Joy, delight, and disaster!

Tuesday 21st June – St Brides to Marloes (plus the beach at Newgale)

Total Steps: 16,351– 8504 steps on the trail , 7807 off the trail

Total: 7.5 miles 3.9 on the trail, 3.6 of the trail

Running Total: 70.1 miles – 44.3 miles on the trail, 25.8 miles off

It was a warm start, and a long drive back to St Brides to start the next part of the trail. I decided to do the inland leg first on this walk, and to try to walk until it got too warm. I ended up on a very wiggly route along the coastal back lanes in the car, and I was ready to go touching the coast path touching point just after 9:30am

The inland stretch of this walk first past a functioning but locked church, and then was across active farm land (fortunately mainly arable). There was one field with bullocks right on the other side thankfully but also lots of active horse flies around fresh dung near the path. It was pretty delightful with different crops, and some sections with good borders awash with wild flowers. It was quiet too, I met 2 couples both of whom I met again on the cliffs doing the same circuit as me). There were kissing gates linking the fields with short link paths, and a couple of styles, one with stone steps up.

I ended up in Marloes, with the path coming out by the facilities, which was very convenient. I initially went the wrong way (though this did mean I saw the clock tower) and then realising my mistake walked through the village and a little beyond to where a path connected to the coast path. I set up a touching point on the coast path sign, and had worked out where to park the car for the next leg of the path. I was soon coming out by the black cliffs and found a perching point for morning coffee in a cove which was completely idyllic. I lingered a little as it was so pretty.

The first section of the cliff path, with clear seas, warm sunshine and redstone cliffs was reasonably straightforward as well as beautiful, once I had climbed up from the cove. I passed a potential marquee reception venue, and then the cliffs rolled along soon joining the wall of the St Bride’s estate. There was one higher section, which was a bit of a stretch in the heat, but then it continued in much the same vein, winding back round the headland.

The second section of the coast path was close to the wall and further away from the edge, allowing a wide expanse of grassy growth to slip away to the cliffs. As I rounded the second corner of the wall, I came across a suitable bench for a lunch stop. It was about then as I sat down, that my leg started to bother me. I ended up using the seat pad, as I thought it was the edge of the bench – but I now realise it was the bite on the back of my thigh I either picked up then or had picked up earlier and not noticed. (The pictures show the extent of St Brides bay I have walked on this trip!)

It was an easy amble back to the car from there, and St Brides was very busy. So I went back to New Gale to try and fill the gap in the trail (2 miles) on the beach. I did manage about a third of that but the tide was too far in. I left a touching point on a stone and thought I would be back. It was lovely to walk on the beach but my thigh was aching a bit! I had a pricy ice cream and came back to base camp.

I investigated my thigh, which was just rather red at that point, and as the evening progressed it got very sore. I tried both bite cream and savlon to soothe it, neither helped. After watching bake off the professionals, I took a much closer look at the back of my thigh (with a mirror and my phone as a torch) – the problem area was now about the size of a milk bottle top, and blistering, sore and warm. I was abit alarmed and rang NHS 111. I dozed and about 11:30, they rang back first and I was more alarmed that the sore area had grown and they instructed me to mark round it. They rang back again at 1:30 and prescribed some antibiotics to pick up in Haverfordwest in the morning and to rest it. I contemplated the NHS website on bites, and also concluded I needed to cover it – and would pick up something to do that with the prescription. I didn’t sleep well.

I can’t see me managing any more of the trail on this visit – so I will have to pick up the trail on another visit from the black cliffs near Marloes. It has been fantastic and I am amazed I have done as much as I have in view of the difficulties with my fitness and the walker bus driver shortages. In the circumstances to have added another 44 miles to my tally on the trail is good (and over 70 miles in total!). I have been very blessed with the weather and God’s good earth in all its beauty!

Joining the dots

Monday 20th June – Abereiddy to Solva (base camp)

Total Steps: 16,016 – 16,016 steps on the trail

Total: 7.4 miles 7.4 on the trail

Running Total: 62.6 miles – 40.4 miles on the trail, 22.2 miles off

Different start to the day, as I collected things I needed from the car, I saw a fox in the green space around complex containing base camp. The fox didn’t move when I first went out, but did move when I came back with my camera.

