Aber Falls and a coastal walk

Aber Falls is one of the most popular tourist attractions in northern Snowdonia. The dramatic waterfall is very accessible by an easy path making it suitable for a wide range of visitors. The falls, near to Abergwyngaren, are only a few miles from where I was staying and I had them on my list as a destination for a walk. I’d devised a lengthy route where I could walk over to the falls via the Roman road and then return via the coastal path. However, after a long hard walk up into the mountains the day before I decided to cut out a few miles by taking the bus to Abergwyngaren – the bus stop was almost opposite where I was staying.

I walked through the village and then after the falls car park I walked through the woods before joining the path along the valley that led to the falls.

It’s about 1 1/2 miles from the car park to the falls, passing several sites of Pre-historic settlements from teh Bronze and Iron ages.

Excavated Iron Age hut circle

Then, there are the falls just a short distance away.

There are actually two falls – Rhaeadr Fawr and Rhaeadr Bach, the easy route leading to the former.

Rhaeadr Fawr

I stopped for a short while to take in the view of the water cascading 37 metres down from the hanging valley of Cwm yr Afon Goch, before crossing over the wooden bridge spanning the river to take in the view from the other side.

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Another visitor enjoying the sunshine

A large proportion of visitors will return by retracing their steps back to the car park but there’s another option. Following the path from the bridge there’s a route that passes Rhaeadr Bach and then goes up over the moors before descending back down to the village.

Turning a corner Rhaeadr Bach was revealed. I thought that these falls which tumbled down the mountainside in a series of cascades were more interesting than the more popular (and more accessible) Rhaeadr Fawr.

I carried on along the path which looped round to the north climbing up the hill side above the valley, passing a couple of DofE exhibition groups (yes, it was that time of the year!).

Looking back there was a great view of both falls and the slopes of the Carneddau.

Height was gained gradually opening up views over the valley

and, eventually, over the sea

Looking back across to the mountains, the weather was quite different tan over the sea

My route now took me down a steep path back to the village. The picture shows how much height was gained on the return leg

Reaching the village I stopped for an ice cream and then took the minor road under the Expressway towards the coast where I joined the coastal path to walk back towards Llanfairfechan

This stretch of the coastal path passes through the Traeth Lafan Nature Reserve which stretches along the intertidal sand and mud-flats along the Menai Straits between Bangor and Llanfairfechan

I reached  Morfa Madryn and then continued, retracing my route from a few days before.

The weather was much brighter this time

Looking inland

Approaching Llanfairfechan

I walked along the prom before climbing up the hill along Station Road, turning right at the crossroads for the last half mile or so back to my accommodation.

A walk along the cliffs

Last Monday, before setting off on the long drive home, we took a couple of hours to go for a walk on the cliffs north of Whitburn near Souter lighthouse.

The lighthouse opened in 1871 and was the first in the world with an electrical powered lamp. It was decommissioned in 1988 – but not before the foghorn kept me awake during my first visit to Whitburn, when it operated throughout a foggy night, while we were staying at J’s auntie’s house (the house where she was born!).

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Battered by the sea and the elements, the cliffs are eroding, a process being accelerated by climate change. Since we were last here, sections of the coastal path have been diverted due to safety concerns

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The cliffs are home to sea birds, including Kittiwakes, Fulmar, Cormorants, Shags and Guillemots.

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To the south of the lighthouse, the coastal path descends and there is access to a small cove known as the Wherry, a popular local recreation spot in the past when fishing boats were kept in and launched from the cove.

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There’s a lot of history in the area. Although today the coast between Whitburn and South Shields are owned by the National Trust the top of the cliffs is a pleasant lawned area not that long ago they were dominated by industry with a coalmine (Whitburn colliery) lime kilns and a railway running along the top of the cliffs. There’s no sign today of the mine, (where my wife’s grandfather used to work) but the old lime kiln just over the coast road still remains as a reminder of the industrial past.

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The Marsden Banner Group have some good information on the history of the colliery and the village on their website.

