventually get round to doing this area I am unsure whether to plunge straight into The Wirral by crossing Hawerden Bridge and hooking up with the Wirral Country Park (another dull old railway!) or presumably going via Chester, which I vaguely remember visiting in the 90’s as being a lovely City.
    As your are now back to working out your own routes again I will be very interested in seeing how you tackle the North West!
    Best wishes and very well done,

    Gemma Barclay…
    (ps I’m off to Hartlepool on Saturday to continue my East Coast bashing!)

    • HI Gemma. I’m sure you’ve seen Di’s post below about the Wirral Country Park below. It does sound as though you can avoid the cycle route and follow the shore more closely. Fingers crossed.
      I’ve actually reached Chester (a few posts behind in my blogging) because I wanted to finish the entire Wales Coast Path, which actually ends a mile short of Chester. But, when I resume my walk, I’m going back to Shotton and will cross by the Hawarden Bridge as you suggest. The link up between there and the Wirral Country Park looks a bit dodgy… but I’m sure we’ll find a way.
      Have fun on the East Coast 😀

  3. owdjockey says:

    Hi Ruth I completed Offa’s Dyke about 15 years ago and finished at Prestatyn. I had picked a stone from the Severn Estuary and carried it with me to Liverpool Bay/ Irish Sea and threw it into the water. The high ground you can see from Prestatyn is in fact where The Clywdian Hills hit the coast. Offa’s dyke in this area is quite arbitrary and lttle evidence of the dyke itself is seen. The best place to see the Dyke are sections straddling the Marches in Shropshire (my county) and Montgomery. Offas Dyke is probably my favourite national Trail.

    BTW, people that shout in public could be high on drugs, drunk or have a mental illness/disorder (tourettes?)…your right though, whatever was up with the lad, to give him a wide berth.

    • I love the idea of taking a stone from one end of a trail and letting it loose at the other. I must start doing that 😀 I remember the section of Offa’s Dyke around Chepstow was a bit dodgy too, more of an ‘idea’ in places, than an actual ‘thing’.

  4. Di iles says:

    Yes I’ve just started Offas dyke too walking North to South, it’s beautiful. I’m doing the coast as well, so makes a great contrast.

    • What a wonderful thing to do Di. Interested to find out how you get on with walking North to South. Does it bother you to have the sun in your eyes?

      • Di iles says:

        Good point Ruth I’ve never really thought about that but yes it probably will, always wear sunglasses even in dull weather. Might rethink and reverse some of my walks then, I’m quite a random walker, unlike yourself. However I’ll never miss anything on a trail, but I can be haphazard how I piece it together though.

  5. Di iles says:

    Re Gemma’s comment about Wirral country park being a dull old railway, it’s walking distance from my home and walk and cycle there frequently,for much of the railway track you are able to alternative route on the shore, if you know the area it’s my preferred route. If Ruth or yourself need any tips on that I’d be happy to help. I’m very defensive about the area because it’s actually lovely.id be happy to be a walking guide for those bits.

    • Hi Di, that’s good to hear. I’m thinking of tackling the Wirral next week, weather permitting. Do you have a map of your alternative route you could share with us? If you have a Google account, you can draw one here: https://www.google.com/maps/d/

      • Di iles says:

        I’ll try and give that a go Ruth, it’s easy when you just do those walks without thinking but might be more difficult to put it on the map.Will you be crossing the Dee marshes to Burton on the Wirral and walking towards Neston, Parkgate, Heswall and so on?

    • Whoops! I am very sorry, I did not mean any offence by my comments. I am being presumptious of the old rail route, as I have very little experience of this area (none on foot) – generally I find the actual paths a bit of a slog, but the surrounding countryside to be very pleasant, for example, Downs Link/Cuckoo Trail/Monsal Trail/Bathgate-Airdrie, and I am sure the Wirral will not disappoint.

      I have visited a friend in New Brighton and taken the ‘ferry across the Mersey’ and seen the Gormley figures at Crosby and must confess much fun was had – but the North West is very much unexplored territory for me…


      • Di iles says:

        Don’t worry Gemma no offence taken 😀 but there are some lovely parts of the Wirral, sadly there are some terrible parts too, like anywhere. We have some wonderful bird life in the Dee estuary and a wonderful colony of seals off Hilbre Island which is lovely to visit if you get the tides right. Hope you enjoy.

  6. Lynn says:

    Click to access Final_Board_Eng.pdf


    Hello Ruth, hope these links will be of help ref figures at Colwyn Bay.. I think they are a fabulous. Idea.

    Kind Regards


    • Hi Lynn and thank you. Excellent links and they explain the art project. I hope more is done to improve the promenade, although I certainly thought the figures were wonderful.
      Best wishes, Ruth

  7. The “swimming in urine” paragraph had me in hysterics 🙂
    Another fantastic entry, keep up the good work.

  8. Zoe norman says:

    This is great, my husband introduced me to your Blog and I am going to start from the beginning 🙂

    • Thank you, Zoe. From the beginning? Crikey. That’s going to take you ages. 😄 When I re-read my early blogs I have to resist the urge to re-write them. I think blogging, like walking, gets better with practice.

  9. Marie Keates says:

    What an exciting day. Fancy stumbling upon the Flying Scotsman, even if there was a bit of a whiff in the air. The metal sculpture of the three figures is very similar to the one on Hirseshoe Bridge here, three local heroes and no real explaination. Even I didn’t know who they were at first except Matt Le Tissier. Perhaps they are all over the country?

    • I’m always surprised how little information there is about artwork. You would think, given the expense, the local authorities would make more effort to publicise and promote the work. I often hunt on the Internet and find nothing official to explain the piece. If I’m lucky, some other blogger has posted a photo and a bit of an explanation.

  10. For a few paragraphs, I was worried the sewage smell was going to be the result of something you’d unknowingly trodden or sat on… But I do hope you get to walk Offa’s Dyke one day. Shropshire, in itself, is a delight to explore.

  11. Karen White says:

    How lovely to get the unexpected treat of the Flying Scotsman going through. I saw it a few years ago – waited 2 hours in the pouring rain as it was late, then a couple of weeks ago it came through Ashurst (New Forest), but came through reversed (apparently there was no turntable where it had been) so not the best of views.
    I feel for that woman with the springer, fortunately it hasn’t happened to me but has to others I know. Some grooming parlours have no idea that different breeds are groomed or clipped differently. I do mine myself but if for any reason I had to use a parlour I would insist on staying to supervise!
    I liked the various metal sculptures, and of course, I enjoyed your photos.

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