Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Thumbs up for Premier Inns

A complimentary pot of tea served at my tent by Gareth the Manager at premier Inns, Baglan. Wonderful!

Addendum - for relevant story see previous post (go to: "Older Posts")

Welsh Boundary Walk - Porthcawl to Baglan

Tuesday 31st May - day 42
It was bright and sunny this morning but very windy, so I had an exhilarating start up the coast path from Porthcawl.
My ankle was giving a lot of pain and I stopped and rebandaged after applying Voltarol cream, and then tightened up the boots as much as I could, and started using my walking poles, and after a couple of hours things settled down a bit. Further on I went through the industrial wastelands and sand dunes south of Port Talbot, where surprisingly the paths were quite good, but there was a feeling of remoteness and desolation. Further on there were disused railway shunting yards and all kinds of debris. Whilst this was a bit unsightly it is interesting to see and a change from the endless crop fields of the eastern boundary.
In Magram, which is just a large housing estate servicing the local steel and BOC industries, I had a cheese omelette in a cafe. I listened to two locals talking for about twenty minutes in Welsh, but I thought I detected the occasional English phrases. I was curious and asked them very politely about this mixing of the two tongues and they told me they had been speaking in English all the time. I know I do not have a good ear for these things but the fact that their accent could disguise completely what they were saying was a bit surprising.
I had targeted the Premier Inn at Baglan for a stay - these places usually have plenty of rooms and booking, I thought, was not essential. On arrival I was told they were full because of The Eisteddfod- there is ualways something. After some pleading by me the receptionist and her mother who was also present said they thought I could camp in the environs, and they then consulted Gareth the manager who said ok, and he took me on a tour to decide where to pitch. That decided he offered me a cup of tea and just at the point when I had fixed the tent he arrived with tray, teapot, and milk served at my tent. What a change from the negative attitude of the guy at Acorn Camping at Llantwit a couple of nights ago.
Thought for the day - why do cutlers make knives and forks with sharp square edges at the end of the handles threatening scalpel incisions of the palm as one eats?
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Replies to comments

Gimmer - yes I saw the multitudinous govt. offices.
Thanks for the history lesson, I'll watch out for other examples of the genre you refer to, but I must say the Welsh have been particulary warm, friendly and generous - he was an exception; perhaps he was born in Yorkshire where rudeness is an art.
John Proud - thanks for the words of encouragement, but do I detect a hint of medical caution about my eating? You will be pleased to hear I have lost a stone in weight, and I have had to buy a new, shorter belt to support my trousers.
BB - So, you think I'm some sort of beast?
Negsy and Negsy - thank you for your kind words. I enjoyed our meeting. I would be pleased to meet you in Pembrokeshire providing my aged frame holds together and that logistics will allow. Follow the blog, and if it looks possible communicate with me by email, conrob@me.com and I will let you have my mobile number so that we can communicate more effectively.

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Monday, 30 May 2011

Welsh Boundary Walk - Llantwit Major to Porthcawl

Monday 30th May - day 41
I made my escape over the wall safely this morning at 6:00am. The public conveniences in Llantwit were locked; less said about the solution to that problem Heavy drizzle persisted. Llantwit is not one of my favourite places.
I trudged down the road to St Donats and had Hob Nobs and cheese in the church sheltering from the rain. I am pleased with the performance of my waterproofs - cheapish Mardale overtrousers and expensive Marmot shell jacket.
From the church I went out onto the coast path up an incredibly steep, muddy banking. At the lighthouse I came back onto the road and trudged and trudged in the wet.
Today's highlight was a surprise cafe at Ogmore-by-Sea. At first I thought it was closed but when I entered it was full of people, save for one small table sporting a reserved sign. Everybody was eating breakfast. The lady said I could sit at the reserved table which would not be occupied until later by the reservees. I reckon this place is so good you have to book.Only breakfast is served until 12:00, I think. I had a bacon and egg bap, toast and marmalade and two pots of tea, and a piece of home made shortbread to munch on the road. The atmosphere was warm and friendly and I was reluctant to leave to go back into the rain.
The OS map was not clear in this locale, but I found a good shortcut by stepping stones across the river leading to Merthyr Maw.
From there a cross country path wended across to Porthcaw; this started off alright but after a mile or so my gps told me I was precisely on a path/ track junction but there was no stile, gate, or footpath sign. I took a compass bearing and made across the field only to be faced by barbed wire and no exit even though the gps confirmed I was exactly on the path. After circling two field perimeters I ended up tackling a combination barbed wire fence and hawthorne hedge and managed to get through with not much damage. I would certainly carry wire snips but for the weight (I did investigate this once and found the ones good enough to cut barbed wire are too large and heavy).
Battling through the rain I was pondering about this aspect of walking. At home I would not normally set off for a walk if it was pouring down. I reckon that the project must be big enough in concept to justify its adversities.
I am now established in the Porthcawl Hotel where I was able to have a bath and do my laundry, and I am getting a full 3G signal so I can also have a posting fest.


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My tiny room at Penarth

Welsh Boundary Walk - Penarth to Lantwit Major

Sunday 29th May - day 40
Last night I ate at The Glendale Italian restaurant in Penarth. I indulged in what athletes call  "pasta loading" and got to the point where I was just too full to cope with a desert.
This morning I had persistent drizzle until arriving in Barry around midday. There was a Tall Ships youth training boat in the dock and I chatted with the guy who was checking youngsters on board. It seems they also do trips for adults up to the age of 80.
Earlier At St Mary Well Bay? I was walking on the cliff top around the perimeter of a static caravan site when I was hailed by a resident and told that the path ahead was blocked by a landslide. He directed me back to a place where I could descend forty feet or so and then walk across the beach. But for the chance encounter here I could have had a lot of messing about.
After Barry I met two ladies walking two fine hunting type dogs (I can't remember the name of the breed), and once again they put me on the right track when I could have wasted time. These two walked with me for a short distance and were intrigued by my project.
Later I met a guy who was setting off  surfboarding at Limpert Bay. He said this was a secret location where the water was warmed by the nearby power station. He also said it had created a good breeding ground for Sea Bass creating another secret location for anglers albeit illegal. Further on I overtook a young girl near Boverton and she was able to confirm the existence of a camp site at llantwit Major and she gave me some good directions.
At The Acorn camp site the manager said the site was full and would not let me stay. I lost my temper and had a stand up row with him saying I didn't want to stay on his blankety blank site anyway with his negative attitude. I walked another mile up into the town, and after various abortive attempts to find accommodation and much walking in between I eventually got the landlord of the White Harte, Graham, to let me pitch my tent in the beer garden, but not until after 8:00pm because it may be being used by children until then. This pub does not do meals and I have now come across the road to eat at the Old Swan and will then have to go back and wait until 8:00pm to pitch my tent. Whilst it was very kind of the landlord to let me stay this has been one of the most difficult accommodation I have encountered so far on one of these trips.
Later (9:30pm): I am now encamped in the beer garden after having a very inferior meal in the Old Swan, at that point I was pretty depressed with this evenings events, but strangely, once I had got the Terra Nova pitched, even though it was wet through, I immediately felt a lot better and back in control. I have had a brew of drinking chocolate and some biscuits and feel contented again. One problem remains in that I am locked in here and the only escape is over the back wall with quite a steep drop on the other side. Graham does not surface till after eight and I hope to be off before that. I have promised Graham I will not sue if I break my leg, and he said if you do make sure it is not on his side.
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Sunday, 29 May 2011

