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 Wales > Walks in Wales  >   Walking in North Wales, a walk from Old Colwyn to Llanddulas beach and returning via Penmaenhead

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the hairy legged hiker walking in WalesWhere is it ? Colwyn Bay, (Old Colwyn), north Wales.
How long will it take ? 3 to 4 hours, Distance 6 miles / 10 km
What's the attraction ? historic location ; sea views ; view quarry boats ; sea birds ; panoramic views of Bay of Colwyn ; dolos.
Tip : Check the tide tables for options for this walk. Check the BBC tide tables here > High tides offer the chance to view the quarry boats loading, whereas low tide enables the first section of the walk, Old Colwyn to Llanddulas, to be undertaken on the sands. If in any doubt take the cycle-path option.
Rating : This is an easy walk but with a long drag of a hill on the return walk.
Car Parking : available on the Promenade (free) in Old Colwyn, Colwyn Bay.
This could be called Traitor's Walk. Walk the route where the King of England was betrayed. In 1399 King Richard II of England was ambushed by Henry Bolingbrook's men at Penmaenhead and taken to Flint Castle. Richard was deposed and after incarceration in Pontefract Castle died in mysterious circumstances. The traitor Bolingbrook became King Henry IV of England. The act of treachery on Penmaenhead was to fan the flames of Owain Glyndwr's rebellion that spread throughout Wales and the border lands causing turmoil for the next decade and more, and ultimately to the Wars of the Roses.

Directions : [ Map of  Old Colwyn to Llanddulas Walk location ]    Map opens in a new window
From Chester take the A55 to Old Colwyn, Colwyn Bay. Exit the expressway at junction 22. After the sliproad bear right toward the seafront and then right again for 1/2 mile to the Old Colwyn end of the promenade.

Enough with the history let's get on with the walk!

Penmaenhead and the north wales Cycle PathAfter parking the car on the promenade head east toward the Penmaenhead headland. The directions are very easy as all that is needed is to follow the markings for the North Wales Cycle Path on the promenade. The first section (the Tan y Lan section) continues parallel with the North Wales Railway and the A55 Expressway before the railway disappears into the tunnel below Penmaenhead, with the pebbled beach of Old Colwyn on the left.

As you pass the "rainbow bridge", the footbridge that crosses the A55, you will see to your left an old quarry man's hut. These huts were used to protect the quarrymen engaged in blasting the limestone from the cliff face of penmaenhead in days gone by. Some miner's cottages are still to be found in the lane behind Tan y Lan known as, unsurprisingly, Miner's Lane.

Back to the walking, and as you proceed along the path you will see further evidence of the limestone quarrying with two wooden jetties reaching out to sea. At high tides you may see the quarry boats being Wooden jetties or piers to load the limestone to the boatsloaded with limestone aggregate, whereas on quiet days you may see the local bird life seemingly taking control of the jetties. What with the jetties and the expressway close by you would think that this semi industrial environment would discourage nature. But no, nature fights back! The bird life, particularly the sea birds have increased since the construction of the expressway and if you are lucky you may see oystercatchers, dunlins, terns, grebe, goldeneye, or cormorants.

You will also notice another strange creature alongside the path, or rather creatures, plural. In fact there are thousands of concrete anchor type structures known as "dolos" lining the bank that supports the expressway. There were 20,000 dolos used in the construction of this section of the A55 with each one weighing some 5 Tons. They are designed to protect the coastline from the forces of the Irish Sea, and to date seem to have done their job pretty well.

Because of the jetties what would have been a flat coastal path has a short sharp rise as the path has to circumvent the conveyor belts feeding the aggregate to the boats. But what goes up must come down The dolos line the pathway protecting the coastand there is a nice downhill section on to Llanddulas beach. Continue past the car parks and there is a nice picnic area on the banks of the Afon (river) Dulas.

To continue the walk, however, we need to exit the cycle path at this point and thus we turn right on reaching the Afon Dulas. Follow the lane round to the A547 or the "old road". Continue uphill on the A547, it is a bit of a drag but there are interesting views of the old quarries to the left side of the road half way up the hill. And, as with most climbs, you have the reward of great views from the top of the hill. While taking in the panoramic views, which include the Little Orme, the Great Orme and the Bay of Colwyn take time to reflect on the treachery that took place on Penmaenhead some 600 years ago when King Richard was taken into custody on this very headland. Wales was cast into war and the Welsh people suffered decades of fear, famine and terror.

The Bay of Colwyn viewed from PenmaenheadFrom the headland the route continues down hill as far the steps that lead from the A547 to Miner's Lane below. Continue down the lane and cross over the rainbow bridge rejoining the cycle path. Turn left for the return walk to Old Colwyn promenade.

(An alternative route to the finish is the stone steps starting at the top of Penmaenhead and leading down to the Rainbow Bridge, but these are well worn and are not recommended unless you are very sure of foot.)

Refreshments are available in the Kiosks on the seafront promenade between Old Colwyn and Colwyn Bay pier. Toilets are sited on Llanddulas beach and on Colwyn Bay promenade (close to the turn off for Eirias Park)

Please -- click on the pictures -- for enlarged pictures of the Walk from Old Colwyn, through Llanddulas to Penmaenhead, Wales, UK.

Anglers fishing from the promenade in Old Colwyn Llanddulas jetty, where at high tides the boats load up with Limestone aggregate. A few of the 20,000 concrete dolos are in the foreground
Anglers fishing from the promenade in Old Colwyn. Cod, eels, dabs, mackerel and Sea Bass if they are lucky. Bryn Euryn hill and Colwyn Bay pier in the background
Llanddulas jetty, where at high tides the boats load up with limestone aggregate. A few of the 20,000 concrete dolos are in the foreground
Cormorants perched on the jetty at Llanddulas   The Afon Dulas, river Dulas at Llanddulas, and cycle path
Cormorants perched on the jetty at Llanddulas
The Afon Dulas,( river Dulas) at Llanddulas, and cycle path

© All pictures copyright Bernard Wellings


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