Day forty-nine!! YES!! That means we will complete our entire loop of mainland Britain’s coast today. We are both feeling super excited!
Photo of the day
Driving on Uphill Beach
From Bridgwater we made our first coastal stop of the day at Burnham-on-Sea. As we arrived the sun was just rising over the local sailing club & the mouth of the River Brue.
The sailing club walls, with the colourful Burnham-on-Sea mural detracting from the security atop!
The warm morning light gave Burnham-on-Sea’s beach a deep bronze glow, contrasting with the bright white Low Lighthouse…
…and behind that, the High Lighthouse was towering above Burnham-on-Sea’s coastal houses.
Just outside Burnham-on-Sea, the 13th century St Mary’s Church at Berrow. As we wandered around, we realised the church had flood protection…
…as we walked behind the church, we realized why. Just the low-lying Burnham and Berrow Golf Course were separating it from Berrow Beach and the Bristol Channel. In the distance you can also just make out Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station, an area that we skipped at the end of yesterday’s journey.
We tiptoed down Berrow Beach.
Groyne posts lined (fairly) neatly down the beach. There’s always one annoying one out of place 😉
A solitary fisherman was patiently fishing in rather rough and chocolaty brown looking sea. Brean Down and its Fort in the background.
Driving past many static caravans hugging the coast, we arrived at the National Trust’s Brean Down. Despite the sunshine it was very cold and windy at the top of the limestone peninsula.
Looking back inland along the ancient field system to Weston-super-Mare to the north and Berrow to the south.
On the northern side of Brean Down, after quite a detour inland, we arrived back at the coast at Uphill Beach, with Weston-super-Mare’s Grand Pier coming into view. The beach was busy with kite-surfers.
Look how murky and churned-up that Bristol Channel water is!
Driving on Uphill Beach. In the distance you can just about see Steep Holm island off Brean Down in the middle of the Bristol Channel.
Pastel coloured beach huts lining Royal Sands as we drove into Weston-super-Mare.
Driving alongside the seafront promenade past Weston-super-Mare’s Grand Pier entrance. Like so many piers, it had been badly damaged by fire in 2008. After a whopping £39-million restoration it was reopened two years later.
Meanwhile further along the seafront, the Birnbeck Pier was looking a little sorry for itself. The closed and deteriorating pier is unique in that it links the mainland to an island (Birnbeck).
There was a small cafe and information hut near the original pier entrance. The volunteers explained the several regeneration attempts of the pier since it closed in 1994. But so far sadly nothing has come to fruition.
As we continued along the coast we stopped briefly at Sand Bay, with views north to the National Trust’s Sand Point.
The rather elegant Clevedon Pier, originally opened in 1869 as a landing for ferries crossing the Severn Estuary to South Wales.
If you had mentioned Portishead to us before this trip, we would have thought you were talking about the 90’s band. Anyway, it turns out the band Portishead was named after the place, and here we are! The Battery Point Lighthouse at the end of the esplanade.
Around the corner from Battery Point, we arrived at the surprisingly large and busy Portishead Quay Marina.
Before crossing over the River Severn, we decided to drive inland to another National Trust property, Tyntesfield House and Estate. The Gibbs family had made their wealth in the guano trade (bird excrement fertiliser). The Victorian Gothic mansion looked stunning in the afternoon sun.
A couple of handsome horses were pulling a cart up the estate driveway.
As we drove back along A403 and the Severn Estuary, we struggled to see anything worth taking a picture of. The area was mainly one long industrial estate. So we continued on our way crossing over the Severn Bridge….
… and back into Wales (sorry a little blurry as we drove by).
The north side of the estuary felt far more rural than the south. After a few little dead-end detours, we finally made a stop near Uskmouth Power Station, for a short walk at the RSPB’s Newport Wetlands. Although we didn’t see much bird-life today, we did see the East Usk Lighthouse peeping over the nature reserve.
The afternoon sun briefly came out again, illuminating the wetland meadows.
As we crossed the River Usk, the unusual Newport Transporter Bridge came into view. It was completed in 1906 based on a french design. It solved the problem of crossing the fast Usk currents, enabled tall ships to pass under, and came in on budget.
The ‘ferry’ is cleverly suspended like a gondola from a high level boom, and can carry 6 cars and 120 people every 7.5 minutes. OK that’s us geeked-out for the day 🙂
Leaving Newport for Cardiff, we made our final National Trust country house stop at the Morgan family’s Tredegar House. We have definitely squeezed every penny out of our National Trust membership on this coastal road trip 🙂 The volunteers were all in costume and the house was all decked out for Christmas inside, maybe a little too much. It reminded us of our Christmas visit to the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Florida a few years ago – the decorations there were so OTT!