A baby trig seen along the way

Welsh Boundary Walk - Newport to Penarth

Saturday 28th May - day 39
Just re-read last night's effort. Sorry about all the typos and especially the faux pas about English villages in Wales- I'm glad I got that in before anybody else.
Last night I had a French couple as neighbours who must also have been given the honour of pitching on this CC site. After we had eaten, the lady, but strangely not the man, came across to me with a teapot of tea, yes a French person with a teapot! However she was still using a cereal bowl to drink from, and when offered I proffered my mug. We sat and chatted for about threequarters of an hour across a wide range of subjects. They are touring Scotland and Wales by car but exploring locally by bicycle. This lady had a great feeling for the outdoors and understood my mission perfectly in the context of a personal challenge. We talked a lot about Grand Randonnes in France and I was pleased when she said the Queyeras was her favourite region - d'accord.This was all as good a conversation as I have had so far, and in French at that.
Today I walked mainly on busy roads in the rain - not very inspiring. I did have a stop at a roadside chuck wagon at one point and pleasant chat with the girl who was operating it.The highlight was drinking two cups of Costa coffee in Cardiff and eating some caky things. The girl who served me came from Newport, the little bay round the corner from Fishguard where I started. I was able to show her pictures that I had taken there.
In order to cross the Cardiff Bay barrage I had to go a long way north into Cardiff then come back south. The waterfront in Cardiff has some interesting architecture including the Welsh Assembly building, which unfortunately is a bit hemmed in. I made a windy crossing of the barrage with panoramic views back to Cardiff accross the bay.
I am now in b and b in Penarth in the smallest room I have ever taken (hopefully a photo to follow), but it's only £25.


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Friday, 27 May 2011

Welsh Boundary Walk - Redwick to Tredegar (Newport)

Friday 27th May - day 38
This morning Brenda and Colin gave me toast and tea before I departed. I had a long chat with Brenda about her varied work for charities. All the way through this walk I gave found a strong sense of community and neighbourliness in the countryside- you seem to get a lot closer to these things on a walk like this when there seems to be more time to talk to more people.
At one point I turned off the road onto a public right of way track to go down to follow the sea wall. At the sea wall access was forbidden by an RSPB nature reserve and I had to walk the quarter mile back again.
I had imagined this south coast up to Cardiff being a sort if industrial wasteland, but it is all archetypal English villages unchanged down the years, and all in all a pleasant backwater.
I was looking forward to crossing the River Usk to Newport via their transporter bridge so I could compare it with the one I know in Teesside. At the left turn to this attraction there was a roadside chuck wagon run by a young girl. I had tea and a generous bacon butty and a bar of Aero and chatted with the girl. As i was leaving the girl presented me with a sausage bap wrapped in foil "to keep you going along the way".
Turning for the transporter bridge there was a notice saying it was closed. I was able to cross by the new A48 bridge about half a mile further north.
I was aiming for the Caravan Club site set in the grounds of Tredagor House to the west of Newport. Normal access is from the very busy A48, but I approached by the back door. The estate is probably as big as the centre of Kendal and locating the back door entrance and then the CC site within was not easy. I had previously checked that this was a CC site that took tents. On arrival I was told that the camping field had not yet been opened! What? We're nearly in June! As a special favour I was allowed to use the field which is very lumpy and has just been mown with all the mown grass left and it js now into everything I possess. I went back to reception to ask them to charge my Mili. I was told that they were not really allowed to do this but they agreed, but emphasised that it was entirely at my own risk and that they could not be responsible for power surges etc., and they insisted I did the plugging and unplugging. No wonder the other lot (6The Camping and Caravan Club) advertise themselves as "The friendly club".
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Thursday, 26 May 2011

Welsh Boundary Walk - Chepstow to Redwick

Thursday 26th May - day 37
It was raIning when I set off and the tent had been packed wet.
I had a lot of messing about shopping in Chepstow.
At the St Pierre Golf Club there was a short footpath on the map to a farm and then road. I went into the pro shop for directions and had excellent coffee from their machine. The next hour was a nightmare. Because I did not use the gps straightaway I wasted time tracking backwards and forwards. Even with the gos I had difficulty. I eventually found a very indistinct path leading off the back of a golf tee into undergrowth and woods . This was one of the worst navigation exercises I have experienced for some time.
The ankle is still painful, and I have stopped and started many times donning and doffing waterproofs. It has all been a bit tiresome. At my target destination I found a man and his wife putting up hanging baskets at the pub. The pub was closed until 6:00 and did not do accommodation. Colin and wife told me of an expensive guest house up the road, but then they said I could camp in their garden a couple of hundred yards down the road. They have a large house and garden - Colin is a building contractor. I was given tea and biscuits on arrival and there is an outside water tap and an outside toilet, but I do intend to eat in the pub - more later.
Back from the pub (The Rose Inn) which was ok but overpriced and lacking in presentation or preparation, except perhaps the bread and butter pudding which had a good homemade quality about it. One thing that happens a lot is the side salad that accompanies a starter and the main course being exactly the same for both demonstrating lack of imagination from the chef and inducing boredom for the customer.
Once again many thanks to Colin and wife for their friendliness and willingness to help out this geriatric old tramp about whom they knew nothing.


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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Welsh Boundary Walk - Newland to Chepstow

Wednesday 25th May - day 36
My ankle was very painful this morning, and I had a scary time dodging the rush hour traffic on the B road from Newland to Redbrook, so it wasn't a good start. Once on the footpaths down the Wye I started using my poles, and they made a miraculous difference to the ankle. Further on I was supposed to pick up the Offa's Dyke path to run into Chepstow but it had been closed and incomprehensible notices erected, so I had another long dice with death on the B4228.
I am now on a small camp site outside the town and back to home cooking tonight
Looking at the map for tomorrow I can't identify anywhere to stay. I have tried ringing a couple of pubs but one did not do accommodation and I think others have closed down, so it looks a bit bleak at the moment, but something always turns up.

