Sunday, 27 May 2012

More on the Wales Coast Path

I referred earlier to the new Wales Coast Path, by now officially open. After having compared it a littel unfavourably to the North Wales Path, I thought I ought to give it a go and report back, so I did the Bangor-Penmaenmawr stretch of the Wales Coast Path. This diverges almost completely from the North Wales Path.

It starts off from Port Penrhyn in the same way, up the old Penrhyn Quarry Railway which is now part of the Lon Las Ogwen cycletrack, and here, at least when I visited, the Wales Coast Path signs had not yet arrived. At least at Llandygai the signs were in place, to follow the more sensible Llwybr Ugain Munud, rather than what I earlier referred to as the crazy way taken by the North Wales Path at that point. From here on, these paths are wholly different, the Wales Coast Path doing what it says on the tin, being mostly a shoreline walk. 

Reaching Aber Ogwen, which curiously has signs in English, Welsh and Polish, the walk starts along the shoreline. No problem with the tide out miles away, but I suspect this is a walk best not attempted at high water springs in windy weather. The walk coninues along the shoreline, where there are a number of birdwatchers' hides, and ample reason for them to be there, too.

Arriving on the fringes of Llanfairfechan, here is another fine example of H. L. North architecture which I commented on in relation to another property, higher up.

The path doesn't continue all along the promenade at Llanfairfechan, but takes Station Road all the way up to the Penmaenmawr Road (the old course of the A55 before the expressway was built). This is so that it can find its way round the Pen-y-clip headland.

This done on an unusual stretch of pathway. After following the old A55 as far as it can, the a line of streets above the expressway, it crosses the westbound carriageway on a footbridge to get to the central reservation in what feels more like an urban path for a short while. Then, without crossing the eastbound carriageway, suddenly it goes up, and soon is way above the road tunnels. 

This is the line of the old, old road - not the pre-expressway A55, but Telford's road, used before the first tunnels were built in the 1930s. Now it carries the path, cyclists and possibly horse-drawn vehicles.

Down on the Penmaenmawr side, the path crosses the westbound carriageway again to take the old road into Penmaenmawr, then quickly dives down steps to the left. These duck under the expressway viaduct, carrying on down to a former quarry incline bridge over the railway, and then Penmaenmawr promade. This took me along to the railway station.

And the verdict? Pen-y-clip was interesting enough, but the walk between Aber Ogwen and Llanfairfechan lacked the archaeology and hilltop views of the higher route. And while I had commented earlier that at least a shoreline walk would normally be wheel-accessible, I couldn't say that for this stretch. However it is  easier to get to generally, and obviously much more popular than the North Wales Path, judging by the number of people I encountered on this and the equivalent stretch of the other. So still a good walk, even if not as adventurous.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

The All Wales Coast Path and the North Wales Path

I have just come across details of the All Wales Coast Path which is due to open officially in May 2012. Provisional route maps have been published here.

I had been under the impression that the All Wales Coast Path would follow the route of the North Wales Path across North Wales. This was clearly mistaken. The All Wales Coast Path  follows the principle that "It will be as near to the coast as legally and physically practicable, whilst fully taking into account the needs of health and safety, land management and conservation.". In the case of Anglesey, a similar principle must have been applied for its Coastal Path, because both paths follow the same route as far as I can see. But when it comes to the east-west North Wales section, this results in All Wales Coast Path being more truly coastal than the North Wales Path - although there are still substantial overlapping streches.

This explains the slight confusion I had in Colwyn Bay, where I had found a North Wales Path sign and an All Wales Coast Path sign pointing in different directions.

So what does this mean for walkers? The All Wales Coast Path, being more truly coastal, is going to be flatter and therefore more suitable for those who haven't the energy for hills. A good deal of those stretches are also going to be along sea walls etc., and suitable for those with pushchairs or wheelchairs (and for the pushchair clientele, no doubt the beach itself will have its attractions). However, I have to admit that the inland excursions were in general the most interesting bits of the North Wales Path for me, and I think I made it clear that walking miles along a sea wall was the dullest bit.

It also confirms the potential of circular walks as I had mooted  in my review, taking the inland part of the North Wales Path and doubling back along the All Wales Coast Path.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Review of the Path

So, how was the North Wales Path? Here are some reflections on the Path as whole.

I can't help thinking that maybe this was meant to be walked East to West, not West to East as I have done. Certainly the Path divides into two distinct sections, either side of Conwy, and west is harder.

East of Conwy, this is a walk along the coastline, with occasional diversions inland. That means it is mostly low-lying and level, and can be quite dull when all you are doing is walking along a beach. It also means it is very accessible, with plenty of places to buy ice-creams etc. in summer, and really not much need to bring a picnic at any time because you are never too far away from shops.

West of Conwy, it is a hillwalk, and more strenuous. It mostly (though not always) looks down on the coast. As I have said, there is absolutely nowhere on the Path between Port Penrhyn and Conwy town walls where you can spend money, even if you wanted to.

Much of this path is very quiet indeed: I saw very few other walkers on the more rural stretches. I did see lots of dog-walkers and cyclists on some parts of the Path more suited to that. Aber Falls also is a popular destination.

Rail Access
This Path is made for rail access, which is how I did it. Conwy, Llandudno Junction, Deganwy, Colwyn Bay, Abergele and Prestatyn stations are virtually on the Path, with Bangor, Llandudno and Rhyl stations just a short walk away. At  Llanfairfechan and Penmaenmawr, the access suffers slightly from the Path being on Snowdonia foothills and the stations being at sea level, but even then it's not too far. 

Circular Walks
It's ocourred to me that parts of this Path couuld be done as circular walks:
Great Orme: the Great Orme circuit as I did, crossing back to where you started from Llandudno North shore to West shore. This could link back to Llandudno station.
Colwyn/Llanddulas: the inland part of the North Wales Path, doubling back along the coast cycle track. 
Rhyl/Prestatyn: the inland part of the Path, returning along the shore: in a straight line; the additional distance between Rhyl and Presttayn is only 4 miles.
This Blog
I may have indulged my personal interests in (alphabetical order) Architecture, Geology, History, Ornithology, Prehistory and Railways; other people may have noticed different things; but then that only shows what different treats the walk has to offer.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Rhyl to Prestatyn (16km/10miles)

To complete my walk, I started again at Rhyl station. I didn't exactly retrace my steps from last time to get back to the North Wales Path, but this time followed a path westwards alongside the railway line, which joined a road up towards a bridge but down again on the same side of the railway, veering right when it was no longer possible to go straight on, onto Seabank Road. This was a road of what must have been impressive Victorian guest houses. At a crossroads at the end of Seabank Road, the Marine Lake is to be seen straight ahead, but the North Wales Path crosses from right to left, and my route took me leftwards to a footbridge over the railway line.

Here at the Glan Morfa Community Woodland it is possible to turn right towards the riverside, but I didn't do that as the Path goes straight on (although once again the signs had lost their plates and I had to confirm my route from the map). After passing a caravan site on the left, the Path enters fields and also turns towards the banks of river Clwyd. This is now a tarmaced cycleway all the way to Rhuddlan (the castle can be seen in the distance straightaway), on top of recently-rebuilt flood defences. There was much birdlife to be seen along the mudflats  - Shelduck and Curlews in abundance and what might have been some sort of Grebe.

Following the Path towards Rhuddlan is simple enough; after going under the modern road flyover it comes to an older road bridge which is where it turns left into the town, just before the castle.

I took some time to look round Rhuddlan, starting first with the graveyard around St. Mary's Church, whose most striking feature is a memorial by a local sculptor Lunt, which seems later to have become his memorial, too.

Having not actually visited Rhuddlan Castle before, I would have liked to have gone round it, but it was closed for the winter. Instead, I took a path beyond the Castle (now diverting away from the North Wales Path) to Twt Hill, the site of the earlier, eleventh century, motte. Picture shows view looking down the river from Twt Hill.

I doubled back to rejoin the Path which follows the High Street. Here is what claims to be the Parliament Building where the Statute of Rhuddlan was made. "No foundation for the tradition and inscription", says Hubbard in The Buildings of Wales: Clwyd. The Parliament is actually for sale.