I then walked to the minimarket bus stop to catch the Fflesci bus. It had started to send me texts, but as I had had trouble with the booking, I could not make head nor tail of what the app was doing, I was a bit unsure about what would happen. Eventually the bus arrived, with the friendly Mike driving it. He explained lots of people found the app difficult to understand. We did 2 pick ups for shopping trips and it was good to see the care being taken. We then headed off for Abereiddy as I had booked and he dropped me at my last touching point – the Strumble Shuttle bus stop above the bay.

By the time I was ready to actually start walking it was 10:45am, and the weather was much warmer and the wind (alleluia!) had dropped. I briefly contemplated doing the coast path section, but decided my eccentric plan B was a safer option, so I started up the road, enjoying the views. I met a couple of people walking down the road, and we discussed the joyful warm weather. By a complex I saw a kestrel type bird of prey and later over the cricket field, and airfield a buzzard.

I got up to Berea and by this stage was looking for a place to have morning coffee. The chapel proved not to have any outside benches, so I continued onto a connecting side road (with grass up the middle in places). After about ¼ mile, I reached Llandigige Fawr. Fortunately there was a very pleasant cricket pitch with benches, ideal for my purpose and with great views across to the striking headlands behind St David’s.

It was warm going on the minor road, this time I saw a church which had definitely been repurposed. Then there was a very brief section on the main A road, which I did as quickly as possible. Traffic was light fortunately, and I was soon at the next minor turning, and the entrance of a rather overgrown green lane path. This led to an area of common land, rather overgrown, marshy with lots of local ponies. One of whom was very keen to get acquainted. The path was a bit indistinct in places, and towards the end of this section and to avoid some mud, there was a section of stepping stones. I began to see in this section and the disused airfield beyond lots of orchids.

It was a relief to get to the airfield, which turned out to have paved paths, and I met the team mowing the edges) – near where I entered there was a stone circle and a convenient bench for lunch. Again the views up to the distinctive headlands beyond St David’s set the scene. It reminded me of 2 things, stone circles being visible from above (like Avebury from the ridgeway) and the whole machair look of Lewis particularly with the stones.

The walk across the airfield was rather different, especially when we finally got to where the runway was. All the buildings had been removed, but I had happened on this by chance and it was certainly a good space that could be promoted more.

The next stage was a farm track, that passed a camp and caravan site, down to the main road, just down from the holiday let. I didn’t fancy another short stint on the edge of the A road, so I crossed over and made my way back to the base camp initially on a track, across the fields and then a path connecting to near where the archaelogist’s portaloo is!

It was a very different walk, but a good one and I was glad I had connected the gap with where I left off in September. Back to St Bride’s tomorrow as the prospective boat trip option has now moved to Friday. It was also good to do something easier (as I was quite achy after yesterday’s over exertions!)

St Bride’s bay part 2

St Bride’s Bay – part 2

Saturday 18th June – Beyond Little Haven (Musselwick view point) to Harold stone and back again

Total Steps: 13,998 – 6726 steps on the trail 7269 off the trail

Total: 6.4 miles 3.1 on the trail, 3.3 miles off

Running Total: 44.4 miles – 26.9 miles on the trail, 17.5 miles off

I paid significant attention to the weather forecast, and wrapped up more than I had done previously, walking in my waterproofs (and gloves) as the ambient temperature was 12 degrees and there was still a stiff breeze. It is now beginning to take a while to get to where the walks need to begin, so I drove on mostly windy lanes from New Gale to the parking space beyond Little Haven – there was room for about 4 cars at the Musselwick view point (and mine was the 3rd vehicle). I set up a touching point on the bench present to admire the view, and then set off on the outward leg of the walk (this time doing the off route section first (except where the coast path was on the road!).

It was interesting to walk down through Little Haven, and I found a couple of dragons in passing. It has been a while since I have been passing through places. I availed myself of the facilities in the village, and was soon walking up and over the ridge on the road to Broad Haven. I had come to Broad Haven on one of the Welsh half term holiday weeks with my family when I was a child, and this is the last of the 4 destinations we had visited that I have passed through on the trail. Can’t say I remember it. I have ofcourse been to Broad Haven many times with Jane more recently, and I walked past our favourite café. There were a few people about, and surfing lessons going on, as well as a few hardy swimmers.

