Post image for Wales Coast Path: Morfa Nefn to near Trefor (part two)

Wales Coast Path: Morfa Nefn to near Trefor (part two)

October 12, 2014 · 16 comments

This is a continuation of a day’s walk on The Wales Coast Path. Part one was posted last week.

Date Walked: 24th June 2014

Distance walked: about 7 miles

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The path from near Pistyll continued to climb gently. Out of sight, below me, was the disused quarry at Penrhyn Glas but ahead I saw through a slight haze the terraced scars of  the even larger Porth y Nant quarry.

View to Porth y Nant quarry photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

I felt excited at the prospect of getting closer to this man made landscape

The path swung round and became very narrow and dropped down quite steeply towards the beach, giving a view to the flattened bottom of Penrhyn Glas.

Penrhyn Glas quarry, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

The hillside was mostly covered by bracken and gorse with the occasional straggly tree, its angle of growth reflecting the prevailing wind.

An oak, I think

An oak, I think

But somehow a small wood called Gallt y Bwlch had survived and here all the trees were twisted and bent over.

Gallt y Bwlch, near Porth y Nant, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Wonderfully eerie

On a flat piece of ground someone has established, rather incongruously, a driftwood sculpture of a cat.

SCat sculpture near Porth y Nant, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

This seemed out of place to me.

As I neared the beach, the remains of several of the quarries buildings became clearer. According to the official guide, the quarry operated between the 1860’s and the 1940’s, mostly producing granite setts for paving.

Buildings of the Porth y nant quarry, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Close to, the buildings dominated the beach; I would have enjoyed more time to explore.

Buildings of Porth Y Nant quarry, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

One of those times when I would have loved to have seen an artists recreation of the area as at Porthgain

Only stone structures remain, and  a few pieces of rusted metal, a winding wheel being the only piece that I recognized.

Winding gear at Porth y Nant quarry, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I think this gully must have been the tram line where the stone was taken to the coast

The sheer scale of the workings was deeply impressive; signs of the workings scattered all the way up the hillside.

Porth y Nant quarry, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

I was going to need to climb higher than the highest point you can see here

From the beach, the path climbed up beside the quarry and after 10 minutes or so the heritage centre at Nant Gwrtheyrn was a welcome sight; it was coming up 3pm and  I deserved tea and cake. An excellent carrot cake was duly consumed.

Nant Gwrtheyrn, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Tea! Cake! Toilets!

This was a quarrying village and many of the buildings have been very attractively converted to provide accommodation for those attending Welsh language courses (and 4 self catering lets).

Cottages at Nant Gwrtheyrn, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I would love to stay here sometime and really explore the area

From the village a steep road zig-zagged its way up the hillside presenting a fabulous (sorry, about this, must find alternative words) view of the quarry on the far side of the valley.

I could spend several days exploring here

I was also taken by the ruined farm in the valley bottom and its field system, still clearly picked out by the stone boundary walls.

Farm below Nant Gwrtheyrn, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I’m amazed that such a place hasn’t been brought back into use

There is a car park at the top of the road and  a carved triptych of granite pieces;

Granite sculptures above Nant Gwrtheyrn, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Set onto granite setts, of course

from here the path took a wide rough track along the side of Yr Eifl.

Garn For, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

The peak on the left is Garn For, but unusually my OS map doesn’t say so

By now I had climbed to around 1000 feet from the beach and began to feel chilly in the cool breeze.

Memorial to Wyn Davies, photographed from the Wales Coast path at Yr Eifl by Charles Hawes

Wyn Davies was born in the same year as me

My GPS told me that the highest point I reached was 1161 feet, where I passed below a mast situated near the top of Garn For. Then the view ahead was to the bay at Trefor and the path left the wide track which led to the Yr Eifl quarry and dropped down steeply towards the village.

View to Trefor from the wales Coast Path, photographed by Charles Hawes

The path heads off to the left of the village

What had seemed quite wild terrain, changed to feeling much more domesticated, evidenced by a stone wall to my left and a stock fence to my right.

Track leading to Tefor, photographed on the Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

This path may well have been walked by generations of workers making their way from Trefor to the quarries.

I passed a multi-stemmed pollarded Ash…

Pollarded Ash on the Wales Coast Path near Trefor, photographed by Charles Hawes

Super tree

… and then some pretty sheep with coal-black noses, ears and eyes.

Sheep above Trefor, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Any offer on the breed?

Then on the path I saw my second find of the day- a 77 mm glass circular polarizing lens which would fit my own professional camera gear. And not long after that an 82mm Sigma lens cap, which would also fit one of my lenses. I am one of those people that will pick up a penny if I see it in the street; both went in my bag.

What really excited me though was the sight of the Yr Eifi quarry, over to my left.

Yr Eifl quarry, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

You don’t get man being more dramatically assertive on the landscape than this

Perhaps I was in an unusual state of mind but the extensive terraced buildings at the quarries side seemed almost gothic, and brought to mind Mervyn Peake’s “Gormenghast”.

The path briefly joined a minor road and passed under a bridge that carried the stone to the coast.

Brdge serving Yr Eifl quarry, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Perhaps a tramway ran over it?

I passed another substantial ruin (of a hotel I think)…

Ruined building near Trefor, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I could find nothing out about this place, sorry

….but I kept turning round to look again and again at those quarry buildings which Goddard and Evans in their guide describe rightly as “incredible”.