Between Rhuddlan and Dyserth, the Path makes an effort to go off-road again, but it's a bit convoluted. There were enough North Wales Path signs to give occasional reassurance that I was not lost, but not enough to have been able to navigate the path using them alone. I usually keep my OS map in the backpack to check if I'm in doubt, but this time ended up carrying it my hand to check every turn.  Detailed directions follow.

Leaving Rhuddlan, the Path follows a cycle route left at a roundabout, then crosses the road down Pentre Lane to the right. Out of the residential area, just after a bridge over a stream, it leaves the lane to cross a brief field to a footbridge, and across that field eventually to rejoin the same lane (so if you missed that bit, you wouldn't go far wrong). It continues across the lane along an untarmaced access track, which eventually gets to a pretty cottage in woods ('Cottage Covert' on the map). Just before the cottage, the Path leaves the access track to skirt round the covert and in to another field, where it follows the field boundary anti-clockwise. A short way after what was the right-hand corner, there is a stile on the right, with a generic footpath sign but no North Wales Path sign, where apparently you turn an obtuse angle so it almost feels like doubling back. Looking up confirms this is in fact the right way to get to Dyserth - aiming just to the left of the hilltop of Y Foel got me across the field to the right place, at the corner of Aberkinsey farm (which looks like it ought to be in Hubbard, but isn't). The Path turns left along the farm access road, then right along a bridle track (lots of horses here, also pheasants). Where the bridle track fords a stream, the Path turns left along a field edge towards Llewerllyd farm, which is some sort of animal rescue place. After that and crossing a stream, a stile into fields leads to the road into Dyserth. Following that road a very short way, the Path turns right.

Dyserth was quite an entertaining village. It has a pretty little church, with one monument outside which dates back to 1676, then a famous waterfall (admission 40p in honesty box). It's not as dramatic as Aber Falls (seen earlier in my first instalment), but is surprisingly whooshy considering the little stream which runs from it.

The village seems to be built on the side of a cliff. After the waterfall, I took a little footpath which goes up some steps by the side of the falls, rejoining the road which keeps the upward progress. There's a short High Street, then the road dips downwards as it begins to leave the centre. On the left, there's a bit of a carpark (mostly closed off when I was there). Here the North Wales Path joins the Prestatyn-Dyserth Way for its final stretch. In fact the Path finishes as it started, on a cycletrack laid on disused railway line. Most of today's walk had been on a flat floodplain then with a steep ascent - what was admirable about the railway engineering was how it conspired to even out the gradient all the way down the Prestatyn. And being on an old railway line, it fairly easily got me back to the main line and Prestatyn Station to get me home.

Verdict: Rhuddlan and Dyserth were interesting little places, and walking along an old railway line is almost an end in itself. Unfortunately, a dull day meant not so many interesting pictures.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Colwyn Bay to Rhyl (20km/14miles)

I resumed the walk on a good sunny day, starting off from Colwyn Bay station, going back under the railway underpass to the east of the station to rejoin the North Wales Path at Colwyn Bay pier. Some major building work on the sea wall meant I had to walk on the inland side of the promenade road for  a while, before crossing over to walk more along the coast itself.

Soon, the road swings right under viaducts beneath first the railway then the A55, while a path and cycle route carries on along the coastline. Now, I had thought up to now that the new Wales Coast Path followed the line of the North Wales Path exactly along its length, but here the Wales Coast Path sign points straight on along the cycle route, but a glance under the viaducts shows the North Wales Path sign diverting inland.  The inland route is the right way, but I could have been misled here by following the Wales Coast Path sign. It did occour to me later that the coastal cycle route, joined up with the inland stretch of this path, could make a good circular walk.

The Path now follows the Colwyn river upstream, initially through a small public park, where this 1894 folly stands. Approaching the Abergele Road, the old main road before the A55 expressway was built, path and river pass under it in two parallel tunnels.

