Day 104 Ogmore to Cynffig Country Park 16 April 2018

Day 104 Ogmore to Cynffig Country Park 16 April 2018

Today, I was out for 12 hours. Unfortunately, only five of them were spent actually walking – the rest was waiting for public transport to arrive, sitting on public transport whilst it went nowhere, and getting to and from public transport. It has been great staying with a friend as a base, but, practically speaking, it gets very hard as you get further away, even though, in theory, there is plenty of public transport in this area of South Wales.

Things began well enough – local train to Bristol Temple Meads, mainline train to Newport, change to Bridgend and a walk to the bus stop. En route, I stopped in a local café to buy a coffee – I try to avoid chains and patronise local businesses. As I queued, the man ahead of me turned around and said:

‘I don’t know why two of them have to come to the counter. They’re only gossiping – why can’t one sit down and the other get the order?’

I made a murmuring noise.

‘And why do they have the kitchen upstairs here?  There’s plenty of room for it down by here (or by yur as it is pronounced in the Valleys) – it would be much better.’

I murmured again.

‘It’s a wonder how ignorant some people are. A few years ago, I had to have an operation to cut a cancer off my ear’. He turned his head to show me his right ear.

Murmuring didn’t seem enough, so I graduated to ‘Goodness’.

‘The doctor I saw, he’s my neighbour. I told him he needed to mend the fence.  He said it wasn’t his fence. Of course it is, I told him. The posts are on your side. An educated man and he didn’t know whose fence it was. It wasn’t as though he’d only been there a minute. Five years he’d been there, and didn’t know that.’

Lost for words, I repeated ‘Goodness’.

‘There’s a shop down by here, got a massive glass window it has, and they’ve gone and put a great big sign in it. Why do they want to spend all that money on the glass, and then cover it up?  Two fish and chips, and I’m sitting upstairs,’ he said to the woman at the till, plonked down his money and walked away.

After this entertaining slice of local life, I got on the bus and hopped off near the pub we ate at yesterday. The other passengers had a discussion about the best place for me to alight, to find the footbridge over the Ogwr river. There are stepping stones as well, but seeing it has been so wet, the bridge seemed the better option.

I found it easily and walked over the water meadows – heavily pocked with horse hooves. The ruins of Castell Ogwr are impressive. Built in the early 1100s, possibly by the de Longmore family, it came into the Chaworth family and thence to the duchy of Lancaster, and then the crown after Henry Bolingbroke took the throne in 1399. It was still in use in the nineteenth century. On the other side of the Ogwr is the delightful village surrounding the ruins of the de Cantilupe manor of Candlestone.  I did not divert to see the ruins, but enjoyed the pIMG_3277retty houses, the church and the spring flowers in the bright sunshine.

The track moves through a woodland to the high dunes of Merthyr Mawr – the path was fairly clear, although difficult to walk on, because trotting horses had created deep pockets in the narrow path.  After a mile or so, the path comes to the beach. The tide was way out, so I could walk across the sands all the way to Porth Cawl – there is one headland where it is necessary to climb up onto the prom, but otherwise, if the tide is low, you can walk across both bays at Porth Cawl – I really enjoyed this huge expanse of firm sand even thoug the sky lowered somewhat. IMG_3286

At the old dockyard, the warehouses have been turned into a row of eateries, and I had an excellent lunch – the staff did no more than glance expressionlessly at my muddy trousers before seating me.

After Porth Cawl, the chimneys of Porth Talbot steel works become visible – puffing the steam that I could see last summer from the Devon shore. Devon itself was very visible – the peaks of Great Hangman and Little Hangman, where Rachel and I were in July, and even the tip of Ilfracombe.

The walk continued at the edge of the beach, and partially on the shore itself – wide sands, with some rocks, and a golf course to the inland. This eventually turned to sand dunes at the Cynffig Nature Reserve, which apparently is one of the most diverse habitats in Wales, although I saw little other than grass and gorse. I navigated successfully across (previous coast walkers have complained of getting lost, so I think the authorities must have increased the number of marker posts).IMG_3346

I landed at Mawdlam at around 3.45. I would like to have gone further, but had to stop in a place where I could get a bus back to Bridgend. I didn’t get back to Bristol until 7.45 – very frustrating. I can’t face similar complications tomorrow, as I would only be able to walk for a short while anyway before heading home, so will leave the next section until I have a plan to walk from place to place again.  10.6 miles and a bronze day.






Day 65 – Portloe to Portscatho 14 July 2015

I can’t say today has been my most successful walking experience ever. The B&B Rachel and I stayed in last night was lovely – a huge Georgian house with beautifully proportioned rooms. It is a working farm so we woke at 5am to the sound of cattle.

