Saturday, 5 September 2009

Day 7 – Tan-y-Foel to Menai Bridge

Day 7 – Tan-y-Foel to Menai Bridge

After the usual evening routine (shower, blog, eat, sleep), we awoke to a windy but overcast day, for the final leg of our adventure. The song for the day was “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” (Starship). We celebrated having got this far with a Buck’s Fizz to see us off, and set off along the marine road with the Menai Straits to our right.

Crossing fields and tracks, we spent a few moments watching a group of mares and foals, and tried not to laugh at Roz, after she’d stopped to ‘pick some flowers’ - when she got stung on the bum by a nettle! Ever the optimist, Lindsay was convinced that the weather was ‘brightening up’, but soon after, we felt a few spots of rain – which luckily came to nothing.

We carried on along the south coast of the island, heading for Plas Newydd – at which point the coastal path follows a busy road, which we weren’t looking forward to. Luckily, we were able to find an alternative route, which we could tell you about – but then we would have to kill you!

The mile leading to Britannia Bridge was mainly along the foreshore, and we were glad to reach the Carreg y Môn Hotel, where we stopped for refreshments, before the very last stretch to Menai Bridge. By now the sun was out and spirits were high, less than 2 miles to go!

On the wooded path from Britannia to Menai, Lins and Helen saw a red squirrel, a first for both of us. We were joined by Gwen, then Linda and Mike, and then Ruth and her friend Ellen and family just before Menai Bridge. At the Belgian Promenade, we were greeted by Stu and several onlookers, complete with finishing tape, champagne and chocolates. Ruth had baked us cookies and made us medals, which we proudly donned. The collection bucket had over £100 in it.

We came back to the caravan via the Llanfachraeg Fun Day, where Stu locked Helen in the car (in error, or so he says!). We’re now getting ready to celebrate with a meal at the Lobster Pot at Church Bay. We’re glad we don’t have to get up and walk tomorrow morning, but also kind of sad that it’s over. Despite the worst the Welsh weather could throw at us, we’ve seen some stunning landscapes and had a good laugh along the way.

So, over 100 miles and a few blisters and aching muscles later, we’ve raised over £1200 for the Snowdrop Appeal (the charity needs to raise £50k this year). The distance we’ve walked this week is the daily trip Ruth had for radiotherapy treatment at Clatterbridge. The money being raised by the Snowdrop Appeal will pay for software for a virtual simulator at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, improving radiotherapy services and giving future cancer patients better treatment closer to home. Not having to travel so far when feeling so ill will improve patients’ outcomes and make the gruelling treatment more bearable. Our aches and pains are nothing compared to what some cancer patients have to go through, so if you haven’t already donated, please visit our Justgiving site at and help us to help the Snowdrop Appeal get as close as possible to their target.

Same time next year girls???

Day 6 – Trecastell to Foel

Day 6 – Trecastell to Foel

Another windy but sunny day saw us start the walk near the Anglesey Motor Racing Circuit near Trecastell – our first sight as we got to the sea was the “church in the sea”, where there is apparently a wedding taking place on Saturday, when the tide is low!

We walked to Aberffraw, following the coast – easy paths with dramatic waves crashing on the rocks nearby. From Aberffraw estuary, it turned sandy underfoot, and we then turned inland, through Hermon and on to Malltraeth where we stopped for lunch at the pub. Lovely food but needs work on the hospitality!

From Malltraeth, we headed across the estuary towards Newborough Forest – the wind was now blowing hard from the side and it made progress slow going (the lunch time chardonnay didn’t work today), until a burst of “Show Me The Way to Amarillo” lifted our spirits a little. Numpty lagged behind and rolled in something stinky, so she was given a wide berth until we reached the sea for a wash. We passed the time discussing who we would invite to a dinner party – live or dead – and in no particular order, we decided on Robbie Williams, Nigella Lawson, John Sargeant, Mo Mowlem, Stephen Fry, Clarissa Dickson-Wright, Chairman Mao, Ranulph Fiennes, Ewan MacGregor, one of the Kennedy’s (not Nigel!), Princess Di, Alan Carr, Alan Davies and Victoria Wood – the latter sparked a great rendition of ‘Let’s Do It!’ by H – lyrics such as ‘Bend me over backwards on the hostess trolley!’, ‘Come and melt the buttons on my flameproof nightie!’ and ‘Spank me on the bottom with a Woman’s Weekly!’ had Lins and Roz in stitches!

