Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Current

Hello to all my regular readers! I know there are a number of you out there.
Thank you for your interest. 
We have recently returned from our third trip to Pembrokeshire this year when we walked 33 miles of the coast from Little Haven to Milford Haven.  There we were defeated by monsoon-like rains, so brought our caravan home to store it for the winter.  We shall return next Spring, when the Summer bus timetable starts up again, to finish the Pembrokeshire coast and move on towards the Gower.  Meanwhile I will try to get this blog up to date over the Winter.
I am just so glad that I can do this coastal walking again after two successful knee replacement operations.  Thank you Mr Balint (my knee surgeon), you have given me back my life!
To all my readers, thank you for your interest in our venture.
Rosemary
PS  Go to   www.bognorregisbeach.co.uk  to see what is happening NOW just left of Bognor Pier! (On the website, click on  'Live Webcam')

Monday, July 14, 2014

Walk 356 -- Abersoch to Pwllheli

Ages:  Colin was 72 years and 67 days.  Rosemary was 69 years and 209 days.
Weather:  Misty rain coming across in waves.  Breezy, but not cold.  Less rain pm.
Location:  Abersoch to Pwllheli.
Distance:  9 miles.
Total distance:  3672 miles.
Terrain:  Lots of beach which was mostly firm sand, though some was a bit stony.  Steep ascent up a headland, moorland path on top, then a steep descent with steps through trees.  Some concrete at start and end of Walk.
Tide:  In, going out.
Rivers: No.430, Afon Soch in Abersoch.
Ferries:  None.
Piers:  None.
Kissing gates:  None.
Pubs:  None.
‘Cadw’ properties:  None.
Ferris wheels:  None.
Diversions:  None.
How we got there and back:  Yesterday we towed our caravan from home to Snowdonia.  This morning we drove to Pwllheli where we parked by the harbour.  We walked to the bus station and caught a bus to Abersoch.
At the end we came upon our car parked in Pwllheli.  We had our tea and biscuits, then returned to our caravan. 

The good news is that Colin has at last had his operation — to replace his faulty artificial sphincter.  It took a lot of persistence and determination to get the treatment he so badly needed.  First of all he wouldn’t take “No” for an answer when he was told he couldn’t have a replacement sphincter on the National Health.  He asked for a referral, then he was subject to numerous cancelled and delayed appointments until he made a list of them and complained about it.  Eventually he was given a date, but neither of us could believe it would really happen until he was wheeled back to the ward from the operating theatre, all done and sewn up!  He ended up at one of Britain’s top hospitals (Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham) where he was treated royally, and the operation was carried out by one of Britain’s top urologists.  Well done the NHS!
He made a quick and complete recovery.  Six weeks later the device was switched on — and it worked!  From day one he was more comfortable with this sphincter than he ever was with the last one.  He is not a hundred per cent dry, but he is a hundred times more comfortable than he was before.  Now we won’t have to anxiously look for the public loos every time we enter a town on our Walks, or be afraid that he is going to embarrass himself — we can be much more relaxed. 
The bad news is that the very week Colin’s sphincter was switched on and he was in the clear, my left knee started to give me trouble.  It has become very painful, especially when I walk downhill.  The diagnosis?  Wear-and-tear arthritis.  The treatment I have received so far?  I have been prescribed codeine tablets to take when I find the pain too much.  They have no effect whatsoever.  I can see this is going to have to go a lot further — it is severely hampering my walking.

