A Diversion from Gardening: A Hobbit Walk on the Wales Coast Path

The renowned garden photographer, long distance walker, even more bad-tempered husband of the bad-tempered Anne Wareham and general all-round ok-fella, Charles Hawes has a walking blog which extols the joys of the Wales Coast Path, among other walking routes.

So far, he’s walked from Chepstow to Machynlleth. But not all of that distance has been on the official path. Apart from regular detours resulting from erroneous map reading, there are bits which he deliberately missed. Such a bit is the subject of this post. Well, it’s a bit of a bit really but my walking time was limited because I’d left the kettle to boil.

Charles’ dedicated and loyal readers look forward to his regular Sunday morning posts covering the latest stage of his walk: if we take in all the links he so generously provides, we can while away a nice hour or so (pre-armed with a pot of coffee and lots of cake). But he has, somewhat arbitrarily, decided to take a week off. So, being the generous type, I thought I’d fill the gap.

The news that the Rest Bay boardwalk in Porthcawl had been damaged in the recent storms, having not that long ago been damaged in an arson attack, coupled with the revelation that the Bridgend County stretch of the Coast Path accounted for a quarter of all the path visitors, inspired me. I’ve called my walk “A Hobbit Walk” because it was a there and back again one in the village of Pyle.

It was but a short distance from my front door and round a couple of corners, avoiding a pile of horse dung in the last few feet, until I reached my starting point.

A lamp-post with the sticker on it – shows I’m on the official route, see?


If I was going that way, which I’m not, I’d end up in Port Talbot. Don’t you like the contrast between the winter colours and the rust on the bridge?

Turning 180 degrees to face south, I started walking along this lovely stretch of the coast path, avoiding various deposits of animal dung on the way. The way passes a petrol station (which also sells a variety of snack products if you’re hungry but has no public toilets) before hitting your first real obstacle – overgrowth.

Killing two birds with one stone – in one photo you see the overgrowth and glimpse the petrol station.

But once past this, you enjoy a pleasant stroll (watching for more animal dung and a very uneven surface) alongside a short stretch of the A48 trunk road until you reach the parting of the ways, where the official path turns to the right at a very confusing sign.

Why is this sign confusing? Look carefully at the different angles of the three signs.

If you intend to continue your walk to the coast (some 20 minutes brisk walk away) take the wider lane to the right; the left fork along the signed “public footpath” will get you there eventually via a more roundabout route through more built up areas and eventually along a very windy, narrow and pedestrian-risky, pavement-less, busy country road.

See? You need to take the wider right lane, not the public footpath on the left. And I’ve got some nice sun/shadow elements in the photo to make Charles proud of me (not).

Nearby is the parish church of St James. This is worth a second glance and the careful observer will notice that it’s sort of upside down. Usually a building of this age will have the largest stones at the bottom and the smallest ones at the top. But legend has it that the church was lovingly moved from the more coastal Kenfig Dunes area where used to exist the town of Kenfig. As the encroaching sand buried the town, the townsfolk upped sticks and moved inland, demolishing and rebuilding their beloved church in its current location. As they demolished top-down, the smallest stones were moved and put in place first.

It’s a church. What more can I say?

But this was the point where I turned around on the “back again” stretch of my walk. For a bit of variety, I crossed the road and walked back on the other side.

The return on the other side of the road. Note the conveniently placed bench should the walk have tired you at all.

This brought me back past the local pub, known as “The Tap”. (Good food with some excellent evening meal offers such as two meals for £12, including a 16oz gammon steak or an 8oz rump steak with all the trimmings but drinks are a bit pricey.) Some people confuse The Tap with a much larger establishment that used to exist not far away but “The Inn at Pyle” offered accommodation (and had some quite famous guests).

The local. Not sure if the landlord hasn’t got round to taking the sign down yet or is getting in early for next Christmas.

And so, at the conveniently placed pedestrian crossing, I returned to the official side of the road and ended my walk, returning home for a refreshing mug of coffee and some cake.

The conveniently placed crossing. You can also see the lamp-post from which I started this walk.
And there is a conveniently placed seat and shelter right by that crossing in case you’re tired and it’s raining.

This walk is about a quarter of a mile each way so should be well within the capabilities of the average couch potato.

Charles seems to consider the inclusion of a pic of sheep to be essential. Who am I to disappoint.

4 thoughts on “A Diversion from Gardening: A Hobbit Walk on the Wales Coast Path

  1. I love this on so many levels! To start with doing a micro-walk is a fun idea and could be a whole new genre for the hard-of-walking community. Secondly I love all the references to me, natch. I don’t know that you fully made up for my deviation but we’ll pass over that. But you might like to consider a train ride to Pembroke and do the Pembroke to Pembroke Dock stretch. Great pics. Loved that tree shadow on the path. I can even make out a sense of parody of my style throughout. But where’s the sheep?

    1. Would I try to parody you? The next time you have a week off I’ll try harder. And the sheep is there at the end of the post. It’s appropriately a hiking sheep too!

  2. Hope you didn’t get too tired by all this exertion! What an exciting life you lead though must admit I prefer Charles’ walks …. But your pics are definitely the best and most enlightening! !

    1. Well the dicky leg starts aching after about half a mile and, if I don’t rest then, it’ll give way under me a bit further on and I fall over. In my next thrilling installment, I carry on off-piste (past the church) to the local garage where the car is getting a service. I’m even thinking of a special walk where I drive somewhere, park the car and then walk around it. Very original stuff, wot?

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