Hello to all my regular readers! I know there are a number of you out there.
Thank you for your interest.
At last we have got back to our Grand Coastal Trek after a break of 21 months due to complex problems at home. Now well into our seventies, we find we are walking a lot more slowly than previously -- but still enjoying it enormously. We have now reached Angle on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, and hope to continue from there later in the summer.
To all my readers, thank you for your interest in our venture.
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')
Ages:Colin was 72 years and 349 days.Rosemary was 70 years and 126 days.
Weather:Very hot and very sunny.There was a pleasant breeze in exposed
places.It is unbelievable weather for
Location:Aberystwyth to Llanon.
couple of sandy beaches, and one shingle beach which was impossible to walk!But it was mostly cliff paths which were
quite undulating.Concrete and flat at
the beginning and end. Tide:In, then
Rivers: No.445, Afon Rheidol.No.446, Afon Ystwyth.
Kissing gates:Nos.789 to 815 (27 in all).Nos.801 and 813 were so narrow we had to take
our rucksacks off in order to get through!
we got there and back:We were staying
in our caravan near Aberaeron.This
morning we drove into Aberaeron, parked and walked to the bus stop.We caught a bus to Aberystwyth Bus Station,
then walked down to the river bridge.
the end we got as far as the village of Llanon when we had to (’had to’ because there were barbed wire
fences everywhere stopping us from going any other way) walk along a shingle
beach.I couldn’t cope with the loose
stones — it put my back out and from then on my knee started to play up.We went inland — we had no choice.It was late, we were tired, and my back and
knee were merry hell!So when I saw a
bus stop I decided the Walk was over.We
waited 20 minutes for a bus to Aberaeron where we got into our car and returned
to our caravan.
up and started today’s Walk by 7.30am — is that a record?It was certainly lovely to be out at this
early hour on such a beautiful day.Passing
an ornate lamp, we crossed the bridge over the River Rheidol.This seems to be a much more significant
river than the River Ystwyth which comes out into the sea at the same
point.We cannot understand why the town
is called Aberystwyth — surely it should be Aberrheidol?
our way past buildings to the riverside and walked down in front of bijou
riverside residences which overlook the harbour and the marina within it.The bijou residences were new and box-like,
and cynically we wondered if they were tomorrow’s slums.
We crossed the River Ystwyth, a mere stream,
which also empties into the harbour.We
noticed there were no railings on the south arm of the harbour, so we decided
not to walk it for safety reasons.The
coast path led south along the back of a shingle bank.The local people had got together to prevent
a development on this site — and they won!Good on them!The site is now a nature reserve.
At the top of the hill on the east side of
the Ystwyth we could just see a tall column like a factory chimney.A notice told us that this was erected in
1858 as a memorial to the Duke of Wellington.At the bottom of this notice someone had put a large stone, on it was
written “Litter is pollution, You are the solution”. Colin climbed on to the shingle bank to see if
there was any sand exposed on the beach for us to walk on.There was, so that is what we did.
end of the beach we had a big hill to climb — it seemed a long way to the
top.Every time we thought we were just
coming to it, more hill was revealed to us.We were passed by a girl student who was out for a run.She was very friendly and stopped for a
chat.Then she ran on to the top and
back down — Oh!To be young again!
We did, eventually, reach the top ourselves,
and there we were treated to wonderful views of a blue sky, blue sea, green
hills, interesting geology, yellow gorse and blue violets.We sat on a bank and ate our pasties while we
soaked it all in.
descended we passed the back of a caravan site where a man was strimming the grass,
and it was so noisy!In recent years we’ve spent a lot of time
sitting on caravan sites, and so often our peace has been disturbed by these
loud mowers and strimmers — they ought to
be banned!We exited on to a lane
where, almost opposite, was a gate leading into a field.There we had to climb an almost vertical
hill.My left knee didn’t like it at
all, so I started taking paracetamol and ibuprofen in tandem to ease the
pain.We took a long time getting
up.Two men were following us on the
same path, but they never quite caught us up.
