For our last ‘day out’ in North Wales, Jude and I took a drive around to the Llŷn Peninsula. After parking up further down the coast, we walked around the coastal path to Porthor, or Whistling Sands as it’s often known. From there we called in at tiny Porth Colmon which, as you will see from my series of photos, is still used as place for launching or, as in this case, landing fishing boats. And then finally we drove to the small coastal resort of Aberdaron, where I somehow managed to get a shot of an apparently deserted beach, despite there being quite a few people around.
It was not for nothing that (now Sir) Tom Jones sang about the Green, Green Grass of Home. Wales can be a very wet place (as you may have gathered from all the moss and lush looking fields in my previous post). So, as if to prove I’m not just a fair weather walker, here are few pictures, mainly of the Mawddach Trail (a former railway line) from Penmaenpool to Barmouth.
Who doesn’t like going to the beach? Well, here I bring you photos of not just one, but three beaches in North Wales. All of them, quite coincidentally, are only a few miles from where Jude and I have been staying for this past 2 weeks.
Firstly, Benar beach, which is very, very long and very wide when the tide is out…
Secondly, we have Llandanwg beach, which is quite small and pebbly in places. But there is a very nice café adjacent to the car park, which serves delicious scones!
Last, but not least, is Harlech beach, which is huge, (by UK standards anyway), even when the tide is in!
As we drove back from Diavolezza, we came across one of the most amazing, certainly sporting, sights that I have ever seen. There must have been at least 50 or 60 kite-surfers, criss-crossing the Silvaplanasee. After the extremely calm morning, the wind had picked up and the surfers were having a fantastic time – some leaping high into the air and landing gracefully, but occasionally trying some tricks (like removing the board from their feet) and then, more often than not, crashing back into the lake.
We later read that there is a particular feature of the local summer climate, called the Malojawind. This is due to the morning thermals rising above Silvaplana much quicker than the neighbouring St Moritz and Sils and thus creating a strong, warm wind.
Not only were the kite surfers having fun, but everyone watching them seemed to be smiling too. It was certainly mesmerising and entertaining in equal measure.
The unfortunately named Crap da Sass Castle, comes from the Romansh and Italian language (Crap = stone in Romansh and da Sass = from stone in Italian). It was built in 1906 by the German general Graf von der Lippe and is now privately owned, so not open to the public. However it does create a marvellous back-drop to the activities on the lake, which also include wind-surfing.
Below I’ve created my usually picture gallery. This is followed by a sequence of photos, which should be stepped through in gallery mode, to see a sort of moving image. (Just click on, or touch, the first image and click or right arrow forward). Finally, there’s an actual video, which finishes in dramatic style! I hope you enjoy! 😄
Let me take you back to 1995, if not a little earlier than that, when my mate Colin and I had the ‘idea’ to do the English Coast to Coast walk, created and made famous by the great Alfred Wainwright, from St. Bee’s in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire. Our plan was to run the 182 mile (293km) route in relay, over the space of 4 days, with one person on the route and the other driving a car to a prearranged changeover point. This way we could travel light, leaving the rest of our gear in the boot of the car, and we’d overnight in B&Bs or, preferably, Inns. 🍻👍😊
But we soon realised that there was a flaw in our grand idea – What if one of us got lost or was injured? (Remember, this was when mobile phones were still evolving even into those early ‘bricks’). Answer therefore: Recruit another two mates, called Pete and Tim, so that we’d have 2 on each leg, for a second opinion on any tricky route finding and someone to run for help, just in case. So it was that the 4 of us lined up in traditional fashion, with our toes dipped in the Irish Sea in April 1995. (See pic 1).
The event went so well, the following year we did the Offa’s Dyke Path (this time with Liam included) and in 1997, the West Highland Way (in 2 days). These were followed by The Wold’s Way (1998), where Dave was added to our happy band of runners, the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path (1999) and a trip to southern Ireland in 2000, to do parts of the Dingle Way and Beara Way, plus a hike up to the top of Carrantuohill (which scared the living daylights out of Pete. It was only then that we discovered he suffered from vertigo).
