Pete's Trip Reports

Wales Coast Path - Part 1: Chester to Menai Bridge - May 2013

This is the first part in a series of four separate trips to complete the Wales Coast Path. For enthusiasts, here is the full set:

Newly opened in 2012, the Wales Coast Path is apparently the world's first ever continuous path covering the coastline of an entire country! It stretches from the outskirts of Chester down to Chepstow, weighing in at a hefty 870 miles. It seemed rather tempting, and I planned a week long trip to make a start on it, with the aim of finishing somewhere in the vicinity of Anglesey. In the end I managed the stretch from Chester down to Menai Bridge, and the circuit of Anglesey, which neatly adds up to almost exactly a quarter of the whole path. Day by day reports and pictures below.

Day 1: Chester to Talacre

It was a bright sunny morning, and I woke up before the alarm went off, so was able to get an extra early train to Chester. Five pounds got me a taxi to the football ground, from where it was only a short walk to the start, and I got there for exactly eight o'clock. The route started off on a cycle path along the River Dee, and there was a big rock with the coast path symbol carved on it to mark the start. There were also two marker posts showing the border between England and Wales. I set off along the cycle path, there was a chilly breeze, but still blue skies and sunshine. Cyclists passed by every so often. In the distance was a plume of smoke from four huge industrial chimneys, and some sort of tall bridge structure. Just before the end of the cycle path I stopped at a bench and had a picnic of bagels, houmous and tomatoes that I had bought the night before in a garage shop.

When the cycle path ran out, the route crossed over to a stretch of grassy river bank, followed by pavement walking alongside the road. On the pavement stretch, a small coast path symbol and pointer was inset into the pavement at junctions, to tell you which way to go. At Connah's Quay there was a good view of the tall bridge structure. I had marked the coast path route out with highlighter on some (admittedly quite old) OS maps that I already had, and the bridge didn't even exist on my map, which on closer inspection was dated 1992. I quite fancied some breakfast at Connah's Quay, but there didn't seem to be much in the way of facilities, just a couple of boarded up pubs. At Flint, the route left the pavement and headed out over some marshes. The river had widened out into more of an estuary, so it felt more like proper coast path now. There were views across to the Wirral, and a distinctive row of white houses on the waterside gleaming in the sun. Flint had a castle right on the route, which was followed by gravel path through pleasant birch woods. At the inlet of Flint Dock I stopped on a bench for another picnic. The route continued on a path along the top of flood defence mound, alongside bushes and greenery, and a few people sitting fishing at the waters edge.

By Greenfield I was feeling a bit weary, and I had a lie down on a bench for a while in the sun, before pushing on along a pleasant grassy path beside huge boulders making up the sea defences, heading for a large rusting ship in the distance. At the ship I made a short inland detour, and found a small cafe in a craft centre, where I had a bowl of soup and a pot of tea, and filled up my water bottles. Back at the ship, the other side of it had a series of colourful paintings. More grassy walking beside flood defences led to Mostyn Quay, where the route moved to the pavement beside the road for a while. As I passed through Fynnongroyw, some punters sitting on outside tables tried to tempt me into the pub. The last stretch was a bit of a dogleg to get past some sort of large industrial plant, complete with a maze of pipes all over the place. I pitched up in a secluded spot near Talacre, and had two packets of noodles for tea. There was an excellent sunset over the wind turbines out at sea. With the clear skies, it very quickly got chilly once the sun went down though, and I needed most of my clothes on to keep warm in the rather minimal one season sleeping bag!

Day 2: Talacre to Llandudno

I got woken up by the sun quite early, and was already on the move by half past seven. There was a stretch through the dunes to get past Talacre, and I spotted a huge bird of prey sitting on a post. A sign warned people not to disturb the resident natterjack toads in the dunes. I soon reached the promenade at Prestatyn, and detoured off into town to see if there were any breakfast opportunities. There didn't seem to be as much in the way of facilities as I remembered from finishing Offa's Dyke there, and even the few cafes weren't open yet. Eventually I found a Costa Coffee which opened at half past nine, so I waited for a few minutes in the sun for it to open, and then got a cup of tea and a breakfast snack. There was plenty more promenade to get to Rhyl, and quite a few people walking, cycling, and running along it. Out on the sea, there seemed to be a hive of activity round the wind turbines. There were neat rows of existing turbines, and what looked like rows of bases for new ones, with cranes next to some of them.