Our final stop of the day and road-trip! Back in Cardiff Bay, we had celebratory cappuccino and a wander around the Wales Millennium Centre (AKA Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru). The impressive arts and entertainment venue that was completed in 2009.
The centre’s sweeping staircase, one day we’ll have to come back for a performance.
Yay! We did it. Back where we started 49-days ago! That’s the entire British mainland coastal road trip completed. What an amazing journey! Go on, give it a go yourself… 🙂
We started day seven of our trip by going back west a few miles to Llandudno before continuing east out of Wales into England. Some typical and some not so typical British seaside sights today.
Photo of the day
Early Sunday morning at Llandudno Pier, eerily empty. Everyone was clearly still in bed, as they knew the heavens were about to open.
Colourful hotels at the end of the Llandudno promenade. The start of the Great Orme hill and headland behind. We then drove around the Great Orme Heritage Coast loop, would have been great views if it it hadn’t been pouring down with rain.
We looped back to Colwyn Bay where we stayed the night before. The promenade and road along the sea front was closed off due to an ongoing waterfront improvement project. In the distance we could see the pier, which looked in a sorry state… hopefully that is part of their improvement project too.
The lifeguards were having a peaceful day at a very quiet Prestatyn Beach. Wind turbines off shore in the background, which became a surprisingly common sight on our coastal journey.
The Talacre Lighthouse at Point of Ayr. Abandoned, but looked great, even on a stormy morning.
Flint Castle with impressive views over the River Dee. We bumped into a lovely Canadian family that had also been staying at the same B&B as us near Cardigan, we had also bumped into them at Cilgerran Castle three days earlier… small world.
Crossing the River Dee over a rather striking Flintshire Bridge, flanked by electricity pylons. Blue sky starting to peep through the clouds…
The now disused Leasowe Lighthouse, not the most attractive lighthouse, but still striking with the blue sky behind.
The view from New Brighton out to the lighthouse and beyond to the cranes on the other side of the River Mersey.
One of the one hundred Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ statues, submerged in Crosby Beach. A bit spooky but very striking. Very cool to see in person.
A bit of beach marketing.
A lovely clean beach backed by sand dunes and pinewoods at the National Trust’s Formby Point. They’ve clearly struggled with beach erosion though, this looked like an old road or building that had collapsed in the beach and sea.
A Mr Whippy ice cream van finishing work for the day at Southport Beach.
A striking looking weather vane style fish sculpture on the Southport Promenade.
On our way to Preston for the night, we passed Marshside, with views across to Lytham St Ann’s, and Blackpool Tower ghost-like in the distance. A sneak preview of our trip tomorrow.
After beautiful weather on day five, day six started rainy and windy and continued most of the day. As today’s trip included Anglesey, the weather matched our expectations for the wind swept island… but we had fun nevertheless.
Photo of the day
Welcome to Caernarfon! Impressive castle but the verdict is out on the rest of the town. Though we did have a good coffee.
And the Merry-go-round Carousel in the market square brightened things up a bit.
It had to be done, first visit on Anglesey was to the the town with the longest place name in Europe and second longest in the world: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Which means even the train tickets have to be extra big.
…and the train station signs… etc etc… you get the idea 😉 Secretly I (Julian) was excited to visit, I had always wanted to since a kid. Check.
Next stop was Plas Newydd House & Gardens. The impressive interior is home to the largest canvas painting in the UK. We did take a picture of it, but we couldn’t get the whole painting in the shot, so best to just google it!
A bit of colour on a grey day in the Plas Newydd Garden.
Anglesey, west coast
Most of the west coast of Anglesey looked like this, wet, windy and stormy.
Struggling to get out to sea at Trearddur Bay, we watched a little longer, he capsized a minute later and gave up.
The rain stopped by the time we arrived at South Stack Lighthouse on Holy Island, also a RSPB bird sanctuary. We also tuned in to Irish radio and our mobile phones started trying to connect to Irish networks, you then realise how close you are to Ireland.
Great views of South Stack Lighthouse over some pretty severe cliffs. We walked a bit further on to also try and see North Stack Lighthouse, but the weather closed in and all we got was pictures of sea mist.
Following the northern and eastern coast of Anglesey, we ended up at Beaumaris Castle. Seemed one of the nicest towns on the island.
Beaumaris Pier, with seagulls hovering in the wind, almost in formation.
Back on the mainland we passed through Bangor to Conwy, and its grand 13th century Conwy Castle, before heading to Colwyn Bay for the evening.
Sunshine again! Best day of weather so far. On day five we drove the remaining part of the Welsh west coast, then looped around the Lynn Peninsula ending back at Porthmadog.
Photo of the day
Braich y Pwll
Lifeboat resting in the shallow and still early morning waters of Barmouth.