I followed a path I have used before through Haroldston Woods, and it was nice to be more sheltered out of the wind and in the trees. The path gently climbed to an exit near the cut through I used yesterday from the coast path. To make sure I went the right way I did follow carefully via the Ordinance survey map app!

I made my way across the link path, and thought I saw a large rock. It was beginning to drizzle at this point. The rock got up and it soon became apparent it was a very bonnie big black bull. I was soon on the cliff path, and I reconnected with yesterday’s touching point and headed down the easy path back into Broad Haven – I stopped for a drizzly coffee break on a welcoming bench. I made my way back through Broad Haven – this time stopping in Ocean café, and I succumbed to another coffee (in the dry) and an excellent piece of barabrith.

Then I retraced my steps on the road up and over into Little Haven – and then the path took to the cliffs, via a viewing point. The path then got quite a lot more energetic, with some steep steps, and a sequence of ups and downs as it worked back out to where I had parked the car. In view of the weather forecast I decided to stop at this point, and indeed it did rain heavily about an hour later!

In case you have been wondering why I went wrong the other day – near the end of today’s trail I saw signs which accounts for the mistake I made. The top one is the coast path sign (with black writing) and the second one for the coast park!

Sunday 19th June – St Bride’s cross to beyond Little Haven (Musselwick view point) and back again

Total Steps: 23,589 – 13,410  steps on the trail 10,179 off the trail

Total: 10.8 miles 6.1 on the trail, 4.7 miles off

Running Total: 55.2 miles – 33 miles on the trail, 22.2 miles off

It took nearly 40 minutes to get to my starting point at St Bride’s, quite inspiring really to think I have walked as far as I have. I used the facilities, and checked there wasn’t a pay machine before wrapping up back in water proofs again, as the temperature was again about 12 and there was a very gusty wind. I had spent quite a lot of time working on the walk for today, and had opted to walk in this direction, which turned out to often be in the very strong wind! I established a touching point, and set off!

The first section was through the bay and then up on to low sandstone cliffs. The wind was keen, and it was on occasions a bit edgy but it was a pretty walk, and I was soon at the mid-walk exit point I had identified. It was a bit disconcerting to see how the path was on cliff edges overhanging!  People were sparce throughout the walk today!

I decided to carry on and the coast path got more challenging, moving up and away from Sandstone. I alarmed some calves (fortunately on the other side of a fence), as I was working up to a greater height. Again it was all abit edgy, it got a lot more challenging around 3 small coves, apparently popular with smugglers. I can’t imagine access was easy but it was not overlooked.

After these the path skirted round the cliffs undulating abit – with vegetation down to the sea, it was reasonably easy going wind aside. I met an interesting couple at this point and we had a long chat about the merits of this path. By this stage I was also looking for a vaguely sheltered point to have a coffee stop. This eventually happened at Ticklas point, where there was a rock I sheltered behind.

The next part seemed to take longer than I expected, one more open section to Borough Head and then about a mile in woods – the undulating continued. This presence of the wood made it more sheltered from the wind, which was a relief but it was a bit strange. Eventually I made it back to the touching point bench – to find a family using it. I touched the rail near it and then diverted back to the road. My step count showed I had walked further than I intended!

I decided to have lunch at the church after about ¾ of a mile of the back route. It was not clear if the church was functioning – a broken notice board and locked. I was grateful for a bench memorial, with an excellent view. I contemplated the unknown sailor on a memorial in front of me, and an interesting trunk carving on another stone.

The lanes back was a bit of a struggle, but I managed. It included a brief spell on a green lane which was impassable for vehicles. I was right to have made sure it was mostly down hill (which had accounted for my walk direction!) and I made it back to the car feeling rather weary though I had walked over 10 miles! Lots of good views of the coast, and St Bride’s castle helped with motivation!