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Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Welsh Boundary Walk - Skenfrith to Newland

Tuesday 24th May - day 35
I was dropped off at 7:45 at The Inn at Skenfrith. I am finding it takes me an hour to get all my joints working properly and to get into a good stride. I have now got a bad ankle which feels as though it has been sprained although I have no recollection of that happening. I have put a support bandage on which is helping. Things certainly ain't what they used to be. Once I got going I moved quickly and had no problems with various footpaths.
On my LEJOG walk I had a bad time route finding in Highmeadow Woods south of Symonds Yat and this time I gwas determined not to have a repeat performance so I made full use of compass, map and gps and came through with no problem but it is still a difficult area for navigation.
I was aiming for Cherry Orchard Farm at Newland, a CandC Club listed site. On arrival this also turned out to be a super b and b in a large old farmhouse with spacious rooms and all very tastefully appointed. Lyn and Jim Blanch were really welcoming and I have booked in for b and b. This site is right on the edge of my printed out map and so I was unaware that there is also a pub (The Ostrich, Walden) within ten minutes walk where I can eat this evening ( I really should have noticed and included the pub when plotting the route).
The Ostrich is a real find. Old world pub atmosphere, good food,comfortably warm, tables and seats at right heights for eating, a big selection of real ales, background music but it's good jazz. I have just had:Spiced belly pork terrine set with apple and sage jelly and crusty stone baked bread, then smoked haddock baked in cream, egg and horseradish topped with dauphinoise and mozzarella cheese, and now pear and stem ginger frangipan tart with ginger wine cream.
Who says I'm going soft.
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Monday, 23 May 2011

Welsh Boundary Walk - Pandy to Skenfrith

Monday 23rd May - day 34
I ate well at The Old Pandy Inn last night, I won' t bore you with all the details but it did include a huge Yorkshire pudding.
I thought I might have a further chat with mine host but he did not reappear. I would have liked to have asked him various questions about the locality. In particular I wonder what that ridge would be like in winter; I reckon it would make a stunning walk on the right day.
When I asked about breakfast they didn't serve until 8:30 so I opted for a tray which was delivered to the bunkhouse for me, and I was able to gave a reasonable breakfast. The bunkhouse is integral with the pub and well appointed. The Old Pandy Inn has a good atmosphere and obviously caters well for walkers- it remind ne a little of The Crask Inn in Scotland, but of course that is a seriously special place.
Today was a short walk if about ten miles with the ib ejective being The Bell at Skenfrith where I woul meet my brother and sister in law for a night of comfort at their home in Hereford.
As I approached the pub, which is a bit of an upmarket fastro type place, I was caught in a bit I'd driving drizzle, and so presented myself looking a bit damp on top of my general hobo appearance. When I asked if I could gave a sandwich and tea I thought the girl said "would you like to go through to The Stable pointing vaguely to an offshoot of the dining room. I was amused to think that I had immediately been assessed as only vein suitable for the stable. I raised thus with the girl later, and of course she had said "table" not "stable".
I was duly picked up by Rod and Veronica and after a brief stop at their 24 hr. Tesco it was back to their house and a much needed bath. I also had the luxury of having all my clothing washed and dried. We dined well with a good Burgundy and afterwards a Lebanese full bodied red, heavy and lucious, which was a new experience for me which I will be looking to repeat when I get back.
Thanks to R and V for a great stopover. I was also saved from marching through an afternoon of quite heavy rain.
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Sunday, 22 May 2011

Welsh Boundary Walk - Hay on Wye to Pandy

Sunday 22nd May - day 33
A rare event this morning, it was raining and windy. The Belmont b and b, although not en-suite was a bargain at £30.
The highlight of the day, and I reckon perhaps the whole walk, was the ridge from Hay to Pandy. This is one of the best ridges in th UK-it extends for twelve miles undulating gently with little loss or gain in height. Most of the time there are hugely extensive views on both sides at the same time, the Welsh mountains to the west and the plains of Monmouthshire and Hereford to the east. The footpath is a mixture of cropped turf, constructed consolidated gravel, and extensive use of huge flag stones apparently from old mills.
As I was climbing onto the start of the ridge I met a party being led by the landlord of The Pandy Inn including his wife, a friend and their daughter, and a Springer Spaniel. They were walking for the Help for Heroes charity. I learnt that the pub has an attached bunk house giving me peace of mind for tonight's lodgings.
The rain ceased but there was a ferocious wind blowing accross the direction of travel, but its overriding quality was it's unremitting constancy for the whole of the twelve miles. Skies cleared and sun shone on and off with huge rolling white clouds. It was quite a challenge under those conditions but a great and memorable walk for me as well as being a trip of nostalgia because I did the same traverse in the other direction in 2008 on my LEJOG walk.
I had passed the pub group, but high praise to them when they arrived at the pub only twenty minutes after me. The landlord's wife came up and gave me a big kiss!
This was certainly the best walk of the trip so far.

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Saturday, 21 May 2011

Welsh Boundary Walk - Walton to Hay on Wye

Saturday 21st May - day 32
There was contrast this morning in the pub: calm, quiet prevailed compared with last night's funeral wake hubbub which went on until elevenish. Strangely it was a sort of constant drone of noise with little variation in pitch, and it didn't really disturb me.
The highlight of the day was crossing Hergest Ridge. On the LEJOG walk I crossed it from west to east. Today it was north to south. It seems that whatever long distance walks I plan or undertake they seem to repeat some part of previous ones. This will persist for the next couple of days going south to Chepstow.
Hergest Ridge produced a biting cold wind and a smattering of rain and I was glad to be descending the other side. There was no footpath for a while and I took a gps fix and walked on a compass bearing for a few hundred yards and it brought me onto the track; I was well pleased with this.
A high road above the Wye valley gave extensive views then I descended and had a scary time walking facing the high speed traffic on the Wye valley A road until I could turn off and follow the Offa's Dyke path into Hay. Along that path I met one of those guys who always crop up on these walks, the born pessimist and spreader of doom. He thought it would be very difficult for me to find accommodation in Hay. At the TIO the first b and b situated within one hundred and fifty yards had a room. Never take too much notice of prophets along the way.
This morning I found I had a missed call from my daughter Jill last night (I later found the silly little switch on the side of the iPhone had flipped to render it silent). Fearing it may be urgent we exchanged text messages. Jill had been inveigled into attending Bingo last night and she had won. "what?" I asked. "a bottle of wine and a pedicure" - if it had been me they might have thought twice about giving me a free pedicure when they saw my feet.


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Welsh Boundary Walk - Bucknel to Walton

Friday 20th May - day 31
I had a good meal at The Barron of Beef at Bucknell last night : black pudding grilled with cheese, gammon steak, rhubarb and ginger cheesecake, all prepared with care and attention to detail, and real ale to help things along.
This was the first time I have set off in the morning just wearing my Rowan Expedition shirt, not needing anything warmer, and that was at 7:15am. 
I stopped at the village store. A sort of tumbledown shack run by an elderly gent with very meagre stock, but I got an excellent ham salad bap and hot coffee, and chatted with the owner. There is no way he could have been making a living from this shop.
A long road climb took me up to a splendid ridge and then a descent into Presteigne which has an oldy world mediaeval feel. I met an elderly local and he pointed out the old court house and told me he had done jury duty there. It was a case where a guy had been killed by a reversing tractor and it seemed to have had a lasting impression for him, not the sort of case you would typically hear of in Bradford.
The cafe got my custom for a bacon butty and some lemon drizzle cake and a pot of tea for two.
The route followed several kilometres through  sun dappled broadleaf forest. As I was approaching the end where I would join what I was sure would be a quiet B road I began to hear the noise of what I was sure was a motorway or  busy dual carriageway, but this turned out to be a farmer mowing silage on a huge field with a powerful tractor at great speed - very impressive.
Today the walk seemed to have taken on the feeling of a way of life rather than a vacation and I find myself looking forward to the variety of scenery and locations to come.
As I approached The Crown Inn at Walton there were cars everywhere and I thought it must be a farmer's meet or similar and that I would have no chance of a room. It turned out to be a funeral of a popular local who had died aged 58, I was given a friendly welcome, and  fortunately there was a room available. I commented to the landlord on the number of people, and he replied "it's the community".
I have just had a good quality, no nonsense rump steak and looking forward to a sponge pudding with ice cream - yes, I am enjoying myself - I wonder what tomorrow beholds.
It is now 7:45 and there are still many people here in the bar who seem to be making a night of it - I have been farmed off into the quiet dining room, but the lively atmosphere prevails.

