Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Monday, 23 April 2018

Monday 23 April 2018 - The Anglesey Coast Path - Stage 8 - Cemaes to Church Bay

20 km, 400 metres ascent, 6 hours 20 minutes.
Martin did about 11 km of bimbling.

Cool, cloudy start, remaining cloudy and turning very windy, with a light rain dessert.

Castellor is one of the best B&B's we've stayed at. They opened last September after a year of renovations - another place rescued from being in a very poor state, like Sea View Guesthouse, and Victoria Cottage before that.

Everything was thought of here - down to the emergency kit in a drawer that includes toothbrush and other essentials.

The eggs 'royale' were delicious. Breakfast took some time but even then we failed to do justice to what was on offer.

Luncheon supplies were replenished at the local corner shop, then I went to collect careless Jeanette's missing trousers from the Hotel Trecastell while the coasters set off under a dark grey cloud towards a big blot on the horizon - the nuclear power station that has lurked in our view for some time.

I drove around to the far end of a kilometre long causeway at Bryn Aber and chatted to a chap who is employed by Biffa to pick 'non-natural' litter (mainly plastic) from the high tide areas of the local beaches. He studiously picked litter from above where Polly was parked, nodding towards his Mercedes - "the tide doesn't reach that high".

After the shingle of the causeway, a short stroll through masses of coconut fragrant gorse took me to meet the others, who seemed to be taking it very gently today. Lots of wildlife here, including a dead fish on the beach that must have been too big for the local heron.

A nature reserve and tern colony by the causeway appeared full of life, though as requested, we walked on the beach below the reserve out of respect for the ground nesting birds and other wildlife.

On return to Polly the others collected their lunches and set off into a burgeoning wind. I read the gripping 'Where the Missing Go' for a while.

The others encountered two White Ladies (pictured) - large beacons built as a guide for shipping. They line up with the tower on West Mouse. Ships paid a fee for this service. I've no idea as to how it was collected, but Sue's suggestion that a small boat collected tolls from ships as they went past sounds a tad unlikely.

I drove around to a parking spot inland from Llyn y Fydlyn and was just in time to meet the others on the coast path and provide an ongoing chocolate supply service to Paul. The path here is only open in the summer due to pheasant shooting in the winter that apparently keeps the estate afloat.

After a nice circular walk I continued to Church Bay, today's destination. A short walk to meet the others, then a final photo of the day outside the closed café at 3.40 pm, with the closed Lobster Pot restaurant behind us and the rain just starting. The team will return to this point tomorrow.

Due to limited accommodation at Church Bay, we were booked in to a farmhouse B&B - Pen yr orsedd. According to my calculations this should have been a further 5 km walk to grid reference SH 336 905. Luckily, Polly was on hand to take us there. We duly arrived at a very grotty farmhouse that we later learned is own by the 'billionaire Williams family'. We didn't even ask if it was the right place.

The Internet is a wonderful thing. We soon established that the correct Pen yr orsedd was at SH 314 834, a good 7 miles away. My cock-up, I hadn't realised there were two farms with the same name so close to each other. Polly to the rescue. Had we all been walking we'd have had to call a taxi, though had we called Joyce at the correct B&B I'm sure she would have collected us.

A very friendly greeting from Joyce, more nice rooms, and tea and cake in the guests' lounge soon had us relaxing for the rest of the afternoon. Then the Catch 22 Brasserie in nearby Valley gave us another fine evening meal, sadly the last on this trip.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Sunday 22 April 2018 - The Anglesey Coast Path - Stage 7 - Amlwch (The Trecastell Hotel, Bull Bay) to Cemaes

11 km, 350 metres ascent, 4 hours 10 minutes.
Martin did about 10 km of bimbling.

Cool with rain in the air at first, slowly brightening to become merely a cool overcast morning, and an afternoon with sunny periods (and the odd shower later).

This short day was tantamount to a rest day for our hardy coasters. We enjoyed a lie in and a leisurely breakfast, even a chapter or two of 'Where the Missing Go' by Emma Rowley, a daughter of one of Jeanette's friends. We are all reading or have read this book.