The path followed the pavement over the bridge leaving Rhyl, next to nose to tail traffic on the road, and it was a relief to get back on the promenade. Lots more promenade walking followed, in some places hemmed in quite tightly between the railway and the huge boulders of the sea defences. Near Abergele I stopped for a pot of tea at a beach front cafe. The couple on the next table were enthusiastically telling someone that they had seen Showaddywaddy playing live in Rhyl the night before, and that they had a brilliant time. I did feel slightly jealous. After the promenade finished, there was a long stretch of cycle path. In places it was quite an impressive engineering feat, squeezed in between the dual carriageway high above, and sea defences constructed from thousands of huge interlocking spiky concrete blocks which were individually numbered. Lots of groups of cyclists went past, including quite a few famillies.

The cycle path finally arrived at the promenade of Colwyn Bay, and I pushed on to Rhos-on-Sea, where I stocked up on some rosemary bread and houmous at a co-op, and adjourned to a seat on the front for an evening picnic. Looking at the internet, there seemed to be a backpackers hostel in Llandudno, and a quick phone call revealed that they had exactly one bed left for the night, in a seven person dormitory, which I bagged. After the picnic, I pushed on to the Little Orme, which was a lovely spot in the evening sun, then made the short but stiff climb to get up to the top and over to the other side. Superb views of Llandudno appeared on the descent, with the entire front stretching out in a long curve in the evening sun, although there was a curious column of smoke rising from the middle of town. I made the hostel for half past eight. The smoke that I had seen from the Orme turned out to be the top floor of a building in the next street from the hostel, which was on fire, and firemen on a very long ladder were trying to put it out. Fortunately, they seemed to have it under control fairly quickly.

Day 3: Llandudno to Llanfairfechan

I was woken up by some stirring in the dormitory at about half past seven, and was up and on the go for eight. The weather was a bit dull compared to the previous day, and there was a strong chilly wind blowing along the promenade. The next bit of the route did a circuit of the Great Orme, following the Marine Drive, to end up at the South side of Llandudno, a couple of hundred metres from where I had started! Although it was all on pavement, it was a pleasant circuit, with superb views of cliffs above and below the road. There was no traffic, apart from occasional cyclists breezing past on the road. It was reasonably sheltered until the 'Rest and Be Thankful' cafe, where the road turned a corner, and a strong cold wind and drizzle suddenly hit me head on. I hid from the wind behind the cafe and put full waterproofs on. After battling through the wind, to get back down to the seafront on the South side of Llandudno, I sat in a sheltered seat on the front and finished off the remaining rosemary bread and houmous for breakfast.

I pushed on along the beachside path, it was still very windy, the sand had blown right over the path in some places, and there didn't seem to be many people out, apart from the more intrepid dog walkers. The final stretch across the bridge to Conwy gave superb views of the castle through the drizzle, although I was feeling a bit bedraggled by this point. I quickly adjourned to a cafe in town, and got a full veggy breakfast and pot of tea. Shortly after leaving town, the route split, and there was a choice of plodding along flat tarmac paths beside the main road, or the high level option via Conwy Mountain and Sychnant Pass, with interesting terrain and good coastal views. I went for the high level option, and it turned out to be very enjoyable, pleasant grassy paths, and there were indeed some great views in places, despite the drizzle. It was well signposted, although it would be a lot more more tricky if any of the signposts disappear, so you might want a backup map and compass for this bit, especially in poor visibility.