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Thursday, 19 May 2011

Welsh Boundary Walk - Anchor to Bucknell

Thursday 19th May - day 30
Well, day 30 from the original estimate of two months would indicate halfway, but I have completed up to map number 54.5 out of 100 which would put me slightly ahead of schedule. I sm not trying to set a record, but it will be interesting, as a matter of self satisfaction, or otherwise, to see how it works out against the estimate.
Day thirty, and I must have had the following conversation thirty times:
"I am walking round the whole of the Welsh boundary"
"Where did you start?"
"Fishguard"
"Where will you finish?"
"Fishguard"
"Oh!"
Today, so far, I have had a backpacker's dream day:
Well motivated to arise at 6:15am.
No rain.
A shop within the first hour and a half for breakfast.
Totally simple navigation on minor toads through picturesque scenery.
A fair sized and attractive town cropping up at lunch time (Knighton in this case) where almost any required items may be bought including a cafe (bacon butty and tea etc).
Several people met and chatted with along the way.
A tourist information office THAT WAS OPEN! Advance information obtained about a camp site incorporated with a pub of good reputation located at the ideal distance to complete a day's walking.
This latter item is important. There is a vast difference between walking to a destination where you know there will be a satisfactory place to spend the night compared with walking on in uncertainty.
I am at The Barron of Beef in Bucknell.
An interesting point arose on the day I walked from Forden to White Grit. In following the erratic border at the end of the day I was only 3 kilometre grid lines south of my starting point.


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Welsh Boundary Walk - White Grit to Anchor

Wednesday 18th May - day 29
Today featured The Kerry Ridgeway, an ancient elevated highway part on Tarmac and part unsurfaced. Unfortunately there was a high double hedge to the right of the Tarmac which would have enclosed the original trackway, but now serves to block most of the panoramic views. Halfway along rain started and the wind was blowing, it was quite raw up there. When you see these vast, almost uninhabited panoramas, and then consider the multi million population of the UK you wonder where they all are.
My target was a camp site next to a pub identified from this year's Camping and Caravan Club guide. At Anchor. The pub looked as though it had closed down twenty years ago, all tumble down, peeling paint, rotten window frames, and all sorts of debris scattered around, and nobody about. When i found the campsite a couple of hundred yards up the road they said the pub was still operational, and I could have eaten there but for a recent family bereavement.. The site people then booked me in at another pub in Beguildy about three miles down the road and they will chauffeur me there and back. I must say this continued Welsh good nature and helpfulness is much appreciated.
The blister is painful for the first half hour of walking, then it seems to settle down. One of the most useful forms of my various Elastoplasts js a roll of heavy duty proper fabric stuff about an inch wide which I think I inherited from visiting nurses when I had a leg problem two years ago. It sticks much better than the conventional strips, so I put this stuff round the edges like a frame and the whole dressing remains stable and in place, bur unfortunately it is now nearly used up.I hope I will not have need to come back to this subject again.

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Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The road sign mentioned in post day 28

Reply to comment

BB - my feelings regarding L of the R equate to yours.
I am not sure about adopting all the trappings of the cultivated image you suggest, but, at the moment, I have the makings of a grizzly beard. This arises from pure laziness and my dislike of having to shave and I can't decide whether to dispense with it or not. What do you advise ?

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Welsh Boundary Walk - Forden to White Grit

Tuesday 17th May - day 28
I had a bumper breakfast at the Railway Inn at Fordern - thanks to Robert and Deborah for their kindness in letting me stay.
I walked about five miles of Offas's Dyke path, which apart from the romantic attachment was pretty dull. Just one flat field after another with little variation in scenery. I met several other parties including two guys doing Land's End to John 'o Groats, but they were not backpacking. Everybody mentioned the hard going on ODP from Knighton up to this point. My route does not coincide that much but I suspect I am in for what Gayle calls lumpy stuff.
At one point, as the route entered a farmyard there was an old fashioned, black and white, cast iron sign pointing in opposite directions to two places with obviously Irish names. The farmer's wife just arrived by car and I quizzed her about this. She explained they had an Irish friend who had bought up a lot of these road signposts when Ireland had gone metric obviating change from miles to kilometres, and he had given them this one. She said they had received mixed reactions ranging from an irate Irish lady accusing them of stealing their signs to an Irish guy who said he came from one of the towns on the sign and he thought it was the best thing he had seen so far in England/Wales.
At Churchstoke there is a huge supermarket come garden centre come everything else complex called Tuffins where I ate in the cafe and stocked up including a new kind of antiseptic, waterproof Elasttoplast - I seem to have developed some morbid kind of expertise in knowledge of the different versions of that commodity. Tuffins made me feel as though I was preparing to "go out West".
From Churchstoke onwards scenery changed for the better. I climbed up towards the one thousand foot mark and views were extensive. The terrain is hilly but it is nearly all cultivated so the landscape has its own character compared with the higher hills, and even though it is very much man made it is attractive.
At Priest Weston I was studying my map to locate the whereabouts of the pub when a car stopped and asked if I was ok. The guy whose name was Roger Dixon told me the pub did not open until 4:00pm but said he would be glad to make me a cup of tea at his house which was only about two hundred yards away up a steep driveway. Roger had a spectacular conservatory looking right across Wales, and he was able to point out the distant Cader Idris on the Welsh coast which must be fifty miles away - we were looking across the whole breadth of Wales. We sat for some time admiring the view and talking about Roger's time in the army yomping 80lb packs over Cader idtris. Roger calls himself a Marcher - I think this may mean that he can claim to be Welsh or English according to the demands of circumstances.
I arrived at The Old School House, Shelve at about 4:30pm - this is the site to which I had posted the second half of my maps and is owned by Jan and Terry Ward. The site is well maintained catering for only half a dozen caravans or so and tents. Jan was very helpful with posting back my old maps. This is a site I would recommend.