Richard and Jenny turned up for today's section of the coast path. They claim to have finished the entire route yesterday. Apparently it took them eight years. That's less than 20 miles a year, almost slower than it takes Richard to grow a beard.

Whilst gear got sorted and waterproofs donned, I drove to Cemaes and started walking towards the others with a view to meeting them.

When they eventually set off, the coasters were drawn to several points of interest by the excellent guide book we are using - 'Walking the Anglesey Coast Path' by Carl Rogers, notably on this stretch, the abandoned brickworks at Porth Wen.

They then passed a ruined summerhouse before descending steeply to some ruined works at Porth Llanlleiana. With only 4 km to go, and not yet lunch time, the large picnic table just here, sheltered by a high wall, made for an excellent pause place. I'd arrived there half an hour earlier, just beating ten kayakers to this prime position. Two lady backpackers soon joined me on the table and we chatted while they lunched.

I hadn't provided lunch provisions for such a short section of the route, but with the aid of a left over sandwich and a large packet of crisps everyone got a bit to eat. Most of us were still bloated from another huge breakfast anyway.

The kayaks departed and I noticed Paul looking enquiringly after them, perhaps contemplating his 'Around Anglesey By Kayak' project.

Continuing gently on our way, we passed the church of Llanbadrig, unfortunately closed to visitors. The sun was quite strong by now, so a little further on everyone lay down for a snooze. Those who did stay awake witnessed a porpoise (or was it a dolphin?) passing through. Quite a treat for them.

From there the pleasant coast path led around a final headland to the village of Cemaes, where a large bell on the beach informs the residents of high tide, but a café proves elusive. So a well positioned kiosk provided a coffee for Paul and ice creams for the rest of us - that had to suffice. Cream teas would have been nice!

Richard and Jenny were returned to Bull Bay, and I soon joined the others at Castellor, a sumptuous B&B on the edge of Cemaes. Their tea, shortbread, and lemon drizzle cake made up for the lack of a proper café in the village.

Arriving at 4 o'clock gave a good amount of down time. Plenty of reading, but Scrabble was rejected.

The Gadlys, a five minute walk away, served all our culinary needs to a high standard.

NB A note from yesterday - the young couple who are walking the entire Welsh Coast Path passed in the other direction, going well before returning to the mainland and then the delights of the Lleyn Peninsula.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Saturday 21 April 2018 - The Anglesey Coast Path - Stage 6 - Benllech to Amlwch

29 km, 800 metres ascent, 9 hours 10 minutes.
Martin did about 10 km of bimbling.

A beautiful warm cloudless day with a light cooling breeze at sea level.

David has spent the last three years turning a wrecked Victorian house into what is now Sea View Guesthouse, with rooms for at least 16 guests. Well done to him. We enjoyed our stay. Unlike our previous accommodation, other people were also staying here.

We enjoyed both dinner and breakfast with fine views over the bay to an outline of hills beyond a sea of windfalls. The top picture is the view from our room, the same view as from our breakfast table.

By soon after 9 am the others were on their way to Moelfre while I was despatched to the local Tesco Express shop. Missions accomplished, I parked up at Moelfre and walked a short way along the coast path to meet the coasters, before skilfully guiding them to the delights of Ann's Pantry.

We then walked a couple of kilometres out of Moelfre, passing various memorials to several shipwrecks, notably the Royal Charter, luxury liner of its day (a motorised sailing clipper), which foundered on nearby rocks in a storm in October 1859, with the loss of over 400 lives. There's also much reference to a rescue carried out in 1959, when the lifeboat crew saved eight sailors from certain death. On leaving the coasters, I returned to Polly via the lifeboat Visitor Centre, where a 'This is Your Life' recording shows the Coxwain of the lifeboat, Richard Evans, being delivered his day of fame by Eamonn Andrews.

Next stop for me was a parking spot at Traeth Dulas. A short walk to meet the others was followed by a sumptuous lunch on some comfy rocks overlooking the bay. There had been lots of people around Moelfre on this sunny Saturday, but very few were down here. After waving the others off I watched the tide surge in, bringing with it a colony of swans.

About now, Jeanette began to exhibit symptoms of 'Fitbit Distress'. Her batteries were low and she had forgotten to bring her charging lead. Even I will soon move ahead of her in the 'Steps League' (Division 3B)!

