PS. After writing this I was worried that it had become longer than planned but, looking back on something that took place over 3 weeks ago, the day’s journey needs some detail to do it justice, my apologies as ever.
With Breakfast not being served until 8:30 it was agreed with J & M that today (despite it’s length) would not be an early start. I pushed my luck & walked into the Breakfast room 5 minutes early & got a pleasant surprise of a smiley face & ‘what would you like sir’. Clearly taken aback & not thinking clearly I ordered my usual Siabod Café mode breakfast of a piece of toast & two poached eggs. The eggs were cooked to perfection but before I had finished them my thoughts had clarified to ‘Paul, you total pillock, have you not learned from the Beaumaris debacle in May? You are going to set off on a 40 mile run on your usual breakfast, with the deduction of the crusts which had been ‘thoughtfully’ removed by the Chef’. Once again I had been a total idiot.
Soon I was sat outside waiting for John & Marion on a glorious morning without a cloud in the sky but the odd one in my thoughts. My team soon arrived, I went for an energy bar to mitigate my earlier blunder, filled my bottle with Electrolite & stepped into the team car to be driven to Nefyn to re-start where I’d left off the evening before.
With photo’s taken I set off at 9:30 feeling in surprisingly good fettle. These feelings soon got the added boost of leaving the tarmac to find a simply glorious footpath around firstly Porth Nefyn & then Porth Dinllaen. The views North over the blue waters back to the latter part of yesterday’s route were simply stunning, the path was mine alone ‘why are the dog walkers & retirees of Nefyn not out here taking this in’ were my thoughts & when I did eventually pass a dog walker she smiled as if to say ‘yes I know, crazy isn’t it!’
A short steep descent briefly brought me close to the beach but a smiling Marion beckoned from the car park above so after a spot of nav. indecision I soon climbed up to the National Trust car park for a few clicks & words of encouragement before running on without stopping towards Nefyn Golf Course. During my recce of this the week before with Dorina I’d become concerned with ‘shit there’s a lot of Golfers, if they play like I used to I’ll be lucky to get away without a direct hit (the path runs along the outer edge of the fairways)’. Thankfully the Golfers too were having a lie-in despite the sun, the course was pretty quiet & so I could focus on my run & the scenery & what scenery it was. The coastline here was simply beautiful, small rocky coves with deserted beaches lapped by crystal clear water ‘I must come back with Dorina’ only interrupted with a couple of stops to allow the Golfers to take their shots at the Greens rather than me.
Leaving the course behind the coastline continued to be sublime with occasional dips into coastal gullies to cross small water pools & cascades before rising again to see the coastline stretch on to the next headland, I was a very lucky chap indeed.
My first proper rendezvous with John & Marion was at Porth Ysglaig at a car park just away from the path, Marion, thoughtful as ever had come out to greet me to both take some photo’s & make sure I found them without running past. John had my by now ‘Runners’ chair set up & I was soon tucking into my customary yogurt, drinking & eulogising about where I’d come from. I ran on (to more of the same), 2 hours down, several more to go.
This next section would take me to Porth Oer, the path was quiet & felt remote as it slowly ticked off one distant headland after another. Occasionally a beach would bring a few people into view but generally the feeling was of splendid isolation & a true coastal experience. Running was at times slow with sections of path worn into narrow grooves where avoiding a feet tripping over themselves experience & hopping to the next groove were a bit tiresome but that is a minor complaint that belittles this lovely part of the Llyn.
A false dawn saw me hope that a small camper van viewpoint would lead me to John & Marion before realisation ‘no Paul, the path heads back out & up you are still a bay away’. I passed a lone walker coming the other way before topping the climb to see Porth Oer in the distance & a lot of cows in between me & it ‘oh’. My fears were misplaced, a fence came into view & kept us apart, the cows sang to me or was it to warn Marion of my approach, as ever watchful & clicking away. John & my chair lay ahead, I reached rendezvous two 4 Hours & a minute after leaving Nefyn with still not a cloud in the sky.
Next I was shown the toilet & the path that would return me to the coast & ran on after firstly saying ‘this is going to be a hilly section it might take me a while’.
But first there were more headlands to be seen & to be run past, one by one they came & went, I was lucky to be seeing them alone. Finally the hills arrived taking me a little inland but usually within sight of the sea below. None of them were overly arduous but they were tackled at a sensible fast walk on the ups & a gentle jog on the downs. I was in the middle phase of my day & needed to make sure that I could retain energies for the latter stages to come. Despite this my progress seemed fast compared to others (a more populous section of the route than others) & I felt good. As I reached the last of what I viewed as the ‘outer’ climbs i.e. before I stopped heading South (in my view) & turned towards the East (actually South West before turning South East) I passed a few sightseers on Mynydd Mawr & ran on. They probably thought, ahh a runner with no time to take in the view, fool, but I saw the view, I saw Bardsey & I was feeling alive.
After a short descent the path turned left & began an undulating traverse, this was an exposed & rugged coastland compared to the intimacy of what had lain before but was nonetheless a beautiful place to be in the afternoon sun. But from this runners point of view it was beginning to tire him, rarely flat, occasionally exposed, I was having to work & concentrate for my ‘pleasures’ now.