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Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Welsh Boundary Walk - Coedway to Forden

The Old Hand and Diamond last night was excellent - good food, good beer, and all run like clockwork by an impressive 21 year old manager, and I was able to have breakfast at 7:00 so had a reasonably early start.
The area I am travelling through consists of multiple 1000ft hills, so it is all up and down, but the views are extensive and impressive often with more than 180 degree panoramas. I passed between Bulthy Hill and Middletown Hill by a high col gained by one of the steepest footpaths I have ever ascended. From the col I went to both summits, Middletown being 367m. There is supposed to be a fort on top, but you would need to be an expert to recognise it.
Down in Middletown I begged use of the toilet at Border Motors where I was given coffee and sat and had a good chat with the proprietor.
I had been told there was a camp site next to The Railway Inn at Forden but when I got there it was statics only. The pub had just let the last room five minutes earlier, but the landlord, Robert and his wife Deborah very kindly agreed to let me camp in their back garden where I am now in the tent typing this up but eager to go and have a beer and food after a long hard day. The blister treatment from last night seems to have worked fairly well but it felt as though it had had enough by the end of today. I hope a night's rest will will let it settle down again.
Tomorrow I have a stint on Offa's Dyke and I will collect my forwarded maps, so by one calculation I will be half way.
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Sunday, 15 May 2011

Welsh Boundary Walk - Llansanffraid to Coedway

Sunday 15th May - day 26
I left the site without finding anybody to pay this morning.
The first drama was finding a track I had on my route turned out to be private and I had to make detour.
My route followed the Afon Cain river for several kilometers and once again this was another rarely trodden way. I was in knee high wet grass, nettles and thistles for a large part of the time.
After yesterday I was still tired and was looking for a shorter day and was aiming for a pub at Melverley where there was also a campsite. I arrived about 2:00pm and it was really too early to stop. The pub did not do evening meals but did have accommodation. The next pub two miles down the road had no camp site and I didn't want to arrive there to find there was no room. The Melverley pub kindly telephoned and established I would be ok, and here I am now.
Since getting the replacement boots I have developed a nasty blister on my left heel and I have just operated on it with needle, a dressing, Germolene and much Elastoplast. This thing has been quite painful for a couple of days making me walk with a limp, hence another reason for a shorter day and an environment where I could tend to this problem as well as possible. I hope it is going to be no less painful tomorrow, and above all that it does not become infected.

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Welsh Boundary Walk - replies to comments

Gimmer- thanks for your info on the climber. I agree with you, there seems to be something that doesn't stack up. I intend to do some research when I get home.
I think you will see the answer to your border question in my last post. I don't think I can apply the same summary of motivations in that post to the scrubbing of lavatory floors.
Afoot- glad to hear you are keeping up with my jaunt.

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Welsh Boundary Walk - a few thoughts for the enlightenment of my readers

I started writing this a few days ago and finished it today.
An impression may be gained from my posts that I am not enjoying this experience. I report the difficulties that I encounter which may seem to some readers like experiences they would go a long way to avoid. Yesterday's drama when I ended up walking down a dual carriageway was annoying and partly my own fault. Yes, I was cross, but at the same time I recognised the incident as being the sort of thing one should be prepared to take on board on a trip like this, and therefore it represented a challenge to my resourcefulness which I was already mentally prepared to take on in the same way someone playing rugby would expect to have to deal with painful bodily contact. It is not always a question of enjoyment, more the satisfaction of finding out what you can achieve. At the same time there are uplifting moments of pleasure in the observance of natural and man made occurrences, and the interesting contacts with people one meets along the way.
The concept of the walk was to walk round Wales as close to the border as was practical using , footpaths, tracks, and roads. I am not particular which side of the border I am on at any time so long as I am within say 1.5 to 2km or a bit further in the case of finding accommodation. I wanted to have as much enjoyment as possible - this is not an exercise in masochism, more an exercise in minimising such a thing. I will therefore eat at a nearby pub whenever possible rather than suffering corned beef and instant potato in the tent, and stay in a pub or b and b whenever I have the urge.
From coming inland I have found many footpaths almost unused and difficult to negotiate and have now adopted a policy of walking on minor roads wherever they offer an alternative within the above mentioned broad parameters.

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Saturday, 14 May 2011

Welsh Boundary Walk - Bronygarth to Llansantffraid

Saturday 14th May - day 25
I walked part of Offa's Dyke today. Everything is suddenly much more hilly again. In order to keep as close as I can to the border I went off on other tracks and at one point was attacked by three collie dogs in a farmyard. The farmer was loading his car and just ignored my problem until I shouted out, and then he m halfheartedly called the dogs off. I was not bitten but I think I would have been without the intervention. Immediately after this there was a choice of four radiating paths, and in my disturbed state from the dog thing I took the wrong one which I followed for a mile before finding out, and then had to walk a mile back. I lost about threequarters of an hour. Further on the path shown on the map went over a stile to descend an almost vertical gully of grass, nettles and brambles that looked as though nobody had been there for the last fifty years. I part descended then returned and tried another track which was obviously wrong, and went back to the first one. I managed to tumble half way down and ended up lying in a bed of mature nettles, and had difficulty getting back up with my rucksack on.
This has also been a day of many faffs. Stopping many times to don or doff wets, stopping to attend to new blister arising from
replacement boots, stopping to beg for water and stopping to ascertain position with the gps. The latter faff can be lengthy waiting for the gadget to connect with satellites.
I eventually got to Pen y bont but the pub was full and so I has to walk another three miles to a site shown on the map. This is a static and tourer site but there was nobody to book me in so after talking to a tourer family who gave me a cup of tea I have pitched and eaten. Access to toilets does not need a key or code so it looks as though I might have a free night. I have walked over 20 miles today, a lot of it up some very steep road hills and I reckon it has been the toughest day so far.

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Welsh Boundary Walk - nr Penley to Bronygarth nr Chirk

Friday 13th May - day 24
I must give a special mention to Mr and Mrs Richardson at Rosedale Park, Higher Penley. Their site is immaculate, and although they do not normally take tents they were particularly welcoming and helpful. This morning I was invited into the house for tea and toast and much conversation.
I navigated the twelve miles or so to Chirk using only my Memory Map gps which either shows a large area that is too small to read, or a small area magnified so you can't see the overall picture, but even though this was a complicated route I managed with no problem.
My route down the eastern border of Wales is almost devoid of towns where I am likely to be able to buy gas, and with some forethought I hoped to stock up in Chirk. None of the shops could oblige and I had to make a long detour to a garden centre on the southern outskirts then backtrack through Weston Rhyn where I enquired at the post office about camping sites. The village postmistress was very helpful and rang the owners of the site I am on now and confirmed I was ok to stay there. I am now camped on a pristine lawn in a delightful garden at The Old School House. The lady's husband instructed at Outward Bound schools (they are in their seventies now), and we had good conversation about The Lake District and outdoor pursuits, and I was also given tea.
In the last two days I have only covered about twenty four miles, and although I have no time pressures I can't help feeling that I need to do some catching up.


