Out and About with East Lancs

Andy's exploits really put us in our place. Done! Paul and Alison by the sea Ruth and Mary at Pistill Church Setting out on the second morning What a Trio!

Written by John Bullen

The Cast of Characters

“Stormin” Norman Thomas & Viv Lee

Mary Robinson & Ruth Redmayne “The Naughty Girls”

Paul “GPS” & Allison “Salt” Wadsworth

Neil Smith & John Picton

Geoff Halliwell & John Bullen

The Story.

The last week in April saw ten members of the East Lancs tackle the Edge of Wales footpath. This is a 110 mile waymarked coastal path round North Wales’ beautiful Lleyn Peninsular. The route starts at Caernarfon and finishes at Porthmadoc, with highlight upon highlight in between. We had decided to do the walk Sunday to Sunday, as that way we could travel back at our leisure on the second weekend, avoiding the dreaded A55 on a Bank Holiday Monday. I organised it and I took the plaudits when it was a success but what a rogue I am! There is an organisation named “The Edge of Wales Walk”. They met us at our first night digs and arrangements had been made for us to leave our cars there for the week. Each day Simon or Peter from the organisation met us and if required ran us to the walk start, picked us up in the evening and whilst we were on the hoof moved our baggage on to the next overnight stay. They supplied map, GPS and route description and booked us in for bed and breakfast at each location. The charge to each of us for this was £48 per person per day so all you had to find on top of that was evening meal, beer and a bite to eat at lunchtime. We talked to someone who had recently done the walk making their own arrangements and using their own cars at the start and end of each day and he couldn’t believe how cheap we got this service. So my “organisation” of this week long trek was merely to send Peter and Simon a few emails and they took care of everything!

Day 1 – Sunday April 25th Caernarfon to Clynnog Mawr – 12 miles Accommodation - Eisteddfod Hotel We were on our way from the stunning Caernarfon Castle before 11.00am. The footbridge across the river is less than 100 yards. At the end of this I led us left instead of right and that was the last time I was trusted with the map all week! Surely the earliest sacking of a walk leader in East Lancs history! To be blunt if the entire route was to lose this first section it would be no great shame. After the splendour of the castle much of the section is along a rather mundane disused railway and it gives no hint at all of the splendours in store on the rest of the trek. We arrived at our digs just as the chef arrived. After serving us a beer he joined us in the splendid gardens to ask what we wanted “for our tea”. The charge for delicious leek soup, followed by turkey and all the usual accompaniments or risotto for the veggies was £12. Be warned - the one pub in the village shut at nine o’clock - it was a Sunday after all! The evening was saved by our landladies, Tracy and Melody, serving us bottles of excellent Purple Moose back at our digs.

Day 2 Clynnog Mawr to Nefyn – 18 miles Accommodation – Caeau Capel This was the toughest day’s walk of the week but the hard work was rewarded with breathtaking views out to sea on both sides of us. Bwlch Mawr (509m) and Yr Eifi (564m) stretched the leg muscles and towards the end of a long day we came upon the superb Nant Gwrtheyrn, the stunning.Welsh language and culture centre, and the delightful Pistyll Church, the final resting place of Maigret, Rupert Davies. Our accommodation was superb with Norman and Viv booked in separate rooms for no extra charge.

Day 3 Nefyn to Port Colman – 18 miles Accommodation –Manaros and Dolfor, Aberdaron After the best breakfast of the week we enjoyed a quite stunning day in all respects with beautiful views, gorgeous weather and our first sighting of grey seals. The next two nights were to be spent in the organisation’s own accommodation at Manaros, a cottage sleeping eight, with Paul and Alison across the road in a B&B, Dolfor. Nothing had prepared us for what was in store. The “cottage” is two years old and must be in the half a million bracket. From under-floor heating to stunning conservatory, everything was top notch. Had we but known we could have booked this accommodation for the entire week and been transported in and out each day. In fact Viv has booked it for a week in August 2011. There are two pubs in the village, both serving excellent food and real ale. The first night we tried the Ty Neuwydd, the pub/hotel on the beach, and it was superb.

Day 4 Port Colman to Aberdaron – 16 miles Accommodation –Manaros and Dolfor Coastal walking is by necessity a lot of ins and outs, ups and downs for cliffs and tributaries and whatever else. This was the day the saying “oh no not another beautiful headland” slipped into the conversation but it was merely a joke. The scenery was incredible as we rounded the end of the peninsular with its stunning views of Bardsey Island. The Ship Inn benefitted from our patronage in the evening and we were rewarded with an excellent meal and more good beer. But be warned – Wednesday is halfday closing which means there is no cashpoint machine should you need it.

Day 5 Aberdaron to Abersoch – 18 miles Accommodation - Goslings Guest House Another tough day with the early delights of clifftop paths giving way to the unrelenting trek across the sand of Hell’s Mouth beach, some five miles of it. Here our efforts were put in their place as we met Andy Ballard, a postman who is walking 2,400 miles of coastline from the Scillies to Shetlands to raise money for Birmingham Children’s hospital. Three years ago Andy did the walk the other way but down the east coast! What a man! We found our hotel in Abersoch and ate another lovely meal in a nearby Italian.

Day 6 - Friday April 30th Abersoch to Criccieth – 20 miles Accommodation - Queens Hotel Our longest day mileage-wise but arguably the most rewarding. Sadly by this time the blisters on Alison’s feet had become too severe and she had to finish early. Goodness Knows how she lasted as long as she did because they really were bad. We had heavy rain in the morning which enforced a café stop at Llandebrog where we discussed the price of the beachhuts - £75,000! By lunchtime, and after Pwllheli, the rain had cleared and we finished the day in sunshine as we came into the quaint and tranquil Criccieth. Here Peter met us in the Edge of Wales bus and ran us to our digs for the last two nights, the Queens Hotel at Porthmadoc. Our original plan had been to take in Bardsey Island on the last day. This would have meant Peter picking us up and running us back there. The ferry is an extra £28 and there are no guarantees as it is all tide and weather dependant. We decided over an excellent meal at the Queens against doing this.

Day 7 - Saturday May 1st Criccieth to Porthmadog - 8 miles Alison, understandably, had to miss this last section and what a shame as it is the most beautiful stretch of the entire route. Criccieth is a treat, then it’s on to Black Rock Sands and, after a lovely coffee at Porthmadoc Golf Club, we came into the beautiful cove of Borth-y-Gest, a “to die for” place. We entered Porthmadoc at the harbour end and attracted a few odd stares as we celebrated the end of our walk! Paul and Alison had decided to head for home that afternoon missing the final night. Geoff and Neil, Norman and John P followed suit leaving John B in the delightful company of Viv, Mary and Ruth. He wasn’t complaining! We had an afternoon at the mock Italian village of Portmeirion, the filing location of the cult TV classic, The Prisoner.

Day 8 – Travel Home Not a glitch with the traffic on the way home thankfully. What a fantastic week! If anyone would like further details contact me on 01942 874719 or j.bullen1@ntlworld.com

Alternatively the Edge of Wales organisation contacts are :- Walking North Wales, Edge of Wales Walk and Manaros cottage 1 Dolfor, Aberdaron, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, LL53 8BP, Wales Tel: 01758 760 652



And details of Andy’s Ballard’s exploits are on :-

Chairs on a walk? Lovely accomodation John makes himself useful