Last day on Anglesey

The Wednesday of our holiday turned out as forecast – wet and windy. So it was a day for staying in, relaxing, catching up on some reading and, at least for one of us (not me!) watching the French Open tennis on the TV. Thursday was very different – a bright sunny day.

We’d thought of driving off to somewhere else on the island, but instead decided we’d repeat our walk along the coast to Moelfre and see if we could get a bite to eat in the cafe or pub.

After the rain on Wednesday, the path down to the beach across the fields was muddy and slippy inplaces, but we were wearing our boots so that wasn’t a major problem.

When we reached the beach, unlike previous days, the tide was in. And, unlike Saturday, the sea was calm.

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Traeth Lligwy with the tide in

We followed the same route as Saturday but here’s a few pictures, this time with a calmer sea.

Here’s Porth Forllwyd. With the tide in there was water in the little harbour

and there were a couple of fishermen perched precariously on the rocks

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The pebbly beach

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Getting close to Moelfre now. There was a good view across the calm sea to Snowdonia. There was some rain falling over there.

Moelfre is an old fishing community but depends on tourism these days. It’s a small village, with not a lot there, but it does have a cafe, a pub, a chippie and a siop (Welsh spelling!)

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On a sunny day the cafe was quite busy, but we did manage to get a table outside on the terrace and enjoyed a drink and sandwich after logging in and ordering our selection from the menu via a website – a precaution against you know what. It was still possible, however, for staff to take orders.

After finishing our meal we had a stroll around the village, and then set back retracing our steps along the coastal path to LLigwy beach and then back along the quiet lanes to our accommodation.

We had a relaxing evening then it was up early on the Friday morning to pack , tidy up and load our stuff into the car as we had to leave by 9:30. It was a grotty, morning so we decided to set of back for home. Our options for stopping off on the way home were limited, anyway due to restrictions that had been implemented the day before along most of our route through North Wales.

It had been a good week’s break. The weather had been kind to us, with just a couple of grey, wet days and on one of them I was able to get out in the morning. We chose our week well for the the weather but also because just 2 weeks after returning home, as we live in Greater Manchester we aren’t allowed to travel to Wales 😦

Coastal path to Traeth Dulas

The second day of our holiday the wind had dropped and we were greeted by a fine sunny morning. So the boots were back on and we were off down the path through the fields for another walk on the coastal path, this time heading north towards Traeth Dulas.

The tide was out again when we reached Traeth Lligwy

Off we set. the temperature was just right – neither too hot nor too cold and we were walking in t-shirts for most of the afternoon.

The geology was quite different than when we walked south to Moelfre. That way was dominated by Carboniferous limestone whereas heading north the rocks were predominantly sandstone and shale, deposited in a semi-arid, sub-tropical environment millions of years ago.

We soon reached a concrete lookout post up on the cliff looking over the sea. I reckon this was a remnant from WW2 as it would overlook the shipping route into Liverpool.

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The path descended down to a sand and shingle cove before climbing back up on the low cliffs.

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As the wind had dropped, the sea was calmer than the day before. We had a brief walk on the sand, inspecting the variety of pebbles that were washed up on thebeach.

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Looking south from the beach with the Great Orme and the northern Snowdonia mountains visible on the horizon

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Back up on the cliffs

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I’d brought my long range lens with me so zoomed in on the tower on Ynys Dulas.

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Carrying on the path, down below was Traeth yr Ora. This fantastic beach is only accesible via the coastal path or from the sea – there’s no road or car parks nearby. It was almost deserted except for a small number of people.

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Looking down to the beach from the north.

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We diverted of the coastal path which swung inland and around the Dulas bay / estuary. We carried on a permissive path along a headland which overlooked the beach and the bay. We spotted a couple of fishermen – I don’t think it was Whitehead and Mortimer though.

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The tide was still well out and the Dulas Bay was almost dry. We could see the wreck of a large boat resting on the sand. I wonder whether it was wrecked or just deserted?

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The path looped back from the headland and we retraced our steps along the coastal path back toward Lligwy.

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We stopped for a while to take a break at this rather attractive carved bench which overlooked the sea.

