Waking Gwynedd (Finale)
Updated: Nov 19, 2019
My final week ends with my last stretch of the Llyn Peninsula, moving onto the Menai Straits as I pass towns such as Caernarfon, Bangor and Conwy. A very road intensive week couldn’t bring me down as I reach close to my 600 mile finish line.
4 days to go! Fortunately I’m a day in advance on my walk so I am able to hide myself from Storm Ali for one day. The winds are 50mph with 75mph gusts over the next couple of days with warnings of flash floods following closely behind it. For some reason the universe believes I need to be tested more!
It gives me a day without many distractions to focus on my blog writing and fundraising goal. I’ve received many donations coming from the majority of my friends and families, but I’m still a fair way off my goal. I had misjudged how difficult it is to raise such a large amount of money without a large following to start with. Many big fundraising events are backed by companies or sponsors and unfortunately I don’t have that luxury! I still have the rest of this week to create awareness and at least a few weeks after I’ve finished to write up my blog pieces, which will tell my story more in-depth and give relevant info for those who also wish to walk the Welsh coastal path.
I often deal with anxiety and although it’s quite manageable nowadays, there are certain situations which set it off. I’m also a driven individual so achieving personal goals weighs heavy on my mind. I have to remind myself that I can only do my best and I’ve currently raised £3000 which is amazing!
(And since finishing the walk I managed to reach my goal of £5000, yay!)
Last day in the wilderness before I reach Caernarfon and the main roads. It feels like my final day already, I know this will be the last time where I’m on a path with relatively little people, cars or buildings.
The winds of Storm Ali are scarily strong, fortunately they are coming from behind me but at times I have to use my poles to stop me from falling over. The mist that lays over the Llyn Peninsula fortunately lifts just as I start, winds I can deal with but not being able to see where you’re going when walking near cliffs just isn’t safe.
The ground is unsteady with large, jagged rocks and small streams which make footwork all the more difficult but the scenery is undeniably beautiful as I climb higher up the hill. With the stretched out shape of the peninsula and relatively low lying lands I can see further along the coastline than I have been able to before. On this wet and wild day the land looks fresh and alive, with the white waters of the waves standing out against the green of the Irish Sea.
I climb up further until I cross over the top and look upon the beach that lies in front of the idyllically placed Welsh language school Nant Gwrtheyrn. On a day like this, with the sun shining and wild waters, it’s one of the best views I’ve seen so far. Even the windy weather and the nearby cliff edge don’t bother me, if anything it raises my adrenaline levels and I see the scenery in even sharper detail.
I stop off at the non dog-friendly cafe at the language school sitting outside with Tegwen having a coffee so she isn’t alone. Despite not being allowed inside, the majority of the cafe’s customers come out to see the cute dog in a yellow mac.
I continue over the mountains before arriving in the town of Trevor. I end my day after walking along a busy and loud bypass, which seems cruel after experiencing such raw, Welsh beauty.
My poor face which has been battling the elements for almost 5 weeks now. I have a daily cleansing routine at home that keeps my oily skin managed and the pimples away. On this journey it might get a quick wipe from a wet wipe, if it’s lucky.
The photo is a graphic portrait of my usual walking face and it ain’t pretty. My skin is weathered and flushed, and my wrinkles are practically screaming. It’s what happens when you’re pushing and persevering through difficult weather and terrain. For example, instead of warnings of high winds today, there are alerts for flash floods due to severe downfalls. I’m not going to preach about vanity and pride but my life during this journey has been fulfilled enough to forget about such frivolous things.
Anyway, a shorter walk today as I pass the rugged Dinas Dinlle beach and onto the Menai Straits, where I can really see and appreciate the lovely island of Anglesey. Unfortunately I won’t be walking it this year but I know I’ll be back! I continue on country roads and reach my destination for tonight, Caernarfon, most famous for it’s castle overlooking the harbour. It has undergone a transformation the past few years and the town has blossomed into a tourist hub, with great eateries, independent shops and guesthouses.
Hopefully from these journey updates you’ve seen how beautiful the Welsh coast is. I had never considered myself a big walker but since starting this journey I’ve found great satisfaction in hiking. You have to apply a considerable effort to reach viewpoints and points of interest, and they feel like a reward when they’re reached. You also appreciate the unexpected scenery and wildlife that you’ll encounter which adds to the experience, making it a journey of discovery. Mix it up with nice pubs, a cosy B&B and you couldn’t really ask for more. I’m actually looking forward to putting this more into practice! Who’d like to join me?
