225 miles approx, with a truly glorious finish.

Albert and I returned to Fishguard on the 9th April. Yes it was freezing! However the sun was peeking through the clouds as we set off Northwards along the West Wales Coastline to journey to the men of Harlech in the distance.

Fishguard is a most pleasant place and can actually be considered three places for the harbour is quite distinct geographically from the town and the town is split into two, upper and lower towns. 

 

Fishguard (upper) on left with Fishguard (harbour) in background. Taken from Fishguard fort just outside Fishguard (lower).

Fishguard also has the British eqivalent of the Bayeux tapestry, a woven account of the repulse of the last invasion of these Islands.

After the outbreak of war between France and England in 1793 General Lazare sent 15,000 men off to invade england, cause the working classes to rise up and instigate our own version of the french revolution. 

These plans took a hefty knock when the fleet was dispersed by storms off Bantry bay, then the remnants had to call off plans to burn Bristol thanks to the weather deciding to blow the ships in all directions other than towards the unsuspecting west country.  The final remnants of the remnants then set sail following plan "B", to land in Cardigan bay, but approaching Fishguard they were spotted by keen-eyed soldiers manning one of the nine pounders.  A shot fired from a 9 pounder told the French that they had been rumbled which was enough for them to raise the tricolour and head back to Brest. A lucky escape for the fort and for Fishguard as apparently the shot fired was one of only three in the fort at the time.

Stirred by tales of valour Albert and I set off for Cardigan bay, hoping to reach it in better shape than the french.

 

 

Cardigan bay. No sign of the French fleet.

8 miles from Fishguard and the small resort of Newport is reached. It is now possible to leave the main highway and skirt the coastline via some rather narrow roads. I really must put Albert on a diet, one bridge in particular we just made it over. 

For all the effort the coastline is pleasant if not outstanding. Cardigan, 10 miles further on is a small, pleasant former county town sat on the Teifi estuary which runs into Cardigan bay. From Cardigan it's more of the same. Pleasant if not eventful, low rolling hills falling onto a flat plain before a shaley coastline.

Aberaron is the next major town, a Regency town of pleasant buildings, roadworks causing major traffic jams, lots of pubs and holiday chalets and very little else.

20 miles further on is Aberystwyth. A lovely place to be.

Aberystwyth promenade looking towards Constitution hill.

Aberystwyth has something for everyone. For the cultural it is home to the Welsh National Library, the academic have a university, the historian has the castle, the holidaymaker a superb esplanade and two beaches, the intrepid have constitution hill and the cliff railway. For all are a maze of narrow streets, a nice harbour, lots of restaurants and pubs.

Albert!  Tear me away from all this!  Northward!

North is the resort of Borth, an unsightly collection of Holiday chalets, before turning eastwards following the south bank of the river dovey to Machynlleth and then returning along the North bank to the broad estuary of the river Dovey and the sand dunes of the small resort of Aberdovey.

I had a weepy moment in Aberdovey Sad

An organisation very close to my heart is the Outward Bound trust. Many moons ago, sometime back in the last century, I was an OB Mountain instructor. I also attended the sea school at Aberdovey, one of my finer moments in life. 

There they were, just as I did many years ago, showing kids how to handle canoes! They even shared a cup of tea with me, humour the weepy old biddy Sad

Whilst weepily sipping a nice cup of tea I couldn't help admire the bus, mumbling "in my day it was beat-up old land rovers".

After taking one look at me they mumbled "in Her day it was beat-up old instructors"

 

Onwards Albert!  Tears of nostalgia can wait.

 

The scenery now is dramatic. This is the coastling of the Snowdonia national park. Steep sided, wooded valleys carrying rivers to wide estuaries against a backdrop of stunning mountain scenery.

Barmouth bay is just up the coast. First up the river wnion estuary to Dolgellau then down the North bank  passing the spectacular long railway viaduct crossing the estuary.

Barmouth has lots going for it, mostly good, some not so good.

Huge long viaducts,  Huge wide sandy beaches, a huge long, and rather nice esplanade, and, less than nice a huge, long, grandly termed "food hall" selling a variety of exotic produce ...  burgers and chips, sausage and chips, jumbo sausage and chips, pizza and chips, curry and chips.

 I asked for a nice green salad.

I had to leave town quick.

The spectacular Wnion estuary viaduct carrying the railway to Barmouth.

Harlech castle.

The beautiful and dramatic scenery of the Snowdonia national park continues, past Harlech, the castle and the men,  to the small, quirky coastal resort of Portmeiron, made famous by the long-running television series of the '60's, "The Prisoner", which was filmed in and around the town.

After Porthmadoc the coast heads westwards, along the Llyn peninsular and towards it's spectacular beaches. The spectacular ruggedness of Snodownia is left for a less rugged, but equally spectacular panorama.

First, along the southern coast, is the resort town of Pwllheli, narrow streets, hideously crowded, a glorious beach, loads of pubs, a real buzzy atmossphere.

Then, keeping to the Southern coast, next is Llanbedrog and the spectacular golden sands.

It was almost spectacular for Albert and myself. I decided to follow an unsurfaced road that appeared to head to the beach. It got steeper, narrower, then more twisting....  and then came to a dead end, nearly but not quite on the beach, a ten foot step down to it.

Faced with three options, an almost impossible reverse back, a totally improbable turn round or launch Albert into a flying leap over the ten foot step I did the sensible thing. I put the kettle on. An hour and a nerve-wracking multi point turn later and we rejoined civillisation.

The sands of Llandbedrog, looking northwards towards Snowdonia in the distance.

After Llanbedrog its the golden bays, coves and beaches of the small resort of Abersoch, before reaching the furthest west point of Aberdaron then turning North Eastwards and returning up the North coast towards Caernavon.

The golden sands of Abersoch

Heading along the north coast there may not be the beaches but the scenery is no less grand. It is not only the coast that makes the Llyn peninsular so special. Inland there is beautiful scenery, rolling hills, rugged tors, peaceful open spaces, it is a truly remarkable place.

Whilst beauty is in the eye of the beholder and differs by individual, as far as this particular individual is concerned this is one of the most beautiful places in the UK to be, or anywhere in the world.

It is also Welsh. By that I mean a place where the first language is Welsh. If this trip did anything at all for me it was to strike home just how important that cultural and linguistic difference is. I may be English but before the "English" there were the celts. Before the Romans there were the celts. This is also my heritage, my history. 

I consider myself to be worldly and well-travelled. I would not dream of going to another country and not be able to exchange simple pleasantries and courtesies in the national language. However this was a courtesy that I left at home when I went to Wales, something that I have promised to rectify when I return. After all, Welsh as a language was being spoken in Britain for about three thousand years before the English that we speak today became dominant.

On that terribly philosophical note: Albert! Arwain acha.  

 

Northwards from near Nefyn vaguely towards Anglesey. Typical Llyn landscape. Totally unspoiled

A few more miles and Caernavon is reached, best bypassed for Bangor and the Menai straits to Anglesey. There can be no better end to any section than the Llyn.

 

Onwards Albert! Anglesey awaits our presence!

 

Continue to Anglesey, N.Wales