out on to a lane where there were lots of primroses.Round the next corner a track led off to the
right and it was signposted Coast Path.We seemed to lose the two men there — did they not see the sign and go
the wrong way?We descended slowly,
gently enough not to upset my knee which was twingeing, down a lovely grassy
track for about a mile.This was a
lovely part of the Walk, I really did enjoy it — the views were fantastic and
the walking gentle.The path evened out
to a flat track parallel to the shore, and we still had amazing views on this
lovely sunny day.
approached a ruined farm.Just before we
reached it Colin noticed an arrow pointing us up and around behind it.I would have missed it and carried on through
the farm — we wished we had afterwards!We seemed to lose all signage until I noticed
a post lying on the ground.Colin stood
it up, and we worked out we were supposed to go sharply inland up a steep
hill.Oh dear, my poor knee!We
struggled up several contours, then bore right following the footpath
signs.We saw the two men again — they
were down by the derelict farm.They
were dithering about and appeared lost, so Colin waved to them and pointed to
the wooden signpost we were passing.They either didn’t see us or ignored us, because they carried on in a
Then, to our dismay, our
path directed us downhill again to their level!!We couldn’t believeit!And the slope was steep enough to really
upset my knee.We could have stayed on
the level which was a much shorter track, and my knee wouldn’t have been nearly
men were ahead of us now despite their hesitation by the derelict farm where
they had made the right decision and we had made the wrong one.The path continued through a gate and down to
the cliff top (all of this was new and
not marked on the OS map).We went
diagonally across the next field — blow
sticking to the footpath, we’d had enough of that!In a field ahead the two men seemed to be
dithering again.Then one went uphill
towards a building, and the other followed.We heard them talking to some hikers coming the other way.We were a bit lost too, and got out our map —
it was difficult to see where we were because the paths we were on were not
marked on it, and there was no signage within view.Then two ladies appeared from behind bushes,
so we asked them if that was the way — they said it was.Where
was the signage to say we divert up there?The ladies lived locally, and they agreed that the signage on this part
of the Wales Coastal Path was “fuzzy”.We
told them about our project and gave them blog cards (are you still reading it, ladies?)They were impressed and said we were “brave” — No!Just mad!
behind the bushes was a gate — this led to a track which soon reduced to a
footpath.But at least we were going the right way!It was a bit of a mountain footpath really,
along the side of a hill and not always horizontal.But we had stupendous views!We passed wind-blasted trees and bright
yellow gorse, and were thankful that the weather was calm and sunny — we didn’t
like to think what it would be like on that exposed path if it was wet and
passed interesting rocks and walked up and down steep slopes.We passed a gate leading to a nature reserve,
but that was steeply downhill so we ignored it.We sat on a bank to eat our sarnies.The two men were a little ahead of us doing the same, but they soon
moved on and we didn’t see them again.We
caught tantalising glimpses of a caravan site round the hills ahead, it was out
on a spur.But we still had a lot of
ground to cover before we got there.There seemed to be a lot of uphill, my knees didn’t like it at all.
we were above the caravan site — downhill
all the way now, so we were fooled into thinking!We sat on a wall to eat our apples.Colin saw a bright green lizard, but it had
gone by the time I looked.We continued
down almost to sea level, then had to go a bit uphill in order to get round the
caravan site.I was extremely tired, my
knees were painful especially the left one, the sun was very hot and a man on a
motor mower (Yes!Another one!) nearly drove me mad with
the noise.The path took us round a
field behind the caravan site.We sat on
a bench because it was there.Colin ate
his crisps, but I don’t eat crisps ever since I read in a walking magazine that
their nutritional value is so low they take more energy to consume than they
put back into your body.Junk food!We filled our water bottles at a tap near the
caravan site entrance.We drank a lot of
water because we could replenish it, and immediately felt a lot better.