Interesting rock formations.

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We arrived back at Traeth Lligwy. We fancied a brew but the cafe was busy – there was a lengthy queue and all the seating was taken so we decided on a walk along the beach, returning after half an hour or so when the cafe was a lot quieter.

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Another good coastal walk on a perfect day for walking.

Traeth Lligwy to Moelfre by the Coastal Path

The first morning of our holiday, on Saturday, we were greeted by a fine sunny day with a stiff breeze. So after breakfast we got our boots on and set off to take a walk along the coastal path.

First of all we needed to get down to the sea. We could either walk along a minor road, or take a path through the fields. We decided on the latter. It took us across fields and wodland, under a tunnel of trees

and heathland

It took about 20 minutes to reach the beach at LLigwy. The tide was out revealing an expanse of fine red sand.

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Looking over to the north east we could see a tower standing on the small island of Ynys Dulas. At first we thought it was a lighthouse but a quick check on the internet revealed that it was a shelter, built in 1842, for stranded sailors wrecked on the rocky shoreline.

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A couple more views over the beach, looking back as we set off over the low cliffs, following the coastal path towards Moelfre.

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There was stiff breeze resulting in a rough sea with waves breaking on the rocks below

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After a while the path cut inland a short distance as access to the private cove of Porth Forllwyd, with it’s small harbour, wasn’t allowed.

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I zoomed in on the little harbour, stranded high and dry at low tide.

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Carrying on, we could see the Great Orme in the distance

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We diverted off the path to take a look at the monument to the Royal Charter a steam clipper, sailing from Melbourne to Liverpool , which was wrecked on the rocky shoreline of Porth Alerth, which we had just passed, on 26 October 1859 during a major storm. despite the efforts of the people of Moelfre, only 41 of the 452 passengers, many of whom were returning with their finds in the Victorian goldfields, survived. It’s tragic to think that they had travelled all the way across half the word only to meet their end a short distance from their final destination.

Carrying along the path we approached the shingle beach of Porth Helaeth

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where visitors had created little pyramids of rocks and pebles.

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We approached the headland

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and spotted this installation so went for a closer look

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the art work, Bryn Wylfa (Lookout) , designed by a local artist, Keith Shone, is

a modern piece of work reflecting the island’s history – the three standing stones representing different periods of Ynys Mon, the prehistory, the bronze age and the influence of the Celts, while the stainless steel represents the industry and the modern age all set within circles of Anglesey marble, the geology of the land.

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From the headland we had a good view of the small island of Ynys Moelfre

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and across the sea to the mountains of Snowdonia

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The wavs were crashing on to the rocks below

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A little further on we reached the village of Moelfre, passing the lifeboat station where we deposited a small donation into the collection box.

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The coast of Anglesey is notorious for ship wrecks. Ships sailing to Liverpool pass the island (we saw quite few out on the horizon during our stay) and many have met their end on the rocky shoreline.

A short distance from the lifeboat station we reached the statue of local hero, Dic Evans, depicted looking out to sea in front of the RNLI exhibition centre. He was coxswain of the Moelfre lifeboat and played a leading role in rescues of of the Hindlea in 1959 and the Nafsiporos in 1966. He was awarded MBE and two RNLI Gold medals. Retiring in 1970,he passed away in 2001 at the grand old age of 96.

The statue was created by Sam Holland. On her website she tells us

cast in fine art bronze. He stands 7 ft high and weighs approximately 400 Kg. The plinth is a granite boulder kindly donated by Hogans’ Gwyndy Quarry. The plinth alone stands 5-1/2 ft high and weighs approximately six tonnes, making the sculpture an imposing 14 ft high.

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Following the Covid-19 protocol, we had a look around the RNLI information centre

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Reaching the village, we stopped at the local siop (Welsh spelling!) to purchase a few items. We’d intended to grab a bit to eat, but on a sunny Saturday the pub and the local cafe were busy with a queue outside, so we didn’t linger.

We took a different route to return to our accommodation, walking inland to take in some other points of interest. That’s the topic of my next post.