I carried on, past an attractive row of houses along the riverside, up a few steps to a road where the Path very briefly leaves the river's edge, before rejoining it through the 'Fairy Glen'.  The path continues along the east side of the river, climbing a little above it in the wooded shallow gorge of the Fairy Glen, following the line of what must be a former mill leat.  The Path emerges on a road to turn rightwards, then shortly afterwards turns left into a golf course.

Despite signs to remind us of the dangers of golf, and common-sense courtesy to other users, it really isn't obvious at first which way the walker should take through the course.  After consulting my map, I went upwards along a boundary to my left, then turned right along a line of trees, which succesfully got me to a Path sign at an exit into a minor road. The Path here crosses the minor road and enters another part of the golf course. This time it's more or less uphill at right angles to the road just left, towards another sign on a trackway, where I turned leftwards and upwards. 

A signpost gives us a choice of public paths, where our path turns right, follows the right-hand field edge downwards then turns left (a reassuring arrow here) to follow the far field edge towards a little footbridge over a stream, and stile. The Path crosses the next field to a woodland, although it really isn't obvious where the woodland should be entered until you're right there. There are the semblance of many paths through this wood, but what turned out to be the correct one is more heavily used, and has occasional square posts which have lost their sign plates. 

There follows another field, another wood, another field, another  wood, and again the signing isn't perfect but the square posts confirmed I was on the right lines. The last woodland path is downhill into  a small valley which then joins a track up round the opposite side of the valley where suddenly we are into limestone quarry territory. Nipping round some farm buildings, the path now follows Bwlch-y-Gwynt Road towards the village of Llysfaen and this Baptist chapel building.

I followed the North Wales Path sign on a track to the right, which then goes over a stile into a field. After climbing gradually most of the time since leaving the coast, the Path is now on a limestone plateau (not quite limestone pavement) with a sweeping view inland, overlooking a swath of agricultural land of the Dulas valley.  The path goes more or less straight on along the side of this plateau, but again all the posts (see picture) had lost their little sign plates, so although I could affirm I was on the Path, I couldn't always be sure which way to go next. But to give credit where it is due, I did later on come across contractors engaged in replacing and renovating signs and stiles.

As the river Dulas below me swang north to the shore, the Path too swings leftwards to follow the valley side.   The view here is of Plas Newydd earthworks on the west side of the valley in the foreground,  Pen-y-Corddyn hillfort on the east side opposite, the Clwydian range on the horizon.
Losing the square posts, I took an accidental diversion here as I followed paths to the summit of Craig y Forwyn. At the top here is a view down into a gigantic quarry hole, now being filled up again as a landfill site, and northwards to the coast again.

I followed a roughly parallel line before joining an old quarry road down to rejoin the North Wales Path. This then crosses a couple of fields and down a narrow pathway past a loudly barking dog, opening out onto the old main road through Llanddulas, a handsome village of local limestone.

I took time here to visit St. Cynbryd's church and a very tidy graveyard. There is also a large and striking village hall (pictured).

The Path crosses the main road and over the bridge, then follows a roadway down towards the beach.

A short way along from Llanddulas, an information board refers to the Honeycomb Worm Reef here. The tide being high at the time, I wasn't able to see this interesting natural feature.

From Llanddulas to Rhyl, following the North Wales Path for seven miles or so is very straightforward indeed as it simply follows the shoreline, which as it is all shingle beach to the left and a sea wall protecting low lying land doesn't give a great deal of variety.  The first stretch has the railway and A55 immediately to the right, then as the expressway swings inland, it got a little quieter, as out-of-season caravan parks, amusement arcades and holiday centres took its place. At Towyn you can see where the sea wall was hurriedly rebuilt when the sea encroached in 1990. Along the shore later on there was much sea holly, and hundreds of oystercatchers and dunlin, also this interesting little bird (pictured). After some conferring, this is identified as probably a Snow Bunting.

Finally the Path reaches Rhyl across the blue Foryd Bridge. I found my way to the railway station through back streets signposted as a cycle route there.