Eventually the path reached Pen y Cil, turned North which allowed me my first view of Aberdaron where M & J lay in wait, still some 2 miles away. A relatively flat section brought me to a sharp descent down to the idylic & minute Porth Meudwy passing a woman with her foraging basket full before the inevitable climb back up above the cliffs. From here I slowly closed in on Aberdaron, passed a relative melee of walkers (must have been at least 6) another descent & climb to avoid the dreaded beach led me into Aberdaron ‘the back way, but on the path proper’. This foxed the vigilant Marion, I spied her & a short cut down a steep bank ‘hope you got me coming down that’, she hadn’t!
The car park led to John & the Chair & a few looks of ‘think he’s been up to something’ as I delved into the proffered Yogurt once again. I was by now quite simply tired, at 2 Hours & 18 minutes it would be both the hilliest & longest of the day but I knew I had two legs to go, the next was also long & hilly, my morning joys had turned into afternoon woes, ‘come on Paul, you’ve got to get this done.’ After more directions to the toilet block Marion kindly pointed out the way ‘it’s up that steep road, are you going to run it’ she smiled. I didn’t smile & responded with an almost polite ‘NO’. I walked on.
In truth the hill was short the path soon turned off it to the right & I was running again through grassy lanes & water meadows abundant with Watercress giving a South English feel to this hidden Welsh gem. This took me inland before it returned me to the coast at the Eastern end of Aberdaron’s beach & the headland of Trwyn y Penrhyn. Rounding this gave me my first sight of one of the guidebooks stand out features (well to me at least as I had studied my route in the weeks before), the ridge of Mynydd Penarfynydd. Why, well because a) you have to climb it & b) you do an out & back to it’s summit (actually lower than the ridge), so lets be clear of my pre-run thoughts. You climb, you run away from your destination only to turn around & climb back out of this ‘dead end’, oh & yes near the end of your longest day. Of course the guidebook lessons the pain by reminding you that you are doing it for ‘superb views along the coast to Bardsey island (I’d seen better earlier in the day)’ & the chance to ‘watch for Llyn’s breeding choughs’ & ‘peregrines too’, the joys of a tired runner. In truth the view was good but the only wildlife I saw was an attractive woman who was just leaving the summit as I arrived & probably thought as those before ‘he’s not even stopping to see the view let alone the real birds,’ guilty on one count I confess.
We went our separate ways she heading from where I had come from & me to the ever waiting J & M. The run into the car park near Plas yn Rhiw was above steep drops to the sea below & overlooked my final challenge, the bay of Hell’s Mouth. The run to it was mostly runnable & despite being pretty long at over 2 miles gave me a sense that the worse of my trevails were behind me, I was heading down to flatness.
John & Marion once again re-fuelled me before there attention turned to several ‘strange’ late arrivals to the car park, as their imaginations flared my clearly more logical mind would think ‘they are just friends meeting up after a hard days work (it was now 5:50 pm), it is the seaside after all.’ After I had left J & M solved the riddle of the ‘strangers’, they were those most sinister of breeds ‘Divers’, my god I had been that close to normality!
I had a choice on my final leg, I could either ‘enjoy’ nearly 5K of beach whose surface could be firm & runnable or a runner’s quicksand sapping the energy from every stride leading to a bloody long walk. Or I could take the longer inland route, adding 2K but still flat & annoyingly all runable, I chose the latter & ran on with Marion saying the sweet farewell ‘need to do that hill first Paul!’ Thankfully it was short soon went past the National Trust property & joyously turned right & downhill back to the road through pleasant woodland.
John & Marion drove past just I reached the road, I didn’t try a belated hitch & John definitely didn’t stop to offer me a lift (not one to look in the mirror is our John). I ran on forlornly but at good pace despite the occasional excuse to walk whilst I consulted my watch. 2K of road was soon behind me, the path turned right into fields, ‘shit, cows’. I skirted right keeping my eyes to the left, soon I was safely into the next field, ‘shit, cows & lots of them’. I headed far right no doubt missing the cows but also a marker post, I was safe but off route. Options presented themselves, back through the cows, straight on across farmland or due South to the ‘unstable clay cliffs’ & hope I can descend to the beach. I chose the latter, apologise for climbing a fence but in my defence it was either badly maintained or had been the get out of jail card of many an ‘off route’ runner & onto the unstable ‘cliffs’. In truth these were the smallest cliffs I have seen & my route to the beach was un-hazardous. I’ve run on worse beeches but this late in the day my predominant mode was walk with the odd run, a few people came & went, someone emerged with a dog from the Dunes, ‘that must be my exit’ & it was. At 6:56 pm I jogged into the car park from the South with the ever vigilant Marion & John sat in the car looking North, ‘hi guys I’m here’.
It had been a varied & long day under a glorious sun & only slightly hotter than ideal, what a day of contrasts both of scenery & emotions, I can now look back with joy & pride.
The day itself ended with a drive to my pre-booked B & B, John & Marion helped carry my bags to my room before admiring it’s décor whilst my stomach rumbled from no-where. Are they going to go, please go, quickly, they went & so did I.
Showered & feeling tired but hungry I limped to a restaurant which was half empty ‘have you got a table for one’, the answer was a very un-expected ‘possibly not’. He must have looked into my face, saw the need, ‘sit there & I’ll see what I can do’. I got a meal, too tired to eat it all & clearly the last person they intended to serve today (well it was just after 8:00 pm & they must have been TIRED).
Back in the room I phoned Dorina for the second time, week voice, she was concerned, I was worried, Day 3 would dawn all too soon.
The Day’s Stats:-
Distance:- 64.07K (40.05 Miles)
Time:- 9 Hours 26 Minutes
Height Gain:- 1,560 Metres (5,117 feet)