The Llyn Peninsula Coastal Path Run – Day 3

Shorter in distance than Day 2 in both distance & words but not by much, you are pre-warned.

The B & B normal breakfast serving was again 8:30 but when booking over the phone I had chanced ‘I’m doing a long run any chance…’ ‘Yes O.K. how about 8:00’ so 8:00 it was, thank you.

Never too old to learn today I went for the whole hog, it came quickly & went down well.

My overnight recovery had seen me wake early & too tired to get back to sleep but at least it gave me time to prepare mind & body & come up with a dietary plan that not only included a full breakfast but a ‘Marion & John, I think I feel the need for Tuna & Cucumber sandwiches, can we stop at the shop on the way, please?’ Clearly Abersoch is a bit too up-market for that but as I panicked I finally spied Salmon & cucumber, they’ll do nicely, I grabbed two.

We then drove back to Hell’s Mouth to pick up the thread once again. With photo’s taken at 9:10 I began to run into Day 3. At circa 34 miles it would be the shortest day, the sun once again shone on me (if not within me) all day long.

My fear of the early sandunes was mis-placed, it was firm & pleasant under foot & after a little over a mile I left them behind to begin the first climb up Mynydd Cilan a simply lovely headland. Near the top a woman walking the other way enquired what I was up to & looking dumbfounded by my answer wished me well, always a bit of a tonic. From it’s summit I was running on moreorless flat ground with occasional steep cliffs below to my right but with a degree of caution felt I was running well considering the state I’d been in the night before, ‘this actually feels like it is on.’

Soon I was heading North to one of John’s favourite beaches, Porth Ceiriad. My path stayed above the beach & led to another climb that saw me pass two younger women who once again may well have thought ‘what’s the rush.’ This climb led to another glorious headland, Trwyn yr Wylfa, where I hugged the path that literally hugged the cliffs on the right, a trip here could be fatal, I jogged with a lot of care. The path was now heading North, a good feeling until I glanced East & saw all of the Rhinogs & even Cader Idris appearing to be North of where I was ‘so I’m still South of Cader & still have to run to Porthmadog,’ I softened the blow ‘well at least I’m going in the right direction!’ In truth it was an optical illusion a study of the map later showed that Cader was South of me. I ran on. The path soon opened up views to the North & the Snowdonia giants but is that hillock below & before them Moel y Gest, it was & it lies next to Porthmadog!

A gentle descent brought me back to civilisation & past Abersoch’s Golf Course to a waiting John & Marion, Yogurt, toilet block & all, I had been on the go for a little under 2 hours & was still feeling good.

Soon I ran on passing my B & B of the night before (not exactly conducive to a feeling of I am making progress) before I added to this dip by over-shooting the path towards Abersoch’s harbour. A trudged re-trace led me back en-route, a hill, John & Marion’s car passing me & at the top of the hill a motorist who had stopped to take a photograpgh, we exchanged a ‘glorious morning isn’t it’.

Soon the path left the road onto The Warren, more of a beech to my eyes which of course it is. The sand was runnable thankfully & 2K of it brought me ever nearer the final big climb of my run, Tan – y – Mynydd. It was by far the steepest climb of the entire run, early on I passed a couple of women who’d stopped & were taking deep breaths. I moved on & soon the terrain eased to a runnable gradient leading me around another stunning headland albeit more trafficked than those that had gone before. The final rocky climb saw me run pass 4 young ladies, I’d felt like shouting ‘I’m 53 you know &….’ but instead mutterrred the more modest ‘coming behind you, lovely day isn’t it’ or words to that effect.

Soon the path descended steeply down never ending steps, in fact I went off route but certainly not a short cut, I descended onwards to reach the next beach at Llanbedrog. The beach starts easily enough passing a brightly arrayed line of beech huts but as you move on towards the distant ‘holiday’ camp like buildings of Pwllheli some 5K ahead of you it became harder & harder to maintain momentum. Guidebook out, ‘stay on the beach, climb the dunes & run them, Golf Course….?’ a bit of all were tried & eventually I reeled in the buildings (Moel-y-Gest looks a bit closer) turned the corner & ran into the station at Pwllheli. Feeling a bit tired I was delighted to be berated by Marion for running down the pavement rather the more photo friendly prominade, memory is vague but I believe I didn’t offer to do a ‘Take 2’, ‘Salmon & Cucumber sandwiches, please.’