Wind forward a few more years and, after St Cuthbert’s Way (2005), Glyndwrs Way (2007) and the Dales Way (2009), in 2010 we decided to re-visit the best route of them all – the Coast to Coast (C2C). But this time in a more leisurely 5 days (well, we were 15 years older) and with all 6 of us present. (Pic 2).
Below, we have a small selection of my photos from that event. But, because we were doing it in relay format, even after doing the C2C twice I still haven’t done it all. Due to the way we rotate the groupings each day and the different stopover points, some of the legs I covered the second time around were the same or similar to the first and I still haven’t had the joy of bog-hopping near Nine Standards Rigg. (Or maybe, as one of the main organisers of these events, I deliberately avoided that leg? 😉)
I mentioned on Day 1 that there were 2 reasons why Pete had chosen to do this part of the SW Coast Path and the second reason was that the first ever ‘proper’ book that he’d read as a young boy was called Moonfleet, which was set in this area of the country. It was written by John Meade Falkner in 1898 and is a tale of adventure, smuggling and a search for Blackbeard’s lost diamond. But overall it’s a story of loyalty and a great friendship between the two main characters, John Trenchard and Elzevir Block.
Pete had sent me a copy of the book just before Christmas for me to read as ‘homework’ before our trip and I’m glad he did, as it really added to the enjoyment of our walk. The Old Fleet church is featured in the book, as is the Moonfleet Manor. There is even an Inn in the book called the Why Not? (and Why Not? indeed, I always say 😉).
Pete and I also met up with two of his old University pals, Jacky and Alan, who now live in Dorchester. We met them and their dog at the Moonfleet Manor and they walked a section of the route with us.
On day 5, Pete and I had the pleasure of walking without our rucksacks as we did a circular route around the Isle of Portland. As you can see from the map (pic 22), the ‘Isle’ is not really an island, because it’s connected to the mainland by a causeway, created by a rather incredible coastal formation called Chesil Beach. The beach is 18 miles (or 29 km) long and is up to 50 ft (15m) high and 220 yards (200m) wide in places. It’s made up of shingle or pebbles, which increase in size from north west to south east. Behind the beach is a shallow tidal lagoon, called the Fleet.
The pictures in my previous post were a bit dull and grey for a ‘Sun’day, so I thought I’d improve the mood with a few brighter (& almost comical*) images from Day 3… 😊
I’ve never stuck my head out of a car travelling at 70mph, (and I wouldn’t recommend it), but I now know what it must feel like. We had been warned of winds of over 50mph but some gusts must have been stronger than that. Luckily it was coming from the sea, otherwise we would have been in grave danger of being blown off the cliff. We would take one step up a hill then a gust would take us 2 to the right. Our next 2 steps would aim to get back on track, only for the wind to drop, or be even stronger and we’d either topple left or go even further right. So it was that we zig-zagged our way up many of the slopes.
*You can tell how strong the wind was from pictures 9 and 10, where a waterfall was being blown back up and across the path. We both got soaked! The windsurfers (pic 11) were very happy though and the shower in pic 19 came and went in less than 2 minutes.
Please note, if you ever consider walking this section of the path, the route goes through the Ministry of Defence Lulworth (firing) Ranges which are only generally open at weekends and some public holidays. Otherwise a 30 mile detour is required. For more information on opening times and weekend closures, please check here.
UK readers will be well familiar with the huge amount of rain which has fallen on Britain so far this year. I believe February may have been one of, if not THE, wettest on record. So it was no surprise that we were ‘blessed’ with rain on Day 2. It had been forecast after all. This made for some slippery conditions over and above the already boggy ground in many places.
We took brief respite in the café at Durlston Castle, where we were advised to take the slightly less muddy higher path along the Priest’s Way, rather than the coastal path. It took a little finding after a wrong turn, but we soon reached the very welcome haven of the Square and Compass in Worth Matravers. The log fire was burning brightly and we very quickly dried out, on the outside anyway. 😉
Thankfully, the next few days proved to be much brighter, if a little windy… (that’s Yorkshire sarcasm for 70mph winds).