Today is a walk of two halves. First a pleasant stroll along the shore of the Dee Estuary, followed by a slog along the roads beyond Flint. But, let’s start with the good part.
The tide is high when I reach Greenfield Dock, and this morning the little boats are afloat instead of stranded in the mud.
I set off walking southeasterly, following the shore. Flintshire County Council have spruced up this area and there’s a good tarmac path running along the side of the water, along with seats, information boards, and a giant wooden clam shell.
Once the River Dee was so polluted by heavy industry that it was, effectively, a dead zone. Now, after the loss of the industries – and a prolonged period of clean-up – the river is flourishing once more. This area is now called the Dee Estuary Nature Reserve.
I’m pleased the river has been salvaged. But I’m not so pleased about the loss of industry.
Ahead I can see dark clouds, and chimneys plus pylons on the horizon. Yes, I’ve definitely left the seaside behind. And, although there’s a rural corridor running along the edge of the river, I’m heading towards an urban landscape.
I stop to take a self-portrait.
On the marshland behind me are cows. But, wait, that’s not a cow. A bull!
My path runs on a raised bank along the edge of the marsh. There doesn’t seem much to protect me from a bull-attack, only a few bushes and a ditch. But although the bull keeps his eye on me, he stays with his cows.
To my right are fields and the railway line. A bright yellow train (a maintenance gang?) rumbles past.
After a couple of miles the coast is interrupted by another inlet, unnamed on my map, and the path ducks inland towards the railway line, where I cross over to the other side of the inlet via a drainage pipe.
I stop to take a photograph of the drain’s outlet. The metal door is hinged and held open at its base by the force of the water. I remember seeing heavy rainstorms over this area yesterday, although luckily none of the rain fell on me. Perhaps the drain is fuller than normal? It’s quite a torrent and the water roars over the rocks like a set of rapids.
This unnamed inlet is home to a number of small boats. Not pleasure craft. Working boats.
A man in full fishing gear, including chest-high waders, is sorting out his kit. (I take a photo but the light is too dark for a decent picture.)
Onwards. The path is well-maintained…
… but I don’t meet any other walkers, as I continue walking along the edge of the marsh, following the path which meanders around…
… until I come to another drainage outlet, where the path joins a track and there’s a footbridge over the railway. I’ve reached Bagalit, according to a Wales Coast Path sign.
The sign confirms I’m heading for Flint, and also tells me I’ve come from somewhere called Bettisfield. This is a mystery, because no such place is marked on my OS map. [Later, when I do a Google search for Bettisfield, I can only find a small village many miles inland – so the sign remains a mystery!]
The path becomes narrower and overgrown with long grasses. The raised bank, and the surrounding flatness, reminds me of Suffolk and Essex. I seem to have left the mountains of Snowdonia far behind.
I stop to use my hay fever eye drops. The worst of the season’s pollen should be over by now, but I’m not taking any risks. The wild flowers are out in force.
As I get closer to Flint, I enter a wooded area. Beautiful silver birch. It’s only a narrow strip of land, sandwiched between the busy A548 and the marsh, but it gives the impression of tremendous peace and isolation. Very pleasant.
I emerge from the trees and the water seems to have dropped, exposing large areas of mud. Ahead are chimneys, pylons and smoke.
Another inlet, and another diversion inland to find a crossing point.
A marker pole suggests that craft navigate these waters. It’s hard to imagine at the moment, with so little water in the river.
I round a headland and come to an area of low ground… and a ruined castle. This takes me by surprise, because I wasn’t expecting a castle (I’ve reached the edge of the my map, OS Explorer 265, and so didn’t notice the feature printed so close to the border.)
Deciding to walk around the perimeter wall turns out to be a mistake. The lush ‘lawn’ is really a waterlogged bog, and my boots are soon soaked and muddy. I daren’t stop walking in case I sink!
Once back on the higher land on the other side, I stop to take a photograph of the castle.
It’s a popular place, with a car park and people strolling about. I’m hungry – it’s gone 2pm – and I sit on a bench to eat my snack lunch. A lovely spot and a great view.
[to be continued…]