The high level route popped out near to Sychnant Pass, where it then dropped steeply down to Fairy Glen. Further on there was a possible link back to join the low route at Penmaenmawr. Continuing on the high route, it took an interesting traverse line round Foel Lus, with more good views of the coast. I passed a few groups of very bedraggled looking horses on this stage. Finally, superb views opened up of the great sweep of Lavan Sands, before descending to Llanfairfechan. By the time I reached the village, the rain seemed to have eased off, and I got pitched up at a nice small campsite which was all of sixty seconds walk from the path and the village centre. After a quick look round the village, I treated myself to an excellent takeout veggy curry and tarka dhal, which I ate in the tent. The sun had even appeared by this stage, giving superb views of the hillside in the evening sun. It was a warmer night, so I was able to manage without clothes on in the sleeping bag.

Day 4: Llanfairfechan to Penmon

It was a comfortable night in the tent, maybe a bit too comfortable, as I didn't get going until half past eight the next morning. Down at the promenade there were views across the mudflats to Puffin island at the tip of Anglesey, and all the way back along the coast to the Great Orme. On leaving the promenade, the path went round various bird marshes, and it was nice to be walking on proper waterside footpath rather than pavement. The route even went along the pebble beach for a short stretch. It finally met a car park, where there were signs to fishermen in English, Welsh, and Polish. The route now went inland, to get round Penrhyn Castle. As it got closer to Bangor, the signposts seemed to get a bit hit and miss, and I had to use the map quite a bit. At one stage, the signs disappeared for quite a while, and I popped out in the middle of an industrial estate. But some puzzling over the map got me onto a cycle route which was going in the same direction, and at the far end of it the coast path signs eventually re-appeared.

The route passed some grand old buildings belonging to the University in the leafy Bangor suburbs, then a nice stretch that picked its way through a forest, with steps up and down every so often. Eventually it joined a main road, which led to the Menai bridge. There was a path junction here, one branch continued on the mainland towards the Llyn pensinsula, the other turned off to do the Anglesey circuit. I took the Anglesey branch, and crossed over the suspension bridge. I had not really passed any breakfast opportunities so far, but just after the bridge was a supermarket cafe, and I popped in for a pot of tea and some soup. From the end of the bridge, the path dropped down a steep road to the waterside, and then went back under the bridge heading along the Anglesey coast towards Beaumaris. There was a strong current passing through the bridge supports, and two teams of people in RIBs were pottering about beside the supports. Quite a bit of road walking followed, slightly away from the coast, although it was very quiet for traffic, and had good views back over the straits to the stretch of path that I had just done past Bangor.

There was the odd spot of drizzle by the time I reached Beaumaris, but I found a good cafe and got a pot of leaf tea, and beans on toast. On leaving the cafe, the rain had got heavier, and I hid from the wind behind a wall on the seafront to put full waterproofs on. The next bit took in some stony beaches before arriving at the impressive old priory and dove cote at Penmon. I made the trek out to the point, where the route then double backed on a track through thick bushes. The final bit back to the road went through a cow field where the cows followed me in a strange zig-zag pattern, coming straight towards me, then at the last moment turning and walking away from me, then coming towards me again, which they repeated all the way over the field. Back at the road I pushed on a bit, it was still raining, and the camping options were a bit limited, but I eventually found a small spot under some trees near a footpath. Not ideal, but it turned out to be reasonably comfortable, and the trees kept some of the rain and wind off.

Day 5: Penmon to Llaneilian

I got an early start the next morning, and was on the move just after seven. The rain seemed to have completely passed over, although everything was still quite wet. The route took a mix of quiet narrow roads and small footpaths to start with, with nicely trimmed grass. I was almost out of water, and wasn't quite sure where I was going to fill up, when the footpath passed by a house, where there was a sign inviting walkers to use their outside tap, for themselves and thirsty dogs. A rather public spirited act, and very welcome! Further on, some hastily pinned up warning notices appeared about a landslip on the coast path, together with some not particularly clear details of a diversion. I pushed on anyway, to see what the situation was, and sure enough a huge chunk of the narrow car track had disappeared off down the hillside, leaving the fence hanging in mid air! It had certainly made the track undriveable, but on foot I found it easy enough to skirt round.