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Welsh Boundary Walk - Stanley Green to Penley

Thursday 12th May - day 23
My Inov8 Roclites have worn down to sponge rubber on the heels, and although I could continue for a while I am not going to be near a location where I could buy something else for some time. I phoned home and my daughter Jill has driven out to meet me today at Penley bringing some Merrell fabric/leather/Gortex boots that still have plenty of life left in them. I force marched to Penley. Along the way I came across a chap with a Shire horse and a hand held plough teaching himself and the horse how to do it the old way, and we had some chat. I met Jill at 12:45. I did some much needed shopping then we drove up the road for 1.5 miles and identified a camp site which is on my route, and then we continued to The Cross Foxes and had sandwiches and tea. We also downloaded all my photos to date onto a lap top. I had intended to be driven back to our meeting point at Penley so i could walk the one and a half miles to the site, and I now admit to a bit of cheating -I elected to be dropped off at the site.
Unfortunately I believe I have been punished for skipping that bit of road walking- I have now discovered that I have left my new A4 size Ortleib map case and the maps I need for tomorrow in the car. I reckon I can manage with my Memory Map gps which has all the mapping, and I do have the larger Ortlieb where I was storing my bank of map sheets and these have now been transferred to a plastic bag.
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Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Addendum to last post

The wc at my site tonight. No doing the crossword here id it's raining. Perhaps Nick Crane would be ok with his umbrella.

Welsh Boundary Walk - Farndon to Stanley Green (not near anywhere)

Wednesday 11 May day 22
Last night I ate well at The Farndon, a newly taken over pub in the village which I would recommend to anybody passing that way. I stayed at The Greyhound which was comfortable and welcoming with a good breakfast.

Today has been a journey through almost uninhabited rural countryside. Not a single shop has been passed. This morning I walked on part of The Marches Way, another of these rarely trodden paths given undue prominence on the OS map. Long wet grass prevailed with little indication of a path on the ground. On tracks farmers seem to be using ever heavier tractors leaving tracks giving a walking surface like sheets of twisted corrugated iron. Another problem I am now wise to is the stile upright post that is often used by birds as a perching post, and as you close a hand over the top you get a nice palm full of bird muck.
This site is the most secret location I have yet encountered for a listed site. When I arrived I was directed by the farmer back up the road I had come down completing a semi circle for about three quarters of a mile, and then about three hundred yards down a grass track off the road to a pond, and a rather lumpy field. There is a wc, open air, surrounded by a sort of wooden pallisade. Not much fun if it is raining. There js nobody else here and even if someone wanted to stay they would have difficulty finding the place.
This really is wilderness country and ther are almost no camping sites indicated so I sm not sure what tomorrow will bring.

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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Welsh Boundary Walk - near Queensferry to Farndon

Tuesday 10th May - day 21
I am now just onto my map number 39 so in broad terms I have done about 38% of the walk.
I chatted with a fellow backpacker this morning who had arrived late in the evening unnoticed to me. He has identified the dwelling places of his friends and family that he would like to visit thus giving himself the framework for a long walk. His meandering route is taking him from Newport in S Wales up into Northumberland. He will pass through the Yorkshire Dales which he has not previously visited - what a lucky chap.
I had another stretch down Deeside with the wide river on the left and heavy industry exuding various malodourus fumes. One benefit was a cafe catering for the workers in these plants where one always gets bacon and egg sandwiches made for men and serious tea.
After Lache I was out into the quiet countryside. All went well for a while. I followed a good path where the farmer had asserted the way through his crop fields including almost head high yellow rape. I was following a dike on the right and the map showed a turn off at right angles over a footbridge which I found. The line of the path on the map went straight across a newly planted crop field that was ploughed out to the edges with no sign of any path I backed off and walked further on over another bridge but ended up in a field entirely enclosed by hawthorne hedge. I went back and tried yet another route. This led me to a field bordering a dual carriageway. I battled with more barbed wire, brambles and ditches and emerged onto the edge of the dual carriageway. This was safe enough with a wide grass verge, but I knew I really shouldn't have been there. The map told me there was a farm road running parallel about two hundred yards up the toad if I could get through thick brambles and cross a six foot deep ditch. I found a place where this was just about possible and started hacking my way through. My legs (I was wearing shorts) were being badly scratched and just as I sank into the bottom of the ditch, disappearing I guess from the sightline of the dual carriageway I heard apolice car going past with siren screaming and suspected somebody had reported me. I finally got back on route and went into the pub in Rossett and cleaned myself up a bit, and then walked on another four miles and booked into The Greyhound here in Farndon.
These country paths create more navigation problems than mountain walking, and for all I have said about the 1:25 map my preferred 1:50 map does not show field boundaries making things more difficult. The compass is more use here than it ever is in the
muntains.

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Replies to comments

John Proud - well done with your charity.
I do have the JHBell book. If my elder brother is reading this he might rightfully claim that the book belongs to him. According to another ex climber I met on the hills between Llanfairfrechan and Conway there is a Suicide Wall in Wales. I will have a look when I get back.
It seems more peaceful walking through the countryside. There is nobody about at all.
BG - thanks for the link. This is a fascinating story which I will likely research further when I return. I would like to know more about theI individual who set this madcap scheme afoot. Wikipedia only seems to refer to the companies concerned, but maybe I missed something. Poking about with the iPhone on the Internet is not too user friendly.
Gayle - whatever you say I think it was a great achievement, especially organising the logistics in Scotland.

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Monday, 9 May 2011

The ship blocking my
pathway

The lighthouse at Point of Ayr

Welsh Boundary Walk Prestatyn to Mancot (nr. Queensferry)

Monday 9th May - day 20
Great news today: Mick and Gayle have successfully completed their Lowestoft to Ardamurchan walk after a fair amount of adversity - a very worthy achievement.
Today I rounded The Point of Ayr turning the corner to head inland. After that I did some embankment walking following the Dee.
At one point I thought I was seeing things when a large ship appeared blocking the pathway some distance ahead. This turned out to be The Duke of ???, a rusting hulk in s sort of dry dock, and damn it I've forgotten what it was the duke of, but I reckon a bit of Googling will find out what the story is.
The rest was a plod down the main road through Flint, where I managed to miss a massive downpour by sitting in a cafe. I still had to continue wearing wets, but by late afternoon it has cleared up.
The urban walking u
Is always interesting with varied things to look at. The Connah's Quay Power Station presents an interesting bit of architecture - quite pleasing to contemplate except that its lines tend to be interrupted by the many surroundjng pylons and wires.
I am camped at Aston Hall Farm Park which is like a mini zoo. When I arrived the place seemed to be deserted. After finding someone and paying the £12 fee (which includes free viewing of the livestock) I had a look around. There are many kinds of birds in cages and various other forms of wildlife. I sm not too keen on seeing animals in captivity like this. Every so often strange shrieking noises occur including that dreadful peacock sound; I wonder what kind of a night I am going to have? No doubt I will not need an alarm clock in the morning.
I have left the Mili charger charging in the gents, and I hope it will be ok - there are few people about and the whole place has an air of desolation

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Sunday, 8 May 2011

Welsh Boundary Walk - Rhos on Sea to Gronant (east of Prestatyn)

Sunday 8th May - day 19
Totally flat walking all day along sea front promenades: Colwyn Bay, Abergele, Rhyl and Prestatyn.
The Welsh Coast has been a real treat until today, even the quality of conversation with people has declined. Tomorrow, after Point of Ayr I will be heading inland.
When I printed out my maps on A4 there were 100 sheets. Today, day 19, I am on sheet 34, so allowing sixty days for my 2 month target I am slightly ahead of schedule and just one third of the way round.
The front at Rhyl was dreadful. Blaring amusement arcades and the sickly overpowering stench of food deep fried in rancid oil which seemed to hit you in warm wafts. I couldn't, bear to go into any of the cafes.
Once again the site I was aiming for marked on the OS map has packed up, but fortunately I found out in Prestatyn and identified the site I am now on. If I had not done the research I would have found myself in the wilderness with nowhere to stay.

