North Wales to South Wales in six days… Ouch. (part 1)

We did it!

I am sitting in my house very comfortably, milling over the events of the last seven days. On Friday morning, I packed my bag for the hike, and went to work as normal. By 6pm, I was well on my way to Prestatyn, and not aware of where we were going to camp for the night. The following six days were a blend of kindness, frustration, aches, pains and fortunate weather which resulted in us staggering to the finish desperate for some warmth and well deserved rest.

The evening before the first day was full of high spirits. I’ve never been wild camping before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. We headed out of Prestatyn in the fading light and walked about three miles before we found a suitable field en route to pitch up our tent out of sight. The sleep left me on edge, I spent the night expecting the landowner to find us and move us on at any point. Before we knew it, the 6am alarm woke us up and we were packed up and off, walking towards the next camping point in the dark, just as the sun started coming up. This time for getting up set the standard for the following six nights.

Initially, gentle hills over to Bodfari allowed us to stroll over to the town, optimistically planning further adventures once this one was done and dusted. One of our main problems we encountered in North Wales was the lack of businesses. On our way to Bodfari, we passed through Rhuallt. Rhuallt had one pub marked on the map, where we were hoping to pick up some supplies, having forgot to bring matches for our cooker. The pub had recently closed down. In Bodfari, the map led us to expect a Post Office and two pubs. Only one pub remained open. Fortunately, they managed to find some matches for us. This was a common problem in North Wales, and many of the people we spoke to were sad to discuss this topic. Businesses closing is a problem everywhere throughout the UK, but in such remote areas, it is killing the communities, who now have to travel tens of miles for a pub, or a shop. It was a concern for us too, as we were intending to restock at shops, and the lack of them meant we had to think about how long our food would last.

Shortly after Bodfari, we hit the Clwydian mountain range. Sharp climbs and descents taught us a harsh lesson. Trying to cover thirty miles in one day is hard enough on flat ground, it becomes a real challenge on the hills. On the stunning day it was, we walked passed many people parking up, climbing one hill and heading home. The challenge of climbing them all in one day really got to us and we found ourselves pushing hard to make it over the hills. As it was, we made it off the range and staggered into the comforting arms of the Clywd Gate restaurant – a place far too classy for two weary travellers! At 7pm, the sun had well and truly gone down, so the only thing left for us to do was wander over to the nearby woods and find some space to pitch the tent. It’s not the most comfortable sleep – head resting on a tree root! Being about 5 miles from our target, we knew a greater effort was required the next day, so yet again the alarm was set and we headed off early. (continued in part two)