Day 111: Rhoscolyn to Penrhyn
Distance: 26.43 miles
Ascent: 4010 feet
Weather: Rain, Fog & SUn (A Bit of Everything)
Accommodation: Camping Penrhyn Caravan Park
I think the west side of Angelsey must have been the only place in the UK to have rain forecast for this morning until lunch, though it was meant to be fairly light. It was actually raining quite heavily when I woke up but fortunately stopped as I was about to depitch, but the sky looked very ominous, so I moved my backpack into the little washing up room, before returning to take the tent down. Literally as I was entering the washing up room with the tent, the heavens opened, and it rained very heavily. Fortunately, I was under cover and I decided to sit this one out and it lightened off after 20 minutes or so, when I decided to leave a bit later now than normal about 8:30.
The rain was annoying though not too heavy, and the sun rising over Borthwen (Rhoscolyn Bay) was very picturesque. The path followed the rolling cliffs and quiet roads, and I soon reached Treaddur Bay which was the best place to get some food as there was a shop and café to chose from. Filled up and with some supplies I headed off into the rain, and the path continued in the same vain all the way to Porth Dafarch.
From this point the path became more remote and headed out into the boggy heathland of the South Stack Cliffs Nature Reserve. The rain had lightened a bit which was good, though I entered a deep fog which made everything very eerie. Fortunately, the path was easy to follow because at its worst the visibility dropped down to about 20m. The low deep sound of the foghorn going off sporadically added to the eeriness as did the shadow of another heavy load walker a few hundred meters behind who’s silhouette came into view occasionally.
The path finally joined what appeared to be a quiet road, but soon turned out to be very busy road for people driving up to the RSPB café by South Stack. In the fog and with the narrow winding road it felt a little sketchy and I was glad to leave the road and be back onto a path at a little carpark. This path was incredibly close to a sheer cliff and with the fog reducing visibility (not to a dangerous level) even I someone without vertigo normally was feeling a little bit strange. I passed Ellin’s Tower from where you can normally see a sheer cliff face with a variety of nesting sea birds, guillemots, puffins to name a couple, but with the heavy fog I could not see the rock face at all.
The rain had actually stopped, but the fog was still strong so I passed the lighthouse without actually seeing it and began the steep climb up into the craggy hills. Suddenly I noticed it beginning to lighten and I suddenly emerged above the fog/mist into a new sunny/blue world and it was incredible looking down on this cloud of fog beneath me. It was also very hot and I decided when I reached the little summit/fort I would de-layer. Just as I reached the summit a couple appeared from the other side wearing shorts and a T-shirt and we were both surprised by the outfits of the other, it turned out on the other side of the hill it had been sunny, with no rain, or fog all morning.
I stopped for a little break and to de-layer, and what happened next made for quite simply the best single vista on the walk so far. The fog started to rise and burn off as it hit the top of the hill, making incredible patterns and crowning an already beautiful 360 degree view, I have included 4 images in different directions at this exact moment below. I could have sat here for ages, but realised I was already a bit behind schedule so had to carry on.
The path drops down to North Stack, where after a little scramble along the sloping cliff path it flattens off at the Holyhead Breakwater Country Park. The actual breakwater itself is very impressive, it is massive I guess almost 2 miles long and fully protects the harbour. Holyhead was a bit weird with lots of people heading through it, but seeming quite dead itself, and strangely for nowadays most shops were shut as it was a Sunday even the mainstream ones like Boots, though I found a Co-op where I got some stuff for dinner.
I knew by now I was going to be arriving pretty late this evening, so tried to pick up the pace a bit and soon darted through the Penrhos Country Park and reached the Stanley Embankment which would take me back to the larger part of Anglesey. Unfortunately literally half way across the embankment the heavens opened, which was the worst time as there was no shelter and I had to quickly scramble to both put my waterproofs on and also get the backpack cover on and I semi successfully did it without getting soaked.
Back on main Anglesey I was getting quite tired and in fact just wanted the day to end but still had 8 miles to go and it was already gone 5pm. I soldiered on and fortunately the rain had only lasted 10 minutes or so. The path followed a pebble beach before heading up a river (no name on OS map), to a bridge where it then headed down the other side.
Not wanting anything to go wrong it did. I entered a field with young cows and one of them charged me, I had no chance of reaching the gate so literally screamed at it which did make it back down for a few seconds allowing me to get to the gate. Unfortunately my scream had made the other cows now charge over. So I walked back down the path and climbed into another field to try and get around the field, but stupidly had actually climbed into the same field just round the corner and once I realised this I stuck close to the edge as I was at least 200m from the cows and hoped they wouldn’t notice me, there was actually 1 sheep and lamb that had somehow got into the field as well but they just sleeked off when they saw me. Suddenly the cow saw me and stampeded towards me fortunately I was near a corner so was able to chuck my backpack over the fence and scramble over it. What happened next was horrible, now I was over the fence they spotted the ewe and lamb and stampeded towards them, the lamb got knocked over and then trampled by the following cows never getting up and I am not sure what happened to the Ewe in the end but she was hit to the deck. I felt partially responsible for their demise but also quite shaken, this is the second time in 3 days I have had an issue with cows/bullocks though this time could have been quite serious. Other coast walkers, and long-distance walkers have had serious issues with cows (often in less walked more remote areas as mine was today) some even having serious enough injuries to have to stop. It is a really hard issue as paths do cross farms, but the amount of injuries are significant. Only about 5 people are actually killed by cattle each year, the estimates (estimates as figures are not collected for cattle attack that aren’t fatal) for serious injuries are actually very high. The law is very much on the side of hikers nowadays (whether that is fair or not) but that makes no real difference if you are seriously hurt in a field. In reality I probably should let someone know as what could happen to the next walker who enters the field, but know I won't as there is no easy way to do it. Sorry rant over, it just came at a point when I was very tired and all I wanted to do was get to the end of the day but I was really quite shaken up.
To top it all off the rain started heavily again but I soon made it to the campsite (Penrhyn Caravan Park) where they had kindly reduced the price and though I had arrived late about 7:30 they checked me in. I pitched quickly and cooked myself come pasta, before settling down and falling asleep quite early.
Reading the above you’d think it was a bad day, but apart from the cow incident and feeling tired towards the end of the day, it had so many beautiful moments and was enjoyable looking back.