I woke in the night to find the tent illuminated from outside and I thought it must be daylight already. I stuck my head out of the tent, to find instead a huge full moon hanging in the sky, silvering the entire campsite, a morning star shining brightly not far from it.
The night was absolutely still and dry, and when I woke properly at 7 o’clock, there wasn’t even any condensation on the inside of the flysheet. I had no wish to linger in this campsite, and packed up as swiftly as I could to get going into yet another beautiful morning on the Coastal Path.
There was a short walk to get me to the coastal path, having cut out yet another little section of the path up the other side of the huge tidal flat I walked along yesterday. I didn’t regret my decision to walk the straightest road to the campsite last night instead of taking the Coastal Path and adding an extra two kilometres as it was, I had to pitch the tent almost in the dark and could just about to do it without recourse to the little head torch. I paid close attention to my feet as I walked. Yesterday I had neglected really to do this, and because I had been cross and tired, and although I had felt a few pressure points developing, my focus has been on finding food and charge and then on walking determinedly to the campsite as fast as possible. This morning I spotted three developing pressure points on my feet which if I am not careful will lead to blisters, so I put Compeed on these spots to try and head off any feet problems. – and because it was a perfect day it worked, and my knee didn’t hurt at all.
The finger of estuary the path walks round was still and empty of people but full of birdlife, white egrets flying lazily in, curlews, oystercatchers. The path is screened from the estuary by gorse and blackthorn, but the occasional breaks in the hedges showed views of the tide out on the mud flats. Walking down the path, I became wrapped in threads of spider silk patiently strung across the path by the invisible creatures.
Once across this impressive bridge, it was, you’ve guessed it, down the other side of the same tidal river, the innumerable speckled wood butterflies are being joined now by small blues and coppers, and enormous smart red admirals, newly hatched. I stopped to put on sunscreen, and noticed that the tide had turned and was now flowing rapidly upriver in glittering ribbons behind me, and the maze of tiny muddy creeks in front of me was rapidly filling up.
Suddenly, I was out onto the foreshore of the last of the estuary as it morphs into coastline proper. Before me on the other side of the bay was the iconic chimney of the derelict aluminium smelting works – until 2009 the single largest employer in North Wales, and the single largest user of electricity in the UK… Electricity largely provided at a favourable rate by the Wylfa nuclear power station down the coast near Cemaes, where I will be walking tomorrow. Once the nuclear power station was decommissioned, the aluminium plant closed down, precipitating an enormous rise in local unemployment in an area that was already disadvantaged. From this distance Holyhead looked smart white and bustling in comparison to the view in the other direction – of the unpeopled, gently-rising coastline where my path now led, firm sand underfoot, with an invigorating sea breeze.
The Coastal Path ran just above the tideline above of beach and where the shore became too rocky I walked on it, but whenever I could I descended through the goose foot, sea beet and mats of stonecrop to walk on the the sand. It was so hard not to stop and pick up beautiful pebbles and shells
In the early part of the morning I met almost nobody: one woman walking her dog in the distance; one cheery pensioner from his static caravan. The latter had a stellar view out over calmest of perfect bays.
This area hosts a cluster of caravan parks and the long drive out of one was lined with the best blackberries I have seen yet, enormous, glossy, unblemished and perfectly uniform in size.
Further on a handsome white bull lumbered watchfully to his feet, sniffing the air between us to check for any danger or threat to his cows.
The walk was short – only 15km,
I even though I met almost no one, it was a day of beautiful creatures, whether the aforementioned bull, immaculate white sheep,
Many lovely butterflies including this brush-footed Vanessa, as handsome in its red admiral topcoat as in its underwings,
and an exquisitely-patterned spider.
Each beach I passed was more beautiful than the next.
The day was so perfect even the bullocks clustered around (and even in) the final kissing gate of the day were docile and amenable to being easily shooed out of my way.
And then it was an easy walk into Church Bay,
As I approached the honeypot I encountered a few more relaxed people on the grassy path
Although I could see my campsite from the path,
I thought that rather than putting the tent up straight away I’d sit down for a bit. Accordingly, I fell happily into the historic Wavecrest café for a whole afternoon of flip-flops, soup, coffee, resisting THE SCONES (which ought really not to be resisted),
and reading the history and recollections of the families who have for generations holidayed here for almost a finder hundred years and made it their own, in scrapbooks collected in the conservatory.
Penny, who has worked in the café for decades and Michelle, whose ancestor Mrs Williams set up the café ina wooden hut in the 30s, reminisced about the origins of the Wavecrest and of family history as they looked through the books.
The soup was quite simply fantastic, packed with Mediterranean veg and pulses and exactly east I needed.
In fact, I needed more of it. I had to think about breakfast for the next day, and I shocked Siân by asking whether I could have a pot of it to eat cold in the morning.
The answer of course was yes and they were kind enough to pot it up for me to take away, complete with crème frâiche and pesto. That’ll get me round to Cemaes. Siân and her young crew worked all afternoon to serve the never-ending queues, table after table, on this beautiful day, without getting orders wrong or getting flustered or losing their extreme good humour. A fantastic place.
The Church Bay Cottages and Campsite was about a million times nicer than Pencraig last night. The owner was building a ramp for his two small sons to ride over on their bikes and later on some mini cones appeared in a circuit for them to weave in and out of. From the comfort of my tent I could hear their grandfather coaching them good-humouredly. The site is immaculate, there is a burger van, everyone is happy and kind and nice. Sigh. A perfect day, rounded off with supper at the Lobster Pot and a wander down to the beach.
There must have been some Felix Felicis in my water today.
Video of today’s route: