Day 099: Borth to Gwerniago Farm
Distance: 19.30 miles
Ascent: 3539 feet
Weather: Overcast, Light Rain SHowers
Accommodation: Gwerniago Farm Campsite
Well after a rest day where I caught up on some of the bits and pieces I had got behind with, I was up and out the door by about 7:15. When looking at my plot for today’s walk yesterday, it bought back memories of the toil in deciding on a route for today whilst planning in my flat in London. The reason behind the toil was that the Wales Coast Path takes a really random inland diversion and into the hills (almost mountains a southerner may say) as you head up the estuary. So, for the start of the day my plot and the route I decided to do, followed the quiet road which stuck much closer to the coast (about 2 miles closer), than the official coast path.
Due to the road walking this first part wasn’t the most scenic, but was very quick and the five or so miles to Tre’r-ddol were very speedy. At this village I had proposed and was going to be joining the coast path, even if it headed inland and up the hills as there seemed no other safe alternative for the stretch to Machynlleth. I couldn’t immediately see the path so asked a slightly mad looking local, his response made be chuckle, ‘Well I presume that’s the one at the end of the village, its not a f***ing coast path you can’t even see the coast, it takes you miles into the f***ing hills’ and was said with such passion.
I found the path and after heading through a bit of woodland, it began its random changes of directions seemingly to divert around anything and everything, It felt like whoever had planned this section, had been bullied by every landowner (network rail, nature reserves, farmers etc,) to such an extent that this was the only land left, as though the path was scenic it wasn’t efficient.
I have to fess up now, in amongst all my admin yesterday I forgot to print my map for today. Normally this would not be an issue as the Welsh Coast Path is normally well signposted, though at times today it wasn’t. Then at a river crossing and with no phone signal I firstly crossed over 1 small wooden bridge with a coast path symbol on it but no direction arrow, then there was a second bridge but the path/footprints seemed to fizzle out after 50m or so. I then did the thing no hiker should do as even though I was highly suspicious I carried on walking anyway, first 100m and then another 100m and probably did this for at least a kilometer before returning to the last point (the first bridge) with a coast path symbol, and then I noticed alongside the clear path over the second bridge (which as it turns out isn’t a path) there was a little path bearing up left and after only another 100m I came to a coast path arrow. This taught me a lesson not to forget to print my maps, as phones cannot always be relied on to have signal or power. I reckon I may have wasted about 45 minutes with this stupidity, not just walking but with the faffing as well.
Now back on the right track, the path clung to the edge of Foel Fawr, along a very boggy path. After a few turns and climbs the path reaches Caerhedyn. From here the path completely changed and reminded me of a trip to Slovenia many years ago, as the scenery became more like an alpine forest as it climbed up a gravel track through a pine forest adjacent to the Llyfnant Valley. I really liked this section, and after climbing out of the valley the path joined a road and I soon reached the town of Machynlleth, where I picked up some supplies and had my lunch.
From Machynlleth the path (following a road) finally crosses the River Dovey. Unlike on the middle section I had plotted and chosen not to follow the official coast path for this last section, as the official path goes miles inland and I felt I had a safe option that stayed nearer the coast (well estuary.) My route first took me into a boggy field beside the A493 and despite having to climb over 1 fence made for easy going, then it was meant to join a path that was shown as a track on OS map and there was a track though no footpath signs but I carried on anyway. Suddenly this low, booming sound seemed to approach, increasing in volume and reverberating of the hills around me, until it was staggeringly loud and then suddenly a massive plane (a Hercules I think) buzzed right over my head incredibly low (felt like only 50 meters). Unfortunately I was slow with my camera and it was already a fair distance and climbing by the time I got a photo. This track took me on to Dolgelyen Farm where on the map the path continues but on the ground still no signs, but after climbing one gate was able to follow a clearly historical track now grassed over and then just shy of Llugwy Hall where I rejoined a lane there was a footbridge (very rickety) and a stile the only signs that this was actually a path, I am not sure anyone has walked it for a while.
From here it was a short stroll to Gwerniago Farm Campsite who had kindly reduced my pitch fee for the night. It is a lovely little site, but I have massive tent envy as there is another tent a bit like a giant canvas tepee with a wood burning stove and I think they bought it with them in a pick-up.
So a slightly bizarre route but as close as I felt I could keep to the coast, and closer than the official path. Other than my brief period of getting lost a good day.