Verdict: The inland stretch was by far the most interesting part of this walk, and it's shame it wasn't as well marked as, say, the Anglesey Coastal Path, which is why I've written up the route in more detail. The long walk along the sea wall didn't add much; I can see that this makes a good way for cyclists, pushchairs or wheelchairs but for a walk, well, one mile was much like another.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Conwy to Colwyn Bay (23km/14miles)

I resumed the walk on this more coastal stretch where at each end it's hardly any distance from the railway station to the Path.

Starting from Conwy, I had hoped to cross the river on Telford's Suspension Bridge but I was too early - it is only open from 11 (details here). Nevertheless, it was a chance for a good look while walking over the newer road bridge, and to admire the way the Castle has been hardly spoilt by its construction: the chains seem to pass through the castle wall. Although the bridge is the main feat of engineering, I did reflect as I walked that building the embankment across the rest of the estuary to the Deganwy side was also an achievement.

Coming off the embankment, I followed the Conwy Estuary Trail, which at first passes round the shore side of the sea wall that the protects the Conwy Tunnel east entrance. The Trail and the North Wales Path then run together, following the shore line. This makes it easy enough to follow, although in fact I didn't see a North Wales Path sign between Conwy Castle and the side of the Great Orme.

Path, railway line and road are parallel for a while going towards Deganwy. I was struck by this 'White Cottage' on the road, just before where the B5115 turns off the A546, so much older than surrounding houses - maybe even 18th century? I haven't been able to find out any more about it.

Next we pass by Deganwy Marina. Most marinas this way have been developed at old quarry ports or fishing ports and this is no exception. Across the river is Conwy Marina which has a different story - the basin was formed to build the sections for the tunnel which were then sunk in the mudbanks and pumped out. The basin left over became the marina. 

The view of the river now has passed away from the town of Conwy and looks across the estuary towards Penmaenmawr. Ysgol Aberconwy's modern buildings in pale yellow here have round towers which rather succesfully echo the town walls further back.

The Path continues along the shore, as the road and rail pass away inland, the other side of the North Wales Golf Club. Apparently, golfers are dangerous here!

Part of the proper path was closed here for repairs, but I could walk along the beach instead. 
The Path then reaches Llandudno's West Shore. The town was laid out in the 1860s on flat marshland. Being developed at all once and with little topography to worry about meant they could have straight roads and this impressive Gloddaeth Avenue: the picture shows only one side but the view is straight through from the West Shore to the Promenade. The circular building on the left is the former tram terminus.

Going on, the Path at last reaches the side of the Great Orme, joins Marine Drive, and begins to ascend the side of the limestone cliffs.  A private road, Llys Helig, named after a mythical kingdom lost under the sea here, has expensive looking houses with fine views, below Marine Drive, which acrries on upwards. The Great Orme is a prominent landmark from much of Snowdonia, so it's no surprise how much I could see fom here - Conwy valley to my left, Snowdonia ahead and up the east coast of Anglesey to the right. The picture takes in most of the North Wales Path I've done from the beginning.

Passing round to the North side of the Orme, the view changes. It was too hazy to see very far at sea, but I expect the Isle of Man must be visible on the clearest days from here. There's a popular cafe open here, although I didn't visit this time, then the lighthouse (also a Bed & Breakfast) is to be seen below the Drive.

I took a small diversion off the Path, to walk up the hairpin bends of the road to the summit of the Orme. I didn't go all the way to the top, but stopped to visit St. Tudno's church.  It is this church which gives Llandudno its name - in fact Llandudno was properly the name of this place, when the marsh between the Orme and the mainland was known as  Morfa Rhiannedd or St. George's Bay.

It was possible to visit inside the church, some of which dates back to the 12th century. The cemetery is fairly impressive too, with an attractive Arts & Crafts style chapel (but not open to go inside). 

Resuming the path, continuing eastwards, Llandudno pier and the Little Orme come into view.

Wild goats live on these steep cliffsides.

The Path now continues downwards along Marine Drive, past its tollgate, towards the Grand Hotel and the pier. The pier was very busy when I passed, and among its stalls were record shops publicising their wares  - the tones of Jim Reeves and Johnny Cash were to be heard over the waves long before I got there. I walked along the short stretch of the pier which stands in fornt of the hotel. Between the Grand Hotel and the Promenade, behind some pier amusements, is the remains of the old Pavilion, burnt down in  the 1990s, but some of the Victorian ironwork survives.