there we had to go up a road, uphill and away from the sea.We were not happy about this — there was a
bridle path going down to the beach, could
we have crossed the river down there where it spreads out and is sometimes
shallower?We could hear the traffic
on the main road getting nearer and nearer, not a sound we had heard since we
We were almost at the
road when, at last, we could cross the small river.Then we followed a long lane back to the
shore.Halfway along we passed a road
leading off to the right back to the caravan site, so it seemed.Had we been cheated?But we hadn’t — looking at the map later we
saw that it led to a different caravan site on the south side of the river.
coast path continued along the beach — shingle!My heart sank!But by now the tide was sufficiently out to
reveal a strip of sand.So we tried that
— it was a little soft but pleasant to walk.The sand ran out where there was a gate into a field, and the way
continued along the edge of several pastures.Trouble was, there were stiles instead of gates and I am finding them
increasingly difficult as I get older.(Stop moaning, grumpy old woman!)
We passed a row of old lime kilns, and sat on
a bank in cool shade to eat our chocolate.There were clumps of primroses everywhere.
climbed over a stile and the path turned into a track which took us towards a
church.We didn’t look at the map
properly because we were so hot and tired.An added difficulty was that we were on the corner of two maps, and we
hadn’t bought the connecting map because it was completely inland, it didn’t show the
coast at all.We crossed a stream and
went straight down to the beach which was shingle again.We couldn’t see a path anywhere, but a woman
in a nearby house told us we were going the right way.The trouble was, the path shown on the OS map
went along the edge of fields at the top of the shore.But that had long since fallen into the sea
and everywhere there were “Private” and “Keep Out” notices.So we retreated to a footpath which went
diagonally across to the beach further down.We passed an open area with benches and litter bins — their village
green I suppose.It looked a pleasant
to metal steps which lowered us down to the beach below soft cliffs — shingle
again!It was impossible to walk
on but there was no other way.I found
it particularly difficult because of the state of my knees.(I said
I’d rather walk along a main road, that’s how bad it was!)We came to another set of metal steps and
thankfully climbed them — if only we’d known how near the path up from
the beach was we’d have carried on despite the difficulties, hindsight is a wonderful thing!At the top of the steps we had no choice but
to walk inland for about a mile between two barbed wire fences.(All of
this path was on the inland map which we didn’t have, so we were walking
‘blind’.)We felt very tired and
cross.We came to the main road.Traffic!No Wales
Coastal Path signs!We felt
a bus stop, and noted there was a bus to Aberaeron in twenty minutes.Colin wanted to continue, but we didn’t know
if the lane we were turning on to was the right one.There were no signs and we had no map.I said, “No!I’ve had enough!”We
waited for the bus.
That ended Walk
no.365, we shall pick up Walk no.366 next time on the main road in Llanon.It was half past five, so the Walk had taken
us ten hours.We caught a bus to
Aberaeron where we got into our car and returned to our caravan.We were disappointed that we’d cut short our
planned walk, but perhaps eighteen miles over that sort of terrain was a bit
ambitious.The next day my back went,
and I’m convinced it was triggered by walking along that shingle beach.
(We were accompanied on this Walk by friends
who live locally — Keith, his friend Liz, and his dog Billie.Colin knew Keith at Bishops Castle
School back in the 1950s)
Ages:Colin was 72 years and 347 days.Rosemary was 70 years and 124 days. Weather:Hot and sunny.A cool breeze in exposed places. Location:Borth to Aberystwyth. Distance:7 miles. Total
distance:3759 miles. Terrain:Mostly cliff paths which were very
undulating.Concrete and flat at the
beginning and end. Tide:Going
Bow Street Brook. Ferries:None. Piers:No.38, Aberystwyth. Kissing gates:Nos.784 to 788 (5 in all) on the cliffs. Pubs:None. ‘Cadw’ properties:None. Ferris wheels:None. Diversions:None. How
we got there and back:We were staying
in our caravan near Aberaeron.This
morning we drove to Borth and parked on the seafront near the station.We didn’t catch the train, instead we met
Keith, Liz and Billie the dog who had travelled on it from Aberystwyth.We walked down to the seafront together. At
the end we finished the Walk at the main river bridge in Aberystwyth.Keith and Liz had parked near the station
this morning, so they walked with us to there and pointed out the bus station
just around the corner.We said our
“Goodbyes” after a really lovely day, and caught a bus to Borth where we
alighted very near our parked car.We
had our tea and biscuits, then drove back to our caravan.