St Bride’s Bay – part 1

Thursday 16th June – New Gale to Nolton Haven and back again

Total Steps: 14,532 – 7664 steps on the trail 6,868 off the trail

Total: 6.6 miles 3.5 on the trail, 3.1 miles off

Running Total: 30.4 miles – 20 miles on the trail, 10.4 miles off

I woke up a bit later than usual – the sun was shining and it was pleasantly warm (19). By the time I had driven to New Gale, I was not setting off on the trail until 10:15. I have decided to start proper on the next section around St Bride’s bay – there is a short piece to join up the trail from Porthmynawyd but I have a cunning plan to address that on the day I do the boat trip and when the tide is out on New Gale beach! I have also moved onto the South Pembrokeshire map!

Anyway I set up a touching point, with a puffin sign on the toilets of the car park. I managed to get the parking app to work, which was pleasing and set off initially on the road above the beach at New Gale as the tide was in! It was a bit sad to see the café at the third car park firmly shut (what with that and the café of choice (Sands Café) in New Gale being a building site!), it is all a bit sad to see.

The section on the road was OK and easy going, but a bit dicey with a narrow road, encroaching stones from the beach, and passing cars. I was glad initially to divert off on the cliffs when the path emerged after about ½ a mile. This proved to be a bit of a false joy. The path started to do the up and down thing, with amplification – so the descents got deeper, ascents higher and the path trickier. It was good to be walking towards Ricketts head rock, which is very visible when walking on New Gale beach. The third descent (and one with 2 path options as one was so badly eroded) came out by a disused mine shaft, which I remembered seeing before. It was along the path after that I met a woman and her son. I remarked that the path was very up and down, and she said – the worst is still to come!

As I had just completed another ascent, I found some crab claws on the path (not sure if this was a bird or human intervention but it must have been a big crab!) Sadly, the woman was right, as I reached the point directly above Rickett’s head rock, I realised the only way down was a very precipitous slope and with a lot of loose gravel on the surface. I took a phone call part way down, confirming tomorrow’s boat trip – weather permitting, which was more than a little surreal. It was slow progress but eventually I stopped for a late morning coffee to restore my equilibrium near the foot of the rock.

I carried on and eventually this taxing path turned down into Nolton Haven. I found a bench to sit on, and contemplated what to do. I was not happy to go back the way I had come. This had been my initial plan (and to walk back on the beach near the Mine workings). So a cunning plan b was hatched to walk back on the road. I used the available facilities, and had a snack and used the bench as the touching point for the coast path.

After a steady ascent back, this turned out to be an Ok choice. Eventually I had lunch on a bench in a national trust car park, which was more scenic than it sounds. And the views down to the beach (where the tide had now gone back out) on the second leg on the road were good.

Friday 17th June – Nolton Haven to Harold’s stone and back again

Total Steps: 16,833 – 8438 steps on the trail 8395 off the trail

Total: 7.6 miles 3.8 on the trail, 3.8 miles off

Running Total: 38 miles – 23.8 miles on the trail, 14.2 miles off

After an early night, I was up with the lark to be ready for the 8:30 boat trip from St Justinian’s. The wind had got up overnight, and sadly just after 7:20am I got the call to say the boat trip was off. The wind direction (south easterly) was the problem, and it turned out with the way the weather went this was all for the best. I have rearranged to Tuesday – so fingers crossed for that!

Had a more leisurely coffee and then set off for Nolton Haven for the next leg of the trail. I am being a bit hampered by the absence of the Puffin Shuttle, so will have to do a circuit back to where I parked. It was not possible to use the car park app, as there was no phone signal in Norton Haven. I was on the trail climbing out of Nolton Haven shortly after 9:10am, having connected with the touching point I left on the bench by the car park. The stiff breeze was notable and I had set off without my fleece on (a first) as the air temperature was warm (about 19). The views around the first headland were good, and I looked down on a set of ladies having an early swim who I had seen in the car park. Apart from a few very well maintained steps, it was easy going into Druidstone and the path dropped down to behind the beach. The tide was well in!

