Saturday, March 03, 2012

The All Wales Coast Path and the Anglesey Coastal Path

I have just come across details of the All Wales Coast Path which is due to open officially in May 2012. Provisional route maps have been published here.

The Wales Coast Path follows the principle that "It will be as near to the coast as legally and physically practicable, whilst fully taking into account the needs of health and safety, land management and conservation." In the case of Anglesey, this results in both paths following the same route, as far as I can see. Not surprising really, and so if you've done one, you've done the other.

This is not the same when we come to consider the North Wales Path or some other established paths.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Review of the Walks, the Path, the Project

And now, having completed the path (well, more or less: see below), here are some overall views on it.

It took rather a long time. This is because we were otherwise engaged, shopping, gardening, going away or simply walking somewhere else.

With hindsight, doing the path in the way we chose wasn't all that clever. Sure, it allowed some nice little circular walks at the outset, but we left the most difficult (in terms of logistics) until the end, and had all those annoying little joining-up bits to do. And there are just a few tiny little bits we didn't cover because we took an alternative parallel path or something, but we're allowing ourselves that. Advice to those planning the whole path in bits is to be more systematic from the outset, which needn't mean always starting from where you last left off. It would also have worked out better if we had started off with longer walks.

This walk being complete, watch out for the new and more ambitious sister blog of the North Wales Path.
Now the awards:

Best Pub

There are a few pubs on or close to the path, and all provided a reasonable standard of pub fare (steak pie, fish & chips, etc.) but by far the best pub was the White Eagle at Rhoscolyn, although not on the Path itself, visited on our South Holy Island walk.

Most Convenient Pub

A good runner-up for Best Pub because it is on the Path but also on the A5025, therefore a good base to start the walk in either direction, is the Pilot Boat Inn. Food and drink very acceptable both times (Traeth yr Ora and Completing North-East) we visited.

Best Cafe on the Path

Wavecrest, Port Swtan/Church Bay without a doubt.

Best Artwork on the Path

Dic Evans Statue at Moelfre

Most Welcome Shelter

The very small cave on the beach at Porth Eilian (although that reflects the weather that day).

Biggest Disappointment

The alleged "tea shack" which we expected to find at the end of our Inland Sea walk.

Best Walk

The roller-coaster Cemaes-Borthwen walk.

Best Introductory Walk

Rhosneigr - Rogers volume 1 walk 13. The coastal path is full of variety and this little circular walk encapsulates quite a lot of that variety in a single walk.


It has to be Rogers volume 1 and 2. Although we have sometimes criticised the occasionally out-of-date content, these are handy guides to walks of the right length for us, and don't have to be slavishly followed. The official guide, also by Rogers, contains much of the same content but no return routes and is just a little too thick to be convenient; ours isn't well bound and pages fall out.

We usually took an OS map as well.

We rarely in practice needed the books to avoid getting lost, the path being reasonably well signposted when in countryside.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Beaumaris to Menai Bridge

This, our last walk, had required some co-ordination involving bus timetables, pub opening hours and, crucially, tide tables. This was because we aimed to do the alternative route along the beach between Gallows Point and Glyn Garth. Now this alternative route isn't mentioned in the Coastal Path guidebook and you may not find it on the current website, but it's there in our laminated map published in 2002 by Menter Mon and others, described as "Newly designated coastal path (permissive) access subject to tidal restriction".

We really did want to go that way because, without it, this walk would not have been very coastal at all. So, after lunch in the Liverpool Arms at Beaumaris (good standard pub fare), we set off along the beach about an hour before low water. And a warning: the tide really did need to be that low, and still going out, for a safe and comfortable walk, i.e. not scrambling on seaweed-covered rocks. It wouldn't be passable at all at high water. No doubt this is why it's not now an 'official' part of the walk.

One of the nice things we have found about the path is its variety, and this stretch was different again. It's a walk along a rocky beach, under steep cliffs which are clearly still being heavily eroded, interspersed with a few stony bays, and covered with primeval oak forest. Rocks are the twisted schists of the Mona Complex we've seen elsewhere, overlain by boulder clay which is also evident on parts of the beach.

We passed the Gazelle Hotel where we could have had another drink, but didn't. This was the start of a punishing ascent up a winding road to join the 'official' path at Llandegfan. Not that we would have known it - this stretch being rather short of the usual friendly Coastal Path signposts. The walk along an inland road through a little village was just that - not a particulalrly coastal feel, but with good views of Snowdonia.

And onwards to Menai Bridge, a town which once boasted a generous number of pubs - but currently both the Mostyn Arms and Liverpool Arms are closed, and not all the others open all day.

This completes the path for us! A review post to follow.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

South Stack to Trearddur

Today's walk wasn't a neat circular walk from a guidebook (although Rogers volume 2 walk 12 takes in part of the same route). In fact this seven-mile section of the Coastal Path occupies only a page of text in the official guidebook - which is undeserved, when it is an interesting, remote but apparently well-beaten section of the path.

We relied on Coastal Path signs throughout, with no trouble at all here. We noticed that a few of these now also bear a logo for the Wales Coast Path: just as we're nearing completion of this path, a much more ambitious target awaits.

Anyway, from South Stack cafe we followed the path down towards the roadway, then into a field and roadside path that later crossed the road again and took us towards Penrhyn Mawr. Here we saw lots of blue butterflies and hairy caterpillars.