In truth the first half of the day had gone surprisingly well, with not much more than a Half Marathon still to go I should have been feeling positive but the last 7K from descending onto the beech had knocked a bit of stuffing out of me. In a nutshell tired, hot, I wanted it to be over, so I ran on.

After a further kilometre or so of Pwllheli tarmac I came to another beach, it was a long one & I was soon to make my next mistake. Reading the guidebook today it is clear that after a leg sapping 2K of sand I should have read the guidebook rather than simply look at it’s map. I found the dunes but not the easier firm sandy path that lies behind them. I surmised ‘the dunes are not runnable, go back to the beach’. This failure led me onto a further 3.5 K of often un-runnable sand, shingle with the occasional bit of more friendly firmness, to say it went on a bit is an understatement. Eventually relief came as I reached the small but pleasant headland of Pen – ychain soon giving me both firm ground & a re-motivating view of my next re-fuel, Criccieth as well as an ever larger Moel-y-Gest. The next 2K were a relative joy but as the path turned from North to West a sudden urge pulled me from a jog to a walk so that I could consult the guide book. My feared 6th sense became reality, the path ahead would deter onto the main road (A497) adding an extra 2K to my line of sight to Criccieth castle increasing 6.5K to 8.5K, what joy of joys I Cried & got on with it.

Once on the main road (3.5K of it to be relatively precise) I must have looked a very forlorn figure to passing motorists as I switched from trot to walk at regular intervals ‘look at the poor, un-fit, sad bastard’ must have come to their minds. Halfway along a commercial garage came into view ‘they sell drinks, a full fat coke, that’ll do it’, until I realised that they must be the only retail outlet on the Llyn that only sell the Diet kind, refreshed but un-nourished I shuffled on.

Finally a sign took me away from the road & soon led to single track path that ran alongside the waters edge, this was better, I ran more & on any other day it would have been a very pleasant entry into Criccieth’s sea front. Once more back on tarmac I walked up to the castle & then ran down & around to the car park with Marion clicking away & John & the Chair et’al waiting for me. I refuelled to the intense study of an elderly chap opposite whilst I contemplated the finale & how to tackle it. My dilemma was that prior to the run I had estimated it would take a total of 25 hours (I even had a small eye on 24 if I must confess). Now my rudimentary maths were saying to me ‘the last small leg in closer to an hour than an hour & a half, you could still be on for a sub 25 Hour total, just’. But I do have a more sensible brain sometimes & that was saying ‘You’ve come a long way don’t bust a gut, enjoy it with as little pain as possible’. You will be surprisedto hear, I am sure, when I said to John & Marion, ‘sod 25 Hours I’m going to ‘enjoy’ it.’

& that is what I moreorless did. My body & mind partly recovered, I ran more & more fluidly but when the hills or sand said walk, I did & when the flats, downs & better sand said run, I did. Black Rock Sands came & went bringing back memories of when I used to run here with Dorina when we lived at Borth-y-Gest back in 2011. The run in & out of Borth-y-Gest was as attractive as ever & soon behind me too, I was in Porthmadog, I ran around a corner, the home straight a short doddle, Dorina, Marion & John, I was ‘home’.

Next followed the photo opps. which saw me looking energised before the ice-cream, car & car park tarmac brought my fatique flooding back, I had finished & was finished.

‘Thank you John & Marion, leave me hear, I’ll be O.K. in a minute or two & thanks again.’

Later that evening, back at home, I managed to finish the last of the Salmon & Cucumber sandwiches & lift a glass of wine or two whilst watching something on the box with a week smile of satisfaction.

In truth the Llyn had been harder than I had been expecting but from Trefor to Porthmadog it had almost always been worth it & remembering it brings a little wetness to my eyes, that’s not full on crying you understand!

The Day’s Stats:-

Distance:- 56.1 K (35.06 Miles)

Time:- 8 Hours & 5 Minutes

Height Gain:- 826 Metres

Total Run Stats:-

Distance:- 183.04K (114.4 Miles)

Time:- 25 Hours, 13 Minutes & 29 Seconds

Height Gain:- 3,411 Metres (11,188 feet)

& one final stat, over the 3 Days my total step count came to a little over 213,000, not including the odd totter within the various shower cubicles.

& a final thanks you to John & Marion, once again an invaluable support team, couldn’t have done it without your practical & emotional support, thank you to the weather gods for an Indian summer & of course to Dorina for letting me go AWOL (once again) on the Llyn.



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