Monday, 14 March 2016

Fantastic Winter Sunshine on the Harlech Coast

Snowdon, capped with snow, from the Glastraeth marsh.
Now that the Wales Coast Path is well established, Peter is looking at extending our walking holidays further south as far as Aberystwyth. Consequently he asked me to get out from behind a desk into the glorious March sunshine last Thursday, and do a recce of the route from Llandecwyn, near the old toll bridge, to Llanbedr a few miles south of Harlech. I know, it's a tough life isn't it!

I initially drove down to Llanbedr and parked at the little free car park near the train station. I then hopped on the train and headed north to Llandecwyn. Conveniently, both stations are just yards from the coast path route. The initial few hundred ran alongside the main road until a signposted left turn that took me across fields to the edge of the Glastraeth salt marsh.

Is this the best view from a station platform in Britain?

The craggy hills on your left as you walk south from the station.

As the path heads south it widens out into an easy to follow track at the edge of the Glastreath marsh.

I'm happy to report that the path is mostly very well signed, with lots of roundels with the distinctive Wales Coast Path logo to make sure that you never get too far off track.

A slightly weather-beaten bridge, but sturdy enough.
The path eventually heads uphill onto a little elevated region called Ynys, or island in Welsh, possibly because it stands proud of the surrounding flatter land. Near the top is this charming little church, standing all alone surrounded by fields.

The interior of the church has beautiful engraved beams and a very colourful stained glass window.
Ynys' elevated position gives it a splendid view of Portmeirion across the estuary.
The hills of the Llyn Peninsula seem very close.
The next change of scenery is a long straight path along the edge of the Morfa Harlech woodland.
Following the slightly confined path through the woodland it opens out into a wide open field and heads towards Harlech itself in the distance.
Harlech Castle
From Harlech the path heads straight to the coastline through the golf course and then the dunes. 
The weirdly alien landscape of the dunes.
The next stage is a long pull across Harlech beach to the headland in the distance. The path then heads up a set of steps to cross the rail track before a steep zig-zag climb to the top...
... where you are rewarded with this fabulous view.
After feeling pleased with myself for making that steep climb, I then lost all that height on a long downhill slope to Llandanwg. It was worth it though for the little old church surrounded by the sand dunes. Handily, there is also a little cafe and some toilets.

Llandanwg's tiny church

The interior with its gnarled and worm eaten beams - I'm not sure whether they're still load bearing or just there for atmosphere now.

After leaving the church the path took me through this little marina area,

Next came this nice metal bridge across the River Artro

I know you're not supposed to take photos into the sun, but I thought this was rather pretty.

The home stretch beside the babbling River Artro.

A sight for sore knees! Back where I started that morning.
My total distance that day was 12 miles. It was a great experience on such a lovely day, and I'm thoroughly looking forward to the next section from Llanbedr to Fairbourne. I'll be posting images from that walk later this week.

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