And here's Gloddaeth Avenue from the other end.

The walk now continued at a brisk pace along the arc of Llandudno's Premenade, passing Victorian hotels and guest houses. There follows Bodafon fields, a little gap in the built-up area, before a little suburb called Craigside. These seemed rather upmarket houses to Llandudno, many Victorian but some more recent. And in their midst, this splendid piece of Art Deco architecture.

This is Villa Marina (also known as Condover House), designed by Harry Weedon, dating from 1936 and well renovated.

Carrying on up the road, I began to think that maybe I had missed where the North Wales Path turns off  - but, no, it's not until the brow of the hill, more or less opposite the Craigside Inn, where the Path turns left into the Rhiwledyn Nature Reserve. Here it climbs a little, and there is a potential diversion here to the summit of the Little Orme. I didn't take it, and shortly the view changes again to look eastwards along the next stretch of the Path towards Colwyn Bay and beyond.

The Path descends into on old limestone quarry, passing down an incline at one point, towards still-eroding cliffs. Having come suitably equipped, I paused to collect some blackberries.

The route soon goes down some steps in to an estate of nondescript bungalows, then drops down to the beach for a while where there is no sea wall and private properties extend right down to the shoreline. After that, it steps up to a sea wall. Past Penrhyn Bay and another golf club. the sea wall gets well above the road behind it. This is believed to be the old course of the Conwy river before the Ice Ages. Then a glacier dammed up the river so high that a lake formed behind and cut through  a new channel between what are now Conwy and Deganwy.

The walk now joins the Rhos-on-Sea Heritage Trail.   Here I visited St. Trillo's Chapel, a miniscule but genuinely ancient chapel on the site of celtic saint Trillo's hermitage, which stands over a well. The building is anything from 6th to 16th century.

Shortly after this, a surprise was to find a second hand bookshop, Rhos Point Books. I quickly found two books I needed, and vowed to come back.

I walked up to Colwyn Bay pier, involved in recent controversy. Despite several signs along its side claiming it is still open, it isn't.  It is in very shabby condition and the supports underneath don't look very robust. Opposite the pier, an underpass to the railway took me quickly back to the railway station to complete my trip.

Verdict: This walk is so much more urban in character than the last two stages. In summer, you could buy ice-creams several times over on this walk, and even in October I could have had a few. It's more of  a walk for looking at buildings than for looking at wildlife, but then the Great Orme has a lot of rugged scenery to offer, and would make good winter outing on a very clear day.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Llanfairfechan to Conwy (15km/9miles)

At Llanfairfechan I retraced my route from the railway station up the valley to where I had left the Path last week, except that this time I mostly followed the eastern bank of the river before crossing over at Nant Y Felin Road to walk up the steps to Terrace Road. Llanfairfechan has some fine old houses - more than you would expect from just passing through on the main road.

So I rejoined the path at Terrace Road, heading up the valley on the western bank along a country lane. It's obvious at this point that Path needs to cross the river, also that it needs to continue rising, so when it comes to a road junction, where to go left would take you across the river, and to go straight on, past a No Through Road sign, would go up, I had expected to see a sign to tell me which way to go. Although the North Wales Path has been generally well marked, there was no such sign at this point, and (after getting lost once last week) I had to get my map out to make sure - it's up. Shortly afterwards, there is in fact a sign which tooks me leftwards across a foobridge at Nant y Coed Nature Reserve.

The path now rises up the side of the valley. There's a farmer here who keeps alive the old tradition of stringing up the bodies of rats, as a deterrent to others. Looking back across the valley, last week's descent into Llanfairfechan can clearly be seen.

The road here is Newry Drive, approaching a grand house which used to be called Newry, now Plas Heulog. The lodge here, at a hairpin bend in the road,  is a splendid building, an early work of Llanfairfechan architect H. L. North, whose distinctive style can be seen in a number of houses in Llanfairfechan and a few in the wider area. The house itself is set back from the road and not so visible.