Old meets new at Harlech Castle, with is modern bridge linked into the medieval fort.
The totally surreal village of Portmeirion. Created by Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. Weird but we kind of liked it.
The Central Piazza, but nothing is quite what it seems…
Yes, this is Wales..?!
Criccieth with the contrast between the trim colourful town houses and the headland with Criccieth Castle perched on top.
Abersoch, tide is out again…
Plas yn Rhiw
The blooming cottage garden at the modest yet comfy Plas yn Rhiw House, another National Trust property.
The former fishing village of Aberdaron with its bay and beach, plus car park concertinaed in this panorama shot.
Braich y Pwll
The most westerly point of Wales, with breathtaking views from the single track lane to the coastguard lookout at the top.
Hello from Braich y Pwll and the Irish Sea.
Braich y Pwll sheep enjoying the weather too.
Another National Trust stop at Porthor Beach on the north side of the Lynn Peninsula.
After trying to find Porthdinllaen precariously walking across a golf course, we turned back to the car park, and realized we could see it in the distance on the other side of the headland.
And in the final photo of the day, with the view to the east from Porthdinllaen across to Porthnefyn. We then headed back south to Porthmadog for the evening.
Today we are starting our journey near Cardigan then driving up to Dolgellau, about 130 miles. And yay!.. a sunny day 🙂
Photo of the day
Coastal Road Sheep
Being welcomed by this gentleman at Cilgerran Castle entrance.
St Dogmaels Abbey
A few minutes down the road we reached the remains of St Dogmaels Abbey. As well as castles, and lighthouses, lots of abbeys on this trip too!
Slightly worrying sign whilst parking near Cardigan.
The Welsh love their colourfully painted houses, this was on a side street behind the castle. And yes, we did wear cardigans in Cardigan.
We enjoyed a picnic, with great views overlooking Aberporth bay.
A curious telephone at Penbryn Beach.
And families enjoying the golden sands at Penbryn Beach, protected by the National Trust. Free parking at the top of the hill if you are National Trust member.
Again colourful Welsh houses at New Quay, we missed the turning for the town, so stopped further along the coast at Llanina Woods. A muddy car park, with short walk through the woods to the pebbly and sandy beach.
Making the most of our National Trust membership, driving slightly inland to visit the Llanerchaeron Estate. Understated interior and beautiful gardens.
A little potter around the gardens.
..and time for coffee.
Then back to the coast to the colourful harbour houses of Aberaeron.
Coastal Road Sheep
Sheep along the coastal road.
Coastal Road Drivers
On the road again…
The remains of Aberystwyth Castle on the sea front. Aberystwyth was grander than we had expected with its long promenade.
Views from Aberdyfi across the calm evening waters of the Dyfi estuary to Ynyslas.
Jarno checking out the view from Tywyn promenade.
Woolly street art over the bridge at Bryncrug.
The view over houses and woodland to Snowdonia.
Coastal Road from Llangelynin to Fairbourne
And setting sun.
Off on our third day of travel. We will cover about 130 miles of coastal roads today. A grey sky, but we’ll bring some sunshine.
Photo of the day
Colour and thoughtful art above the industrial landscape of Milford Haven.
Welsh summer, heavy rain at Dale Beach – time for a coffee to wake us up!
Stunning views, steep cliffs and choppy waters at St Ann’s High Lighthouse.
Walkers at the National Trust’s Martin’s Haven.
And here are two of those walkers with Wooltack Point and Midland Isle behind us.
Skin Care Cymru’s alternative Welsh flag: ‘Don’t Be A Lobster’, flying above the coastguard’s hut at Martins’s Haven.
Julian stayed here at St Brides with his family 10 years ago, so was keen to visit again.
The cute little village of Little Haven, with 30min free parking, just enough time to do a mini tour.
And the view west from the top of the short cliff path walk above Little Haven. Lush grass clinging to the rocky cliffs.
We thought this Pembroke single track road was funny, double yellow lines on both sides, no chance to pass someone never mind parking!
The tidy, wide and flat sands of Newgale Beach.
Looking down over Solva Bay with its boats waiting for the tide to return.
St Davids Cathedral in Britain’s smallest city. Really impressive, except for the coffee in the Cathedral Cafe, too hot!
The beautifully painted ceiling of St Davids.
We took the wrong turn looking for Strumble Head, and ended up with this amazing view west from Pwll Mawr.
Getting addicted to lighthouses now… took 100 pics of Stumble Head Lighthouse in the fresh and bright late afternoon sunshine.
And again stunning views west along the Pembrokeshire coast from Strumble Head.
And the final stop of the day in Fishguard, before heading to our B&B for the night near Cardigan.