We met Keith, his friend Liz and his dog Billie at Borth station and
walked with them straight down to the sea front.(Keith,
who lives in Aberystwyth, is an old school friend of Colin’s from nearly sixty
years ago.)It was really nice to
have company for one of our Walks — the first time this has happened since 2003
when we were walking the Suffolk/Norfolk coast.
We passed a weird standing slate with a hole in the top, supposed to be
some kind of sculpture, we thought.It
was covered in writing in Welsh, which even Keith and Liz couldn’t make out
though each speak a smattering of the language.Then we passed a Nisa supermarket which was housed in a most
extraordinarily shaped building.We were
disappointed that the prom stopped as soon as we reached the village proper,
forcing us to walk along streets between rows of houses.
We started to climb the cliffs before the houses ran out, and wonderful
views began to reveal themselves.We had
a stiff climb up to the War Memorial at the top of a hill.Following that we walked right down into a
deep gully almost to sea level, then up even higher to the top of another hill
— followed by a very steep and difficult descent into a second gully.BUT — the
gorse, which was growing everywhere, was so bright it almost hurt our eyes, and
the views were truly spectacular.
After the first gully we sat on a bank to eat our pies.Keith and Liz said they were relieved when we
had indicated in an e-mail that we would have frequent refreshment stops on the
way.They were perfect walking
companions for us, sauntering along at our slow pace.In fact we were surprised to find how fit
they were, coping with the steep slopes far better than me.They had done this Walk before but the other
way round, and Liz particularly had found it hard with the two deep gullies at
the end when she was tired.They said it
was better to walk it this way round with the tough bits at the beginning when
we were fresh.
From the second hill we had a glorious view back along the whole of the
Borth sandspit all the way to the River Dovey with Aberdovey on the other
side.We felt quite proud of ourselves
looking back at all the walking we had done.
After the second gully we came across a lost lamb — it had managed to
get out of an adjacent field on to the coast path and couldn’t remember where
the hole in the fence was to get back.Keith tried to distract Billie, but the lamb was very distressed.I walked on, remembering a time many years
ago when we had tried to help just such a lamb on a cliff path in Devon — I put
my back out resulting in months of excruciating pain!Keith, a countryman, was keen to reunite the
lamb with its mother, but they couldn’t catch it although the three of them had
surrounded it at one time.(I was watching the drama unfold from the
next grassy knoll.)It escaped and
ran further down the path, dashed off through the gorse (Ouch!) and came out in a field — the wrong field!It was still bleating through the fence for
its Mum, but at least it was off the cliff path now.We all felt there was nothing more we could
do, so the others came on and caught me up.
The path was still undulating, but not so steeply — it was much more
reasonable.The gorse was still
blinding, and the blackthorn blossom wasn’t too bad.The views were just as spectacular, the
geology amazing, the weather wonderful and the company great — in fact
everything was perfect!Billie was very
good — he never wandered off even though he wasn’t on a lead.He ran back and forth all the time keeping us
all in a ‘herd’.We came down, more
gently this time, to a footbridge where a house was being built.We sat on a bank and ate our sarnies, and
stayed on for a long time in the sunshine just chatting.
We climbed over the next mound, and down to a caravan site complex.There we caught our first sight of Aberystwyth Harbour.We thought the shops there were all shut, but Colin found one round the
side which was open.We bought ice
creams — they gave us the strength to climb to the top of Constitution Hill
where we bought a huge pot of tea for four in the café there, and Liz bought us
Welsh cakes to go with it.There is a
magnificent view of Aberystwyth from the terrace.We all felt really relaxed and content.
Eventually we tore ourselves away and made our way down the steep zigzag
path to sea level.The cliff railway
didn’t seem to be working that day — not that Colin and I could have used it
anyway, it is against our rules!