Ye Eifl quarry, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

By now it was nearing 5pm and I began to think about where I would camp that night and what I might eat. I needed to get to Trefor; most reasonably sized villages in Wales seem to have a Londis or suchlike that stays open quite late.

The path took me down towards the sea and then onto a lane, passing a white-painted cottage with jolly doors called West End.

West End, Trefor, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

These were the quarry offices in the C19th, the lane the route of a tramway

I had one last look back at the quarry before the view was replaced by the coast once more.

View to West End and the Eifl quarry, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

If the tramway ran passed the front door it must have been very noisy!

I had just half a mile on the closely grazed cliff tops before seeing the pier at Trefor.

The Pier at Trefor, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I was a bit anxious about my supper at this point

I might have been tempted to pitch my tent near the pretty beach but there were signs a plenty warning against any such ideas and besides it was a bit early to stop, so I walked into the village (there are public toilets at the car park for the harbour).

I asked a woman in an open doorway whether there was shop and was told that it would close in 10 minutes. As village shops goes it was one of the least well stocked that I have been in, but I came away with an ice cream,  a pack of bread rolls, a hunk of cheese some tomatoes – and a big bar of chocolate and felt perfectly happy.

Trefor is just half a mile from the A 499 and the path runs alongside the it for 5 miles; a most unpleasant prospect which I resolved to tackle tomorrow. So after less than half a mile of being screamed at by passing traffic I took a minor road  towards the coast where I could see that a footpath went straight to the beach. It was an immediate relief to get away from the noise of the road and at the end of this footpath, right on the cliff top,  was a perfectly circular, flat, grass- covered clearing about 10 feet across with a bench on one side.

I couldn’t have designed a better spot for the night. Boots off and supper taken I was enjoying the beginning of the sunset and hoping that no one would decide to take an evening walk when a man in a woollen cap arrived, preceded by his two dogs. The bench had been placed there by him in memory of his Mother and he came down most nights.

Bryn yr eryr to Caenarfon-2He offered me a cup of tea or a wash but declining both I was most grateful that he had no objection to my camping there the night; in fact he clearly liked the idea.

By the time I had pitched my tent the sun was nearing the horizon.

Wild camp off the Wales Coast Path near Trefor, photographed by Charles Hawes

Life is sweet when there is nothing more to do than to sit and watch the sun set before retiring for the night. Especially after a big bar of chocolate.

 

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Marice October 12, 2014 at 8:08 am

I love old disused quarry sites this one reminds me of Portland where we would often explore for the day. It’s as if giants came for the day and moved the landscape around. I am always surprised by the number of derelict cottages in idyllic settings you pass, like hens teeth in Cornwall.

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Charles October 12, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Me too – about the quarries. I managed to get off the Wye Valley Walk this week and ended up walking through the abandoned Livox Limestone quarry near Tintern. I really must go back for a good nosey around. Yes, so many isolated cottages left in Wales. Hope it stays that way.

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John October 12, 2014 at 8:32 am

I can only add to the superlatives with a “Wow!”. Arguably the most stirring post you have made (and perhaps the most emotional too) in this series. Though that wood carver needs to study the anatomy of cats – that bit in the middle looks more like a bull! (Incidentally they have restuffed that bull at the National Botanic Gardens.) The sheep look like Kerry Hill.

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Charles October 12, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Why, thank you, kind sir! I really must get a guide book to sheep. Was there an “I Spy” book of sheep?

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John October 12, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Dunno bout “I-Spy”. Looked familiar cos I once helped with a delivery (many, many years ago) and have never been able to eat lamb since! AFAIK, the breed originated in mid-Wales.

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Charles October 12, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Obeserver Pocket Book of Sheep? Try mutton?

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Neil October 12, 2014 at 10:31 pm

I’ve herd you can get a guide to sheep at your local libaary. Mind you, I couldn’t get past page three without dropping off….

Neil October 12, 2014 at 10:57 am

Fabulous walk. Add to the list of ones I would have enjoyed doing… The walk over the hill looks/sounds an interesting shift from tamed to hint of wild…. Love that sense of touching the wild void …..

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Charles October 12, 2014 at 12:06 pm

It was indeed. One does have to take the rough with the smooth and there’s some rough coming up.

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Paul Steer October 12, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Just lovely.

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Charles October 12, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Steady on! I see your mate GP is making a fool of himself again (nothing to do with walking)

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John Lindop October 23, 2014 at 8:55 am

Hi,
Very much enjoyed Welsh Coast Walk, we spent many hols at Criccieth and know that area very well.
As Ordinary Seaman Lindop. J .B., D/JX540875 I did my basic Seaman and Gunnery training at HMS Glendower and the reported gun pits and platforms are the remains of the training battery there, I helped deposit many solid shot into the sea.
Those were the days ?

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Charles October 23, 2014 at 9:28 am

Hi John. Very glad that you are enjoying the blog. And thanks for this interesting comment. I really liked Criccieth. You might like to subscribe so you don’t miss any. It doesn’t cost or get used to send you anything other than notifications of new posts.

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Ruth April 8, 2016 at 4:16 pm

Thank you for a good write up. Read this post yesterday as I knew I was doing the same walk today and feeling a little nervous – Yr Eifl looks huge and somewhat ominous as you approach it! Reassured by your account of the walk and enjoyed my own expedition today 🙂
The carved wooden cat is still there and still looks odd.

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Charles April 15, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Hiya. Thanks. I saw on Twitter that you were about to do that bit. I should have tweeted encouragement. I loved that day. But not the cat.

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Charles October 23, 2014 at 9:40 am

Baa, Baa.

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