As I pushed on there were increasingly excellent views of the expanse of Red Wharf Bay. There were some lovely stretches getting round the bay, on grassy paths, past some little streams full of tadpoles, and some walking on the beach itself. It had been very quiet up to now, but there were quite a few people hanging round the pub and the car park. A short stretch to Benllech went through trees, past little limestone cliffs, and there was even a larger cliff with some bolted sport climbs on it. At Benllech there was a nice little cafe right on the seafront, just as the path left the road, and I stopped and had a vegeburger and a pot of tea.

After Benllech there was some absolutely superb walking. The path squeezed along the top of the cliffs, quite narrow in places, with thick bushes, or sometimes just a fence separating you from the drop. At Moelfre, I topped up with water and bought some kettle chips and made a quick phonecall to sort out the nights campsite. The cliffs were less dramatic after Moelfre but still pleasant enough. The sands and marshes at Traeth Dulas force the route inland to skirt round it, and grassy fields brought me inland to a pub, where the route turned and headed out again. It started to drizzle a bit and I had to put waterproofs on. At the other side of Traeth Dulas, the path went across some sand and mud bits, then there was some climbing and descending again on quiet roads to regain the coast. The next bit had an unexpected amount of ups and downs, so took me a bit longer than expected, but eventually views of Point Lynas appeared. It was drizzling off and on by this time, and the sky was looking distinctly gloomy. The path popped out at the bottom of Llaneilian, and a short walk up the road took me to the campsite. There were a few heavier bursts of rain after I was pitched up, but by this time I was relaxing under the sleeping bag, and enjoying a pan of noodles.

Day 6: Llaneilian to Church Bay

I got started at quarter to nine, and did the short stretch to Amlwch, where I got a full veggy breakfast and pot of tea at a small cafe. There was an excellent section after Bull Bay, with rocky coastline, lots of little inlets and cliffs, and some ups and downs. At Porth Wen, an old disused brickworks appeared on the far side of the bay, down beside the water, with a small rock arch nearby. Then the route went out to the 'most Northerly point in the whole of Wales', marked by the remains of a rather nondescript concrete building. More ups and downs past ruins of another old building, and more good scenery before coming across the little church and graveyard of Llanbadrig, on a headland just outside Cemaes. I detoured into town and got beans on toast and a pot of tea. I was a bit short on supplies, and there didn't seem to be much in the way of facilities on the next stretch. There was only a small shop in town but I managed to stock up with some pot noodles, malt loaf, and granola bars.

After Cemaes, the path did a circuit of Wylfa Head, before skirting round the Wylfa Nuclear power station on a nature trail through a forest. The trail wasn't too bad, with grassy path, and just the ever-present background hum of the power station, and a radiation detector every so often suggested that it wasn't a typical nature trail. Further on, the trail went right under the base of a huge pylon, then past power lines coming out of the side of the building amongst a mass of huge insulators. It was half past four when I crossed the access road to the power station, and it must have been the end of a shift, as there was a non-stop stream of traffic, all leaving. Further on at Cemlyn the path crossed a pebble bar, which was slow walking. The bar held back a lagoon, with a small island that was covered with terns. In the middle of the pebble bar were a few people with long lens cameras and tripods, watching the birds. At the other side of the bar was an intriguing house, surrounded by unusually tall brick walls. Two of the bird watchers were discussing it, and the walls had apparently been to keep the wind out to allow the owner to grow exotic plants and trees in their large garden.

By the time I reached Carmel Head, it was early evening, and I sat under some large white rocks, and cooked up the pot noodles for tea. It was a lovely spot, and it had turned into a nice evening, blue skies and late sun, with great views out to the small lighthouse at the Skerries, and the occasional small boat going past. I finished tea at about nine o'clock, and since it was such a nice evening, I pushed on for another hour and a quarter. There was superb walking after the corner, with the path picking its way round rocky headlands, quite a bit of up and down, and flower covered grass slopes. Near Church Cove it was starting to get dark and I found a flat spot below the path, slightly hidden from the wind by some rocks, which turned out to be surprisingly comfortable.

