Day 108: Pontllfyni to Moel-y-don
Distance: 25.21 miles
Ascent: 1802 feet
Accommodation: Wild camp Farmer's Field
Well it was nice to wake up with some sun and after a discussion yesterday evening I had decided to follow the beach instead of the main road which the coast path for some reason followed for a couple of miles. It was definitely the right decision, and barring one small river that I could luckily just about jump across, I got to Dinas Dinlle in very good time. The path ran parallel to a quiet road here before joining it after taking a 90 degree turn, up and passed Caernarfon Airport.
Heading around the little Afon Carrog, the path followed an embankment before crossing a little bridge and joining a very quiet flat road. I was actually on this sort of road for the next 7 miles or so following literally meters from the Menai Strait apart from a short detour inland to cross the Afon Gwyrfai. This section was both speedy but also made for a lovely walk.
I finally reached Caernarfon, with its very impressive/imposing castle guarding the town from the direction I was coming from. This castle was built under the instruction of King Edward I of England in 1283, it was taken by the Welsh in 1294 before being recaptured again the following year. It has seen action in many other wars, with the last being the English Civil War.
I stopped at a Morrisons in Caernarfon despite the nice weather being perfect for a picnic, as I needed to charge my laptop so I did this in the little café. From Caernarfon the path follows a almost flat cycle path all the way to Y Felinheli. I was at Y Felinheli that things were going to get a little interesting.
During planning, I had really tried to find a route that meant I didn’t have to follow the coast path several miles inland and at times along a busy road. During planning I had given up and just plotted the route following the coast path. But stood on the ground I decided to give an alternative route a go as there was a track shown parallel to the coast most of the way to where the coast path finally rejoins the coast. The first part took me across a little private housing estate, and as I was entering a woman came up to me and I thought for some reason (even though I was allowed to walk this bit) she was going to tell me off. But instead she asked if I was trying to follow the coast path, which I said I was and she told me about the man who owns the gate house to the track that I was aiming for and how he normally keeps the gate locked, and in here own words ‘He is a right prick’. She informed me the track I was aiming for was a public right of way, and if tide was low I might be able to use a little seawall to cut infront of some houses, then a short bit of pebble walking and then there was a large water/stream outlet through the high stone wall that I should then be able to join the track (all this because someone locks a gate to a track they don't own). It all sounded a bit confusing and a tad bizarre but I set off and everything went exactly as she said, in fact it felt quite exciting going through the wall using the water/stream outlet, and I was soon on the desired track. This track took me all the way to Vaynol Wood where I re-joined the official path.
In the middle of Vaynol Wood there was a massive, stunning mausoleum which was incredibly spooky, though had been left to decay a fair amount which felt a shame. After going through an ornate little black gate, the path rejoined the Menai Strait and there were some incredible views of the spectacular Pont Brittania, a rarity in the UK given it is a two level dual use road and train bridge with the cars on a deck above the train line. In fact I was in bridge heaven as after passing this one I could almost immediately see Menai Suspension Bridge which is also an incredible bridge. People may be surprised that I actually preferred the Pont Brittania which for a relatively modern bridge was surprisingly well detailed.
I crossed the Menai Suspension Bridge and was now on Anglesey, my first large island! I was not sure exactly where I was going to pitch but assumed somewhere between the two bridges. This little stretch between the bridges was lovely with great views of the two bridges as well as the Menai Strait and included one of the longest boardwalks I have encountered. There was a little island just short of Pont Brittania which could only be accessed at low tide, but as it was low tide now and would be in the morning when I left I considered pitching on it. My first decision was yes this could be a very fun pitch spot but I chickened out and carried on.
Unfortunately there suddenly were no pitch options, and it was obvious from the map I had a way to go till there would be more options but as it was still not quite 6 I decided walking an extra 3 miles or so would not be an issue.
I had forgotten that the next part was one of my wacky sort of plots, to try and stop me having to head massively inland and on a busy road. I should start by saying that this route cannot have been a public right of way (you will find out shortly why) though I had to climb no fences nor gates. So after a little beach scrabble I joined a track through a wood marked on the OS map which I knew went close to a National Trust property, what I hadn’t realised was that this track would head through the formal gardens and right up to the front of the mansion (see photo below) it was very surreal walking this bit because as it was almost 7pm the property was closed so there was no one around. The gardens and house were stunning and I fortunately saw a little group of red squirrels which were the first I have ever seen in the UK. There were lots of lovely flat dry lawns around the house, but unfortunately, I obviously couldn’t pitch on these.
It was not long till I re-joined the path and it became clear even here there was nowhere I could just pitch, so I decided to just walk up to the first vaguely sort of farm house and ask if it may be possible to pitch in a field. Fortunately, I chose the right house as the man's father owned all the fields around this area and he pointed me to a field where he said that I could pitch. I was very grateful for this as I had already walked 4 miles further and it was already just gone 7.
I must be getting better at this camping malarkey, as even though I only entered the field about 7:05, I had pitched the tent, dried a few bits, got the stove out cooked pasta, eaten pasta, cleaned stove and was ready to get in tent by 7:30.
A lovely sunny day, and in fact the 2 sort of improvised routes were really fun.