This post should have the subheading, ‘I’ve made the mistakes so you don’t have to’
I had some time off work, no time constraints and the weather forecast was good. I had a number of routes planned and I wanted to go somewhere different, somewhere new.
I opened up the OS map, looking for places with plenty of paths then looked on Google Maps to see if there was anywhere to park up.
Llanfair Talhaiarn seemed to tick the boxes. A pleasant little village 5 miles south of Abergele, it has a good size car park with toilets, a couple of pubs for refreshments and it is easy to get to, just off the A548.
After leaving the car at the School Lane car park, I headed to the river Elwy, taking the bridge on the A544 to get to the footpath on the other side.
This was a pleasant start to the day.
Easy to follow, well maintained footpaths, a nice river, a waterfall and a little ‘beach’ which if I’d come across it later in the walk, would have made a great spot to brew up a coffee.
The route followed the river, along the edges of a field and through woodland…
then came the overgrowth.
The path seemed to go on forever through this mass of wet plants. I’m quite tall but plants where taller. It was difficult to see the path on many occasions.
Despite being a warm, summer day with no clouds to be seen, I was drenched.
My trousers stuck to me and my feet squelched with every footstep.
Just when I thought I’d reached the end, there was more. These plants were almost goading me.
No mater how well you plan a walk, there are somethings you don’t expect and this was one such thing.
Sadly, I suspect that unless something is done to clear this path it may well become unwalkable soon
There was eventually a light at the end of this fern covered tunnel…..it came in the way of a muddy track covered in cow manure.
At the end of the track, through a gate I hit a road. This would give me a chance to dry off if nothing else. I followed the road south for a while, crossing over a bridge. At a second bridge I had a choice, assume that that the track to the right of the cottage with the barking dogs was the way to a path on my planned route or continue to the signposted bridle way. Not wanting to argue with the dogs, I took the second option.
This was more like it, a good path and nice views.
I carried on until I reached a farm house. According to the maps, there was a footpath running behind the house. I couldn’t see it. There were a number of signs, none pointing to where the path should be so I continued along the bridleway which brought me out on to a road.
I spotted another track on the map which would lead me back the route I had planned, however, the ‘access forbidden’ signs on the gate made it clear this was no footpath! Once more I went back to the road and continued up hill.
Not to worry, there were another two footpaths up by a farm, one of those would lead back on track. I walked up the farm track and opened the gate. According to my GPS I was right where the path should but there was nothing. No path, no signs. I really didn’t want to go trudging through the farmers land looking for the route so, again, I returned to the road.
To be fair, the walk along the road wasn’t too bad, I’d only seen the one car and the views were good. I’d come to the conclusion that if all else failed, I had an ‘escape route’ . I could follow this road to the main road then back to where I had parked the car.
There was one last route I could take, crossing over the sheep fields towards Llyn Du. The path was easy to find from the road and the lake was a good reference point. A little voice in my head kept telling me that this part may be easily navigable but at any point the path and signs could disappear and I wouldn’t have the road to fall back on. I put these thoughts to the back of my mind, I wasn’t to be defeated!
Things were going well until I reached the farm at Cefn-treflech. There were a number of signs between the road and the farm then nothing. Well, not quite nothing, a post lay on the floor in front of the gate. I wondered if this once had the route labelled on it. To make matters worse, the owner of the property had come outside. I didn’t want to go marching through his property, he might get angry, he might have a shotgun or worse, he may ask if I needed directions!
Once I was through the rusty gate, walked round the back of the house and on past another farm, I started to enjoy the views.
This seemed like a good spot to fire up the JetBoil and make myself a coffee.
I consulted my map. Perhaps I should have braved looking for the path at the side of the house near the second bridge. Not too worry, this coffee stop was enjoyable and I could see clearly where to head next. I confirmed the route on my map and with my GPS – all was good!
Nope, this was the calm before the next storm!
From the coffee stop, I headed towards the woods. A sign confirmed I was heading in the right direction. Splendid. I then ended up in more tall, wet foliage but, to make matters worse, there were also two meter high prickly blackberry bushes. At times the only way I could get through was to turn my back, duck down and let my rucksack push the worst of the branches out of the way. I couldn’t see the path at all but, amazingly, one I reached a crossroads with a track I was right on course. I crossed the track and followed the sign. Again, the plants made the path impossible to see so I checked the GPS and compass and headed in what seemed to be the right direction, unfortunately, although I achieved the objective of reaching the woods without being ripped to shreds, I was in the middle of a mountain bike track.
I couldn’t find any information about this track, only finding this one YouTube video. Luckily for me there were no bikes around as I weaved my way as best I could through the woods in roughly the right direction.
I could see the track I needed but a barbed wire fence stood between it and me. It seems that I’m not the only person to have made a mess of navigation, at one point the painful bits of the fence had been removed. I managed to step over and follow the track down to the road to Llanfair Talhaiarn.
In conclusion, this wasn’t one of my favourite walks! Llanfair Talhaiarn is a lovely village and a great base for walking, it’s shame the navigation is made awkward.
I can understand why landowners don’t want people trudging through their land, their home, their place of work but, put up a few signs, make the paths obvious and you won’t have people climbing over fences and being in places they shouldn’t be.
As a crude analogy, my office has signs to the training rooms, the toilets and the reception. Visitors find where they need to be and we don’t have people wandering past our desks looking lost.
I’m sure I’ll revisit Llanfair Talhaiarn in the future, perhaps trying some of the paths to the other side of the village.
In the meantime, my route is available to download as a GPX file.…good luck!