A notice told us about the bar at the beginning of the prom: “Kick the Bar” is a
local tradition which involves walking the length of the promenade to kick the
railings at its northern end.Some say
it started when the male college students used to “kick the bar” to attract the
attention of the female students lodged in nearby Alexandra Hall, once a
female-only hall of residence.Another
story says that college students were once encouraged to walk the length of the
prom to “kick the bar” in order to get fresh air and exercise, in order to
reduce the spread of tuberculosis in the college. Whatever, both
Keith and Colin — in their seventies the
pair of them — spent the next five minutes proving they could “kick the
bar” with both feet at the same time.Boys never grow up!
Fifteen months ago, this whole prom was destroyed in winter storms.It has now been restored to its former glory,
apart from the bandstand where work hasn’t yet been completed.It’s a lovely waterfront with tulips ablaze
in little gardens and lined by coloured houses across the road.There were lots of people about on this sunny
day, and we enjoyed the atmosphere as we walked towards the pier.We did notice that a lot of the passers-by
were obese, but I didn’t take pictures of them as I did at Skegness.It’s become too much of a regular scene these
days — and many of them are young which is very sad.Can’t
they see what they are doing to themselves?
At the pier, Keith took a picture of Colin and myself with our heads
stuck out of holes in a cartoon picture!I wanted to walk to the end of the pier as it is in our rules, but we
couldn’t find our way through.In the
end we discovered it was a zigzag route through the “Musies” (which is what I have called seaside
amusement arcades ever since one of my students at Bognor School
wanted to put “playing at the Musies” on his CV as his main hobby!) then
through a darkened billiard room before we found an insignificant door leading
out to the end of the pier.They really
didn’t want us to find it!From there we
were able to see that the cliff railway was now working.Dogs were not allowed in the “Musies” so
Keith stayed out on the prom with Billie.
Aberystwyth has been a University town since the 1870s.We carried on along the waterfront past the
original University buildings, many of which I’m sure, are ‘listed’ because
they are so beautiful.
On the end tower
were some mosaics, and there were mosaics set in the wall at eye level.There was a sculpture on top of the wall — we’re
not sure, but we think it was made to commemorate the University accepting
women students from as early as 1884.Keith
told us that the woman who posed for it came back to Aberystwyth when she was a
hundred to see what she had looked like when she was young!
We rounded a minor headland and were presented with what looked like
another Aberystwyth — talk about déjà vu!
There was another beach with students playing on it, another row of
coloured houses, more tulips in blazing colours, and lots more mosaics in wall
cavities illustrating the history of the town.Above the wall with the mosaics we could see the scant remains of an
ancient castle, but we didn’t go up there today.
We could see the bridge over Afon Rheidol
which seemed to be a much more important river than Afon Ystwyth.We wondered why the town isn’t called
We walked to the end of the road and continued on to a wooden harbour arm
called The Bar.Liz tried out my walking
poles because she is thinking of getting some, but she had great difficulty
with co-ordination when using them.I’ve
had other friends who’ve experienced the same difficulty, but I’ve always found
them very simple to use, and very helpful on a long hike too.
We sat on a weird seat which was celebrating
metal mining, and another seat had curling snakes for it’s legs and back.The small harbour is now a marina for leisure
craft.We walked along the river to the
That ended Walk no.364,
we shall pick up Walk no.365 next time at the bridge over Afon Rheidol in
Aberystwyth.It was quarter to six, so
the Walk had taken us eight hours.Keith
and Liz had parked near the station this morning, so they walked with us to
there and pointed out the bus station just around the corner.We said our “Goodbyes” after a really lovely
day, and caught a bus to Borth where we alighted very near our parked car.We had our tea and biscuits, then drove back
to our caravan. My left knee started
complaining again today, especially when I was going steeply downhill.Maybe it is not as ‘cured’ as I thought it
was.It was OK when I was walking along
the flat, and chatting with friends helped to take my mind off it.