Sunday, 3 June 2012

The shortest journey with the biggest drama! 

We clambered into the car at 06.15 as Bobby kindly drove us from the Royal Sportsman Hotel who had looked after us very well. With 7 miles still to go to Porth Meudwy and the crossing to Bardsey Island leaving at 11.30 we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time as Dave's blisters were causing him constant pain.

Much to Dave's fortitude we arrived in Aberdaron for 09.30 and enjoyed a good reasonably priced breakfast at the Ty Newydd Hotel served by friendly staff happy to welcome non residents. We were soon making our way on the final mile and for the first time this week arrived ahead of Bobby and Helen and enjoyed a few minutes conversation with a group returning from a weeks stay on Bardsey including a couple from the outskirts of Denbigh were kind enough to donate £5 each.

When Helen arrived with Debbie and Jessica we assumed they has agreed to share cars but Helen explained the car had suffered a double tyre blow out. Fortunately Debbie was following so after ensuring the car placed safely in a gateway to a field they hot trotted to meet the crossing to Bardsey confident that as we have cover with a well known national breakdown company it would be sorted once we arrived back on the mainland. Unfortunately due to emergency cover for an ill colleague Kathy Collins was unable to accompany us to perform a service as planned her place was taken by Neil Evans who had driven from Nannerch to witness our arrival.  

Joining us on the crossing was 6 people from a choral society who had previously stayed on the island and were looking forward to meeting with others for a weeks festival of singing. A very well practised operation swung into place coordinating tractors, boat and pulleys to allow us to board. 

15 minutes later we were being pulled up the slipway at Bardsey. A quick brief from Colin outlining do's and do not's whist on the island and we were free to spend the next four hours exploring.

Jessica awards chocolate medals 

We made our way to the church taking in the secluded atmosphere occasionally contrasted with those busy taking luggage by tractor to the cottages reserved for the singers. 

At the church we all fell silent and reflected on the journey from Basingwerk and gave thanks for our safe arrival.

After taking in the abbey walls and grave yard, retracing our steps we visited the craft shop and visitor centre well stocked with a range of clothing and crafts walls adorned with stunning photographs. 

A little further along we availed ourselves of the tearoom which also has a unique range of art for sale and enjoyed a picnic lunch then on to the unique square lighthouse and on the way viewing seals relaxing from the grass, the beach is out of bounds in order to protect their environment. As the tide came in seals began to communicate via a haunting howl as parent seals guarded the pups.

Before we knew it, time had arrived to depart and Colin treated us to a rare opportunity by pointing out Puffin burrows and we were all able to take photos of these captivating birds sharing the cliffs and sea with Guillemots and Manx Shearwaters. 

Conservation is of paramount consideration to Colin and his family and they work closely with the trust. Visitors are restricted to 2,000 per annum which whilst good for minimising impact has implications for revenue generation, highlighting the conundrum many special places try to resolve.

We left hoping not to have caused any lasting damage in taking away lasting memories of a very unique and sacred place.

Our car was eventually towed to Pwllheli and we'll find out on Monday when it will be ready to be collected. Helen and I are grateful for the kindness of Rhys who stayed with us for nearly 2 hours until the car was towed away and then bought us home.

It has been a wonderful few days and we are delighted to have completed the Pilgrims Way as planned. Each day sent trials but more so special memories. The words of Chris Potter were of comfort and inspiration preparing us for lows and highs. We should like to thank Chris again for his thoughtful sermon and for him and his colleagues who have worked to restate the Pilgrims Way and we wish them well for their pilgrimage next month.

There are a number of other people who have been critical to our fundraising, Diane, Jane and especially Debbie who has done so much work to keep everyone in the loop. Neil's interest and networking has been great as was the visits by Muriel & John, my Mum & Keith and of course without sponsors and donations we would not have raised in the region of £3,500 to date. Finally and not least Bobby and Helen need a special mention for without their support and preparedness to take us to and from start finishes we should not have achieved our goal.

Dave has been a great companion without his patience and sense of direction we would never have made it. Chrysalis is such a worthwhile cause it has been fantastic and we appreciate having received so much support. The way page will stay "live" for 3 months so if you are still able to donate sponsorship monies for a while yet.

Thank you for your interest in the North Wales Chrysalis Trust. 

Adrian & Dave 

Saturday, 2 June 2012

We made it to Bardsey Island!!!!

Wonderful experience on Bardsey as Pilgrimage completed

We are all home safe and sound after a great day. Sorry for the short blog tonight we'll update  with a proper summary of the final stage tomorrow.In the meantime thanks everyone for your support.

more to be revealed tomorrow !

Friday, 1 June 2012

Day 7 and still rolling along

A good day clocking up nearly 20 miles

After a very good meal, nights sleep and breakfast at the Royal Sportsman Hotel, Porthmadog Bobby and Helen returned us to Trefor so we could start our travels down the Llyn towards Aberdaron hoping to leave ourselves 7 or 8 miles for Saturday morning as the ferry to Bardsey Island will leave at 11.30am.