For some reason my bag feels lighter today, I kept worrying that I had left something behind. The wind is at 40mph strong and the rain is pouring, but it feels like a walk in the park. I’m elated knowing that today is my last full day of walking with tomorrow being the finale.
I want to sum up my last 5 weeks but right now I can’t think of the words to explain how life rewarding it has been. What does come to mind is how I feel for tomorrow, and it’s a sense of achievement, a pride in knowing that I have pushed myself to my limits for the sake of doing something good. I’m not being sanctimonious, this is a pride that concerns no one but myself, I have completed a life long goal to raise funds for ParkinsonsUK by doing something extraordinary.
As I come round onto the North Wales coast the sights were of Anglesey today, separated by the Menai Straits. It’s a beautiful place and I’m almost jealous that I’m not walking them now but I know I’ll be back. The downside today was that the entire path was tarmac, following the busy bypass. We stopped off at the Port Dinorwic where I revisited the quaint Garddfon Inn. I treat myself to a lovely steak and ale pie, with a local bitter to wash it down. Bugger the tuna sandwich today, I think I deserve a treat!
I continue following the busy road past Menai Bridge and then onto Bangor’s pier, the rain hammered down on us both but despite this I stopped to admire the view of Anglesey and Puffin Island in the distance. The long stretch to Conwy followed the coast, away from the main road which was pleasant, especially as the sun came out.
We finally arrived at Conwy and checked in to a very nice B&B so I can sleep well before my final walk to Llandudno. I always forget how lovely this town is, the small streets and castle walls that you can walk. So much of Wales is beautiful and I’m lucky to call it home.
We’re done! 600 miles of the Welsh coastal path walked with my best friend Tegwen. Our last day was mostly around the Big Orme which was mostly a slow and gentle walk upwards, we even managed to see some more seals.
From Swansea in the south to Llandudno in the north of Wales, we have trekked many terrains, through all types of weather and for the majority, camped every night. All in aid of ParkinsonsUK as we aim to raise £5000 for this worth charity.
It’s not been easy, averaging 15-20 miles per day, we battled through the rain, wind and cold. Sleeping on a hard floor hasn’t let me sleep much, and it hasn’t helped with Tegwen in my small sleeping bag to keep her warm. The camping chores and bag organisation have been the biggest bane of this journey but the sights and experiences we’ve shared have outweighed any negatives.
We’ve seen beautiful towns and villages like Tenby, St David’s and Aberaeron. Stunning beaches like Barafundle Bay, Mwnt and Rhossili Bay. Impressive castles such as Caernarfon, Pembroke and Conwy. As well as all the beautiful sights and bays that don’t have names.
The people of Wales are been on form as always, so inviting and helpful. Many offering me a cup of tea as I arrive at campsites. I’ve been saved from a wild camping mishap from a friendly barman and haven’t paid for one campsite in support of my walk.
I can’t believe it’s all over and I’ve accomplished this epic walk. It’s a dream come true and I’d like to say thank you to all those who have supported us along the way!
Walk it yourself?
Rating - 2*
Why? - My last day on the Llyn Peninsula was worthy of 5*, coming over the hill that overlooks Nant Gwrtheyrn was a sight that I could never forget. Although before Caernarfon and all the way to Llandudno, you walk mostly on pavements or tarmac. Perhaps for others this isn’t too much of a worry but I prefer the wild paths that snake the Welsh landscape, it makes the route more challenging and therefore rewarding!
Highlights - Nant Gwrtheyrn, Caernarfon, Menai Straits, Bangor, Conwy, Llandudno
Tom’s Tip - I wouldn’t walk any of the stretch from Caernarfon to Llandudno, it’s too road intensive, you’re so close to the the Llyn Peninsula or even Snowdonia it’s worth going there and perhaps visiting the cities on an afternoon.
Accommodation - I really liked Caernarfon, it’s a small medieval walled city and so all the buildings are quirky. Otherwise Conwy is a quaint city to stay in.
Travel - Trains go all along the North coast except for Caernarfon which requires taking a local bus from Bangor.