Passing on, the road reaches a back entrance into Penmaenmawr Quarry then ceases to be a public road. But it does follow the line of an old coach route, and for the next few miles it is very clear from the style of the track that it is following a line which was made as a road for vehicles, even down to the ruts left by wheels over the centuries. It is also very easy to follow, as it climbs away from Llanfairfechan.

Here we pass the site of Graig Lwyd, an axe factory from the third millenium BC. although there is not a great deal to be seen. Stone axes from this rock have been found all over Britain and even on continental Europe, and, over the hill, Hanson's quarry continues the extraction of this rock, now mostly for roadbuilding aggregate. Continuing along the old road, the Path passes behind the quarry massif, and suddenly Penmaenmawr village itself comes into view below, with the Great Orme and Llandudno behind.

I took a short an interesting diversion from the North Wales Path here to visit the Druids' Circle. At a point where the Path is signposted along a slight left fork, taking the right fork rises slowly towards a ridge, where, helpfully, one of the standing stones can be seen from below. The circle is not the first group of stones, but stands on a small plateau a little further on. This is really impressive, far more so than the more modern imitations, because of its setting.

The Druids' Crcle is the most distinctive and obvious feature, but is not the only monumnent here. Because I has taken with me my copy of Frances Lynch's 'A Guide to Ancient and Historic Wales - Gwynedd', I was also able to find the ring cairn.

Rejoining the path is easy enough here, and I continued eastwards, where now it drops to the right of higher ground, losing sight of the sea to the north as Conwy valley comes in to view.

This is still folowing an old road, even at one point an avenue lined by Scots pine. Shortly after this, the North Wales Path turns off the road to the right, to become more of a footpath.   It crosses fields, then Afon Gyrach over a footbridge, and wanders on down towards Sychnant Pass.  There are multiple paths here as we approach Sychnant, and signage is a little confusing, but a clear view ahead and a sense of direction took me on and down to Sychnant.

Joining the road at Synchant. The conical gateposts are distinctive of the Pensychnant estate. This is now a nature reserve.

The North Wales Path now goes towards Conwy Mountain. Again, there are many paths that could be followed, and our signs take a particular route, first going over the top to look down at the foreshore and the old quarries on the shore side, then crossing again to look down on Conwy.

I then got the opportunity to divert off the path again to visit the later prehistoric hillfort, which is well signed by an interpretation board on the Path. This is referred to as Caer Seion here and on my OS map, although Frances Lynch (reference as above) refers to it as Castell Caer Lleion. On top of the hillfort, it is clear why it was built here: it commands strategic views in every direction, with little to block the line of sight. It was a windy day when I visited, which meant that on the very top I had to fight to stand up at all. I found a hollow in a hut base to take my lunch break.

The picture shows a round hut base, one of many.

Rejoining the Path, this now follows what feels like an old quarry road, maybe even an incline, down to Cadnant Park on the outskirts of Conwy. It leaves the modern estate road to pass down an old track towards Waen Crossing over the railway - a footbridge now, but evidently once a level crossing. It then crosses at A547 at an attractive former toll house on the corner of Morfa Drive, and passes Ysgol Aberconwy. It swings right behind the school to a coastal walkway, into the walled town of Conwy.

When we did the Anglesey Coastal Path, being very much along the coast, there were things to say from time to time about the oacassional pub, cafe or shop along the way. The North Wales Path is also meant to form part of the Wales Coast Path, but so far it's been very different in character. Suffice to say that, 25 miles or so from Port Penrhyn, the quayside at Conwy was the very first place actually on the path where it was possible to buy anything.

I won't say too much about Conwy because so much has been written elsewhere. On the quayside here is the smallest house in Britain, and the Castle is the main attraction of course. The town walls are the best preserved in Britain and it is possible to walk almost a complete circuit. Plas Mawr is well worth a visit, and in my view the best attraction in Conwy if you only have time to visit one. Train timetables meant I didn't stay for any of these, but headed back.

Verdict: A nice little walk, perhaps a little heavy on the prehistory, but with some views that gave a very different angle.