Back in Galway

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Last Sunday I travelled over to Galway on the west coast of Ireland for what has become an annual trip to the “City of the Tribes” to run a workshop at the University. It’s a great opportunity to see some friends who live there and mooch around what is probably my favourite Irish City.

Only problem is that due to having to fit into the course timetable my visits have all been in the winter – normally February, but this year I was there a little earlier in the year. I really must make an effort to get over there when the days are longer so I can see this stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way at its best. (I’ve promised my friend Veronica that I definitely will!)

I took the plane from my least favourite airport to Dublin and then caught the express coach over to Galway. It was windy leaving Manchester which meant a bumpytake off in the Aer Lingus twin engined turboprop. But the short flight wasn’t too bad. It was cold and sunny with blue skies in Dublin, but as we travelled west on the coach I could see clouds in the distance. By the time we arrived in Galway it was cold and grey and starting to rain. I checked into my hotel, and then set out for a mooch. It was just after 4 p.m and there was about an hour and a half to go before it would be dark so I wrapped up warm, and wandered across Eyre Square and down Shop Street and Quay Street down to the small harbour at the Claddagh (the streets in Galway do exactly “what they say on the tin”, by the way).

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I stopped and took in the view over to the picturesque row of houses known as the Long Walk and then decided to brave the weather and take a walk along the coast to the seaside suburb of Salthill.

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After walking to the end of the turbulent Corrib river, where it enters Galway Bay, I turned west and set out along the path that skirts the coast, passing Mutton Ireland and on towards Salthill. A little further on I diverted off the path to take a look at the Famine Ship Memorial in the Celia Griffin Memorial Park, Gratton Beach.

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As I carried on towards Salthill I passed a plaque, engraved with a poem – ‘The One-Armed Crucifixion’ -by Paul Durcan, accompanied by an engraving by John Behan. It’s part of the Galway Poetry Trail which I’d used as the basis of a walk around Galway last year, but I hadn’t come across this particular plaque as I hadn’t wandered out this far.

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There were a couple of more plaques further on along the coast road and I must have passed them, but wasn’t paying attention and missed them. Rather negligent of me, but there’s always next year!

Reaching Salthill I carried on along the coastal path, passing the Aquariam and various other seaside attractions in the small resort, until I reached the sea diving platform. It was dark by now so I couldn’t see too much and little point in trying to take photos! I wandered over close to the sea to listen to the waves breaking, and was startled by someone appearing from out of the sea. A brave soul, the water must have been freezing. I stopped for a little while peering into the dark and contemplating life and the universe as you do before turning round and retracing my steps back to the City.

Reaching the city centre it was time to get something to eat. In the past I’ve treated myself to fish and chips at McDonaghs chippie (it is the seaside, after all). But I’m trying to be good and lose a couple of kg, so resisted. Instead, I had a home made noodle dish in Xian Street Food, a rather nice little Chinese fast food place that had opened on Quay Street since my last visit.

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Afterwards I continued wandering, taking the path along the Corrib as far as the Cathedral before cutting back across to my Hotel on Eyre Square where I settled down in front of the TV to catch the latest episode of Les Miserables on the BBC. (Yes, I know I was in Ireland but the hotels usually have the main UK TV channels).

It had been a long day so it was time to turn in for the night. Another busy day to look forward to on Monday.

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Bondi to Coogee Walk

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I’m going to divert from writing up my recollections of our recent holiday in Australia in sequence. It’s grey, cold and miserable outside, and so I’m going to go through my pictures of hot, sunny beaches in Sydney to cheer myself up.  I think some of my regular readers feel the same!

To be honest, I’m not a beach person. I soon get bored sitting on the sand, even with a good book to read. But I enjoy walking along the coast – beaches, cliffs, salt marshes etc. That’s much more my style. So on the fourth day of our stay in Sydney, we caught the train from the Town Hall to Bondi Junction and then took the bus to the famous Bondi Beach, our plan being to take the coastal path over to Coogee. It’s a classic Sydney walk and one I’d done before.

