Today we are walking down the other side of the estuary and we start by crossing the river over the stone bridge to the north of the town. A large slab of slate heralds our entry into Snowdonia.
A right turn after the bridge would take you up to CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology), an educational charity that has been researching and communicating positive solutions for sustainability since 1973. I wish there were more places like this.
We are however turning left along the very busy road but thankfully it is not long before we are directed off to the right up a narrow tarmac road with plenty of shade. This then turns into a forest track through an area of woodland known as Foel Gôch. As the track meets a tarmac road again, there is a sign warning of tree disease. We are asked not to carry any mementos away from the forest and clean our boots before any future visits. I am old enough to vaguely remember the Dutch Elm disease of 1967, which spread through the countryside when I was a child. Since then more than 25 million elms have died in Britain and the only remaining mature elms can be found in the Brighton and Hove area where they are somewhat protected from the disease by being sandwiched between the English Channel and the South Downs.
A little later we come to the village of Pennal, our lunch stop but we have no lunch. The pub is very busy preparing for the onslaught of Sunday lunchers and there is no shop open in the village. We stop for a drink and I make a mental note to always carry a few emergency rations in the future.
Outside the village the coast path turns left off the main road and up the hill to a holiday resort. The accommodation consists of rows of neat cream coloured bungalows – I keep expecting to see a “Stepford Wife” gazing wistfully out of the windows .
Further up the road, outside reception, are signs to remind people they are on holiday………I dash into the bar to load up with peanuts, to be met with frosty stares and sullen service.
A sign on the path above the resort makes me wonder what they’re hiding in the undergrowth.
From here the path rises up through woodland – through a gap in the trees we catch sight of what I think is a railway bridge not far from Dovey Junction station. This is where the line splits, one bound for Aberystwyth and the other is the Cambrian Coast Line to Pwllheli. I am amazed by the fact that there is a direct line from Birmingham to Aberdovey, which accounts for the number of holiday makers coming from the Midlands to West Wales.
On we walk, through Penmaendyfi, a collection of wooden holiday chalets dotted around an original stone coach house, now for sale – one of the original buildings has seen better days.
And out, crossing the A493 onto a narrow road through woodlands and fields. The path is now a rough grassy track lined with ancient stone walls covered with moss.
It is very quiet so we are startled by the sound of an engine behind us. The noise is coming from a mud spattered quad bike – we scatter. Is this a joy rider or a farmhand? We are about to find out.
Round the corner we run into the quad bike again, which has stopped at the bottom of a very steep rough track. The rider is talking to the drivers of two land rovers who then with much crunching of gears and screeching of tyres, execute a 6 point turn and roar off back up the hill.
It appears that the quad bike is being used to scout the terrain for another group of off- road vehicles behind us. At the top of the hill are the two land rovers, one of which now has a puncture. The drivers are all male and accompanied by a 12 year old boy in sunglasses.
We exchange a few pleasantries, they appear to be a little self conscious of the noise and chaos they are creating, asking us how we are and if we have enough to drink – do we look that old and decrepit? Further along the path turns into a bog which is a bit difficult to negotiate and we wonder how the cars are going to manage to drive through the deep mud, we decide to sit to wait and see.
We do not have long to wait. With loud cheers and cries of encouragement, the first vehicle races through the water, promptly sinks and nearly tips over. We watch spell bound as the driver clambers out of the window with strict orders for the boy to remain in the car. I think if it was my son I would like him out of there as quickly a possible.
Undeterred and obviously having fun, the driver of the vehicle behind attaches a line and attempts to reverse back up the hill to pull the stranded vehicle out. The land rover does not move an inch. More laughter.
The next ploy is to turn the second vehicle and try in first gear up the hill. This pulls off the back bumper and the rescue vehicle also sinks, and not wanting to be left out of the dance slowly tips to the left. More laughter, although by now it is tinged with slight exasperation.
By now a few other vehicles have joined the party and an attempt is made to rescue the second vehicle, which works initially, but in the process is pulled over to the other side of the mud and sinks again (I do hope you are following). At this point the driver of one of the newcomers suggests a winch.
This does not work either so after 30 minutes of gripping drama we leave them to their fate.
After all that excitement it is wonderful to walk across the moorland in peace and quiet. To our left the estuary can now be seen clearly and to our right are beautiful views of fields and distant hills.
We branch off the minor road that leads down into Aberdovey where dinner with Damian’s sister and family awaits. This is a quiet morning shot from the house we are staying in.
Distance: 13.5 miles