The Anglesey Coastal Path 2014

Day Nine: 16th April

Weather: Bright skies with a little chill breeze but dry once more

Route: Church Bay to Holyhead - 14.7 miles


The final day and I woke to a bright blue sky once more, and I’m going to be dry as the previous eight. I thought I would have 16 1/2 miles today, but due to a new bridge over the Afon Alaw I had a pleasant surprise of two miles less walking. This was the only day I had to meet a deadline as my train ticket was pre-booked on the 16:50 from Holyhead, so it was up early and forego the cooked breakfast. That was a pleasant change to be honest and I was away into the early sunlight at 7:30. A different atmosphere early on, softer light and crisp sea air. The view in my face all of today was Holyhead Mountain and the Aluminium works chimney as the coastal route headed south across gently undulating cliff tops and beaches. A bit easier on the legs today after yesterdays long trek, and I appreciated it as well – 6 miles as the crow flies across Holyhead Bay, but the addition of the new bridge saved some unpleasant road walking and gained some great views around the estuary. There are plenty of small bays to walk around today interspersed with mainly sheep pasture, spiky gorse bushes and stingy nettles. Mostly pleasant views apart from the scrapyard farm at Port Defaid, with a wreck of a boat high and dry on the pasture. The route generally hugged the coast but did occasionally divert onto quiet lanes for short distances. A few miles south of Church Bay and I dropped down some steps to the lovely sandy beach at Porth Tywyn-mawr, a pleasure to walk along, but unfortunately against a backdrop of a caravan camp – huge, and it must get very busy here in the holidays. Not my cup of tea but each to their own. but it did take a good ten minutes or more to walk through the site.

Beyond the last site at Penrhyn I was out onto another quiet lane, passing by a field of churned up cow pasture – mucky stuff and mucky cows. Once more onto the beaches and it was tough to find a good line sometimes with the choice of staggering on loose cobles or shuffling along on soft sand. It was better below the high tide line where a band of firmer sand lay, but too far down and I got the sinking feeling of very wet sand/estuary mud. As the Afon Alaw estuary came into view the route turned east through a few boggy, cattle churned fields, and on into crops of long grass. But the Anglesey Coastal Path is a well trodden route so there is never a doubt as to where it runs, and there was a clear line to follow along.

It was really pleasant walking along the estuary salt marsh, lots of washed up detritus, the smell of the sea, the birdlife and the habitat – a real change of scene for a little while. I wasn’t sure where the new bridge across the river was but it’s a little before the village of Llanfwrog and it does cut out a chunk of road walking, replacing it with some delightful new boardwalk and concrete wall walking. Some of the route is also hemmed in by a fence either side to keep you from straying onto someone's fields. The path hugs the coast pretty much all the way to Newlands Park near Valley. It was a little breezy but there was plenty of birdlife around to keep my attention, flying, floating and paddling. Just below the houses at Newlands Park there are some great outcrops of the micro-folded Rhoscolyn formations and it’s very interesting to sit and have a closer look. The small cliffs here are glacial till and are slowly being washed away by the tidal waters – a bit close to the houses really. The path reached the A5 road across the Stanley Embankment and my path took me alongside the road to cross over to the island. I’d made good progress this morning and halfway across the embankment is another delight where the sea rushes underneath the embankment through a tunnel to an inland sea – tidal of course. The water was fair rushing through and it’s no good for ducks around here. If you look online there are a few U-tube clips of the tidal rush, much loved by canoeists apparently – mad I say, they’re all mad.

At the other end of the embankment the old tollhouse has been converted into a nice small cafe, but unfortunately for me it was full with the only seat left being a garden shed – honestly – a shed, but it had windows and was dry. I sat and had a very welcome cup of tea and a sandwich. I pondered what to do next as I had made unexpectedly good time for me and my knees, and figured that if I pushed on a bit I could catch the 14:30 train and get home two hours earlier. The last few miles through the Penrhos country park are unspectacular and being close to Holyhead are more populous, but the path still hugged the coast and I didn’t cheat with any short cuts. I passed by a pet cemetery, the Aluminium smelting works with the big chimney towering above the last beach of the trip, then into the last mile was through a housing estate, with a view of the ferries arriving at the docks. A short walk along a walled road and I was back at the ferry terminal / rail station – the end and the start of my journey around the coast of Anglesey.

