Saturday 31 May (0700-1440)
Distance: 20.5 miles
Weather: Overcast start clearing to wall-to-wall sunshine
Setting out for a walk with low expectations often leads to a pleasant surprise, and so it was today. From the map, the Wales Coast Path along this north coast looks to me like it features far too many hard surfaces and, today in particular, more than its fair share of tacky seaside resorts.
My perception of Rhyl was based upon its 1980’s reputation, rather than first-hand knowledge and thus, when I found a resort which is obviously investing substantial money into modernisation, I was pleasantly surprised. Admittedly, I didn’t investigate the town at any length. Having walked the mile and a half from the campsite back down to the coast (lovely campsite; pity it’s not nearer to the coast!), I only walked about a mile along the promenade before taking to the huge beach.
Beaches then featured highly in the day, as I’d caught the tides right, and thus I almost bypassed Prestatyn too, only deviating to the prom for a while when I got fed up of sinking to my ankles (and beyond) in mud when crossing the many streams which run down the beach.
The spot I chose for second breakfast turned out to be the very end (or very start, if you’re southbound) of Offa’s Dyke Path, then back down to the beach I went, skipping back and forth between beach and concrete depending on the firmness (or lack thereof) of the sand.
My efforts at removing sand and mud from inside my shoes and socks at second breakfast time had been nugatory, as more beach wanderings saw more streams and more sinking into mud. Just as I was getting fed up of having half the beach inside of my shoes, and mud up to my knees, I looked at the map and realised that I had a river crossing coming up and if I wanted to cross via a bridge then I needed to be heading 90 degrees to my right.
Such was the level of gloopy mud on my shoes and sand/silt inside of them, that upon finding a pond on my route to the bridge…
People were out in droves on the beach at Talacre, where the old lighthouse makes for an interesting landmark, but once I turned the corner at that lighthouse, I was on my own again.
Having passed the unattractive industrial site (chemical factory of some sort??), at 11.30, hunger was getting the better of me, so I plonked myself down for an early lunch in lieu of elevenses, but before I got started, I just thought I’d give Mick a call to see where he was. It turned out that he had just left the campsite, heading in my direction, and as I was about to walk the road for a while, it seemed sensible for him to meet me and for me to enjoy a cup of tea with my lunch, whilst sitting on a comfy sofa (not to mention changing into dry socks and shoes )
After lunch, I had intended to head inland a little way, where an official alternative route avoids walking along the A-road for a while, but suddenly an attack of laziness came over me causing me to plump for the road. I’d had a pleasant morning of soft surfaces, so I decided I didn’t mind a bit of tarmac, further justifying the shorter route on the basis that it does run nearer to the coast and this is supposed to be a coastal walk. Whilst some of that chunk of the road was along a pavement, a significant chunk was far enough away from the road such that it wasn’t visible or intrusive.
Part of the ‘along the A-road’ route – the road’s out of sight to the right
Back on the edge of the sea, it looked to me like there was a ship in front of me, but initially I thought it must just be some industrial building. Getting closer, I remembered Conrad’s blog post from when he circumperambulated Wales, and realised that this was the Duke of Lancaster – a decaying ‘funship’ which has now been decorated with some impressive street-art. You can read more about it (on Wikipedia) by clicking on this very sentence.
After battling through a herd of cows, and with views of the Wirral often obscured by the sea defence formed by tall piles of huge rocks, suddenly Mick was before me, reporting that I didn’t have much further to go. Sure enough, after making our way through another herd of cows, which seemed intent on standing exactly in our path, we were back on the mud flats and, a hop, skip and a jump later, we were back at Colin, parked exactly where Mick had picked me up yesterday.
A view-blocking sea defence (and proof that I was there!)
It had been a fine day of walking, in unexpectedly fine weather.