Wales Coast Path, day 89: Llanfairfechan to Conwy

May 6, 2017 0 Comments

Guestwalker M joins the three of us today. Together we walk down to the railway station at Pensarn and wait for the train.  It’s a cool, dark day, with a threat of rain.  A few yellow-jacketed workers make sporadic attempts to relieve the glumness and dereliction of the place.  We catch the train, change at Llandudno Junction, get out at Llanfairfechan and climb the hill into the town. 

A funeral director is almost the first shop, but then the street improves.  Across the water lies Angelsey.  Beaumaris shines in an odd patch of sun, and Ynys Seiriol is clear off to the east.  We walk past some quarry walkers’ cottages at the foot of the crags above us and then cross the A55 to reach Penmaenmawr and walk up into the village. The small quarry museum is still closed in the wonderfully named New York Cottages.  A big antiques shop, Perry Higgins, seems to specialise in sixties Americana and garden forks. We hide from rain in the old-style ‘Big Rock’ café and eat a ridiculously early lunch of toasties and tea.  Opposite, the ‘Escape Reality’ secondhand bookshop lives up to its name.  The shop’s open, but the owner has temporarily fled and there’s no one to take my money, so I leave my chosen book on the shelf.  At the bottom of the hill, past the railway station, whitewashed and rustic-looking, we regain the sea.

For a while there’s an over-concreted prom to walk on, but then the path climbs and begins to hug the roaring carriageway of the A55.  At times we’re separated from the cement mixers, buses and giant Irish lorries by no more than a wire fence.  There’s no other option: the tide’s at its highest and waves, driven by the strong wind, lash violently against the sea wall, and spill on to the railway track.  Mercifully, where the expressway enters the 1932 tunnel, the path keeps away for a short while on the sea side and the roar subsides.  But soon we rejoin the road, and it’s a long, noisy trudge down the hill before we lose it and turn off on a path to the left.

The Flintshire silhouettists have been at work here.  Statues commemorate three local heroes, Llywelyn Fawr, Thomas Telford and Margaret Williams.  C chooses Llywelyn to pose with for the camera.  Next we wade through sand for a mile on the dunes fringing the coast, past our only caravan park of the day.  It’s hard going, and the buggies on the golf course alongside us look like a better option.   We emerge opposite Deganwy, with the overspill of Llandudno showing further north.  A plutocrat’s boat from the marina opposite noses down the estuary with a proprietary air.  At one point the path’s diverted to the rocky shore to avoid us tramping on the resting places of the belted beauty moth: this is its sole habitat in Wales.  Then through Conwy’s marina – fewer plutocrats here – and modern, Poundbury-like housing, before we end the estuary walk under a wood, Coed Bodlondeb.  It’s sheltered here from the brisk wind we’ve tried to avoid all week, and the waves lap rather than crash.  Then, round a corner, the castle and bridges of Conway suddenly appear.

In the evening Ca arrives by train to join us at Colwyn Bay, and we eat out at the Bryn Williams bistro at Colwyn Bay, where we had a coffee on an earlier day.  We’re treated by the waitress with the haughty coolness apparently de rigueur in London restaurants. Salt and sugar are provided only on request, with moralistic reluctance.  Napkins are adjusted when placed not quite so.  Plates are removed early to maintain the elegance of the table.  We leave feeling chastised.

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