Now to the Walk.  I took two codeine tablets before we started because my knee was painful, but I was fooling myself that they were doing me any good.  We sat on a bench above the jetty in Abersoch and huddled against the wall in an effort to get out of the rain.  There we ate the pasties we had just bought in a local butcher’s.  Most of the photos I took today I had to take from under Colin’s umbrella, which was a bit of a nuisance.  We saw a man swim across the harbour. When he got out on the jetty I asked him if it was cold in the water.  He answered, “Not really!”
We walked through the town to the bridge where we crossed the river.  Then we had a short section on the road, but there was a pavement all along so it was okay.  We passed a house with plants growing over its roof, we wondered if it was one of those eco-houses that are being built all over the place.
We turned off down a sandy path to the beach where beautiful bright yellow flowers were growing.  A group of youths were down there. They had lit a fire, they were arguing and fighting each other and generally being oafs.
We turned our backs on them and walked away.  Later they passed us on the beach, still acting oafishly.  We had thought they were backpackers, but they were awkwardly carrying bags in their hands as well as rucksacks on their backs.
It was a nuisance having to pack the camera away in a polythene bag in the rucksack in between each shot I took, but I didn’t want it to get wet.  As a result of the rain, I didn’t take nearly as many pictures as I wanted to.
We enjoyed walking on the beach despite the weather.  And we met a number of other people out walking in the rain, which was a bit surprising.  There were a lot of those shed-type houses on top of the sandy cliffs — we didn’t know if they were permanent homes or holiday cottages.  We sincerely hoped they were the latter because the soft cliffs were heavily eroded — the wooden steps down from the estate were skewed or partly washed away.  A dumper truck followed us along the beach, then it turned up to one of the shed-type houses which by now were practically level with the beach.  The dumper truck was obviously working on said house, but it got stuck in the soft sand as it turned up towards it.  I wouldn’t have liked to be living in such a house, or in any type of house in that uncertain location.
There was no Wales Coast Path sign directing us off the beach so we just had to guess.  We took a not-very-obvious path through the dunes, and it was only when we were well up the hill that we came across a sign.  We sat on some rocks that were there and ate our sarnies.  We followed the road gently uphill as the view was gradually revealed to our left.  We were amazed at the extent of the shed-type houses which were still being constructed.
The path we needed to take off the road was signposted, but it was obscured by ferns which had grown very tall.  We found it because we were looking for it.  This path led almost vertically uphill — we were climbing Mynydd Tir-y-cwmwd — and it started with huge steps made from natural rocks.  I found it difficult to pull myself up, particularly as my left knee was so painful.  Colin often had to help me.  I was pleased how well my gammy leg stood up to it.
We reached the top at last.  The ferns were still deep and obscuring the path, but we could always find our way and it opened out as we walked towards the end of the headland.  The views were wonderful — back along the beach we had just walked, Abersoch, the headland we walked round last April and some of the islands beyond.
It was a moorland-type path along the top of the headland, and well signposted at junctions.  We met a family distributing gooey cake amongst their members, and walked on discussing the possibility of adding a gooey cake stop to our list of pasty, sarnie, apple and chocolate stops.  We decided in the end that gooey cake would not wear well stuffed in our rucksacks along with the kitchen sink!  Further on, a girl aged about nine passed us going the other way.  We fully expected some adults to be following close behind her, but none did.  She seemed to be on her own.  We were just discussing the dangers of a young child being in such a wild place on her own (was she a local and knew her way around?) when Colin said, “She’s coming back!”  She looked a little distressed, so I asked, “Are you lost?”  She didn’t answer, but looked even more distressed.  I asked again, but she didn’t answer.  At the third time of asking she blurted out, “Germany!”  Ah!  So she was German and didn’t understand.  I only know about half a dozen words of German, but I managed to ask her where her mutter und vater were.  “There!” she answered, pointing behind us as a boy a little younger than her appeared over the hill.  She ran to him and seemed relieved to see him, but the rest of the family were way way behind.  We explained to the parents our concern for the girl, and they thanked us.  The mother spoke good English, and when I said I didn’t think her daughter understood us and was probably frightened, she laughed — because she said the child only understood English when it was spoken with a German accent!
We came to a metal statue which seemed to be made of a mess of wires.  We didn’t think much of it.  A notice told us that the original statue placed on this site was an old ship’s figurehead.  This was burned by vandals in the late 1970s, so a local artist was commissioned to replace it with a metal one in 1981.  This ‘tin’ man rusted away over the years, so the Community Council commissioned the present statue which was placed on the site in 2002.  I think the money could have been better spent!  There was a magnificent view of the beach ahead from that spot with a row of coloured beach huts.
I was rather dreading the path down because my knee is extra painful when downhill pressure is put on it.  But there were well-constructed steps down through a wood, and it was not as bad as I had feared.  We came to a log with coins stuck into it — why do people do this?  It was very pretty going down through the wood, and near the bottom we came across scenes of little stick men made from natural wood.  It was like a fairy glen!
We came to a junction by a notice board which told us about the granite quarries which used to be prominent features of the landscape around here until the 1950s.  We sat on a seat to eat our apples, and decide which path to follow.  The Coast Path was signposted straight on, not downhill as we expected.  We only later realised that the downhill path was the one marked on our OS map and would have taken us straight to the beach.  We decided to carry on the official coast path, which gently zigzagged down through woods, because of the state of my knee.
We met two women who asked how far it was to the statue.  They looked ready to give up the climb, and they had hardly started!  One of them admitted that she lived in Pwllheli but she had never been up to the statue before.  We assured them the climb was worth it for the view, but we did wonder if they ever got there.

Much to our surprise, we came out in a car park well away from the sea.  There was a small open-air theatre there which was less than two years old.  We passed a big house with a conservatory tea room, and “rude” statues in the grounds!
A tree was being cut down up on the cliff.  We were directed out through the main gate of this mansion on a road through a housing estate, all the way on tarmac going even further from the sea.
Eventually we came to a Wales Coast Path signpost which pointed back on ourselves, but downhill and directed to the sea.  (We were relieved to pass a public convenience block part way down — though Colin is not so desperate to find such facilities now that he’s had his operation.)  This road was very narrow and alongside a stream in a gully.  Cars are warned not to drive down it because there are no turning points, and there is a danger of dropping over the edge into the stream.  At the bottom was a car doing a thirteen-point-turn because the driver had chosen to ignore this notice!
My left knee began to pain quite excruciatingly — I think it was all the downhill I had just walked that had set it off.  I didn’t take any more codeine, I just tried to ignore the discomfort and carried on.
We were out on the beach at last, at a place called Llanbedrog.  We turned left and marched towards Pwllheli which we could barely see in the distance because it was beginning to get misty.  There were quite a few people walking along the beach as well as us, but they all turned round before the next headland and headed back.  We were glad the tide was now well out because it allowed us to walk round the ‘knob’ of this headland on a firm sandy beach.  The official Wales Coastal Path led us round there, but if the tide had been in it would have meant quite a bit of rock-scrambling.
On the other side of the ‘knob’ we cut a corner, paddling through water in some places.  But it was very shallow so that was no problem.  We sat on some rocks to eat our chocolate.  There we noticed that another couple had rounded the ‘knob’ behind us, and were fast catching us up.  They passed us before we were ready to move on, and we followed them into Pwllheli.  The official Wales Coastal Path went up to the top of the bank, but we decided to stick to the beach for as long as possible.  The beach got stonier and stonier as we progressed, but it only got bad enough for us to seek out the real Wales Coastal Track when we were almost in Pwllheli.
We passed the Golf Club and on to the end of a brand new prom.  The wild roses smelled wonderful, but Colin couldn’t enjoy their scent because he has lost his sense of smell.  There was loads of free parking along the waterfront in Pwllheli, we were very impressed.  It made us feel welcome.  Pwllheli was proudly displaying a blue flag for 2014 — a clean and healthy beach for watersports.  The visibility got very poor, it was almost a mist though it didn’t rain.
When we got to the end of the road where our car was parked, we decided that the spit of land leading to the harbour entrance on our side of the river was a dead end we didn’t have to walk if we didn’t want to.  It would have been a two-mile round trip, and we were already tired and fed up.  Later we were pleased we’d made that decision because it wasn’t long before the rain started in earnest.  The public conveniences were locked, so I used my RADAR key for the second time today — I’d used it this morning before we caught the bus because the ‘Ladies’ was locked.  (Good job we have these keys, they have saved us a lot of discomfort and embarrassment.)  We walked up to the car which was parked by the harbour — which was just a mudflat with the tide out.

That ended Walk no.356, we shall pick up Walk no.357 next time by the harbour in Pwllheli.  It was half past five, so the Walk had taken us six hours exactly.  We had our tea and biscuits, then returned to our caravan.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Walk 355 -- Hell's Mouth to Abersoch

Ages:  Colin was 71 years and 343 days.  Rosemary was 69 years and 120 days.
Weather:  Another day of brilliant sunshine, but a cold wind.
Location:  Hell’s Mouth to Abersoch.
Distance:  10 miles.
Total distance:  3663 miles.
Terrain:  Quite a bit of beach.  Mostly grassy paths on top of soft cliffs.  Fairly undulating.
Tide:  Going out.
Rivers: None.
Ferries:  None.
Piers:  None.
Kissing gates:  Nos.739 to 747 (9), mostly bunched in the middle of the Walk.
Pubs:  None.
‘Cadw’ properties:  None.
Ferris wheels:  None.
Diversions:  None.
How we got there and back:  We were staying in our caravan in Snowdonia.  This morning we drove to Abersoch, parked by a roadside, and caught a bus to Llangenan.  From there we walked a mile down the road to Hell’s Mouth Beach.
At the end we came upon our car parked in Abersoch.  We had our tea and biscuits, then returned to our caravan.
A couple of days later we returned home to Malvern.

There was a cold wind, so Colin dressed up in a coat, kag with hood, gloves, and then he put a sunhat on top!  (He did look a bit ridiculous)  I decided that if I walked quickly enough I would get warm — and so it was.  We set off to walk the last mile of this beautiful beach.  The tide was in, so we had to walk on the loose sand at the top of the beach, which was a little awkward but not unduly so.  We sat on hardened mud rocks to eat our pasties — delicious! — bought this morning from a butcher’s in Abersoch.
We carried on.  We came across a large jellyfish stranded above high water mark.  We also passed a recent cliff collapse — the sand the cliffs are made of is very soft.  They are low at this end of the beach — only six foot or so and not exactly vertical — so we easily climbed up when the sand ran out.  We went up through a field on a curvy path as shown on the map.
It was not until we had trudged all the way up there that Colin noticed he was no longer wearing his sunhat.  I hadn’t actually taken any notice of it since we had started the Walk, and of course he couldn’t feel it through his hood so he didn’t notice when it inevitably blew off in the wind.  He only wanted to go back to the beach to look for it!  I persuaded him that he must have lost it before we sat and ate our pasties, that he’d never find it, and he shouldn’t have been so stupid as to wear it on the outside of his hood in the first place!  We carried on — is he in the first stages of dementia?  Aren’t we all? 
There were no Coastal Path signs where we were, and the track seemed to peter out.  Also, Colin noticed that we were on top of the cliffs whereas we should have been several fields inland at that point.  So, with great difficulty (because of my back problem), I climbed over a stile to go further inland.  Then Colin decided we should continue along the clifftop and meet the path further up.  So, with great difficulty, I climbed back over the self-same stile!  (I wasn’t best pleased, to say the least!)  The first gate we came to wasn’t locked, but tied up in knots with twine.  Colin managed to undo them and open the gate.  (I calmed down a little.)  The next gate was open, but we were forced into a field and had to turn inland after all.  Fortunately the gate at the far end opened easily and we were once more on the Coastal Path.  (Phew!) 
We were now in an area of open access which took us all round the headland, the southernmost point of the Lleyn peninsula.  We followed a good path across open moorland — it was lovely up there in brilliant sunshine looking out across the sea.  We thought we were alone in the world, but we were caught up by two friendly sheepdogs.  Looking back, we could see an elderly shepherd in a Landrover with another sheepdog.  He drove very slowly past us and continued on — we didn’t see him stop and look at any sheep along the way.
When we got to the end of the open access area, we sat on a rock to eat our sandwiches and apples.  We heard voices behind us coming from the other side of a locked gate.  A man, together with his mother and teenage son had got lost trying to follow the Coastal Path in the opposite direction.  They said the signs, when they existed, were ambiguous.  “Mother” couldn’t climb the gate they were stuck behind, so they had to turn back to the previous gate which they were relieved to find was unlocked.  They were complaining that the Coast Path signage was poor — and they had bought the guidebook,
which was more than we had!
We continued downhill on the outside of the fence, a sign told us that this was a permissive path.  There were celandines and violets all over the place — very pretty.  We came to a little waterfall trickling down the cliff, and there the path took us up and away from the coast.  There was a plethora of arrows on a kissing gate we came to, we couldn’t work out which way we were supposed to go.
