Black Pudding Gaiters

Hiking, travelling, gear



Two days off, two trips to Wales

I was swearing at my Satnav.
There was several gig worth of unused SD card sitting in the slot but it refused to use it and refused to accept the car park I’d selected on my laptop route planner.
I muttered to myself as I scrolled through the settings on the satnav and typed in the ridiculously long Welsh road name. There were three potential car parks, the one I wanted, one quite close to the one I wanted and one quite a distance away. The latter was easier to enter in to the satnav as it sat in the middle of a distinctive junction.
Press the screen. Navigate to here. Sorted.

I headed down the same familiar route, down the A55 towards Conwy, however, I experienced my first drive through the centre of town and on to the parking spot in the hills just off Sychnant Pass Road.
The weather was lovely as I got out the car, perused the walking route and left the car park. It was about a mile to the car park I planned to start the walk from. In retrospect it would have been easy to find if I’d have persevered driving down the road. Oh well, hindsight and all that.

Start of footpath, ConwyWhen I reached the third car park, just past a large country house, I crossed to the left hand side of the road, walked through the gate posts and on to the footpath.
The path was very easy to follow and plenty of signs along the way ensured I was heading in the right direction, South (ish) initially.
The views over the bay towards Anglesey and Puffin Island were beautiful.
As usual in this part of the world, there’s always plenty of sheep but I also had a bit of a Rolling Stones moment passing several wild Carneddau horses.
Wild horses Conwy

The path changed direction, crossing a stream to my right before hitting a crossroads where a number of paths joined. I took the path to my left.
The map below may provide some useful inspiration for other walks in the future!
Map of paths near Conwy

As I stopped to take a swig from my water bottle I began to wonder if I should change my route as I was not parked where I’d planned the walks started and ended. I dug out the map and decided to take the next (and only) path to my left. This should eventually bring my out right at the car park I was using.
Unlike the paths previously, this  was not signed and not easy to follow. It was difficult to stay on the right path  across the wet, muddy terrain. I knew I wanted to be heading South East so using a combination of GPS and compass, I headed in roughly the right direction.
At one point the ground dropped away steeply to a stream below, but despite a jiggle to take the less steep slope, I stayed  on course and it wasn’t too long before I’d rejoined a more obvious path.
Coffee with view of Conwy BayAgain, the views were great and I saw a great opportunity to get the Jetboil out for a coffee break. I’ve marked the point with a beer glass on my downloadable route (well, it’s the best icon I could find!)

After my brew,  I continued to Craigyfedwen and on towards the road where I’d left the car, however, rather than head straight back, I looped around Crow’s Nest Hall and Farm, meeting a couple of llamas along the way.
All in all and enjoyable 8 mile walk with some great views…..I even forgave the satnav….but how do you move content to the SD card….hmmmmm….

A week later, another Monday off work and another walk.
Again, I was planning to try somewhere new.  I had two ideas, both were in North Wales, one 40 minutes drive, the other 70 minutes away.
Looking at the weather forecast, rain was due to hit the furthest location at around 3 pm, the closer location would be dry all day, so, a 40 minute drive it was!
I’d driven through the village of  Trelawnyd on my way to Dyserth on previous walks so no swearing at the satnav today!
I left the car in the free car park near the church at the centre of the village.  I changed in to my boots and walked back to the main road, crossed over and down the one way road opposite.
This soon became slightly muddy path through field, the theme for the day.
Initially I was following the North Wales Pilgrims Way, a   130 mile route which links ancient churches dedicated to  saints of the 6th century.  I had followed  part of this route on the walk 30 miles down the road the week before.

Scary sheep of TrelawnydAs I wandered through farm land towards I started to sense I was being followed.
One sheep initially, then two, three…
….eventually there were about 20 sheep extremely close to me,  following me across the field bleating very loudly.
It was  like a scene from ‘The Walking Dead’…..if ‘The Walking Dead’ featured zombie sheep.

