Have you ever gone somewhere very familiar and suddenly discovered a part of it you never knew existed? I had that happen during my pilgrim walk around Bangor, when we discovered Ogwen Trail. And it happened again, later, during a walk toward Llandudno.
It started when my parents and I decided we wanted to go south, along the Conwy river, to pick up a trail for a long walk. Due to a bus leaving ahead of schedule, our plans were thwarted and we had to quickly come up with a new plan. We were standing near the train station in Llandudno Junction, and I had the bright idea to use a collection of geocaches as the inspiration for a new walking route.
We walked through a neighborhood in Llandudno Junction, out a well-travelled road that I’d previously only seen from the passenger seat of the car, and down a small street with no sidewalks. We zipped across a busy roundabout with fast-moving traffic and found ourselves on the drive up to a school. We briefly thought we’d hit a dead end, when we saw a sign making it clear that we couldn’t cross the school’s property, until we discovered a small trail winding into the woods running alongside the school.
After finding two geocaches, we were ready to continue on in a loop to find a series of half a dozen or so more. This meant leaving the woods and making our way across a field. As we went, we noticed that the vegetation was getting taller and the ground was getting less stable … muddy from the rain and pocked with holes from the hooves that had clearly traversed the field. I finally hit a point — so close to the next geocache! — when I admitted it just wasn’t worth it. For me, geocaching is the excuse for wandering, and if the wandering isn’t fun there’s no point in continuing, so we turned around and made our way back to the woods and the trail.
We wound our way up a hill and out of the woods. We sat in the midst of bright yellow flowers to eat our picnic lunch, looking out over the surrounding area. We could see the Little Orme just to our left, and out to the sea, as well as south toward the Conwy river valley. I knew there were big hills in the middle of this peninsula, but didn’t realize the views were quite so panoramic!
There was also healthy debate about exactly which towns and other landmarks we were seeing. It was all in good fun, but I can tell you … I’m sure I was always right. 😉
Finally we turned north and picked our way down from the hill toward Llandudno. This was an interesting process. The difference between what various maps and walking apps consider a trail and what we consider a suitable place to walk can be varied. We rejected one main path because it was slick and steep; another because it seemed to end in someone’s backyard; and ended up meandering a bit before taking a trail that had been previously used by sheep. At some point you have to give up and hope that’s just mud on your shoes.
The view of the Great Orme from that angle, especially shrouded in mist, was breathtaking. By this point I was also looking forward to a stop at Providero (my favorite coffee shop!). But first we had to get down to the promenade, where I discovered I may be good at reading maps and wayfinding, but I have zero intuitive sense of direction. Either that or this peninsula is bound to confuse anyone. I was so sure that, as we walked toward Llandudno, we must be heading generally north. A compass on the promenade (and confirmation from my map) disabused me of that notion, though:
So instead of walking north into the sea, we headed west to the shops and enjoyed our coffee and cake as a reward for the longer-than-planned walk. Oh, the places you’ll go …