Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Walk 338 -- Moelfre to Llaneilian

Ages:  Colin was 71 years and 84 days.  Rosemary was 68 years and 226 days.
Weather:  Wet at first.  Then dry, warm and muggy.  From lunchtime onwards, wet and windy.
Location:  Moelfre to Llaneilian.
Distance:  10 miles.
Total distance:  3492 miles.
Terrain:  Some quiet roads.  A little sandy beach.  A bit of squidgy estuary.  Mostly cliff paths, usually grassy. Very undulating.
Tide:  Out.
Rivers: No.414, Afon Goch.
Ferries:  None.
Piers:  None.
Kissing gates:  Nos.492 to 522 — until we reached the lighthouse road and decided the weather rendered it unsafe to continue along the cliff-top path.  Thirty-one kissing gates, an all-time record for a Walk!
Pubs:  The ‘Pilot Boat’ at City Dulas, where Colin drank Robinson’s ‘Curwr Ddraig Aur’ and ‘Unicorn’, and I had Stowford Press cider.
‘Cadw’ properties:  None.
Ferris wheels:  None.
Diversions:  None.
How we got there and back:  We were staying in our caravan on a remote farm in the middle of Anglesey.  This morning we drove to Amlwch where we parked in a residential road near the bus stop.  We caught a bus to Moelfre where the bus stop was within a few yards of the point where we finished the last Walk.
At the end we finished the Walk near the lighthouse having decided it would be too unpleasant, and dangerous, to continue along the cliff path to Amlwch in that weather.  We marched two and a half miles along the road to our car parked in Amlwch, having picked up fish’n’chips on our way through town.  We drove straight back to our caravan at Bodnolwyn Wen so that we could don some dry clothes before devouring the fish’n’chips which we kept warm in the caravan oven.
The next day it had stopped raining, so we took down the awning and drove home to Malvern.