An added bonus to round off a great nine days was the journey home – if Carlsberg made train journeys easy then this was it. I had pre-booked tickets for specific trains, and wasn’t allowed to use them on other trains unless I paid extra. I got on the 14:30 train instead of the 16:50 train and the ticket office told me to pay the extra on the train – ‘it’ll cost you at least £30 extra’ he gleefully informed me. Once we were underway the lovely ticket lady listened to my story and I asked how much she would like me to pay. She was knocking off shift so said the next guy would charge me at Chester where I changed trains. We pulled in with no time to spare for my connection and I jumped onto the platform to the sound of the conductor shouting ‘train for Manchester leaving right now’. Ten seconds after boarding off we went, worth paying the extra I think to myself. I thanked him for holding the train and asked how much extra I’d have to pay – ‘your honest’ he says, so nothing charged once more.

Me – I’ve got more jam than Hartleys. Even people I know have asked me when I’m doing my long walks so they can book time off work knowing the good weather is coming. My thanks to the people of Anglesey for being very welcoming, and my thanks to the people who maintain the coastal path – it’s been a real pleasure to walk along and a fine long distance path with interest everyday. Brilliant.

The final day with the mileage totting up to 139.4

The question is what’s next?

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out into the early light with my destiny across the bay shining in the sunshine

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I love the light in the morning. Nice and fresh beside the seaside and a bit breezy

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looking back to Church Bay and the makings of a good day ahead

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a washed up boat wreck towed up onto the headland at Porth Trwyn

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no height to today, a gentle subsidence of the walk towards Holyhead

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some interesting skyscapes as well along the way

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the sandy bay at Porth Trefadog, with Holyhead Mountain in my sight all day long

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the wide bay at Porth Tywyn-Mawr with the aluminium smelter tower prominent in the distance

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just after the caravan site - no pictures of them as I don't really appreciate the massed ranks of plywood

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a short section of road walking at Porth Penrhyn Mawr

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a breezy morning across the sands, with the view not changing much today across the bay

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a long bleak stretch at Traeth y Gribin, bent into the wind, trying to find the firmest line of sand

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but pleasant walking nevertheless

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away from the coast to walk around the estuary at Tywyn-Gwyn

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the path inland isn't too far away from the estuary but does cross a fair few fields before returning to the side of the river

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a well trodden path though

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The Afon Alaw winds it's way across the estuary leaving salt marsh at the margins

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the very welcome bridge before reaching Llanfachraeth. A new addition to the Anglesey Coastal Path which shaves off two miles of unattractive lane walking

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still in pristine condition

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the wind whipped across here but it was a lovely spot to walk along

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a concrete topped wall across the salt marsh near Glantraeth

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and a delightful portion of boardwalk completed the path across. I really appreciated the work here, made life easy and blended in splendidly

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onto a pleasant little bay at Penrhyn Bach

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a small road walk led to the waters edge and some lovely examples of micro-folding. This piece is about six inches across

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an outcrop on the beach and a short walk to the Stanley Embankment

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the Stanley Embankment linking Anglesey to Holy Island

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not far to go now and a surprise halfway across

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the inlet to the inland sea between Anglesey and Holy Island - a great rush which canoeists use the other side as there is a big standing wave

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I didn't see anything paddling close by, which is hardly surprising really

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after a stop at the Toll Cafe at the end of the embankment it was a stride into the Penrhos Coastal Park

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the park cuts around the coast on a grassy track and comes out close by the Aluminium works tower

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one last bay before hitting the edge of Holyhead and the return to the start

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A quick nip across some playing fields, down a back street and here I was back at the start. Not a great ending but a really enjoyable walk I'd recommend to anyone.

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