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: Rhyl to Greenfields (Holywell)

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.

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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…

IMG_4006…I took a break to give my shoes and socks a good wash. My feet felt much more comfortable when I continued and, more importantly, I managed to avoid deep sandy mud for the rest of the day.

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.

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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 Smile)

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.

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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.

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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.

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A view-blocking sea defence (and proof that I was there!)

It had been a fine day of walking, in unexpectedly fine weather.

4 comments:

  1. Ha ha! Just made a real hash of reading things in the right order, but still quite fun!

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    1. And I made such an effort to post them in the right order ;-)

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  2. This all brings back some memories. I thought I had lost the plot when I saw that ship across the path in the distance. Although the parts you have walked are interesting there is much more stunning stuff all the way south from Rhyll - my comments on Rhyll:

    "Rhyll was the worst: blaring amusement arcades, and the nauseating smell of food cooked in rancid fat wafting at you in warm waves. I couldn't bear to go into any of the caf├ęs".

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    1. That makes me glad to have hit Rhyl at such an early hour of day. It seems that it's a far more pleasant place when it's closed! (Actually, some of the improvements I saw may be new enough to have been under construction in 2011 - not that the infrastructure improvements will have dulled the music or freshened the fat.)

      I'm planning on walking the rest of the WCP in September and am really looking forward to it.

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