Day 101: LLwyngwril to Harlech
Distance: 25.72 miles
Ascent: 2661 feet
Weather: Sunny Spells, Heavy Rain Last Hour
Accommodation: Wild camp Near Harlech
When I got out of the tent this morning the weather was much nicer than the dark clouds that had been forecast and in fact the sun was already trying to come out. On leaving LLwyngwril the Wales Coast Path carried on it’s style from the previous couple of days and did an inland diversion up a steep hill rather than trying to stick closer to the coast. With the sun now out, the path lined by stunning dry stone walls, and stunning vistas of Snowdonia and even a shepherdess (she made sure I did not get her in a photo) feeding the sheep some sugar beet this climb was actually really beautiful.
During planning I had spotted a track that stuck closer to the coast and removed a stupid 2 km hairpin on the path, and on the ground it was clearly visible and being in a national park it did not matter that it wasn’t a designated path as there is a sort of right to roam. In fact this track was stunning taking me down passed an old quarry and the ‘blue’ lake, before rejoining with the official path.
The path joined roads which took me back to the actual coast and the promenade that heads along Fishbourne. This is a long sandy beach that they must have thought vulnerable in the second world was as they placed concrete blockers along the beach, as well as pillboxes to halt/slow down any possible landing attempts.
At the end of the sort of promenade the path does a 90 degree turn and heads up the Mawddach Estuary. I arrived at Morfa Mawddach Station where I had arranged to meet Amy Johnson an Old Eastbournian who had got in touch after reading about the walk. A few minutes later she arrived with her very excited Labradoodle in tow.
We set off and straight away crossed the very impressive rail bridge (now a toll foot bridge on one side), which makes for a great entrance to Barmouth. I didn’t actually see that much of Barmouth but what I did see looked very nice, and then we were zooming along the promenade, until once again the coast path heads slightly inland and onto the main road (why so many main roads on this stretch of Wales Coast Path!?). We actually found a route quite shortly after joining the main road down through a static caravan park and onto the beach which fortunately cut of 2 miles of further road walking.
The beach was massive and beautiful bathed in a sort of sunny, hazy day and the three of us made very quick progress along the sand though the dog definitely covered more distance. Half way along two chinook helicopters were flying in formation at low altitude along the beach which was interesting to see. We headed inland to Tal-y-bont to get some lunch and unfortunately the place was comfy and dimly lit and made me feel very lethargic making it hard to head off again.
The next part of the path had actually been changed slightly from what was on my map, with a new bridge crossing closer to the sea meaning you don’t have to come all the way in to Tal-y-bont. Once we were back on the path, it became a maze continuously turning from one field to another and it was clear others had had issues, with larger and larger now red arrows directing you.
We finally reached the beach the other side of the river, and almost immediately Amy had to head along the short path to the train station, so we said our goodbyes. It had been great having her on the walk for a few hours, as well as also having her dog who didn’t seem overly interested in me.
I literally had 4 miles of sandy beach to walk, which though it became a bit repetitive made for a quick section and towards the end the dunes rose up to an impressive size and made for a really interesting landscape. Just shy of Shell Island the path heads inland and actually across a really quirky path on a raised solid path gliding across the reed beds and marshes, skirting the outskirts of an apparently disused airfield.
After crossing the railway again, the path also crosses the river before following it down towards Llandanwg. I was not exactly sure where I would be finishing today, but as it was still earlyish and also, I quite needed a shop I headed on to Harlech.
Unfortunately, the heavens opened, and the rain started pouring just as I was approaching Harlech, but I quickly grabbed supplies and then carried on knowing I would need to head out of Harlech to find a wild pitch site. It was a slight shame to not be able to take a proper picture of Harlech Castle due to the rain which is a stunning castle perched atop the hill.
The rain did not let up, but finally about 2km later I found a nice spot to pitch in a wood. With the rain I just had to get the tent up as quickly as possible to stop the inner getting too wet. In reality the tent floor and couple of other things are a little damp, but as soon as I was on the mattress and in my sleeping bag I felt incredibly snug. It is a lovely spot to pitch with so much birdsong and I heard what I presumed to be a deer walk past whilst typing this.
So, a generally lovely day, with nice/varied scenery, great to have a guest and only dampened a bit by the heavy rain.