We arrive at the woollen mill in pouring rain but the forecast does say it will clear up later – we decide to wait in the cafe. To ensure social distancing each table has to be booked while ordering which means less room for customers but a couple already seated on a large table invite us to share it. It turns out they are walkers so we chat for a while about walking in Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Corsica, somewhere I would really like to visit. The rain eases off so we say goodbye and head down to the coast. The path runs past a pretty little holiday cottage, standing alone with only a 5 minute walk down to the beach.
………and here is the beach, deserted, unlike yesterday and where we turned right yesterday we now turn left and hobble over the pebble beach.
Soon we are up on the cliffs, with the sky clearing – this beautiful peacock butterfly is a morning treat.
We walk past another beach, a twin sister to the one we started from this morning. That one is called Aber Bach and this one Aber Mawr. And here’s a Welsh lesson , “mawr” means large and “bach” means small. I remember my Welsh grandmother used to use “bach” as an endearment when we were children.
The path is quite flat here and we make good progress, which is encouraging as my body is still smarting from the long walk yesterday. I look back occasionally to take photos of the cliffs, caves and small islands.
Eventually we reach Abercastle, a long thin inlet, busy with small boats, kayaks and paddle boards. Although Damian is keen to try paddle boarding it certainly doesn’t float my boat. First of all it looks like hard work and I also find the movements ungainly and not nearly as graceful as those needed to send a kayak whistling through the water.
We walk on, round a promontory – yet another Castell Coch (there are so many of these in Wales) – “coch” means red but there’s nothing red around here. Later the path takes us through a series of “pwlls” – small inlets ringed with steep cliffs and inaccessible beaches – or so we think.
Looking down from the narrow path above one of the the steep drops we spy a human being lying stark naked on the beach. Almost as if he could sense our presence the man stands up, puts his hands on his hips and stares directly up at us. There is some defiance in his stance which is curious as we are so far up we cannot see his face nor any bits and bobs he may have been wanting to protect from our gaze. How did he get down there? We scan the cliffs and gradually the pattern of a possible way down begins to emerge over to the right but it looks like a dangerous scramble. Seems like a lot of effort just to have a beach to yourself.
By now we are nearing the inlet that leads up to the village of Trefin. The path leads us to a stream running down to a stony beach. On the other side of the stream are the ruins of a water mill, the old grinding stone still intact. We rest for a while…
We are now not far from our destination but the sky looks dangerous. I really hope it doesn’t rain as I’m looking forward to a pint at the Sloop Inn and as Wales is on partial lockdown they will only be serving outside.
Above Porthgain are two navigation markers, the furthest away is a bit worse for weather but the one closest to us has definitely had a facelift. These would have marked the entrance to what once was a busy industrial harbour exporting slate from local quarries. The slate was cut into slabs by water powered mills and the waste was used to make bricks and road stone. Large brick “hoppers” dominate the harbour – these hoppers were used to store crushed road stone before shipment and are now a Scheduled Ancient Monument. I remember the first time I visited Porthgain almost twelve years ago that I thought these ruins may have been a prison which cast a shadow over my fish and chips. Now I know better.
Just as we reach the village it starts to rain – heavily. We summon our remaining reserves of energy to dash up to the Sloop Inn to bag us a table outside. We have two umbrellas with us and all our rain gear on so it’s not so bad. The rain dripping on the umbrella and the cold beer reminds me of camping which I used to do many years ago – it is almost cosy.
Distance: 7 miles