At Graig Arthur, I left my woolly tormentors and headed South towards Glanllyn.
Here, I joined the Offas Dyke path, following a road.
The path left the road to the right, passing through a hedge and over  more fields towards Marian Cwm.

I remained on the very easy to follow Offas Dyke path until I reached a junction at Marian Mill Farm.
Here I took a right and found a great spot to pick some wild garlic.
It’s quite easy to spot with it’s wide green leaves, however, you will smell it before you see it!

Wild garlic.

I love this stuff, it makes a particularly good pesto when whizzed up with olive oil and Parmesan cheese
It’s a shame the growing season is quite short. It is really worth tracking some down in the Spring months.
After filling my now rather garlicy rucksack,  I continued to Cwm Road (stop sniggering!)  then back to the main road then over to the car park It was still early afternoon, I still hadn’t made a coffee and I still had a lot of energy left so I passed the car park and went on the path up Gop Hill.
The views from the peak were pleasant. I found a decent, sheltered spot to get the Jetboil going and make a cuppa.

Two very nice walks, but,  if I’m honest, I preferred the first and suspect I will be back around there very soon.

As usual, this 8 mile route  and the Conwy route are both available as downloadable GPX files on Viewranger.

Dales Way..or not

From a very young age, most of my holidays both abroad and in the UK, have been spent up in the hills somewhere. One of the earliest holiday photos is of me, aged around 5 years old, in Austria wearing my big leather boots and ‘Munch Bunch‘ rucksack containing such essentials as a colouring book and pencils!

All of my holidays, however, are spent in one, occasionally two, bases. Walks all start and finish at the hotel/b&b/guesthouse so why not try something different, start at point A then after a few days arrive at point B?

There are a few of long distance paths (LDP) to choose from, but, lets not run before we can walk.
First prerequisite was to do this properly, it seems ‘cheating’ to send all your kit ahead in a van and it is  definitely is ‘cheating’ if all the organisation is done by a specialist company.
I was to carry everything I needed for the trip myself and find my own bed and breakfast accommodation….yes, I know people would say it’s ‘cheating’ not camping out but, as I say, lets not run before we can walk…..

So, where to go?
While it would be great to try something across Europe (and I won’t rule that out in the future), I just wanted to take a few days off work and have a relatively cheap break.
The Dales Way was consistently coming up as a good beginners LDP. While I’m no beginner to walking, I am new to multi day trips and this seemed a good introduction.

I got a copy of The Dales Way: A Complete Guide to the Trail (British Long-distance Trails) by Terry Marsh and fired up Google.
One of the first things that hit me as the average age of the walkers, it seemed like this was God’s waiting room for the more active. Was I about to embark on my first ‘challenge’ of the year with people over twice my age?!
At least I was taking a few less days than they were. I had planned  5 days to complete the 81 miles rather than the 6-8 suggested. Perhaps I can put the Werther’s Originals away….for now…

One of the biggest problems is to find town/villages along the way which not only have rooms available but also have somewhere for an evening meal, cue calculating mileage between stops and coming up with the following plan:

  • Day 1 From Ilkley to Grassington
  • Day 2 To Buckden or Hume
  • Day 3 To Dent
  • Part 4: Dent to Kendal
  • Part 5: Kendal to Bowness on Windermere

Now the next problem, actually getting the rooms booked. Some hotels had online booking, however, a couple replied to my emails with ‘you have to ring up’.

Bear in mind that I was looking at very basic rooms, some with shared bathrooms and  usually above a pub, by the time I’d added the train fare,food and drink the price for this trip was over £500!
To put this in to context, I received an email advertising an All Inclusive holiday in Gambia including flights for a week for the same price!

So, my plans for my week off have changed somewhat, I’m now looking at flights and hotels in warmer parts of Europe and saving myself a couple of hundred quid.
The Dales Way walk became a week in La Palma.