After the trees, we climbed over the dunes to Traeth Penrhyn and walked towards Llanddwyn Island and Beach. We kicked our shoes off and the sand between our toes felt wonderful. We admired the kite surfers (both those on the sea, and especially those getting changed in the car park). Following a short pit stop at Newborough, we made our way on inland to Tal-y-Foel, on the south coast of Anglesey. We got to the stepping stones across the Afon Braint, where we were looking forward to a good photo opportunity as Lins fell in, but to no avail – we all successfully negotiated them, even Numpty the dog. Crossing the next few fields was the hardest going of all – having stayed dry all day (!!!), our feet got wet crossing some soggy fields and we were seriously flagging for the last couple of miles - so were especially grateful to see the day’s finish point at Tal-Y-Foel pier.

So 97 miles down, and only 10 to go! An update for Julie – yes, we finished all the wine, and have had to send out for more – luckily Stu’s delivery service has been very reliable! So, the end is in sight, and we have decided to celebrate the beginning of the last stage tomorrow with a glass of Buck’s Fizz at the start, and have plans to meet up with various family and friends at Menai Bridge around 4pm on Saturday. We hear from a number of sources that we appeared in the Daily Post today – on page 4 (as close as Rozza will ever get to page 3!).

Friday, 4 September 2009

Day 5 Llanfaethlu to Trecastell

Day 5 – Llanfaethlu to Trecastell

Having been woken by the rain and gales during the night, we were pleasantly surprised to find a dry and bright morning awaiting us. The wind continued to howl as we set off from the caravan (having feasted on Alan and Karen’s chuckies’ eggs) towards the coastal path, where we could see the waves breaking impressively over the rocks and the harbour wall at Holyhead. We soon reached Sandy Beach, where we were disappointed to find that the café had burnt down – no hot chocolate stop there then! The path soon took us inland around the Alaw estuary, and a couple of hours of boring walking along roads ensued.

We were all beginning to hurt by the time we reached Valley (but views of the RAF pilots taking part in a triathlon and a few Ibuprofen soon lifted our spirits). We didnt loiter, honest!

Soon after, the stop at the Bull Inn was most welcome for lunch. Numpty and Max flaked out on the floor, and we felt like doing the same after our jacket potatoes! But after a sneaky Chardonnay, we were like new women, and set out on the afternoon’s walk with renewed gusto.

From Valley there followed a pleasant stretch along the shoreline up to RAF Valley – where we sang all the songs from Top Gun - and laughed as Roz recounted the tale of a friend who had thought that ARAF (Welsh for ‘SLOW’) stood for Anglesey Royal Air Force! We followed the track along the runway, and crossing the dunes, were rewarded with the most breathtaking view of the amazing stretch of beach to Rhosneigr. The sun was shining, the tide was out, the surf was up, and all was right with the world - this was how we had all envisaged our adventure to be. The dogs loved playing on the beach, and we were soon all paddling to get across the river to Rhosneigr, (saving us a mile-long detour to a bridge!). The wind was still blowing hard, and we could see a black storm out to sea that looked as if it was rapidly advancing towards us – having been caught out before, we all donned our wet weather gear in anticipation, but it luckily passed us by.

Stu came to meet us at Rhosneigr, but buoyed by the good weather and our good progress, we decided to continue a few miles further to Trecastell, where we ended the walk at Cable Bay.

So we clocked up 19 miles today, and didn’t get wet once!!! Seventy-seven miles down – and only 30 to go! We retired to the caravan for another one of Roz’s excellent meals (veggie chilli, so are expecting wind assistance tomorrow!), accompanied by garlic bread (garlic? And bread?) – after all, it is the future!

Day 4 Llanbadrig to Llanfaethlu

Day 4 – Llanbadrig to Llanfaethlu

The day dawned bright, if not sunny, and we set off from Llanbadrig Church to the sound of John Denver from the car stereo (much to the amusement of the local sheepdog). Today has been the most wild part of our journey so far – apart from Cemaes, which we came to soon after the start (which apparently has an excellent hardware store), we rarely passed civilization. At Cemaes we met 2 chaps who were also walking the Coastal Path for a cancer charity, but they were attempting to do it in 6 days and were also including Holy Island. They had done 26 miles on the first day! The way my feet ache now I don’t think I’d ever manage that!

Today’s route took us along the top left corner of Anglesey, past Wylfa Nuclear Power Station and Cemlyn Nature Reserve, on to Ynys Y Fedlyn, and back to the caravan near Llanfaethlu.

The weather started off kind, but turned to rain again from lunchtime onwards. The morning was easy walking across fields, but as we got closer to the west coast, it became more treacherous cliff walking. Lins had visions of us slipping and tumbling to our deaths on the rocks below, whilst Numpty and Max took great delight in getting as close to the edge as possible. We passed time by playing Name Your Top 3…. Our answers included…. – Films (Top Gun, Shawshank Redemption, Cyrano de Bergerac), Books (Life of Pi, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Papillon) TV Series (Father Ted, This Life, Cold Feet) Cookery Books (Nigella, Nigella, Nigella) and Memorable Snogs (You know who you are!)