The climb from Trefor is on a par with that to Llangelynnin Church and we were soon stopping to take in the increasing vista regularly as we gained height. Just when we were wondering if we may have bitten off more than we could chew we received a text from Debbie saying there had been an anonymous donation on the Just Giving page saying “thank you from a grateful family” the timing and content was a fantastic boost.  

As the sun burned away the mist the views became more stunning.

We eventually made it past the quarry having climbed the best part of 1,500ft and began to descend towards Nefyn as soon as the view was in front of us the mist rolled in bringing it’s strange and unique smell and of course heightening a sense of isolation. We were fortunate to engage wit a family based in Lancashire and Nottinghamshire who had enjoyed a weeks walking in North Wales as they generously  gave to the collecting tin.

As we continued through the moors towards Nefyn the mist lifted and the temperature rose catching us by surprise as the forecast was for a grey & misty day.

We eventually met with Bobby and Helen at Pistyll where we enjoyed a good picnic of locally sourced produce adjacent to St Bueno’s Church, a delightful ancient and simple building oozing character and meaning. Well refreshed with sustenance and wishes Bobby and Helen left us to continue.

We built up a good rhythm for the next four hours and ended up just below Penllech leaving 7 miles for tomorrow morning. On being picked up Dave suggested we drove into Aberdaron to check out exactly where the ferry operated from, good job he did so as it is a good 25/30 minutes from the centre at Porth Meudwy. At low tide this can be reached along the beach but at high tide it’s probably best to allow at least an additional 30 minutes to ensure you “don’t miss the boat”!

Debbie and Jessica will be joining, Cathy, Helen, Dave and myself to Bardsey Island. Rhys and Angela hope to be waiting for us when we disembark back in Porth Meudwy. More are welcome as it will be great to say thanks to as many people as possible for their kindness and support.    

Over the past few weeks referrals to Chrysalis has increased with our service being requested across all of North Wales. We would prefer that there will be no need for us as our service and expertise is only called upon at sad times for families. It is imperative we have the core recourses to meet the needs of families and so as trustees we do appreciate your support to date as do everyone involved with the charity.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Making our way down the Llyn

Rain, Mist & Blisters

I'm sorry to Dave's sister-in-law Muriel for calling her Audrey in last nights blog especially after her and John's kindness yesterday. I had the opportunity to apologise personally as they delighted us by waiting for us to arrive at Waterloo Dock at Caernarfon to commence our walk onto The Llyn Peninsula. John & Muriel walked with us for a couple of miles guiding us through to the Welsh Mountain Railway onto the cycle path. 

Most of the track is originally from South Africa as is nearly all of the rolling stock. The new track laid is one of the longest rail projects in the UK.
Rain had already been falling for sometime and we set off knowing it was likely to accompany us all day. Using the cycle route we made good time towards Pen-y-Groes where we headed back towards the coast along a country trail.

Dave decided to change into more robust water proof clothing and just at the moment he was struggling to get the saturated trousers off Bobby rang. I thought he was going to perform a summersault as he scrambled to find which pocket the phone was located and in reply to Bobby’s enquiry as to how he was he retorted; “one leg in and one leg out I’ll have to call you back”. Once suitably attired he called Bobby back to explain.

Dave has done very well today as he acquired a blister yesterday and has persevered through the pain as we clocked up nearly 20 miles and on more than one occasion his map reading and sense of direction kept us on the right track.

On our way through to Clynnog Fawr my brother Keith phoned to say he and my Mother were near by so we met up at Pontllyfni and it was their turn to watch us eat a late lunch, it was great to see them especially after making such a journey for a few minutes with us and helped us with setting off down the coast to St Bueno’s Church in Clynnog Fawr.

The church is an amazing building with wonderful windows and a unique footprint.

Sorry for the lack of photographs today but the constant rain did not help with conditions or photogenic opportunities. None the less it was great to arrive in Trefor especially as John & Muriel had phoned to arrange to take us back to the car in Caernarfon, we are extremely grateful to them for their kindness and support over the past couple of days.

Bobby and Helen joined us at our hotel and we had a good dinner in readiness for the last full day of walking tomorrow. The ferry master phoned back this evening to confirm all is well for the crossing on Saturday morning.

Facebook has gone wild since Keith posted a picture of us earlier which is fantastic, unfortunately there now seems to be a block on links to this blog from Facebook so if you are having problems please use this link; Thanks to Neil for putting this temporary fix in place and for taking up our cause with Facebook. Please keep liking and retweeting… as every little is very helpful!