The Wirral Way by bike

The Wirral Way is great place for cycling. It is fairly flat, mostly traffic free and there are plenty of opportunities to stop along the 13 mile (21km) route.
The only downside is I haven’t (yet) sussed out a non linear route.

Bike and caarThe full route starts at Seacombe Ferry and ends at Hooton Station.
My route started at the Thurstaston Visitors Centre which has plenty of free (at the moment at least!) car parking, a cafe and toilets.

West Kirby, Hoylake and New Brighton can be reached by taking the path heading  roughly North East.
I went in the opposite direction towards Hooton.
The route follows a disused railway line, once a part of part of the Birkenhead Railway and  now a multi use path offering some fantastic views over the River Dee to North Wales.

Wirral Way ViewThe first opportunity for a break (and ice cream!) is at Parkgate.
Leave the Wirral Way at Boathouse Lane and continue along The Parade.  There are a number of pubs and award winning ice cream shops along this route.
The path can be rejoined near the cricket club off Station Road. Don’t let the name fool you, there hasn’t been a station here since 1956!

The path stops for a short distance in Neston, passing through a quiet housing estate.
The route is still signposted, simply continue straight ahead before crossing a road to rejoin the path.

SheepThe route passes the Leahurst Veterinary school part of the University of Liverpool, which once featured in a couple of TV programmes.
Keep an eye out for some of their residents!

I rode to  Hadlow Road, a  good spot for a ‘comfort break’ before heading back the same way.
This disused railway station has been preserved in it’s 1950’s condition along complete with ticket office and signal box. In fact, you can see many features of the old railway line along this route.

My ride was roughly 15 miles (24km) and can be downloaded via the ViewRanger website

The Visit Wirral website has several downloadable maps of other cycle routes around the peninsular

The Wirral Way by foot

Another walk from last year, back when we had  warm sunny weekends! I wanted a walk but didn’t fancy a drive so, took a local, albeit a virtually linear walk.

I started the walk close to Bromobrough Rake station making it around 14 miles, however, for a shorter walk, start at Bromborough, Eastham Rake or, to avoid walking along streets, Hooton Station

I headed to Plymyard Avenue, taking a right at the end on to Eastham Rake.

Just before the railway bridge, turn on to Lowwfields Avenue,  following the blue signs to Hooton. Take the underpass beneath the M53 motorway then follow the path to the left, where it forks, take the left hand path, around the field  before reaching Dale Hey.
At the end of this road, take a right towards Hooton Station, passing the Hooton pub.

The Wirral Way
The Wirral Way

Just past the station, a path to the left takes you to the start of the Wirral Way.

Navigation is easy enough, just follow the route of the old Birkenhead Railway. This line was closed in 1962 and became Wirral Country Park in 1973.

hadlow road station
Hadlow Road station

Eventually you’ll  hit Hadlow Road station, another spot where you can park up and start this walk, in fact, starting here makes the walk more circular.

Hadlow Road was once a  station on the Hooton to West Kirby line of the  Birkenhead Railway, serving the village of Willaston.  It closed to passengers in 1956 but the Grade 2 listed station as been preserved and is well worth a look inside, if nothing else, it makes a nice toilet stop!

On leaving the station, cross over the road to continue on the Wirral way.

It’s easy to spot the route through!

Rather than walk the full 12.2 miles of the Wirral way I took a path to the left  crossing fields.

This is where the circular part of the walk starts.

The path pops out on the busy Chester High Road, cross here at the lights and follow Mill Lane to the bridleway on the right which, eventually leads to Gorntons Lane in Neston.

Some lovely views over to Wales here.


Take a right up the lane until it becomes a footpath, this path leads to Lees Lane. Turn left here.

Follow this to the junction with Mellock Lane, turn right and follow it until you reach the start of the Wirral Way which takes you back to Hooton.

The map is available in GPX format from ViewRanger


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