Helen’s parents met us at Ynys Y Fedlyn for a very welcome cup of tea at lunchtime, and when we reached Church Bay, we stopped at the Lobster Pot bar and restaurant, where, by coincidence, Lindsay’s step-dad Pete was having a meal – feeling sorry for us in our forlorn, sodden state, he presented each of us with a very large glass of wine which we drank standing in the porch as we were too minging to go inside!. The last mile home to the caravan took us rather longer than anticipated!

So 58 miles down, only 49 to go! We celebrated passing the half way mark with a cracking meal of involtini – cooked by Rozza, courtesy of a Nigella recipe (for which H went back, not only for seconds, but also thirds and fourths!) - rhubarb and custard cake (courtesy of Jackie) – and a lovely chilled bottle of shampoo. We were all really grateful to Gwen (Rozza’s Mum) – who plied us with hot tea on our return, and who made sure all our waterlogged clothes were put on the drier – we were all so tired after tea, that when she offered to wash the pots, none of has the energy to protest! We had planned to watch a DVD on the laptop tonight, but will finish our drinks looking out across the bay to the bright lights of Holyhead, watching the barn owls hunting for their supper. Night night all – sleep tight and mind the bed bugs don’t bite.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Day 3

Day 3 – Dulas to Llanbadrig

Day 3 dawned bright and sunny, and despite the aches and pains that had started to set in, we set off in high spirits, having feasted on prize-winning duck eggs for breakfast. We walked from Dulas to Amwlch in glorious sunshine, and Roz and Helen were optimistically dressed in shorts (Lindsay, ever the pessimist, had decided to start out in waterproof trousers – which later proved to be a wise idea!). We regaled each other with jokes (mostly unprintable) – the only one we agreed was suitable to go on the blog was courtesy of Julie (via Helen) – “There has been a fire in the alphabetti spaghetti factory – if it explodes, it could spell DISASTER!”

The terrain was varied, a beautiful (but soggy) estuary, and then up on to fields on top of the cliffs. Rozza told us Robbie Williams had phoned her last week to tell her that his new album’s out soon – listen to Chris Moyles on Friday for the interview (with Robbie, not Roz). We were just enjoying the sunshine, and stopped for a photo opportunity, when the heavens opened – a short sharp hailstone shower left us absolutely soaked. It was that wet that Rozza suggested running for the bushes – she said she’d never been so wet, must have been bad for her to suggest running anywhere! We crouched by a gorse bush to wait for the shower to pass, and were rewarded with the most magnificent rainbow across the headland at Point Lynas. Onward and downward to Amlwch, with another soaking along the way, where we found a café to sit outside and dry off.

The landscape has been stunning today – dramatic cliffs and a turquoise sea - and it’s been amazing to see such a variety of wildlife – we’ve seen an egret, a seal, and flocks of gannets diving like arrows for fish.

On our way back out of Amlwch, a young lad named Griff stopped us – he’d seen us in Moelfre the day before, and gave us £10 towards the cause – diolch yn fawr Griff! That gave us a well-needed boost, and set us on our way smiling.

The stretch from Amlwch to Llanbadrig was just as beautiful – we climbed high on the cliffs, and found secluded beaches only accessible from the path or by boat. By this point though, the rain was coming hard horizontally, in a cold wind. The rescue helicopter was hovering overhead – we were debating whether we were wet enough to be rescued! Underfoot was also very wet and muddy – it was pretty miserable walking at times, but the thought of why we were doing it kept us going. That and our terrible singing – the sight of Roz singing Kylie’s “I should be so lucky” whilst dripping wet from head to toe will stay with me for a long time! To pass the time, we tried to come up with the top 10 songs that described our journey so far – hopefully the list below will give you some idea of what we were going through….

Lovely day (Bill Withers)
I would walk 500 miles (Proclaimers)
Why does it always rain on me? (Travis)
Sunshine on a rainy day
Here comes the rain again (Eurhythmics)
Bring me sunshine (Morecambe and Wise)
I should be so lucky (Kylie)
Somewhere, over the rainbow (Dorothy)
Wishing I was lucky (Wet Wet Wet)
The long and winding road (Beatles)

Eventually we reached Llanbadrig, where the local vineyard was still open for tastings. They generously gave us a donation, and we purchased a bottle for tonight’s dinner – well deserved!

So, a total of 44 miles down (with only a few bits that hurt), only another 62 to go!

Day 2

Day 2 – Llanddona – Dulas

On a high after having beat the boys hands down at Triv on Sunday night (Does anyone else know what a drosometer measures?), we set off on Stage Two of our adventure – starting from Llanddonna beach, where we had finished up the day before. The weather was typical for an August Bank Holiday Monday in North Wales – whilst the rest of the country appeared to be basking in sunshine, Llanddonna was literally bathed – in rain! There had been no discussion amongst us about what to wear this morning, and we set out looking like polar explorers – with our support crew (Mike, Linda, Ruth, Stu, Sam and Cam) driving off at speed before we had a chance to change their minds. Having had little sleep the night before (mainly due to the gale force winds blowing straight off the seas) the bags under our eyes were only slightly smaller than the rucksacks on our backs.