I had just finished writing this when I was hailed by new arrivals. They had a tent lent to them by a friend, had not camped before, and had no idea how to erect the tent. Fortunately it went in a similar way to my own, so ten minutes later I am back in my tent adding this little tit bit, and it has just started raining.
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Saturday, 7 May 2011

Continuation of last post.

As I pressed the button to send the email for that post I heard the pitter patter of rain on the tent. On arrival I had spread everything out to get an airing including sleeping bag and Thermorest inflatable. I acted at lightning speed, but everything got a sprinkling of rain - not serious but vey irritating.

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Welsh Boundary Walk - Llanfairfechan to allandrillo in Rhos (Penrhyn Bay)

Saturday 7th May - day 18
I set off in good weather taking the North Wales Path which runs inland over the hills to Conway. There is no reasonable route along the coast. The NWP was magnificent after the killer of a road climb out of the village: cropped turf paths, well waymarked, undulating terrain and superb views of the Menai Straits from on high.
As I arrived in Conway it started to rain with a vengeance. I sat in a cafe for some time but it persisted. There was a gruelling road ascent to the Great Orme, mainly because of its length.
At the cafe the guy told me about a camp site closer than my intended one. The weather had cleared by now and sunshine came through in the afternoon When I got to the recommended site it was statics only so I plodded on. It has been a ten hour day of mixed walking.
If anybody contemplates this walk I do recommend the NWP from Llanfair... To Conway.
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Welsh Boundary Walk - Caernarfon to Llanfairfrechan

Friday 6th May - day 17
An excellent, smooth, level cycle track gave me fast walking to Bangor. Although the map depicted urban sprawl the cycleway was isolated by trees and had the impression of being in pleasant countryside. When they are properly done they are worthwhile. There is a so called national cycle route network where some quango has put up signs on normal minor roads and claiming various such as number so and so of the said network, but the way I see it is that anybody can look at a map and devise their own route, but I am all for the purpose made tracks if they are done well.
In Bangor I sat outside at a private bakery shop in the sunshine situated in an atmospherically pleasing busy pedestrian shopping street and had a good Cornish pasty, a mug of tea, and a delicious lemon meringue tart.
In a little village outside Bangor (Landygail) I came accross an elderly lady struggling to fasten her gate and I went to help. She told me it was her eighty first birthday today. Further conversation established that her husband was one Dickie Morsley who she said had been a notable rock climber in his day. The lady reminisced about Wasdale, the Lakes in general, Skye, and Scotland. Her husband was a great friend of JHB Bell(Mountaineering in Scotland), and she said he had done the first ascent of Suicide Wall which I think is in Glencoe (perhaps John P or Tom W would like to research this). That is the sort of encounter that makes these trips worthwhile.
Initial walking on Tarmac was followed by a pleasant stroll up the shoreline of The Menai Straits with sunshine all the way. One of the ubiquitous pessimists one meets on these walks that I met told me that rain was expected tonight and I must ensure that my rent was well secured.
I was aiming for a Caravan and Camping Club listed site about a mile from Llandairfrechan that I had plotted on my map from the 2011 year book. I arrived to find they only take caravans, but was told "a new site has opened up just outside the village : Platt's Farm". When I got there the lady said they had opened for Easter and closed again until later in the season, however she let me stay, and here I am now, and within a few hundred yards of the village pub where I can eat tonight.
All goes well - the main difficulty is the uncertainty of each night's stopping place.

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Thursday, 5 May 2011

Welsh Boundary Walk - Gyrn Goch (north of Trefor) to Caernarfon

Thursday 5th May - day 16
First of all, these Welsh names. I am aware of misspelling some of them when working from memory, but digging back into the rucksack for a map or other source that one has just put away can be more troublesome than you might expect.
It rained in the night, then stopped. The tent was dry until I was half way through packing up then it started again, so I was faced with packing a wet tent. It has rained on and off all day, but after fifteen days of good weather I can't really complain. Today has been all on Tarmac, but for a lot of the way the A 499 had a splendid, smooth cycle track.
I only had a couple of biscuits before setting off and held out little hope of anything else for sometime judging from the map, but at Clynnog Fawr there was a Londis where I had a good tuna mayonnaise bap and Aero chocolate. The two kind ladies running the shop also made me a cup of tea.
Leaving that unexpected oasis I sensed rubbing on my heel. These things must be dealt with straight away, but it was raining and I needed kit from rucksack, and a friendly environment to work in - now here is a tip for my fellow backpackers. I went into the village church and was able to perform my tasks in peace and quiet, but with a slight guilty conscience. I did put an offering in the box.
At Dinas Dinllie I was wet (only on the outside) and somewhat bedraggled and went into a dismal seaside cafe for tea and a cake. There was a very young girl serving with a mixture of strange coulours to her hair, and one lonely couple sat at a table - business was not brisk. Radio 1 was playing at fairly high volume- how anybody can listen to that stuff all day is beyond me.
I decided for a hotel or similar rather then putting up the wet tent in the continuing rain.
The TIO in Caerrnarfon recommended The Black Boy (reminds me of Little Black Sambo). I went there and they wanted £99 b and b. They told me of guest houses in Church Street nearby. One was full and at the other two nobody answered the door . I went back to the TIO. They now recommended the Bron Menai Guest House where I am comfortably installed for half the price, and they also do evening meals. Why couldn't the TIO have told me about this in the first place?
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Welsh Boundary Walk - reply to comment

Cyndyrn - glad you found my blog. Sorry about mistaking the name, but there is no doubt that I chose the right one!
Thanks again for hospitality.

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Welsh Boundary Walk- photos

In a previous post I mentioned zawns as they are called in Cornwall. These are a common feature on coastal walks being steep sided inlets where fresh water goes to meet the sea. This photo was taken today and in Cornwall I would rate this as a mini zawn. But whether small or large, when they occur twenty times in a day they take their toll.
I hope all this will transmit from email to Blogger.

Welsh Boundary Walk- reply to comment

BG - thanks for your comment. I'm glad to hear I have readers. I was not sure what you meant by "decoding" I think was the word you used. I say this because sometimes when I email my post to Blogger Dashboard it opens in HTML I would hate to think anybody is trying to read my stuff in that format. When I kook at my blog with the iPhone it is ok.

