The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Day 1 - before Menai Bridge to after Pentraeth

Sat 26 April (1145-1845)
Distance: 19.5 miles
Weather: a few drops of rain, mainly dry, some sun

It was quarter to noon when I bade Mick farewell in a layby in between the two bridges that connect Anglesey to the mainland, and set out on what I expected to be a 15-mile walk.

Almost immediately there were interesting things to be looking at, with a chapel and graveyard on a little island in the strait, as well as the engineering feats displayed via the two bridges.

The problem with having started at the most inhabited south side of the island is that it took a long time to get away from civilisation, and whilst the views over to Snowdonia were first class, there was more pavement and lane walking than I would have liked. In fact, there were miles and miles of them.

Lunch was had in a rather breezy spot at Beaumaris, which boasted yet more views of Snowdonia. Those hills looked close enough to touch, but to have reached out so to do would have resulted in a wet hand. All day long there were showers passing over those hills, whereas the most rain I got was a five-minute edge of a shower a mile before I reached my intended end point.

Beyond Beaumaris, I had expected a walk across country, just above the beach, because that's what the map suggests, and I was rather looking forward to getting off road. Alas, the reality was a walk along a beach of large stones, which makes an unpleasant walking surface. Thank goodness the tide was out, so I could detour over to some sand instead, which worked well for most of the beach crossing.
The next lane, taking me past the remains of Penmon Priory and towards the north-easterly headland, was tiny and no hardship to walk. By this point, however, I was getting an inkling that I had mismeasured the day, and was worried that Mick would be sitting in a car park beyond our rendezvous time, worrying about me. Even so, when I gave thought to lopping off a corner on the headland (the return path being just a hundred yards or so from the outward path), I reminded myself that the purpose of a coastal walk isn't to take the shortest line, so I forewent a break and walked out to the headland. I'm rather glad I did; the photo above is the view from there.

Finally, as I switched back on t'other side of the headland, grass was the prevailing underfoot surface and, combined with more stunning sea views, I was a happy bunny.

Then I got to the 'Coast Path closed due to land-slide' sign and decided it was best to heed its message. The alternative route was, of course, along another lane. A really tiny one this time - when a car came it had to wait for me to get to a passing place, as there wasn't enough room for us comfortably to pass where I was.

On my way down that lane (which fell steeply to the sea), I fancied that I could see Colin parked up waiting for me, two and a bit miles away (and it turned out that he was), and I put a bit more of a pace on. The speed was helped by the joy of the tide still being out, which allowed me to ignore the coast path signpost, and simply walk along the beach. I did get damp feet on a few stream crossings, but it was a lovely walk across a huge expanse of sand.

Mick had the kettle on when I arrived and, after covering a little over 18 miles in 6 hours, I was perfectly ready to stop. However, to take a lift from there would have meant that Mick needed to return me to the same point tomorrow morning, whereas if I made the effort to walk the mile and a quarter further to our night-stop then I could allow Mick to lounge in bed in the morning, whilst I set out on foot.

So, having sat in a car park waiting for me for an hour and a half, and after I'd drunk a very welcome cup of tea, off Mick went without me. He was busy cooking tea when I joined him a short while later on a campsite with an excellent view. I'm spotting that stunning views are a bit of a theme around here.

Nineteen and a half miles was a touch further than I'd expected to walk on Day 1*, considering the late start, but the ease of the walking and the excellent way-marking helped. Even so, I think I may have a shorter one tomorrow.

(*If I'd spared a glance at the mileage chart I printed from the Wales Coast Path website yesterday, my miscounting of the miles would have immediately been apparent. I'll pay more attention to it in future.)

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  1. Sounds idillic and so different to the previous weeks. I bet the smells of the sea and the call of the sea birds is a joy.

  2. It certainly is different - but I wouldn't like to choose a favourite!