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, 20 September 2014

WCP: Dyffryn Ardudwy to Llandecwyn Station

Saturday 20 September (0705-1400)
Distance: 18 miles
Ascent: only around 500'
Weather: overcast but warm and dry

Where possible I try to end my walking day at our night-stop, so as to save Mick from the trouble of shuttling me back and forth. Last night's campsite (the one that wasn't where I expected it to be) turned out to be at the very edge of my 'acceptable distance to detour to a night-stop' range. As a result, the first mile and a half of today was spent re-tracing my last mile and a half of yesterday, to land me back on the beach.

No nudists were seen in the nudy area, but there was a scattering of runners and dog walkers for the first half-mile of sand. After that I was on my lonesome until I passed through the enormous campsite which is Shell Island, where most tents were coming to life.

I wasn't overly enamoured with the section alongside the old Dyffryn airfield, but I repeated one bit of it thrice when I returned to pick up my dropped sitmat (the peril of keeping it in the same pocket as the map).

What was lacking in that short section of path was made up when I soon after crossed a lovely area of salt marsh. Alas, that was followed by a trudge along a road (albeit with an interesting chapel to distract), before I made my way down to walk the shore to Harlech.

I recognised, from quite a distance, Mick walking towards me on that section, and I was soon in Colin being treated to an early elevenses of an egg bap.

Another patch of uninteresting terrain (fields; concrete track past a rubbish dump) led me back into happy-making surroundings (with mountain views emerging through the haze) and as I walked the sea-defence opposite Portmeirion, I wondered what I would make of the sight if I wasn't familiar with what it was.

At Llandecwyn station I met an obstacle of which I had been forewarned last night. The bridge over to Penrhyndeudraeth is closed for major rebuilding and the coast path is routed significantly inland to Maentwrog. In amongst my unwritten rules of this walk is a clause which says that I'm not prepared to take a large inland diversion at a place where ordinarily there would be a walkable bridge. So, having walked as far as I could along the closed road, I returned to where Mick and Colin were parked and called the end to my day. I do intend to walk the omitted kilometre at some point in the future, but for the current trip, I will start tomorrow at Penrhyndeudraeth.

(Comments: thank you to the commenters. I do like it when my phone trills with a comment! I will respond when I next find myself with the combination of a 3G signal and an electric supply.)

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange


  1. I empathise with your reply to comments problem. It is great to receive them on a long walk, but not always technically possible to reply, and that causes feelings of guilt.

    I was quite impressed with Shell Island expecting it to be a total eyesore, but somehow all the informality seemed to fit into the landscape.

    I hope to keep in touch more with you when I get back home, hopefully within the next 48 hours.

    1. I was likewise pleasantly surprised by Shell Island, although when I wandered off the path I did find the undergrowth strewn with toilet-paper...

      Hope you managed to find some transport back to a train station today and are either home or nearing home as I type.

  2. Well Gayle,
    you are walking the welsh coast and i'm working.
    i'm not jealous honest, you have some great days coming up enjoy.
    Cheers J.P.

    1. Pesky work, eh?!

      I'm not at all familiar with the Llyn Peninsula, and it's been stunning today, so looking forward to seeing more of it over the coming days.

  3. well, seeing that you are soliciting comments, I will ask a dull question or two, just to keep you up to the mark, of course, knowing rather little about Wales other than the vertical crags of Llanberis:
    have you found the people as friendly as Sir Hugh did on his circumambulation, which I found a huge revelation (!) - I wonder if your methodology precludes as much contact with the 'permanent' inhabitants (I won't say natives as that might land me in the dock);
    I was amazed to learn of the number of caravan sites and similar resorts - almost as numerous as along the south coast, it seems - do they have a big effect on the enjoyment ?
    how do you measure the number of feet of ascent - the 'activity' app I have now started to use (after reading of the effect of your stats collection on your motivation - obsession approaches rapidly!) cannot do this - despite its being GPS enabled.

    1. 1) I hate to admit it, but I'm an antisocial cow when I'm walking by myself. I march along not taking time to talk to people I encounter. The only two people with whom I've interacted en-route on this trip have been the angry farmer, and a nice dog-walker outside Cricieth today; based on that very limited cross section, I've not been over-whelmed by the friendliness - but I strongly suspect that if I did take the time to talk to people I would find them both friendly and helpful. One thing that all this long-distance walking has proven to me is that people will generally go out of their way to be nice to strangers.

      2) Considering that I have lived in both Aberystwyth and Barmouth, I've been really surprised at quite how many caravan/holiday parks there are in these parts. On my walk into Dyffryn Ardudwy the other day, I passed four in a one-mile section of lane. Who knew there were all those fields of caravans just down an unassuming-looking lane! Much of the time they don't have a negative effect on enjoyment, but there are some static sites which are veritable blots on the landscape.
      3) I'm using a Garmin GPS gadget to record the walk, so each day I upload the route into Memory Map, convert it to a GPX file, upload that to Anquet (there's a reason for the circuitous route!) and that gives me an ascent figure for the route I've walked. I then study the ascent profile and if it's very jaggedy, then I deduct an appropriate amount to make it more realistic. It's not a fool-proof or entirely accurate method. Today, for example, the GPS file resulted in an ascent figure of just over 1500'. The reality is that there were very few significant ups and I would be surprised if even the little undulations added up to much over 500'.

    2. thanks for the interesting response - thinking of SH's record here, I wonder if people respond quite so openly and generously when there are two walking together - I suspect that walking alone in more remote areas, one is both subconsciously more impelled to make contact with people one encounters ( notwithstanding SH's natural disposition to do so, of course!) and that they do the same, as well as responding to these signals. People respond to such 'body language' instinctively: without them, pass on by - perhaps with a 'grutzi', but no more.
      Height gained - a far cry from the old way in the mountains of simply adding up the summits and deducting the cols! I heard there was a barometer in the latest iPhones - all it needs is an app to interrogate its readings - and to count heartbeats as well, it seems. One won't need a view then, spending the time constantly checking one is still alive.
      Looking at the map, the next passage appears more 'lumpy' , with perfect beaches in between - have fun.

    3. Whilst we have been recipients of some extraordinary acts of kindness when we've been out on long walks, and regularly stop to talk to people, we certainly have nowhere near Conrad's record of hospitality. I do think that people are more likely to make an offer of refreshments to solo walkers (moreover those with a backpack rather than a daypack) but can't offer any first hand evidence behind that belief due to my aforementioned ignorant-cow-when-walking-solo status (although I should clarify that everyone does get a smile and a greeting from me, whether they want it or not; I just don't stop to chat).

  4. Like me you missed out the Llandecwyn- Maentwrog inland trek! I didn't have a Mick to ferry me so used the train. 90 pence and 2 minutes!

  5. I did contemplate taking the train, and took a photo of a time table as I passed Dyffryn station first thing in the morning, but aside from being a bit early for the train, I had promised that I would have a short day that day, so it made sense to break the journey one side of the estuary and continue the following day on t'other side.