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Welsh Boundary Walk - Morfa Nefyn to Gyrn Goch ( north of Trefor)

Wednesday 4th May - day 15
It was a good start because there was a convenience store three hundred yards from my camping so I could get food for breakfast. Onwards into Nefyn proper where I managed to misread that wretched 1:25 map again and took a wrong track for half an hour steeply uphill. On a forest road I found out where I was and the only thing was to return to Nefyn. The track was not on the map but appeared to go in the right direction. After a kilometre it just ended in a turning circle. I then had to traverse ground where forest had been felled which is almost impossible.My legs wre scratched but eventually I got back onto the right path - I reckon I had lost an hour and a half.
Later the so called Coastal Path just petered out on a hillside and I had to mess about with compass bearings and ended up in one barbed wire enclosed field and then another. These fields had a single strand of barbed wire, then a banking with a high barbed wire fence and another single strand on the other side. I did manage to get over them without tearing clothing or gashing myself but it had all been time consuming and I felt like the day was a write-off at this stage. I walked on down a road to a village then climbed up to a pass between two high hills on a track. From the top there were tremendous views of the Welsh coast running up to Carnaervon followed by a steep and strenuous 1500ft descent on a zig zagging quarry road with a loose surface; this really was like scree running. I bottomed out in Trefor which had looked like a large village from above so I spurned the first convenience store being sure there would be a cafe, but I walked right through the village and there was not another single shop of any kind.
At least the camp site marked on the map which was my target was still in existence and I am now installed and ready to cook. The day's walking has been the normal seven hours or so but distance on route has been poor - possibly only ten miles or so.
At Trefor I walked off the 1:25 map. I am not normally superstitious, but on this occasion, instead of posting it home I may burn it in the hope that its sacrifice will bring me better luck with my navigation. Yes, I know it's more SKILL I need.
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Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Replies to comments

John Proud- I have no way of calculating accurate mileages on the hoof. For my own approximation I use the one kilometre grid squares. Suffice to say at my advanced years I reckon I normally do about sixteen miles, and it is most unlikely that I will exceed twenty. If I do an unusually short day I would comment accordingly.
BB -thanks for your editorial input - I mean it. I reserve the right to claim any spelling mistakes as typos or aberrations of iPhone's predictive word system. A recent email to Mick and Gayle had the word "emails" vetoedy with "emasculation" as the substitute.
The crux is the hardest part in my book.
I know little of Lochivar whichever direction he came from. On this walk I suppose I will travel in all directions at various different times, but, never, I hope all at the same time.
High Horse- thanks for the encouragement. Take care!

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Welsh Boundary Walk - north of Aberadon to Morfa Nefyn

Tuesday 3rd May - day 14
Last night's meal with the family was enjoyable. The father had let out the land and has a business repairing machinery. The young girl had been to Bangor Uni and is teaching at a secondary school in Pwlleli. The conversation was free flowing. I had a bit of difficulty with the Welsh accent and I suppose they had the same with me. I hadn't realised until this trip how much Welsh is almost always the first language- that is what most people speak amongst themselves, and I think it is quite late in school before they start to learn English. This morning I was given a coffee before I departed. I must say that the Welsh peopl I have met on this trip have been generous, interesting to talk to, and willing to be helpful. So far I have not had a wrong word even though I have been inadvertently trespassing a couple of times.
The highlight of today was to be Whistling Sands. This is a beach where the sand is supposed to make strange noises when you walk on it. It failed to perform for me. I found myself trying to use all kinds of different walking techniques but to no avail- furthermore by diverting onto the beach I missed a sign for the Coastal Path and a bit later on found myself in a field enclosed by barbed wire with a bull which fortunately seemed to be in a lethargic mood. I managed to extricate myself without ripping any nf my very expensive, lightweight outdoor clothing.
At the end of today there was a peninsula projecting a kilometre from the coast which looked like an exciting place to visit on the nap. This actually turned out to be a golf course. At least I bagged a photo for my "signs" collection that said "Watch Out Golfers Playing Look Right" - presumably some new kind of ancillary game to golf?
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Welsh Boundary Walk- Llanelan (Hell's Mouth) to Cyndyn

Monday 2nd May - day 13
On the way back from the pub last night I was invited by a motor home couple to sit round a fire they had going, and along with a can of Carlsberg on top of the couple of pints of Jennings Cumbria I had at the pub we sat and chatted until about 10:00pm. The couple were from Bury and they had a trailer behind the motor home with a mini car, but they also have a Harley Davidson apiece which fit on the trailer as an alternative, so sometimes they bring the car and sometimes the bikes. They have done quite a lot of walking and have plans for an extended tour of Europe. It seems that insurance for more than a year for that purpose is a bit of a problem. We had good conversation, and I retired to my tent with my Hollowfill jacket reeking of wood smoke, but it got a good airing on the back of my rucksack today.
Hell's Mouth was a bit of a toil followed by a long road section to Aberadon, a pleasant little coastal village which had a couple of good cafes (bacon and egg bap and tea for me),and a Spar shop. I was able to glean useful information about shops and camp sites from another shop owner who was an ex rugby player (what else in Wales). He had kept fit running on the Coastal path and he was a good source of info.
I have now arrived At Bryn Mawr, a Caravan Club CL and have been offered to join the family for bacon egg and chips in half an hour or so. They are making the chips in a new fangled device that only uses an egg cup of of oil but takes three quarters of an hour to cook.
The Lyn peninsula and headlands and views of Bardsey Island gave been very impressive in bright sunshine providing a remarkably multiple coloured sea.
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Sunday, 1 May 2011

Welsh Boundary Walk - llandredog to Lanengan

Sunday 1st May - day 12
The next few days of this walk will be the crux I think. This is because of logistical problems rounding the Leyn Peninsula. Today I wanted to get to Aberdaron but have fallen at least eight miles short.
The day started with an airy walk round the headland leading to a long beach trog along The Warren into Abersoch where I spent too much time breakfasting. I also bought a wretched 1:25 map of The Leyn. Within a couple of miles I had all sorts of navigation problems largely because I was trying to manipulate the huge, bulky new map as well as my own 1:50 sheets along with two walking poles and my Memory Map GPS. What I really needed was a caddy. Through various frustrations I reckon I lost at feast an hour, but pressed on with optimism. When at last established on the proper path the scenery was dramatic and the going good on closely cropped turf, but chances of reaching Aberdaron at any sensible time were running along the lines of what I think is a hyperbolic function (no doubt somebody will correct me on this).
At about 3:45 I arrived at this sleepy little village at the southern end of the impressive Hell's Mouth beach. I went into the pub and had orange and tonic then set off again in the late afternoon heat with the prospect of a very long walk still to do. About five hundred yards out the the village I happened on this small farm camping site, and combined with the knowledge of the nearby inn for a prospective evening meal it was a no brainer
I still see two days ahead with sparse food and camping facilities so the old resourcefulness will have to come into play.
Those 1:25 maps are just not practical. They are two large to fold up and carry in any convenient way and some of the detail is so faint you can hardly see it; also I find the colouring does not have enough contrast. The one saving grace they do have is depiction of field boundaries.

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