It was pouring with rain when we woke this morning, and the downpour continued without a break all the while we were travelling and setting up the Walk.  So as soon as we got off the bus in Moelfre we put on our full wet-weather gear.  Almost immediately the rain stopped!  Very soon it turned hot and muggy, so we peeled off the layers one by one.
We sat on a bench overlooking the tiny harbour to eat our pasties — we thought we’d better take the opportunity while it wasn’t raining.  There was a good path round the edge of Moelfre overlooking the sea.  We soon reached the lifeboat Visitor Centre where we came across a lot of memorials.  The first one which caught the eye was a kind of stone chimney pot full of flowers dedicated to Leslie Allison who spent forty years living in Moelfre — “Best times of my life” so it said.
Then there was a rather fine sculpture in remembrance of the ‘Royal Charter’ which was wrecked on this coast on the 26th October 1859.  It is believed about 450 lives were lost.  We liked the statue of a fisherman at the wheel of his ship — it seemed full of energy.
We passed the lifeboat shed and ramp below.  Above was a plaque commending the bravery of the lifeboatmen who rescued the crew of the M/V Hindlea off this headland on the 28th October 1959.  There was mist on the sea though we could still see Great Orme in the distance.  We rounded the little headland where the rocky island called Ynys Moelfre situated just offshore came into view.  There were lots of rocks just there and all were covered in gulls and cormorants.  What a cacophony of sound greeted our ears!
We could see a large container ship out in the distance.  It blew out a cloud of smoke, but it didn’t move from it’s position for the whole of our Walk.  It just sat there.  I thought time was money with these things — if so, this ship was losing an awful lot of it.
We walked round to the next bay passing people fishing with rods from the rocks below.  A fisherman buzzed up in a small boat to check his lobster pots.  There was just one lobster big enough to keep, he threw three smaller ones and a number of crabs back into the water.  Not a very good catch.
The rocks we passed looked interesting — though it’s now twenty-five years since I did that Open University degree and I have forgotten most of it in the meantime.  The wild flowers looked spectacular, especially with drops of water on the petals.
We climbed the cliffs to yet another memorial stone.  This one also remembered the night the Royal Charter came to grief just offshore with the loss of so many lives.  There were spectacular views from the memorial stone.
We came down to the next bay, Traeth Lligwy.  We passed very close to a house where the dog barked and the owner told it to shut up.  We wondered if this happened every time someone walked past on the Wales Coast Path.  A notice on a fence was a protest against large modern windmills — we could see why the locals don’t want them there spoiling the view.
Traeth Lligwy Bay is lovely, with nice sand, a café and toilets which we were pleased to use.  We continued across the car park, into the dunes and out on to the beach where there was a slight breeze.  It was, by then, very warm and muggy, almost suffocating.
We read a stark warning about soft sand on the further end of the beach, but that is where the path led uphill through ferns so we didn’t have to put ourselves in danger.  However, we did note a couple of sand castles had been built on the soft sand where they warn you not to tread.  Was this sheer dare-devilism?
We came to no less than four men with strimmers — what a noise!  I always joke that “Man with Strimmer” follows me all over the world, I can’t get away from him.  But four!  Isn’t that a little too much?  At least they were keeping the path clear, which needed doing on many of the paths we have walked so far.  We waited until we were out of earshot before we thought about lunch.  We sat on rocks eating our sarnies whilst watching a lone fisherman, first with a net in the water, then from a rock with a line.  He didn’t seem to catch anything!
We could still make out Great Orme in the haze, and as we left we could see it was raining over there.  We came across lots of tents some in fields and others alongside the path continuing round the corner.  Most had their own private toilet tent, and we got the impression that it was some kind of rally.  There was no campsite marked on our map at that spot.
That was when the rain reached us, so it was on with the wet-weather gear again.  It rained relentlessly for the rest of the day, and I only managed to take one more photo (towards the end of the Walk) for fear of ruining the camera.  It was such a pity because the rest of the Walk, about three-quarters of it, was across the most spectacular scenery we had seen in a long time.
We didn’t take the dead-end path down to a knoll because it was raining.  Instead we turned back round a farm and continued along a track through a gate.  Three cars came, at intervals, making for the tented camp.  Colin politely held the gate open for the first one to save the driver getting out.  Then he said, “I’m not doing that anymore!” and walked off leaving the other two drivers to their own devices.  The track was narrow, and we were relieved to turn off it into fields so we didn’t have to dodge cars anymore.
We walked for about a mile across undulating fields with only sheep for company, until we came to the main road and a PUB!  I couldn’t believe it when Colin suggested we didn’t stop “because we’ll have to take off all this gear and we might make the floors wet!”  That’s what pubs are for, isn’t it?  To give rest and refreshment to weary travellers!  I ignored him and marched in, relieved myself of my wet-weather gear and made the floor wet — my boots were so wet they had been washed perfectly clean, like new.  It turned out this pub was in the Good Beer Guide, one of Colin’s CAMRA pubs, only he hadn’t bothered to look it up before we came.
We should have called a halt there, in view of the weather, and caught a bus back to Amlwch.  Why didn’t we?  Call it determination, stubbornness or bloody-mindedness — whatever — we just didn’t want to give up on a Walk again!  Surely the rain will stop sometime like it did this morning?
It didn’t.
So, after rest and refreshment, we donned our wet gear and carried on.  Neither of us enjoyed the rest of the Walk at all.  We had to go a short distance along the main road before we could turn off down a track towards the river.  We were relieved to find that a ford marked on the map turned out to be a footbridge — and a spanking brand new one at that!   It was a bit squidgy along the marshes for nearly a mile after that, but we coped.  We then turned inland up a lane, one kilometre uphill.  It seemed to go on and on — we both hated that.  The footpath cut across the corner of a field, then we had more lane, this time undulating, for another kilometre.
The lane took a left-hand bend but we went straight on following a track.  We came to an open barn, so we sheltered in there to eat our apples.  There was nowhere to sit down, nothing we could perch on and the floor was far too muddy.  But at least we were out of the rain momentarily.  We soon carried on, this time through open fields downhill towards the coast.  Even the cows were sheltering under hedges and trees, looking at us lugubriously as we passed.  We met a small walking group coming the other way — they were as wet as we were.  They had started at Cemaes Bay this morning and were making for Moelfre.  We chatted about the insanity of walking in such weather!
We came to the clifftop and turned left.  It was an excellent path, but challenging to walk in the rain.  It was very undulating, there were gullies with little wooden bridges at the bottom, and the stones and rocks were slippery.  There should have been spectacular views, but they were shrouded in mist.
We should have taken loads of pictures of this picturesque coastline, but we didn’t want to ruin our cameras.  I tried just one of the lighthouse on the headland when the rain abated for a fraction, but it wasn’t a very good picture at all.  We didn’t feel safe on that cliff path by ourselves in the mist, and with the stones under our feet being so slippery.  By the time we reached the lighthouse road we were wet through and totally exhausted.  So we decided to end the Walk there.

That ended Walk no.338, we shall pick up Walk no.339 where the Wales Coastal Path crosses the lighthouse road at Llaneilian.  It was quarter to seven, so the Walk had taken us eight and a quarter hours.  We route-marched miserably two miles along the road to Amlwch.  At one point we decided to take a short cut along a footpath, but it was so unused and overgrown we nearly got lost, and ended up taking longer than if we’d gone the long way round by road.  This didn’t help our mood.  As we approached Amlwch we passed a fish’n’chip shop, so we called in and bought our supper.  As we drove back to our caravan, there were rivers of water flowing down many of the roads!
The next day the rain had stopped and it turned into a very hot day.  We took down the awning, packed up our caravan, and headed for home.

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