After a long rest at Traeth Dulas, Polly took me up to Amlwch Port, from where I trogged off down another nice section of coast path to meet the others. A section of marsh was safely skirted, and thanks to expert guidance, Paul's trainers that he has now been wearing for a couple of days in a foot cripple saving capacity, remained dry, and Jeanette's rock climbing skills were honed.

Oyster catchers and crows, aided by barking dogs, serenaded us towards the delights of pots of tea at the Sail Loft Café, at Amlwch Port in an area of industrial archaeological interest in this area of copper mining.

The coasters then continued their longest walk of the trip, arriving at the Trecastell Hotel over an hour later at 6.20 pm. Whilst Sue was misleading Paul and Jeanette through ankle deep mud, I was luxuriating in a hot bath. That could be used later to wash Paul's horribly muddied trainers...

Needless to say, their arrival time coincided with Beer o'clock.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Friday 20 April 2018 - The Anglesey Coast Path - Stage 5 - Beaumaris to Benllech

25 km, 400 metres ascent, 8 hours 10 minutes.
Martin did about 11 km of bimbling.

A beautiful warm sunny day. This could be the height of summer.

Carole and Jeff provided a magnificent breakfast that included a huge bowl of fruit salad. It was hard not to linger for longer in Victoria Cottage B&B.

On the other hand, it was hugely sunny with only a light breeze - a perfect day for a walk.

After sourcing some provisions for lunch, I headed up to Penmon Point, where the Pilot House Café provided sustenance in the form of coffee and carrot cake. The coasters arrived having explored the remains of Penmon Priory, St. Seiriol's Well, and an impressive dovecote built around 1600. The dovecote has space for about 930 birds - a brilliant source of regular fresh meat for the Bulkeley family, who acquired the property after the dissolution of the monasteries.

I walked part of the next section with the coasters. Fine views to a lighthouse and Puffin Island beyond.

Whilst the others headed for lunch at the Iron Age hill fort of Din Silwy, I drove round to the beach near Bryn Hyrddin and walked around Red Wharf Bay to meet them. No tidal issues today; just a few groughs for Paul to negotiate in his trainers, which appear to be more 'toe friendly' than his boots.

The last stage of today's exertions saw us all arriving in Benllech at about 5.20 pm, the coasters having reluctantly walked past the attractions of the Ship Inn at Red Wharf Bay, in favour of getting to Sea View Guesthouse in plenty of time to relax before adjourning downstairs to the Bistro, where everyone enjoyed their meals, albeit they weren't as exciting as last night's tapas.

Anglesey Pictures that Didn't Make It

I'm struggling to include all the pictures I want to in this week's postings. Some of the original postings are appearing later and are a hassle to delete, so I'll now stick to five pictures per day. Some of the pictures that had to be excluded, mainly from Thursday but starting with the first evening's deconstructed cheesecake are shown above.

Thursday 19 April 2018 - The Anglesey Coast Path - Stage 4 - Newborough to Beaumaris

Planned - 33 km, 450 metres ascent, quite a long time.
Actual for Sue, Paul and Jeanette - 25 km, 400 metres ascent, around 9 hours.
Martin did about 18 km of bimbling.

A start under high cloud with a cool breeze developed into a warm, sunny day. Perfect for walking.

We all have 'performance' issues. Paul has two very sore toes and will be wearing trainers tomorrow. Sue has her usual Achilles pains. Jeanette has back and foot problems to name just two. I am awaiting a straightforward hernia operation and given the discomfort I've suffered over the previous three days I've reluctantly decided to moderate my daily mileage. How come I can run a marathon without discomfort but I can't walk 10 km....?

So whilst Janeen pedalled off into the sunshine and the three remaining Coast Path veterans set off on that path, Richard kindly drove me to Holyhead to collect Polly.

I then parked by a place called West Lodge, at kilometre 14 along today's route. It was a really lovely day, with fine views across the Menai Straights to Snowdonia. Strolling along the coast path to meet the others at Llanidan, I managed to negotiate a tidal section. Hoping it would still be clear, I led the others back that way, but we missed the chance to follow the coast by about ten minutes and had to retreat to an inland alternative.