Day 7: Church Bay to Porthdafarach

It was a sunny morning, with nice blue skies, and I woke up early and was on the move by quarter to seven. I had a chunk of malt loaf as I walked along, to get me going. The path was hemmed in by thick bushes, or steep grass banks in places, and lots of flowers on the grass slopes. After a series of small beaches I was getting very short of water, but luckily at Porth Tywyn the path went through a caravan park, where I was able to fill up and buy some more noodles from the small shop. Not long after the caravan park the path turned inland to get round the estuary of the Afon Alaw. The guidebook warned about an unavoidable dodgy road stretch, and actually advised getting a bus rather than walking it. However, there turned out to be a brand new bridge across the river, and on the other side a long stretch of new path, between brand new parallel wire fences. An excellent improvement! The new stretch passed lots of farmers out in large tractors and machines, cutting grass and collecting it.

After Valley, the path crosses over from the main Anglesey island to Holy Island, over the Stanley embankment. There was a nice little park after the embankment, with picnic tables and benches, a bit of a suntrap, and lots of families out. I sat down and gave my feet a rest for a while. There followed a nice walk round a little park, through trees, then out to a viewpoint at Gorsedd-y-penrhyn, and past a small pets graveyard. Then past a little beach where girls were galloping horses. The path finally popped out at the entrance to Holyhead ferry terminal, and seemed to head straight towards the terminal, but then took a hidden passage which led to a rather elaborate silver pedestrian bridge over to Holyhead town. The town didn't have as much in the way of facilities as I expected, but I did manage to find a small cafe for beans on toast and a pot of tea, and they also let me charge my phone while I was eating! I did a bit of internet research and found a campsite on the way to Trearrdur, and gave them a quick call to sort out a spot.

The weather had gone downhill a bit, and it was drizzling when I left Holyhead, and a large grey cloud had settled on top of Holyhead Mountain. I felt a bit weary on leaving the town, and it was a bit of a slog to get to the start of the country park, past a strange mock castle that was derelict. However once in the country park, the walking was good, despite the gloom and occasional spell of drizzle. The path climbed a lovely rocky hillside, and there were superb views down to the cliffs at North Stack. Then the path came to a steep drop, where you could peer down to the South Stack lighthouse way below. After South Stack, the weather seemed to have cleared up a bit, and it was turning into a nice evening again. The path followed the road for a little while, then turned off to do a circuit of The Range. I left the route here to get to the campsite at Penrhosfeilw. After cooking tea, I popped out and did a brisk circuit of the Range, to avoid having to backtrack the next morning. I was rewarded with some good views of the South Stack lighthouse under the evening sky. It was quite a nice stretch, lots of inlets with sheer rocky slabs, and easy going without the rucksac on so I could breeze along. At Port Dafarch the path traversed under ivy and flower covered cliffs to get back to the road. I got back to the campsite just as it was getting dark.

Day 8: Porthdafarach to Rhosneigr

Despite the comfortable spot I didn't sleep that well for some reason, and ended up having a late start. After the short walk down the road to regain the route at Port Dafarch it was already nine o'clock. At Trearddur there were quite a few divers busy kitting up on the front. I was looking forward to breakfast, but there didn't seem to be much in the way of places that were open. I did stock up on houmous, bread and tomatoes, from the village shop, for a picnic later on, plus some more pot noodles for evening meals. It was a nice sunny morning, and there were lovely stretches after Trearddur, walking on short grass, with patches of colourful flowers, and good rocky inlets and cliffs. At Rhoscolyn there were some excellent cliffs, and a climber was just topping out as I arrived.

