Day 107: Towyn to Pontllyfni
Distance: 22.77 miles
Ascent: 4264 feet
Weather: Very Windy Morning, Sunny & lighter Winds Afternoon
Accommodation: Cae Clyd Campsite
Well the weather had been pretty atrocious overnight with the wind increasing up to strength and the rain lashing down. I was dry and warm in my sleeping bag and on my roll mat. But knowing how saturated the ground was that I was pitched on I knew there would be a fair amount of moisture/water that would have made its way through my ground sheet under my roll mat.
Fortunately, the rain had stopped by the time I was packing up though the wind was still very strong. As expected the base of the tent was wet (very wet), as was the outside due to the rain, so I just packed the whole soggy mess into its bag hoping I would have an opportunity to dry it this evening.
The fist part of the walk like the end of yesterday, followed a route that hardly warranted the name path. Seemingly following boggy sheep trails, and at times where there was a route the mud was higher than my boots. There were signs that they are doing something about this stretch as there were a couple of new bridges/boarded sections, some of these were really useful, some were just bizarre as they appeared to be placed not on the actual route, unless at a later date they are going to make a path that diverts towards them. Due to this the first 5 miles were very slow but I eventually made it to Porth Dinllaen. This is a lovely sheltered collection of cottages and a pub (Ty Coch Inn), set in a beautiful location. The pub was unsurprisingly not open at 10am, but makes some bold claims ’Arguably best pub in Wales, and voted in top 10 beach bars in the world’, it is a nice location but I cannot verify those statements.
It did not take long till I reached Nefyn, where a short diversion inland took me to a good Spar where I was able to stock up on a good selection of things, and due to the wind and in fact quite cold conditions I decided I would take 15 minutes and have a tea in café. Surprisingly a farily large place like Nefyn now appears to have no café (all shut down) but just as the coast path was leaving Nefyn it passed the small Maritime Museum which had a lovely volunteer led café so I did have my little break.
I was wondering where all this sun and warm weather that was forecast was as I left on the footpath out of Nefyn. This next stretch had a very good path, firstly heading inland of the road skirting an old slate mine, before recrossing the road and heading back to the coast. At this moment the sun suddenly came out and the temperature literally increased instantly. This next stretch had been one I had looked forward to since planning due to its interesting topography and old slate mines.
It did not disappoint firstly with the gently climb up and around the back of Penrhyn Glas, before where the path actually heads slightly inland I decided to drop down an old quarry road and hope I could get along the pebble beach to Nant Gwrtheyrn. The steepness of the track down was impressive, as was the feeling of solitude at the bottom where presumably there used to be a loading area to load stuff onto ships. My luck was in and the pebble beach was accessible and clear all the way until just before Nant Gwrtheyrn where I rejoined the coast path. Strewn amongst all the normal rubbish on the beach were bits and bots of old ironwork from the quarries.
Nant Gwrtheyn a collection of old building presumably associated with the quarry in this incredible valley, has been done right up with a posh café (more of a restaurant really) and what looks like holiday cottages. I did not stop as I had one of, if not the biggest climbs of the walk to date. When I plotted the route I had gone bold and decided to divert from the path here and cut cross country to bottom of the old quarry incline (used to transport the slate down) and head up that to re-join the coast path. But in the flesh I wasn’t as confident so decided to just take the coast path which followed the narrow hairpin road up the incredibly steep valley.
Not long after starting I decided to take a break, so headed into the pine wood, 10 or so meters, to get out of the sun and apply sun cream, have water and a little snack. It was a very spooky break spot because at first glance it looked like there was police tape everywhere until I read the tape and it said Welsh Cyling, so presumably they had hosted an international mountain biking event here at some point, the course looked quite tough through the trees.
Now more prepared I was ready for the climb which would take me from just above sea level to almost 400m. I almost immediately met an elderly gentleman (the only person on the climb) and though he said overtake we ended up walking together for a while as he was going as fast as me, it was really tough going and I was dripping with sweat. I couldn’t entirely hear what he was saying but I think he was evacuated to the area when Liverpool was bombed in WWII, and had actually ended up being moved here permanently, and he had done this walk everyday for 18 years, be was over 80 years old it was incredible that he could still climb this hill!
We parted near the top and I continued onto a mountain track that was now more gradual and took me up through Bwlch Yr Eifl, wedged between the two peaks. I must admit I was extremely tempted to climb the final summit of the smaller one on the coastal side of me, for which I would have left my backpack at the bottom and collected on the return. But having climbed over 360m already and knowing there may be another 70 scrabble to go I decided to just continue on the coast path. The views from here down to the flatlands to come were spectacular.
I descended down and diverted inland slightly to hit the shop at Trefor. From here the path joined the road for some reason and the final 6 miles pretty much followed the busy road on a pavement all the way to Pontllyfni, with all manner of HGV’s, coaches, cars and tractors flying by. This stretch was not fun but made for quick progress.
I had decided to stay in Cae Clyd campsite but on arrival the owner was out so I sat in the field and had a snack and waited. One of the seasonal caravan owners Terry, spotted me and sorted me right out showing me where I could pitch and even kindly paying for my pitch so I could donate the fee to charity. On top of this he offered to take me to a shop, which though I had just enough for dinner I gratefully accepted as it allowed me to get some treats. As if that wasn’t kind enough, the other seasonal owner Royston on the site offered to cook me (well I think his wife) some Corned Beef Hash, which I had never had before but sure would go down very well and it did. So, a sunny, really nice relaxing evening and nice to have a chat with Terry & Royston.
So a day of 4 quarters, bad muddy path for first third, great scenic path for middle third, following busy road final third, and then a great evening.