We had arranged for Tony the Taxi to pick us up at 8.30 to drop me back at Portloe, IMG_9915and take Rachel on to St Mawes to get the ferry across to Falmouth. I was on a tight schedule to get to St Antony’s Head to take the Place Ferry to St Mawes – last one at 17.45 for last Fslmouth ferry at 18.00. Given our performance over the last few days, I needed to crack on.

The terrain as far as Portscatho, which was just over half way, looked similar to yesterday, with much easier walking thereafter. Total planned was about 13.5 miles, same as yesterday. I set off briskly enough. The usual lack of signposting nearly took me on “dangerous unfenced cliff-path” as several signs announced. Fortunately I spotted the coast path lurking behind a hillock, so I turned my back on “dangerous” and strode off confidently. The weather was poor. Endless mizzle – not wet enough for waterproofs but making the paths greasy and hiding the view. Tony the Taxi had told me to look out for a coffee shack, called the Hidden House around one of the headlands, but, sadly, it lived up to its name, so no morning coffee.IMG_9921

I met a chap coming west to east – obviously a coast path walker. We stopped and chatted – to be honest, after ten minutes, conscious of my schedule, I was twitching to get away. I’d just said good bye when he asked how I felt about cattle.

‘I’m a little chary of them’ I replied. I’ve had a couple of bad experiences.’

‘You can’t be a walker and not have a bad experience with them. That’s the main trouble with the Southern Uplands way…’, a further few minutes on his experiences there. ‘I had to make a big detour to avoid them.’

It suddenly dawned on me that he was talking about today. I snapped to attention.

‘Really? Where?’ He pointed the field out on the map.

‘You can detour here and here. There were mothers and calves.’

I expressed some doubt as to there being calves at this season, but he assured me that, unlike sheep, cows can calve at any time. I was not convinced that his knowledge of the reproductive habits of cattle was accurate, but that wasn’t really the point.

I considered the detour he pointed out. Hmm – a long way round. I decided to go to the field edge and investigate the relative location of cows and stiles.  As I was approaching the field, I saw two other people coming toward the suspect field, from the detour path. I broke into a run to head them off at the stile. If I went through on their coat tails, I should be fine. I raced up to them and began to follow. I apologised for stalking them and explained that I had been warned the cows in that field were a bit troublesome.

‘Yes’, said the lady, nodding vigorously. ‘I met them yesterday.’

Then the man said, in German, ‘Young steers’.

‘Young bulls’ he said, to me. We agreed they could be a bit too playful.

With three of us, however, there were no problems, and I dropped down into Roseland Bay.IMG_9922

Then came a very annoying lack of signage. Three paths and no signs. I picked the right one, decided after a few hundred yards that it was the wrong one, retraced my steps. Tried a second, which soon seemed wrong, as it went too far inland, returned to the junction and was scratching my head when two American cyclists appeared. They told me that there was an acorn sign a few hundred yards up. We agreed the signage was terrible.

I was now concerned about time, so began to hurry. This was a big mistake. The path was greasy and I went down head first, or rather knee first. I fell with some force and hurt my knee and ankle. Not seriously but enough to make myself very uncomfortable. I carried on, feeling very stiff. More signage issues. Three paths with no acorn. This time I made the wrong decision. Eventually, I emerged on a road above Portscatho. I limped along, crosser and crosser, wondering if I could get a bus as my knee throbbed painfully. I contemplated phone Tony the Taxi, but, no phone signal of course.

Just as I crawled into the village, I saw someone waving. Unbelievably, it was Tony Taxi himself, just emerging from a café. I leapt in to the car and he conveyed me quick smart to the ferry at St Mawes. IMG_9925Bless him, he didn’t even charge me. I took a very wet and windy trip across Falmouth Harbour. It is quite a sight – ferries, pleasure craft, yachts, all zooming in and out of Carrick Roads where the Fal, Kennal, Truro and a couple of smaller rivers converge. Apparently, Falmouth is the deepest harbour in Western Europe, and probably the third deepest in the world. IMG_9929On either side lie Henry VIII’s great fortresses at St Mawes Castle, and Pendennis Castle (one of the last royalist strongholds to fall in the Civil War.) There is some superb housing overlooking the harbour too. Heading towards my hotel, I tried to get new boots – the soles on mine have worn too much, I am not getting enough grip for the slippery surfaces. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any to fit. Maybe in Penzance.

I arrived at my hotel, to find it is closed until at least 4pm. So, I’ve decided on late lunch/early dinner, then rest all evening. Just had an excellent risotto. Can’t have fish and chips every day…