Further on the path passed by a coastguard lookout on higher ground, and views briefly re-appeared all the way back over Holyhead town and the port. At Silver Bay I sat down in the sun and had another snack. It was a nice beach, and there were only a handful of people that had it all to themselves. The path turned inland from the bay, with some walking on quiet roads. There was a particularly good stretch on a quiet permissive path through trees, gorse and some duckboards over marshy sections. I saw a lizard scuttle across the path, and lots of red damselflies hanging round the marshes. After more road, the path skirted the edge of the estuary, up to Four Mile Bridge, where it crossed back over from Holy Island onto the main Anglesey island. At Four Mile Bridge I found a small cafe and got a toasted teacake and a pot of tea.

After the bridge the route headed out along the other side of the estuary, through a mix of fields, with some nice gorse, and lots of waterside stretches. I eventually arrived at the landing lights for RAF Valley Airfield, and shortly after the long beach of Traeth Cymyran. I could see Rhosneigr in the distance, with the Welsh mountains sillhouetted behind. It was quite a long beach, and the town didn't seem to be getting any closer as I walked along. Eventually though I came to the river crossing of Afon Crigyll, where there was a usefully placed row of wobbly rocks to get across. As it was Saturday night, the campsite was quite busy, and the owner pointed me to a quieter spot to pitch up away from some large and noisy groups. There was a large blister on my left heel that I had been putting Compeed on for a couple of days, but it was still sore, and after the shower I pricked it to release the fluid. The tent spot wasn't too bad, and apart from a minor rumpus outside at about two in the morning, I slept very well.

Day 9: Rhosneigr to Newborough

After the good nights sleep I was back on the path at eight o'clock. Walking through Rhosneigr I decided to hang on until Aberffraw for breakfast, and work up a bit more of an appetite. It took some willpower to avoid the temptation as I passed the surf cafe in Rhosneigr, which was already open, but I did stock up on some more houmous and mini-baguettes at the village shop. The path started out along the beach, where there were only a few early morning dog walkers out. After the interesting burial chamber, the route headed inland to get round a motor racing circuit. There was the occasional glimpse of the action on the circuit, but most of the time the path was below, so you could just hear the cars buzzing round overhead. Just after the circuit, there was an ancient church on a tiny walled island at Porth Cwyfan, which was a strange contrast with all the racing car noise in the background. After the church was a great stretch, alongside a wall that had grown over with grass and pink flowers, and with the constant backdrop of the Welsh mountains.

At the beach at Aberffraw the route turned inland and followed the river to reach the village and the bridge. There was a small cafe with picnic tables outside. The staff seemed to outnumber the punters when I arrived, but lots more people soon turned up and filled up the outside tables. I got a veggy breakfast and a pot of tea. After the village the path crossed the small bridge and then followed the river back out to the beach. Unlike most beaches, where you have to search for the strip of firm sand nearer the water, on this one the entire beach seemed to be an expanse of firm flat sand. In the middle were a couple of blokes surrounded by buggies and various wheeled boards. Unfortunately that was the last of the sea for a while, and the route turned inland through the dunes, followed by fields with some slightly jittery bulls, then some road walking. Descending the very quiet road to Malltraeth gave some absolutely superb views over Malltraeth Sands to Newborough forest, with the ever-present mountains in the background.

At Malltraeth I set off along the cycle path on top of the seawall, followed by a pleasant path through the forest, where I stopped and had a picnic. The forest path eventually turned into a gravel track, which was a bit less interesting, and near Llanddwyn island I crossed through the dunes and continued on the beach instead. The beach was surprisingly busy for Anglesey. After a while I reached the end of the forest, although it needed some concentration to spot, as the trees were partly hidden by the dunes. I got it about right though, and cut through the dunes on a sandy path, which soon regained the coast path signs. After leaving the forest, I took the small road up to Newborough, which got me to the campsite in about twenty minutes. It was a pleasant little spot, and I even got a special walkers discount for 'not being lazy and arriving in the car'! I got pitched up quickly and let the tent dry out a bit in the evening sun, then walked down into Newborough to get some supplies. It was quite a small village shop, which seemed to have the entire teenage population of the village hanging about outside, but I managed to get a few bits and pieces, and for tea I had two pot noodles, with extra baked beans added as a bit of a treat.