Well thanks once again for taking time to read this and for your support. continues to grow and we are delighted to hear that sponsorship from Mold Golf Club, The Crown Pantymwyn totals an additional £650 pushing the total close to £3,000. Another 20 miles tomorrow will put us within a 3-4 hour walk Saturday morning of the ferry.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Abergwyngregyn to Caernafon

Two stunning coasts, ancient towns, hamlets, city, harbours and sacred places

Bobby and Bosun kindly drove us back to where we finished last night and we set off walking through to Aber Falls above the ancient town of Abergwyngregyn (stronghold of  Llywelyn ap Gruffudd) via the Coedydd Aber National Nature Park. The stunning falls are well worth a couple of miles detour with good car parking, display panels and way marks. 

We were soon back on to the North Wales Path taking us high over the town and overlooking Anglesey. Dave's keen ear picked up the sound of a Hercules aeroplane which we eventually sighted flying below us above the straights.

It was good to witness a shepherd caring for several flocks, working hard on his quad bike supported by two very well trained dogs whilst we enjoyed a nice gentle descent towards Tal-y-Bont. Once the off the path joined a steep road leading down to the road bridge crossing the A55 at which point the imposing Penrhyn Castle stood imposingly on the outskirts of Bangor. 

Arriving in Bangor we made our way up the longest High St in Britain to the Cathedral. It was really nice of (and very much appreciated) Dave's brother John and wife Audrey to join us whilst we ate our late lunch, checked on feet and changed foot ware, they were doubly kind in making a£10 donation for the collection tin! Bangor was busy and gave off a cosmopolitan vibe with quaint shops, old and new grand public buildings oozing vibrancy.

We chose to follow the cycle route to Caernarfon and enjoyed a brief interlude on the harbour at Y Felinheli away from the traffic noise and general business of the main road. Walking as close to the Menia Straights as possible it dawned on us how we were fortunate to be enjoying two coasts at the same time. 

Arriving in Caernarfon at Walterloo Dock the weather has changed considerably since Saturday. We have been watching the clouds getting darker all day and survived a couple of showers. 

It was great to see Helen waiting for us in the car park. Helen had represented us at the funeral of Dave Thomas in order we could continue the walk. Since Dave's untimely death our thoughts have been with Kath, Roly and family. Dave was a wonderful man and will be sorely missed though fondly remembered. We are saddened at not being able to attend his funeral but hope our efforts on behalf of Chrysalis will help to enable the charity to continue its work for families at distressing and difficult times.

The total on is growing so thank you to those of you who have donated, if you mean to and haven't yet, please do and if you know of anyone who may be able to help please forward the link to them.

Tomorrow looks like it will be tough with rain forecast for all day (good job we've kept out of the spray tanning studios) as we need to make a good inroad to the 50 or so miles left to cover before Saturday mornings crossing to Bardsey Island.

Thank you for your texts, phone calls emails and posts of support. 

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

75 miles & 4 days completed and left to do

Another stunning day on the North Wales Pilgrims Way

Setting off from home at 08.30 made good sense allowing for a good nights sleep. We arrived back at Tal-y-Cafn (sorry for spelling mistake yesterday)
and headed towards Conway Water Gardens on our way to Penmaenmawr stone circles via Llangelynnin Church. A gentle slope helped us to settle into a good pace and was warmly welcomed by a hill farmer and his two black Labrador's who whilst wishing us well made a donation in the collection tin. 

Eager to maintain a good pace we resisted the temptation of Dutch pancakes at the water gardens continuing through a lovely hamlet of holiday cottages. 

The road soon became a track into Parc Mawr and what was a steep hill became a very steep track, we took it in turns to stop and admire the view as we gained height  (nothing to do with fighting for breath!) the vista of the Conway Valley and the Clwydians really is worth the climb. 

As we came through the woods we noticed derelict buildings hinting this was once quite a substantial settlement.

Leaving the tree line behind us we continued to climb and the stone walls prepared either side of the track us for the welcomed sight of Llangelynnin Church, dedicated to St Celynnin a local saint of the sixth century. 

The oak archway standing since the 12th century evokes strength and simplicity reflecting its setting perfectly. After visiting the church we stayed for a while to take a little lunch and to recover. 

On leaving  Llangelynnin we set off for the stone circles and after another hill enjoyed panoramic views into Conway Valley with the castle a prominent feature the further we walked the more of the coast we could see and the Great Orm and surrounding area take on a new magnificence when seen from above. 


 As we arrived at the stone circle above Penmaenmawr the clouds gathered and it looked as if it might rain with many of the famous wild horses lying on the ground appearing to agree. 

Fortunately it did not rain however the lower temperature and cloud cover made for easier walking. On leaving the stone circle we headed towards Llanfairfechan, a much welcomed mainly down hill section.

Making our way through the town we were struck by the many independent retailers making a return visit high on the list of things to de next. On reaching the promenade we walked along the coast through Nant-y-Coed Nature Park on our way to Abergwyngregyn. 

It was enjoyable and a nice change watching the many sea birds, looking out to Puffin Island and Anglesey. Rhys and Bobby met us at Abergwyngregyn from where we will set out tomorrow towards Caernarfon.

Please help to keep the total growing by spreading the news!