Friday, 24 July 2015

Porthmadog to Criccieth - 29 October 2014 - 8 miles on foot

It was an early train to Smethwick Galton Bridge and a 15 minute wait before catching the Arriva Trains Wales service to Machynlleth, where I changed trains, arriving at Porthmadog at 10:49.

The dominating feature on leaving the train was the factory-like Tesco supermarket that did allow me to stock up with provisions prior to my walk.  The sky was blue, the wind light and the temperature was to be expected for a late October day.

Porthmadog itself was somewhat drab for what I would regard as a resort.  The shops on the main streets were original but appeared unloved.  There were no architectural atrocities with the exception of the aforementioned Tesco - but, even in Porthmadog, people have to eat!

Porthmadog Harbour

Reaching the harbour, my mood was lifted by the sight of the boats, the sound of the rigging and the smell of the sea.  I followed the track alongside the Afon Glaslyn and the boatyards until the lovely village of  Borth y Gest was reached (11:35 - 1.5 miles).  The setting is sublime - The typical Welsh stone cottages almost dip their toes in the small tidal cove surrounded by green.

Borth y Gest

The path took me over low cliffs and sand dunes until the wide expanse of Black Rock Sands was reached (12:00 - 2.5 miles).  The sands made up the longest part of the walk and holiday makers were enjoying the few remaining days of good weather until the onset of winter.  The sands are also accessible to private cars and many drivers had ventured onto the sands, parking their vehicles well above tide's reach.

Black Rock Sands
For most of the walk along the sands, the beckoning hill top castle of Criccieth remained in constant view.  At the hill of Craig Ddu, it was necessary to venture inland, where I could enjoy the view towards Snowdonia from a higher vantage point.

View from Craig Ddu

After a little while, I crossed the railway line (1308 - 5.2 miles) and walked alongside green meadows before recrossing the railway and continuing into Criccieth on the beach side track, reaching the castle at 1340 (7 miles).


I had plenty of time to walk around the lovely town, eat my lunch of fish and chips at the cafe in Castle Street followed by an Ice cream from Cadwaladers across the road before walking the final yards to the station where I caught the 15:51 train home.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Harlech to Porthmadog - 22 July 2015 - 10 Miles by Bike

Another very early start to catch the first (6:30am) train out of Smethwick Galton Bridge for my journey to Harlech, changing at Machynlleth to travel along the scenic Cambrian Coast Line.  I had delayed this journey for some time whilst waiting for the Pont Briwet Bridge to be rebuilt following storm damage a couple of years or so ago.  The rail bridge had been opened opened a few months earlier, but I had to wait until two days before my journey for the road / bike / pedestrian route to be available.

Harlech Castle

The train arrived at Harlech on time at 10:25 and soon I was cycling, or rather walking up the steep hill next to old grey stones of Harlech Castle.  The sky was overcast and there were a few people around, but the expected hoards of tourists were thankfully missing.  Harlech is an attractive small town containing a mixture of stone and whitewashed houses.  At the crossroads, I turned left onto the B4573 and was quickly hurtling downhill out of Harlech with trees on both sides and occasional glimpses of Glaslyn estuary on my left.  Soon, the road leveled out onto the coastal plain and I continued to Tygwyn (11:10 - 3.5 miles).

At Tygwyn, I joined the surprisingly quiet A496 and pedaled on to the village of Talsarnau which lined the road with stone and whitewashed cottages and the occasional chapel.


Continuing along the road, I reached the turning to the rebuilt Pont Briwet at Llandecwyn (11:26 - 5.8 miles).  Except for work continuing on the approach roads, the bridge is now complete and offers excellent views upstream for walkers or cyclists.  The downstream views are better appreciated from the train!

View from Pont Briwet

Onwards to Penrhyndeudraeth (11:40 - 6.5 miles) where I met a couple of visitors from London who were looking for Snowdonia.  I pointed them towards Ffestiniog and continued on my way into the village, another well kept hamlet similar to those I had already passed through.  The village did possess a few interesting features including a nicely painted green corrugated iron shed, a railway bridge and three ancient tractors.

Shortly after leaving the green shed, I cycled under the Ffestiniog Railway (11:53 - 7.8 miles) through a narrow stone arch.  Despite hearing noises in the distance, the picture I took does not include a steam train.

Ffestiniog Railway bridge

One of the tractors I encountered soon afterwards looked as though it had just emerged from the showroom.  The other two were in a ruinous state.

Pristine tractor

I continued to the Cob, the causeway which takes both road and Ffestiniog Railway over the Glaslyn River to Porthmadog.

View from The Cob
Arriving at Porthmadog (12:20 - 10 miles), I had a real treat as a steam train made its way across the main road and continued on its way towards Ffestiniog.

Ffestiniog Railway
It was then time for food.  I visited Allports Fish and Chip shop and devoured my purchase at the nearby park, close to the Ffestiniog Railway and overlooking the Glaslyn Lake.

I had plenty of time before my train at 2:00, so I visited the Station Inn for a pint before my uneventful but punctual return train home.