Peat beds at Tywyn, wales, photographed by Charles hawes

Wales Coast Path: Aberdovey to Llwyngwril

April 20, 2014 · 14 comments

Date walked: 1st April 2014

Distance: 12.4.miles

Cumulative total of miles walked along The Wales Coast Path: 512

The official website of the Wales Coast path is http://www.walescoastpath.gov.uk/default.aspx

OS map required:  OL23 – Cadair Idris and Lyn Tegid.  I get all my maps from Dash4it. They are well discounted, and delivery is free and fast.

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It had been 4 months since I had finished my last stint on the path. In the meantime the west Wales coast had been battered by ferocious storms that had left many resorts with expensive repair bills. I might have considered taking the train to return to Aberdovey but  some sections of the sea defences and embankments along the line from Dovey Junction to Pwllheli  had been destroyed, and services are suspended, so I had no option but to drive up to Aberdovey- an enormous pleasure on such a beautiful day.

It was lunchtime when I arrived in Aberdovey, so I bought a sandwich from one of the cafes on the front and enjoyed it from the jetty.

Jetty at Aberdovey, photographed from the beach by Charles Hawes

“Oh I do like to be beside the seaside”

The tide was out which meant my luck was in. I couldn’t have had a nicer start to the days walk than a  three-mile walk along the sandy beach. There were a few beachcombers around but mostly I had the place to myself.

The beach at Aberdovey, photographed from the Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I think that they are going to have to paddle to get back to the beach

 The peace and quiet was somewhat cut across by the toing and froing of a couple of  large trucks that were ferrying sand around.

Truck moving sand at Aberdovey beach, photographed from the Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Truck, sand and sky

A mile or so up the beach I spotted a hard-hatted chap in a high viz jacket who was standing on the top of the steep dunes and asked him what was going on. It seems the storms had dumped an excess of sand at Aberdovey and had broken down the dunes that protect the golf course, so they were “killing two birds with one stone” (or rather two trucks).

Repairing sand dunes near Aberdovey, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Love these tracks, don’t you?

Beyond the golf course peace and quiet returned and I was soothed by the sounds of the distant waves.

Beach near Aberdovey, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

One of my arty beach pics

As I approached Tywyn (pronounced “tow”-(as in kow tow) “in”), some regular dark lumps at the water’s edge intrigued me. I assumed that they would have been a rock outcrop but though quite solid they had some “give” in them. 

Peat deposits at beach near Tywyn photographed from the Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Here, like a row of rather worn teeth!

It was peat!  From the rectangular pits that followed it was obvious that these peat beds had been worked in the past. How far in the past seems unclear -the 18th century perhaps. It seems that they had been more exposed than usual by the winter’s storms, so this was a privileged sight.

Peat beds exposed on beach near Tywyn, wales, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Very exciting; I’d never seen this before

It wasn’t just the peat that was exposed; a little further on I came across some tree stumps still in their original location.

Exposed tree stump on the beach near Tywyn,  photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Trees too. Amazing.

I felt immensely privileged to see such a rare sight and it was hard to leave this fascinating landscape to keep to the path as it follows Tywyn’s sea front.

View of Tywyn from the beach, photographed by Charles Hawes

It looks OK – from a distance

 Tywyn greeted me with my first caravan park of the day and things went downhill from there.

Caravan park at Tywyn, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I wonder how many caravan parks I have passed in the last 500 miles?

The planted up boat on the promenade was let down rather by its half-hearted display and scrappy surroundings.

Planted up boat on the promenade at Tywyn, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Hmm. I think those tall daffs are a mistake, but that’s not the main problem is it?

The planter opposite “The Buccaneer” was not going to impress any Britain in Bloom judge…

The promenade at  Tywyn photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

An ex- palm I believe.

…..and the Edwardian (?) shelter had seen better times.

Shelter on ther promedade at Tywyn, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I blame the Government

Things went from bad to worse as I traipsed along the front. The rockery bank that edged a fenced off estate seemed confused as to its intention….

Promenade at Tywyn, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I’m just not sure what these rocks are for.

….and even the sunny day could do little to ease the bleakness of the place.

The promenade at Tywyn, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

It’s a super beach; its just not a very nice promenade

And just to prove to me that it had no desire for me to return in the near future, Tywyn’s passing gift was another caravan park.

Caravan park at Tywyn, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Any colour as long as its green

The path heads inland a little way to cross the railway line and takes the road out-of-town past the sewage works. And then it was as if Tywyn was just a bad dream as over to the right across the boggy flood plain of the River Dysynni the magnificent hills of Snowdonia raised my spirits.

View across the Dysynni flood plain to Snowdonia, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Phew!