After much debate we decided they meant us to stay outside the field — but this turned out to be an animal path.  While Colin was watering a bush, I untied barbed wire round a gatepost and opened the gate.  Colin tied it up again when he came up.  We walked across several fields and out into a lane.
We passed a man painting his cottage and garden wall a brilliant white which was almost blinding in the sun.  We also passed a derelict Methodist chapel, and a rather snazzy witch weathervane.  About half a mile down the lane we were supposed to turn off across fields, according to our map.  But there were still no Coast Path signs!  We climbed over the stile anyway, and walked across several fields.  Then we hooked back to the lane.  Further down there, at last, we came across Coast Path signs again.  We had walked a couple of miles without seeing any signs — no wonder those people we met further back got lost!
The lane turned into a grassy track which took us all the way down to the top of a lovely sandy beach.  There was gorgeous blackthorn blossom all the way down, and we passed some interesting geology too as the path cut through some rocks.
There were quite a few people about from hereon, we were no longer alone.  There was only one way down to the beach, so we didn’t go down because we would have had to come back up the same way.
We went through a gate with a sign warning us about breeding bulls in that field  (Help!)  We were delighted to discover that the official Coast Path now goes all round the next headland, whereas our fairly new OS map shows an inland path only.  (I won’t rant on about spending oodles of our hard-earned on out-of-date OS maps because I have done that too many times in this journal already!) 
We climbed slowly to the top of the cliff and along the outside of a fence.  As we rounded the corner we got good views of St Tudwal’s Islands with a lighthouse on the nearer one.  We wondered what had killed the grass we were walking over, it was all grey.  We went down to a spring where there was a gate on a bridge.  It was difficult to open, but Colin is strong!  Then we had to go up again (grooh!) and all the way round the headland.  I was pleased to be able to do it, but it made the Walk longer and I was very tired by then.  (I can’t do it like I used to!)  At last we turned a corner and could see Abersoch ahead.
There was a kind of chimney on top, and we wondered if it had anything to do with mining.  We came down a steep path, and there was a ruined minetop building.  A sign told us to put our smartphone on a tab to learn all about the old mine — but we haven’t got a smartphone so we couldn’t.
We emerged on to a gravel lane.  There was a “Road Closed” notice on the path we wanted to take down to the beach, but we ignored it and went anyway.  It turned out to be walkable — just.  Mostly it had been washed away in channels, but we were able to walk on the ridges in between.  At the bottom the stream came out of a pipe and over concrete to the beach.  Colin noticed that there were steps on the side of the concrete, so we used them to struggle carefully down to the beach.
Fortunately the tide was out — the beach would have been completely covered if it had been in.  We sat on a rock to eat our chocolate before continuing.  We took a huge shortcut across the corner because the tide was right out and the sand was firm.  We came, at last, to the Golf Club road where there were numerous people on the beach and lots of beach huts.  We nipped up the road to use the loos in the car park, then came back to the beach to buy ice creams.  We sat on the chairs provided to eat them and people-watch — it made a pleasant interlude.

When we felt rested a little, we continued along the beach.  We watched children ‘surfing’ on the loose sand.  Some of them were doing quite spectacular jumps, but none of them seemed to hurt themselves.  We walked to the end of the beach where we saw tiers and tiers of, what looked like, Victorian changing rooms.
Just before we reached them, we left the beach and went up a road.  We turned right into a private road — this turned into a path, then steps.
We passed a house where the first-floor balcony was bent at a weird angle.  We wondered how it had got like that, it looked as if something very heavy had hit it.  We came out on to a road past the house and looked back at it.  The roof was caved in that side, and a newly sawn off tree stump was behind it!  There were people in the garden burning wood.  We hope no one was hurt when that tree fell down — it had certainly done a lot of damage to the house.
We walked down the road to where our car was parked.
That ended Walk no.355, we shall pick up Walk no.356 next time in Abersoch.  It was five to five, so the Walk had taken us seven hours, forty minutes.  We had our tea and biscuits, then returned to our caravan.
A couple of days later we returned home to Malvern.