Day 10: Newborough to Menai Bridge

It was another nice day, and the sun woke me up just before seven. I quickly got packed up and on the move, and was back down at the path by twenty to eight. There was nice walking on sandy path beside the dunes before arriving at some large marram grass sculptures at Llyn Rhos-ddu. Two farmers were just blocking off the road with a trailer so they could send their cows across it to another field, and politely apologised for the inconvenience, but it was easy to squeeze past. Just after the sculptures I passed by another campsite, literally right on the route, that might be useful if you want to stop a little bit further on past Newborough. The path now left the road and traversed a number of fields to get back to the shoreline, including a crossing of Afon Braint on gigantic stepping stones. There was a marshy area after the stepping stones, and then some fields of taller grass, still wet from the morning dew, so I stopped and put my waterproof socks on.

Back at the shoreline, there were some stretches along the pebbly beach to get to Moel-y-don, where I sat down for a snack at a picnic table, and laid the tent out to dry. I finished off the houmous, which surprisingly was still OK from the previous day. It was a nice spot, with good views over the water, and a few cars came and went, and people got out and looked at the view. According to the book, there wasn't a path for the next bit, and it recommended getting a bus to avoid having to walk along the main road. That seemed a bit drastic, and studying the map it looked like at least the first half of it could be done by stringing together various footpaths. I left Moel-y-don and walked up to the main road, to decide what to do next. The traffic actually seemed very light, and there was enough of a verge to move to the side when the occasional car came past, so I pushed on along the road. Half way along I was surprised to find a brand new section of off-road path along the edge of the field, separated from the road by the stone wall. It looked like it was joined by the footpaths that I had been contemplating for the first half. Another excellent improvement!

The new path got me all the way to the turn off back down to the shore, where there were excellent views of the rail bridge, and the statue of Nelson on the shoreline. There was a small section of forest between the bridges, followed by a popular shoreside path with a few people sitting on benches, and a good view of a little church and cemetry on a small island. I finally met up with the steep road from the suspension bridge, that I had come down a whole six days ago, and climbed back up to the bridge. I crossed back over to the mainland, to reach the path junction off to the Llyn pensinsula, which was my finishing point. From there I took a short bus ride to Bangor station, and then the train back to Crewe. The train journey stuck quite closely to the coast, and it felt a bit odd re-seeing all the walking sights again condensed into sixty minutes, almost like doing a fast rewind of a few days of your life.


All in all it was quite an enjoyable trip, and mostly good weather apart from the odd wet spell. I wasn't sure what to expect from the North Wales sections, I had memories of mile upon mile of static caravans from previous North Wales trips, but it didn't seem too bad on the ground, the path often goes on the seaward side of the caravan parks, so I didn't notice them that much. The first day in particular had a surprising amount of off-road footpath, close to the water. There was definitely quite a bit of promenade, cycle path and pavement walking, but also some good off-road paths and tracks. The high-level option between Conwy and Llanfairfechan was definitely worth doing, and well signposted, plus it has an option to bail out half way through and rejoin the low route. The circuit round Anglesey has some excellent stretches, including some great cliffs and rocky coastline, and quite a bit of beach walking. Overall, the coast path isn't too hilly, compared to something like the SW Coast Path, and especially on the stretch before Anglesey you can make quite fast progress. The stats for the full trip were as follows:

  • Total distance: 344 km (214 miles)
  • Total ascent: 4910 m (16,108 ft)
  • Hilliest day: Llaneilian to Church Bay: 1045 m (3428 ft)

The official site has a series of maps that show the entire route superimposed on sections of OS maps, plus mileage charts, which are useful for the day to day planning of where to head for the next night. As mentioned above, there is no need to worry any more about the two dodgy road sections described in the Anglesey guidebook (Llanfachraeth to Llanynghghenedl and Moel-y-don to Pwllfanogl), as they now have brand new sections of path, which is a very welcome improvement.

Update: I managed to get stuck in to the second installment three months later, at the start of September, which took me from Menai Bridge to Cardigan.