If you want to follow the “official” Wales Coast Path, things get a little tricky at this point.  My OS map shows the route passing the sewage works, skirting the south side of Broad Water (in the 18th Century it was used for building small ships to transport the peat from Tywyn) and taking a 5 mile circuit by the village of Bryncrug to the Tonfanu quarry and then across the hills to Rhoslefain. But before I do one of these walks I always check the “official” WCP web site where the most up to date maps are available (albeit in a very clunky format) and that now shows the route taking a path across Morfa Gwyllt to the west of Broad Water and crossing the Dysynni Bridge and then staying on the road for a further two miles to Rhoslefain. A much shorter route.

The Cicerone Guide “The Ceredigion and Snowdonia Coast paths” – Cardigan Bay on the Wales Coast Path“- published 2014, takes a hybrid of these options, favouring the walk through the quarry but then taking the Dysynni Bridge (it assumes you are walking the path north to south).

You’ll be pleased to know that I took the latest “official” route.

Aberdovey to llwyngwril-32

The bridge was very new (installed 2013) and not on the map, so that explains the OS map route, though it is difficult to understand why such a substantial bridge, barred to motorised traffic, was apparently built for just pedestrian use. I must write to the footpaths person at Gwynedd for an explanation. I passed a local couple coming the other way and they couldn’t enlighten me.

View to Tonfanau Quarry photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Walker taking The Cicerone Preferred Route

Over to the right the scar of the quarry was clearly visible and I could hear the “beep beep beep” of a reversing lorry (it could have been ghostly noises- the link I found says the quarry closed 5 years ag0).  I could have taken the route through it still but rather than risk finding the way barred I stuck to the road, passing by  the deserted Tonfanau station.

Tonfanau train station, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

My camera decided the bramble was the subject here

Why this station is still there at all is a mystery. The military site  that occupied a coastal site closed years ago and despite what Wikipedia says, there is no village.

The trudge along the road was pleasant enough on this fine day. Over to the left the remains of what I took to be a rifle range.

Rifle range at Tonfanau encampment, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

 And, of course there were sheep – and lambs!

Aberdovey to llwyngwril-33

Sheep (we, like sheep – but you knew that already) – and lambs!

After passing by the property called Llanfendigaid I spied a sign saying “Tea and cake 100 yards” that pointed me up a track to the right. It was 4 o clock and tea and cake was exactly what I fancied. The track led to a farm called Tyddyn Meurig, where a youth was hosing down some machinery.

“Is your Mum in” I asked, (apologies for the blatantly sexist enquiry).

“Nah, but my dad will sort you out”. I walked up to the farmhouse and the overall-clad farmer invited me to sit on a bench in front of the house.

“We don’t have cake, but my Mother baked a sponge yesterday, will that do?” I replied that that would be very nice. He returned a couple of minutes later.

“She’s not answering her phone. I’ve got a swiss roll and a scone. They are shop bought. How about that?”

“Perfect”

The farmhouse has a good view over Cardigan Bay.  Apparently the teas were his son’s idea for him to earn a little extra money. On a stile on the far side of the yard was a Wales Coast Path marker. My farmer explained that the route did go past his place but there had been complaints about going through the quarry so they moved it. Which rather killed off the lad’s appetite for the enterprise.

Tea at Tyddyn Meurig, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Further reports on the cake availability gratefully received.

Keeping to the old route now I left the farm and crossed the minor road I had been walking on and then the busier A493, after which there was a gentle climb up a farm track.

All the fields I passed through had lambs. Some so new into the world that there had not been time for the crows and magpies to have devoured the umbilical cords (or are these unpalatable to corvids?).

Umbilical cord of lamb photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I bet Ted Hughes has written a poem about this

As I climbed, so the views improved and I could see clearly the beginning of the  Lleyn peninsular arching around the bay.

View to the  Lleyn peninsular photographed from near Llwyngwril on the Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Lovely view of the Lleyn

It was a beautiful late afternoon. I was struck by the network of well constructed stone walls and picturesque ruined farm buildings.

Approaching Llwyngwril from The Wales Coast Path, photographed by Charles Hawes

This makes you want to get out there, doesn’t it?

The farm tracks round the corner of Barmouth Bay revealing a caravan park occupying a prime location on the outskirts of Llwyngwril.  The path takes a minor road into the village but I missed this and had a half a mile on the A493 instead.

The Garthangharad Hotel, Llwyngwril photographed from The wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

The pub quiz prize was a bag of Malteasers

 is a pleasant little village with a striking black and white pub. I had  booked into the Prysgoed Bed and Breakfast in a nearby quiet side and the friendly owner was there to greet me.  I was pleased with my comfortable double room and delighted with the massive rolled top bath in the large bathroom (cosy bathrobe ,a wide choice of toiletries and a fishtank). But what really touched me was an immediate invitation to join my host in her team for the pub quiz later. That’s not an offer you get every day. Advised that it would be “a late night” I gratefully declined. I enjoyed a decent pub meal and a couple of good pints at the Gathangharad Hotel before an early night.