Picture shows Penrhyn Mawr, gorse and heather in the foreground, Llyn to Bardsey on the horizon, encroaching weather front above.

The cliffs here are not so high but very dramatic, the weathering of twisted hard rocks resulting in so many jagged edges, with frequent inlets and gullies worn into features of the rock structure. A tide race was to be seen at Ynysoedd y Ffrydiau (also pictured), with a few fishermen taking advantage at the water's edge.

Going on, we later descended into Porth Dafarch where we had our picnic, as a few children on the sand pretended it was still summer. This beach had a little burger van and a Beach Warden, but public toilets were closed. The path after this alternates between circling headlands and following the road, eventually descending into the more built-up environs of Trearddur.

A striking large house here is Craig y Mor, perched on rocks overlooking the sea. Designed by Dublin architect F. G. Hicks for the Smellie family, this imposing construction was completed in 1921.

We picked a few blackberries here, then just outside the RNLI shop were able to buy an Anglesey ice-cream from a van before walking across the newly-enlarged promenade across the beach, to where we had reached on our South Ynys Cybi walk.

For us, this walk now completes, not just Ynys Cybi, but the whole of the western half of Anglesey's path.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Carmel Head

We finally finished the North West corner today with Rogers Volume 2 Walk 9, on a generally dry day but with the odd threat of drizzle in the air.

Unlike our last visit to Ynys y Fydlyn, this time the tide was low enough to get onto the little island, then look into the cave in the cliff (pictured).

Walking on up the cliff, we disturbed what must have been several hundred grouse in the bracken. This being the glorious twelveth, we wondered if they were now fair game. Probably not - this bit of path being closed from 14 September confirmed their having just a little longer to go.

We stopped at Trwyn Cerrigyreryr for our picnic, this corner of Anglesey offering a fine view almost all the way round. It was too hazy to see any land over the sea, but seems like this might offer both Ireland, the Isle of Man and northern England when the conditions are right.

This walk had disconcertingly too many bird-picked remains of sheep carcasses. Just one on a walk is bad luck, three seems like somebody's carelessness.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Today was a good day - dry, warm, but not too hot. We aimed to cover Rogers Volume 2 Walk 10, but with an extension to take us to where we reached on an earlier walk.

We set off from Llanfachraeth according to Rogers' insructions, but these country back roads weren't as quiet today as we ususally find. This being a nice Saturday in the peak holiday season, and in the proximity of caravan parks and beaches (see below), we did have to stand by the side of the road rather often to let by the 4x4s, caravans, trailers, etc..

Where Rogers told us to ignore the sign to 'Porth Tywyn Sandy Beach', our diversion took us exactly that way. Joining the coastal path northwards at Porth Tywyn, which traces the base of fields set back a little from the beach, we could see that this beach was popular, but probably less crowded than the average bucket-and-spade beach (pictured). Sand also a little whiter than on most Anglesey beaches - perhaps the influence of blown Holyhead Mountain quartzite?

We followed our diversion northwards to Porth Trefadog (second picture), then doubled back to Porth Tywyn.

The path here passed through Porth Tywyn/Sandy Beach caravan park, then past Penrhyn Bay caravan park. While we are no experts, these seemed to be rather upmarket caarvan sites. Both had little shops, the former being virtually on the path - although being what they are, the opening hours cannot be guaranteed to cater for all coastal path walkers.

Only after that did we get back on to Rogers' trail. Once we had left the caravan sites behind, the terrain changed markedly, and soon we were following the Alaw estuary in a much quieter environment, butterflies everywhere.

Rogers 2006 edition requires a bit of updating here. Where he says at the bottom of page 60, "Keep along the field edge to a ladder stile which leads onto a short access track", by now the access track has been extended towards us, so that in fact you are on it straightaway, not at a field edge. This ladder stile, and a number of others on this stretch, have since 2006 been replaced by kissing gates. We also didn't follow his little diversion away from the coastal path at the tidal pool, because our over-riding objective was to cover the path itself all the way to Llanfachraeth.

Oh, and as for Llanfachraeth meaning 'church at the little beach', that's rather fanciful (that would be Llandraethbach). It's the more straightforward 'church of Machraeth' - see, for example,

Sunday, July 10, 2011

More gaps

One of the problems of having aimed to do the whole path, but by a series of nice circular walks, is that it leaves a few annoying gaps where the circles didn't quite join up. So we started addressing that today.

First we walked through Rhosneigr, covering what we called "the little bit in the village" that we missed on the earlier Rhosneigr walk, and joining up to where we got to on the Traeth Crigyll walk. Rhosneigr is fairly busy at the height of the holiday season with a High Street of shops that serve the holiday trade and that is more than a little village of this size would normally sustain.

Euler famously worked out that he couldn't traverse the seven bridges of Königsberg once and only once while getting back to his original starting point. A simpler but similar problem faces the Coastal Path walker faced with the little section, east of the Inland Sea, between Four Mile Bridge and Valley. In our case, this joined up where we got to at Valley on both Penrhos and Valley trips on the one hand, and at Four Mile Bridge on both Inland Sea and South Holy Island walks, on the other hand. Unlike our two urban walks today, this was more like a coast!

Then finally we went on to Holyhead, to walk through the town, joining up our previous Breakwater Country Park walk with the other end of the Penrhos walk. This took us past the official start and finish of the Path at Holyhead Church (pictured). Strangely, in contrast to the rest of our travels, the path itself is not signposted at all through the town here...