Retracing Wales: Borth to Machynlleth
From Planet 224

The Wales Coastless Path

by Mike Parker

Seven o’clock on a muggy summer’s morning, and no one else gets off the train. Solitude is the perfect fit for this station, as it was nearly twenty years ago when I first moved to mid Wales and this was my stop. Sat on the single platform, facing an infinity of bog and sky, I’d imagine the bwrlwm of Birmingham New Street at the far end of the iron umbilical. It was a contrast that never failed to thrill, for like most Midlanders, on finally succumbing to the centrifugal force that flings us outwards, it propelled me to the edge, where terra firma crumbles into shingle. The signs say Borth; they could also decree Brum-on-Sea.

I soon headed inland, and do so again today. I want the coast path that spurns the sea, for here our liminal trail, all 870 miles of it, makes its deepest lunge for the interior as it winds towards the first crossing of the Dyfi at Machynlleth. A century ago, coast walkers could have taken the Ynyslas–Aberdyfi ferry, avoiding a thirty-mile detour. Today, I am glad of the detour.

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