I recently began a walk along the Ceredigion Coastal Path which, as part of the Wales Coast Path, runs from Cardigan in the south over 60 miles to Ynyslas on the northern edge of the county. This is my diary of the event.
Monday 27th May 2019
Location: Camping on the Farm, Aberaeron
Mileage: At rest
It’s Bank Holiday Monday and the wind has been blowing a gale for most of the night. My blisters aren’t throbbing, but then I haven’t walked on them yet today, I’ll be finding out soon enough after I’ve drunk this cup of tea. This morning I’m feeling more confident in continuing the walk, it’s only a short 7 mile walk to Llanrhystud and I know I can camp there at the caravan park on the beach. From there it’s ten miles to Aberystwyth so I’m going to have to charge my phone to research places to stop, and once I’m there it’s another ten miles to Borth. Somewhere along the way is the sunken prehistoric forest. All of this is dependant on the magic of Compeed plasters, a good pair of nail scissors and the rain holding off. And that’s all I have this morning, some facts about the weather and the walk.
When I started writing this account it was supposed to be in two parts each day, I felt the evening could be spent writing up the facts of the day and the morning would be a free-thinking randomness. I found that the days passed by in a blur or visual treats that were then impossible to remember in any sense of order, which stretch of path or even which day they had happened. I saw shags flying down the coast, oystercatchers like blackbirds with red beaks and red legs. Little sparrow-like birds that might have been hedge sparrows and a chaffinch. Crows and red kites. Yesterday, in the rain, the slugs and snails came out, the slow worm and a few rabbits. No larger mammals other than domesticated ones, not including the dolphins and the seals in the bay of course. The way the flora changes from grass and arable fields to gorse and blackthorn, foxgloves and the occasional scent of frankincense in the air. Paths cut into the side of the cliffs which felt really safe and wide and then other paths up from coves and around them that felt a little scary with the wind blowing and my waterproofs billowing like sails.
Out on the path I only saw a handful of other people hurrying in the other direction, all on day walks, New Quay to Cardigan, Aberaeron to New Quay and the like, going to catch the Coast Hopper bus back to their starting point.
So I found a power source in the toilet block and lurked around for fifteen minutes or so to get a 25% charge. I’ll go and lurk again a bit later to push this up a bit more. I’ve been to town, got some supplies, lunch and plasters for my blisters and i’m feeling much better. Walking thirty miles on three portions of muesli, Huel and two cans of vegetable curry left me feeling a little low on energy, but now ideas are forming.
I know there is a campsite in Llanrhystud, seven miles away, and another maybe halfway from there to Aberystwyth, so how could I best utilise some good camping and the coast bus to make this a bit easier? Certainly I could pack all the gear up and take it to Llanrhystud. The concern is the rain, there will be some tonight but then it should be clear tomorrow. This would give me a leisurely walk to Llanrhystud and the possibility of pushing on to Morfa Bychan Caravan Park, but that would be a fifteen mile walk, the longest yet, with these feet, the pack and the risk of rain. The alternative then is staying at Llanrhystud for the night but it is forecast to rain a lot on the next day (Wednesday) leaving me stranded there. Thursday would then be a walk into Aberystwyth but with nowhere to stay, so I’d have to end it there unless the weather changes.
Dydd Llun – Aberaeron
Dydd Mawrth – Llanrhystud and camp
Dydd Mercher – Rained in
Dydd Iau – Aberystwyth and bus back to Llanrhystud
Dydd Gwener – Bus to Cardigan and back to Newcastle Evelyn
Sitting in my tent, the wind is gusting outside, a couple of gusts have blown the side of the tent in, bending the poles but the pegs are holding fast. I’m expecting the rain soon. All this sitting around means I’ve eaten early, early breakfast so hungry for an early lunch and so hungry for an early tea. Now the long wait until bedtime.
I went to the bookstore earlier in anticipation of all this waiting. I had one shot, something engaging, normal sized, something disposable in case it gets wet or left behind, not one of those vintage hardbacks I prefer at the moment. I left the store with a copy of the Lampeter Grapevine local magazine. I’ve read it twice and even made a start on the ‘Prize Local Knowledge / Cryptic’ crossword. I think I’m doing ok. Now I’m waiting for the rain. So my plan now is to strike camp here at maybe 11am and make my way the seven miles to Llanrhystud and make camp, then wait and see what the weather does. Walk to Aberystwyth and bus back to camp sounds appealing even if it means missing out on the last ten miles to North this time. Alternatively a nice B&B in Aberystwyth might be a possibility. A real bed and an en-suite bathroom. Alternatively I could bank the ten miles I would have used to get to North and use them to help me get back to Cwmpengraig from Newcastle Evelyn. So many possibilities all dependant firstly on how my feet and boots hold up and also intrinsically linked to how the weather holds up.
Clue – ’Service offered by Nick H of Lampeter 7-4-4’, let’s have another read of the magazine.
The wind continues to gust and the rain comes. I pull on my woolly hat and dig down into my sleeping bag. I was just about to head out and watch the sea but I contemplate this whole process for a moment. There is no peril here, at anytime I can say “forget it”, and just grab a taxi anywhere, and just become the mystery of the abandoned tent. Or I could stow everything away neatly and just junk the heavy tent and grab a bus back to base, or to a B&B or if I had my passport then Spain, Benidorm perhaps. But isn’t that the essence of this? We don’t do it because it is easy, we don’t even do it because we have to unlike Bilbo or Frodo Baggins or David Balfour from Kidnapped. It’s not even hard but we do it for the future us that can say we did it.
Private Hire Taxi by the way, Nick H of Lampeter.
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