The coasters had almost foundered at the stepping stones across Afon Braint, where after a first refusal from Jeanette, she had to be coaxed over the slippery stones in order to avoid a long diversion. She had recovered her composure by the time they reached me, albeit they were bemoaning missed tea shop opportunities.

Back at West Lodge, and faced with 2 km of boring tarmac, as the Coast Path headed inland to get around the private domain of Plas Newydd, our reluctant heroes jumped into Polly with unexpected glee. Soon they were enjoying lunch on a stone bench 2 km further on at Pont y Crug.

After that I walked with them to the ancient burial chamber at Bryn Celli Ddu, an impressive artifact, before leaving them to continue on their teashopless route to the splendid Pont Britannia and the Menai Suspension Bridge that link Anglesey with the Welsh mainland. I believe it was an excellent afternoon stroll, with consistently fine views.

Meanwhile, a visit to Plas Newydd seemed appropriate for me. Coffee and cake were the objective, duly achieved after a quick look around the house. This place merits a fuller visit, though it's a shame the National Trust can't accommodate a route for the Coast Path through its extensive grounds. There's a magnificent mural by a man called Rex Whistler whose life was sadly cut short in WW2, and military prowess in the family that owns the estate seems to have been inspired by the achievements of the 1st Marquis, Henry 'One Leg', if not earlier.

On then to Menai, where I enjoyed another short walk to meet the others under the Menai Suspension Bridge. After leaving the town and passing a few browsing Shelduck, we reached Polly by the Caeau Pen y Clip Nature Reserve. It was well after 5 pm, with a good 6 km to go, mostly on quiet tarmaced roads above the Menai Straights. As mentioned above, all our remaining 'coasters' had performance issues. Saving themselves for another day, they eagerly sought refuge in Polly for the rest of today's journey.

It was well worth arriving early at Victoria Cottage B&B, where Carole and Jeff were most welcoming. A great spot, as was the Midland Tapas and Wine Bar, where we later indulged ourselves.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Wednesday 18 April 2018 - The Anglesey Coast Path - Stage 3 - Rhosneigr to Newborough

25 km, 300 metres ascent, 8 hours 20 minutes.

A dull start against a strong wind. Gradually improving conditions culminating in t-shirts and shorts weather.

A One Stop shop across the road from Ambleside B&B enabled funds to be replenished and lunch ingredients to be purchased. That after another excellent breakfast that fuelled us for a bracing start against the strong wind.

Here the path sticks very close to the coast, so we were treated to more spectacular waves as high tide approached. Narrow sections of sand at the very top of the beaches were our thoroughfare of choice, though in one or two places the tide beat us to it.

High above the sands, an ancient burial chamber was reached. This was perused at length by the others (a Neolithic chamber restored following excavation in the 1950s) whilst I wandered down to the beach at Porth Trecastell and watched a lone surfer trying in vain to find a good wave.

Near here, a flock of Oyster Catchers went for a run ahead of us, eventually turning back towards their original position.

The bird life around here is extensive. There must be lots of food. I think we observed Turnstones and Redshank, as well as the more familiar Pied Wagtails, Swallows and Skylarks. And many more.

For most of today we had great views across to Snowdonia and down to the Lleyn Peninsula. The smog like atmosphere in which they started this walk has gradually cleared, slowly revealing the magnificence of our surroundings.

Soon after the burial chamber, our path left the coast to skirt around Anglesey's motor racing circuit, before reaching the secluded bay of Porth Cwyfan, where a small church founded in the seventh century and rebuilt in stone in the twelfth century stands on a remote walled headland that is well cut off at high tide. Restored in the nineteenth century, the church retains its original simple form.

More crashing waves and lovely coastal scenery later, and we stumbled on beside a tide affected creek into the small village of Aberffraw. Eschewing the attractions of the pub on this cool morning, we headed for the Llys Llewelyn Tea Rooms, where a couple of large groups of seniles (people of about my age) appeared to be enjoying a full Sunday lunch. Were they three days late, or four days early?

A small bridge in Aberffraw was almost inundated as the tide reached its highest point. The tide had turned by the time we returned from sumptuous lunches at the café, and from Aberffraw relatively easy paths led inexorably to the Riverside Café in Malltraeth. I say 'relatively easy'; the official coast path route, mostly on tarmac, would have been very easy and rather boring. My off-road route took us by the estate where William and Kate lived when William worked on Anglesey. Locals told us of confrontations with the officious landowner on public rights of way even now. Luckily we didn't see anyone, but deep ploughed furrows had obliterated some of the paths marked on our map, causing us to divert around field edges. A path beyond Ty Cadwgan didn't appear to exist on the ground, causing  us to revert to the tarmac.

In former days Welsh kings resided hereabouts. We visited a church used by them - at Llangadwaladr, where a large stone erected in 625 by Cadwaladr stands outside.

After more tea and cake at the Riverside Café we crossed the long sea wall and entered Newborough Forest, home inter alia to red squirrels and 'teenage ravens'. The latter find mates here and pair up for life, having no reason to revisit the forest for the rest of their lives.

Desperate for a beer, we cut off a 10+ km loop from our itinerary. We can do that as a day walk sometime...

By about 5.30, Richard, Janeen, Scamp and Hetty had greeted us in Newborough, whence they moved from Timperley last November. Suffice to say, we very much enjoyed our stay there and a visit to Dylan's restaurant in nearby Menai. Great hospitality. Thanks All.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Tuesday 17 April 2018 - The Anglesey Coast Path - Stage 2 - Trearddur to Rhosneigr

27 km, 300 metres ascent, 8 hours 5 minutes.

Force 8 winds gusting to Force 9 all morning with light rain and spray. Calmer in the afternoon - rain stopped but wind still strong.

Yesterday we met two youths walking the entire 870 miles of the Welsh Coast Path. They started in Chester ten days ago and are walking the Anglesey section in a clockwise direction, so we should meet them again in a few days time. They were heading for a hostel last night after camping for seven of the previous ten days. A good decision given the strength of the wind.

Shirley and Rich's 'full English' (shouldn't that be 'Welsh'!) was excellent and set us up well for the day.

The view from our room (top picture) didn't exactly entice us out, so despite breakfasting at 8am we didn't get going until after 9.30. There were several excuses - my load was lightened by sending a set of Scottish maps to Austria, and we enjoyed looking at Shirley and Rich's photobooks of a trip to the USA.

The rain wasn't as hard as expected, but the wind was stronger, quite violent at times. The coastal scenery was dramatic, with the spray from huge waves crashing high above the coastal cliffs, and through splendid rock arches.

Wes Johnson, at a Coast Watch station 5 km south of Trearddur, saw us coming from miles away. We chatted at length, but we didn't get invited to the warmth of the interior.

A little further on, past a couple of pristine white goats and a sheep with young lambs sheltering contentedly on the path behind an expanse of gorse bushes, the high tide at Borthwen inundated the beach to the extent that we had to find an alternative inland route. Earlier we had skipped across a section of beach just before a large wave deposited water a metre deep over the path.

Continuing past various inlets, with foam spraying everywhere, we eventually reached a point where the terrain forced us inland towards Four Mile Bridge, on the ancient stagecoach route to Holy Island, so named as it is four miles from Holyhead. Here we got our first taste of mud. Sue had to be very careful not to get wet feet in her trail shoes, Paul ripped his trousers trying to be clever with a barbed wire fence, and two year old Bertie Pointer and his welly clad servant joined us for a section where some boarding floated enticingly on six inches of flood water.

Amongst this minor mudfest we passed through the village of Four Mile Bridge, where the Y Gegin Fach café served us some great cheese toasties for lunch.

Little Egrets and Eider Ducks were two of the bird species seen here that will in due course be listed. Spring Squill, Bluebells and Thrift were also coming into flower.

The walk continued past frenetic jets at an RAF Base,  eventually leading to a long section of firm beach and a footbridge leading to the small town of Rhosneigr. Ambleside B&B was duly located, tea and cake consumed (thanks Cathy) and ablutions completed.

Cathy suggested two restaurants no more than four doors away. Both were shut, as was much else in the town. However, a ten minute walk saw us at the Oyster Catcher restaurant, where we enjoyed a fine meal.