On the previous occasion, it was a grey day when I set out, turning sunny as I got nearer to Coogee. This time it was hot and sunny from start to finish

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Setting off along the bay

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Some expensive houses up on the cliffs

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Looking along the coast

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Swimmers and surfers in the sea

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Around the headland we came to Tamarama Beach

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Where we stopped for a drink while enjoying the view

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A little further along we reached Bronte Beach

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Waverley Cemetery – unfortunately the residents can’t enjoy the view!

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Clovelly Beach, a safe beach for swimming

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Carrying on along the coast

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passing more expensive houses

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Approaching Coogee we passed the memorial to the Bali bomb victims, a number who came from this area

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Finally we arrived at Coogee. Time for an ice cream!

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Coastal walk from Lyme – Charmouth, Golden Cap and Stonebarrow

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It was a beautiful morning on the Tuesday of our week in Lyme Regis as we set out to conquer the Golden Cap, the highest point on the south coast of England. It’s on the South West Coastal path and is clearly visible across the bay from Lyme – at least on clear days.

The coast around Lyme Bay is very unstable and landslips in recent years have meant that the Coastal Path route has been diverted in-land between Lyme and Charmouth (much of it along relatively busy roads) and also between Charmouth and Stonebarrow. However, we managed to find ways of avoiding walking on he tarmac.

By choosing our departure time carefully we were able to walk along the beach from Lyme to Charmouth. Consulting the tide tables on the web we reckoned that leaving around 11, with the tide falling (low tide was about 1 p.m.), would work well for us. When the tide’s inn the route is cut off at a few points and dangerous. The walk across the beach was a bit hard going at times but we managed it in about 45 minutes at an easy pace.

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The beach here is a good hunting ground for fossils and a fossil walk was setting out at the same time as we left Lyme.

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Walking across the firm sand was easy, but there were a couple of fairly lengthy stretches which required “boulder hopping” which was trickier and harder going.

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But we soon made it to Charmouth where we could see a group of people in the shallows with nets, trying to catch specimens of local marine life.

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Looking back across the beach to Lyme

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The Charmouth Heritge Coast Centre is right on the sea front and provides information on fossils, fossil hunting and the local coastal and marine wildlife. It was set up in 1985 to encourage safe and sustainable collecting of Jurassic fossils from the local beaches.

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We didn’t have time to visit, but stopped at the cafe for cup of tea (only £1 for a generous mug) and a slice of very delicious Dorset apple cake with cream It disappeared too quickly for me to take a photo!

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There was another inland diversion of the coastal path from here but we could see a few people climbing the slope up the cliff so we decided to follow their example – not advisable really as the cliff top is unstable and drifting off it means trespassing on private land at some points.

Anyway, this is the view back towards Charmouth and Lyme as we climbed

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and down to the fine sandy beach under the cliffs to the east of Charmouth.

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We were heading up to Cain’s Folly, the seaward edge of Stonebarrow hill, a height of about 140 metres.

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It had been a gradual climb, nt too taxing but we had to lose most of the height as the path now started to take us down into the valley between Stonebarrow and our destination – the Golden Cap.

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And there it was, straight ahead. 191 metres (627 ft) high.

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It was a stiff climb with a particularly steep section for the final ascent on the summit

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but when we reached it the views, on a bright, clear sunny day, were fantastic.

Looking east towards Seatown, West Bay, Chesil beach and Portland

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Looking west towards Charmouh and Lyme Regis.

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We stopped for a while before setting off back down the hill.  To vary our route we cut inland towards the old hamlet of St Gabriel, past the ruined church

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and then into the small settlement. It was once a much larger village but landslips has meant that much of it has succumbed to the sea.

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We followed the track from the village up towards the main ridge of Stonebarrow. Looking back we could see the summit of Golden Cap.

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We walked along the ridge and then took the lane down into Charmouth (this was the official diverted Coastal Path route). By now the tide was coming in and it wouldn’t have been safe to cross the beach back to Lyme. We didn’t fancy a long, boring walk along the road (albeit with a short cut across the local golf course) so waited for the bus. A short ride, but expensive at £3-50 for an adult single fare.