 

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

John April 20, 2014 at 4:03 pm

I will accept responsibility for the last paragraph when you were clearly under pressure to complete the post before I had finished making the cucumber sandwiches. Having a beach in the bathroom is a clever touch of the B&B owner. (The joke in this comment will appear ridiculous to later visitors following correction).

If nothing else, this post highlights the “permanence” of peat bog mining – the long term damage caused. There’s a commercial opportunity in promoting the sale of the relevant pics, I suggest. And flog the umbilical cord pic to Ed Milliband as clearly the sheep moved to the left after ……

I’d like to proffer my usual appreciation of the pics, especially those taken on beaches, (I like the links out and the narrative too) and note that the sensible sheep clearly stayed out of rifle shot. Had you told them you were carrying a gun, they’d have probably congregated safely in front of the target.

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Charles April 20, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Quite right. Been under pressure all day. I’ve amended (and added to) that sentence so it’s already history.
But if it wasn’t for peat bog mining I would not have had this wonderful experience. I’m all for it. Thanks for the appreciaitions. My main weapon was a Swiss Army card. I don’t think the sheep would be too worried by that.

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Anne Wareham April 20, 2014 at 4:13 pm

One of your best, despite lack of company. But how did you persuade yourself to give up the possibility of some Maltesers? What did you have that was better than that??? Xxx
x

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charleshawes April 20, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Thank you! I was told that it was a small packet. Sleep was the greater attraction.

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Martin April 20, 2014 at 6:42 pm

As much as I love wild camping, I do really like the idea of spending the night in a B&B and a friendly pub for the evening. Good stuff.

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Charles April 21, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Yeah and much as I like the occasional camp. On a 4 0r 5 day stint I really like to have a decent bed to sleep in each night with preferably a beer and a cooked meal to hand.

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rob grover April 21, 2014 at 7:48 am

Great to have you back on the path
As interesting as the buildings of Salisbury may be, it is ‘ the Path’ that seems to get your creative juices really flowing, as well as stimulating me to add a comment
The Tywyn seafront certainly shows how tastes can change, but then the Path is all about contrasts, so a bit of tat all adds to the mix. I live just along the coast from Barry Island – long live the Log Flume
I have just ordered The Wales Coastal Path: A Practical Guide for Walkers, by Katharine Evans and Christopher Goddard through the St David’s Press website
It advertises ’30 spectacular photographs’, so no competition there
I guess it’ll be hard for you to resist having a look, but will you be able to wait by putting it on your birthday or Christmas list?

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Charles April 21, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Thanks Rob.
Yes, The Path is The Big Project.
I do like the urban/rural mix but somehow the Welsh seaside towns are overwhemingly shabby. I guess there just isn’t enough visitors. I shall see if I can get a review copy of that new book. Unlike all the “official” guides that I have been getting, this one sounds likke it has more useful inforamtion.

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Paul Steer April 21, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Lovely pictures again, really has encouraged me to visit Aberdovey perhaps in the Autumn.

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Charles April 21, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Thanks Paul. Yes, Aberdovey was one of the nicest of the towns so far.

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Sue Williams April 22, 2014 at 8:00 am

Hi there Charles,
Love this blog. It is so interesting and your photos are really good. Thanks for the mention. I do agree about the butterflies, they seemed like a good idea at the time lol. I look forward to the next installment. Keep up the good work, if you can call it that. Such beautiful scenery….Ahh… someone has to do it….

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Charles April 22, 2014 at 11:27 am

Hi Sue

Thanks for the comments and am glad that you like the blog. Next post should be May 4th. I’m afraid my “take” on Barmouth isn’t much more positive than Tywyn!

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Michelle October 18, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Hi Charles
We walked Llwyngwril to Aberdovey today. We were lucky with the weather. Unfortunately we didn’t see the fossilised tree, the tide wasn’t out far enough. Regretably, we didn’t stop for tea & cake at the farm house thinking we’d get some at Tywyn but there wasn’t anything there! We plodded on to Aberdovey before we could get a brew! Looking forward to your next post. Michelle

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Charles October 23, 2014 at 9:39 am

Hiya. That’s a shame about missing the trees- they are extraordinary. Mind you, that’s as nothing compared to missing out on a brew. And I would love to know how the farmhouse is doing on the cake front. New post coming out on Sunday and probably the week after as well as I have a lot stacked up.

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