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, 31 May 2014

WCP: Chester to Greenfield (Holywell)

Friday 30 May (1015-1640)

Distance: 17.5 miles

Weather: Overcast, but dry and warm

It occurred to me yesterday afternoon that, as all of the things which were meant to be occupying me at the moment have either been postponed or cancelled, there was no excuse to continue in the laziness that has come over me since the end of the TGO Challenge. Our daysacks and Colin were swiftly packed, and this morning we wended our way to Chester for three days along the Wales Coast Path.

Our packing had, perhaps, been a little slapdash in its hastiness. On arrival at our destination (which happened to be Aldi’s car park) we found that our flasks of tea, Mick’s wind-shirt and our sunglasses were still at home. Aldi was able to resolve Mick’s lack of a light jacket, but not the other two omissions.

The feeling of ‘this isn’t a very good start to the trip’ didn’t abate as I started walking. A lack of footpath maintenance meant that to reach the point where the border intersects the River Dee, I had to climb a gate, wade through thigh-deep grass, then don my over-trousers for nettle protection (whilst fighting my way through hawthorn at head level) in negotiating the stile on the other side of the field .


Once onto the bank of the Dee, the going was perfectly straight-forward: a tarmac (oooh, my favourite!) cycle path. I said a few dozen greetings to passing cyclists and sped along until, about five miles later I crossed a bridge, per the Coast Path Signs.


A few minutes later, I crossed back, upon finding the coast path to be closed. It would have been nice if a warning of the closure had been given on the east side of the bridge, where a perfectly viable alternative route existed by continuing along the cycle path..

By the time I got to Connah’s Quay, Mick had parked Colin at Flint Castle and had made his way back to meet me, our path intersecting outside of the church. In other circumstances, we would undoubtedly have stopped on the bench in the (very well kept) churchyard for lunch, but as a wedding party had just come out of the church for photos, we didn’t think they would appreciate our presence. It turned out to be a Very Long Time later when we got to a suitable lunch spot, and I was mightily hungry!

By good fortune, on his outward leg to meet me, Mick had missed a turn and had ended up trespassing his way for a while. I say that was good fortune as he was able to take me back the same way, which put us nicely through some woodland and then on springy salt marshes, rather than following the official route further inland, along an A-road. I’d recommend the trespass, even if it does involve ignoring quite a few ‘No Public Access’ signs at the power station.



Past Flint Castle (where I paused for a cup of tea in Colin before continuing), I became even more glad of Mick having found such a viable off-road trespass, as I unexpectedly found myself treading tarmac again, on one of the few bits of the day which should have been on a soft surface. I had come upon some substantial barriers with a notice simply saying ‘No Access to Flint Cob’, but without any accompanying official path closure notice nor any information as to the extent of the closure, nor any hint of a diversion route. So, I resigned myself to a couple of miles of diversion along the cycle route which runs adjacent to the A-road.

By chance, I rejoined the coast path exactly where the closure ended. The barrier at that end did have an official closure notice, but no useful information and no map because (according to the notice): “There is no alternative route available to pedestrians.” What absolute tosh! I’d just walked the perfectly obvious alternative.


Having skipped ahead of me and walked back, I bumped into Mick again just before Greenfields, and although I had intended to walk another mile or so, I was so thoroughly tired by the time I reached Colin that I swiftly decided to add the remaining distance onto tomorrow’s walk.

The ‘not quite to plan’ aspects of our day weren’t quite over. Having arrived at our intended Certificated Site campsite for the night (we stay on a lot of CS’s; they’re generally very good), we found that we were expected to pay £15 for a skanky bit of an untidy car park, without any facilities and (most crucially to us) without access to a tap from which we could fill up Colin’s tanks. Ignoring the fact that the site’s location was reasonably handy for tomorrow’s continuation, we made a swift exit and I now type this from a campsite (immaculately trimmed grass, toilets, showers, dish-wash, hook-up, water: £16.15) at the end of tomorrow’s route. That means I’ll walk tomorrow’s walk backwards (not literally…).


(You’ll notice that I’ve just chucked in a selection of photos taken today; they are in approximately the right places chronologically, but don’t necessarily relate to anything said in the text. If I wasn’t so tired as I type this, I would try harder!

This post isn’t going to get posted tonight either – I’m too tired to think about getting the dongle out now to sort myself out with some internet access.)


  1. Oh gale, i remember that welcome to wales sign, you are starting a route i would like the time to do again. enjoy.
    Cheers J.P.

  2. Welcome to Wales and its wonderfully trying footpath network.
    Nice to see you out and about again.