Despite the weather, the coastline looked fantastic – and the first leg of the journey to Red Wharf Bay was fairly flat, being mainly along the beach. From there, we followed the headland path, and arrived in good spirits at Benllech, as blue patches seemed to appear in an otherwise leaden sky. Forgoing an opportunity for a sit-down, we collected three teas to take-away, and carried on along the coastal path. Numpty often lead the way, but her collie ancestry was apparent as she continually visited the rear of the field to make sure we were all keeping up – not always ideal on a narrow cliff-top path, with a 100 foot drop down to the sea.

We hit Moelfre for lunch, accompanied by The Thins who had run from the finish to meet us, with farm dog Max. Once there, we were greeted by The Groupies, namely Julie and her crew, who had lunch with us, and whilst we despatched the men folk to look after the kids, Julie and her sister Joanne joined us for the afternoon’s walk, and Julie handed over £75 she had collected towards the cause – thank you Julie! We passed Moelfre Lifeboat Station and watched a man pull up empty lobster pots, then headed on towards Lligwy Beach. Unfortunately the path got muddier and the rain more horizontal, but the beaches along the way were beautiful stretches of sand that would have been full of holidaymakers, had the bank holiday weather not kicked in.

We did have to stop and bath Max at one of the streams – he’d rolled in something unmentionable and stank to high heaven, but didn’t seem particularly keen to part with the smell.

We eventually turned inland and hit the Pilot Boat pub for a well-deserved drink, followed by another delicious meal courtesy of Roz back at the caravan.

So, by end of Day 2 - total miles travelled – 29, only another 76 to go!

Monday, 31 August 2009

Day 1

Day 1 - Menai Bridge to Llanddona

Well, after a lot of girlie preparation (What are you wearing? Where’s my lip balm? Do you think we will need any wet weather gear?) Helen, Lindsay and Rozza set off on the first leg of their mammoth fund-raising trek around Anglesey. Accompanied by Rozza’s faithful friend, Numpty, we set off from Menai Bridge to the tune of “Country Roads – Take Me Home” (the pumped up re-mix of course!). Stu set up the easy-up gazebo and got the crowd (all 4 of them!) dancing and cheering, and as we left the car park, they formed a guard of honour – but unfortunately it was to the wrong path, so we had to come back and start again! Unperturbed, we walked under Menai Bridge (built by Thomas Telford) and on to Beaumaris, with our spirits high. The route took us past a road that was built for Queen Victoria’s visit to the island, but it was never used. The weather was fine and we could see blue sky across the Snowdonia mountains.

The phrase of the day – “Ooh look at those blackberries!” was mostly followed by a screwed up face when they turned out to be too tart – and made our tabs laugh!

We stopped for a cuppa in Beaumaris, and a kind lady gave us a £5 donation towards the cause. Beaumaris Castle wasn’t as big as we remembered it. After Beaumaris, we met a chap from Ireland who fell in love with a Welsh lass in 1951 and has been here ever since (beware boys!). The path then followed the stony beach for a while, which turned out to be “quite hard going”, as Lins reminded us several times.

We finally reached the Dovecote (built in 1601) and Augustinian Priory at Penmon (amongst cries of “are we nearly there yet?”) and from there it was a short jaunt to the café at Penmon Point, where we had lunch outside, which was when the rain started. Just a fine drizzle at first, and we laughed and said that a bit of rain was quite refreshing, and that it would soon blow over. Little did we know.

Roz’s sister Jackie and her bloke Bashir (aka The Thins) met us at the café, having run from the finish point – nutters! They then walked back with us, as it got progressively wetter and windier the further around the headland we got. The rain was horizontal, and despite being soaked to the bone, we kept smiling!

Stu, Sam and Helen’s parents and sister Ruth had optimistically set up the finishing party at 2 o’clock – we finally got there about 4.15! In the meantime, the easy-up gazebo had bitten the dust in the strong wind, so we had to make do with a tape as the finish line. The kind lady in the café on Llanddona beach kept the café open so that we could have hot chocolates to warm us up – she also gave us a generous donation.

So, Day 1 - total miles travelled – 15, only another 90 to go! Back at the caravan now, having had a hot shower, and with a glass of Chardie – looking forward to tomorrow’s stage, from Llandonna to Dulas. Hopefully Stu will be able to post this blog on Monday morning (giving him and Sam a great excuse to visit McDonalds to take advantage of their wi-fi)!

Stop press – just received a £30 donation from Chris ‘dahn sharf’ via text message, thanks mate :o)