It was then abit frustrating as the lovely Druidstone Hotel (which I have frequented with Jane in the past) owns the land, so the path goes up to the road and winds round a big section of cliff with views down to the beach. Eventually, after a section up on road, then a path parallel to the road, the path finally cut back across the headland to the coast from the road. This then joined a section I have been to with Jane suitable for disabled access which runs above Haroldston Chins. I had a coffee stop here and took in the fantastic views. It was beginning to cloud over, and the fleece went back on and stayed on!

I decided to do another mile on the coast path – which was very easy going to connect with a path back at the Harold stone. All in all this whole section of coast path had been the least challenging but nonetheless very scenic! I soon got to the turning point, and used a coast path footpath sign as the touching post. The path I had identified turned out not to exist, so I had to do a slightly longer back route on the road.

This included a stop at St Madoc’s church in Haroldston West (which was a hamlet with a handful of houses). The signs in the porch say it all. I availed myself of the bench in the churchyard and contemplated.

I descended and rejoined the road past the Druidstone Hotel, and then back up after passing a very ‘ecofriendly’ property with magnificent views. By now it was damp in the air the sea mist/low cloud were very much in evidence. I walked past where they hold Nolton Haven drive in cinema – no evidence of any showings any time soon! I was soon winding back down into Norton Haven, where the car was.                       

More tales from the trails

Tuesday13th June – St Justinian’s to Porth Clais

Total Steps: 13,774 – 13,774 steps on the trail

Total: 6.3 miles – 6.3 on the trail

Running Total: 17.8 miles – 12.3 miles on the trail, 5.5 miles off

The day started with a drive to Porth Clais where I ended yesterday and then a wait for the Celtic Coaster to take me to today’s start at St Justinian’s. I saw another load of youngsters gathering in the National Trust car park, who had climbing gear with them. They set off whilst I was waiting for the bus to come. On the bus I had a chat with a couple going on a boat ride from St Justinian’s – I was quite inspired by this, and picked up a leaflet for later perusal.

I used a puffing poster as the touching point. I set off from St Justinian’s around 10am and for the first hour it was pretty idyllic, low and pretty cliffs, with only one tricky descent (and no other people!) That of course didn’t last. The first set of people I saw were a group of about 20 girls and a few teachers (probably) doing some kind of sponsored event. One of the teachers was carrying a giant boob! Not very sensibly at the front so he couldn’t see his feet. When I saw them again later, it was being carried as a back pack. After that I saw a steady stream of people, but no more giant boobs.

In this early section I saw a number of sea birds, including cormorants and my first “red beaks” – oyster catchers. These can count as wildlife of the day. Sadly it is clearly not the season for seals, and a couple of bits of seaweed, rocks and buoys provided disappointment on closer inspection.

I selected a coffee stop to recover from the noisy girls with the giant boob, and just after the cairn marking the most westerly point in mainland Wales. This had fantastic views of Ramsey Island and back towards St Justinian’s. The early easy going didn’t last! And a rocky section followed. To be more technical about it, this is about geology on the Treginnis peninsula – and according to my trusty coast path guide – the oldest Pre-cambrian rocks in Pembrokeshire! In other words, lots of rocky bits, significantly higher than what had gone before, heathland around and lots of precipitous ups and downs (and even a bit of inelegant rock climbing!). Anyway I managed but I was quite tired by the time I wound down to Porthlysgi beach and had some lunch.

I knew the final section was relatively straightforward, after the initial ascent up on to the headland once again. Speed (is not of the essence) and progress was not quick! The views remained inspiring, with St David’s head, and Strumble head further away (and a previous conquest 😉 in my adventures). As I rounded the headland towards the descent to Porth Clais, another outbreak of climbers was apparent on the opposite side of the harbour. I could also see numerous tents (and associated facilities) just up the hill from where they were (and the caravan park I briefly visited on Monday). I also resolved the question how they got to the bottom of the cliffs (as I saw a couple abseiling down!). I have not resolved the question why climbers have all the same tent!?

A gentle and uneventful descent into Porth Clais was very welcome, and I reconnected with the bus stop touching point. After I had shed my boots and used the much appreciated facilities, I had a hot chocolate at the drinks shack – which was very good!

A short necessary drive to garner provisions followed, and to top the car up with petrol.

Wednesday 15th June

Both ways from Whitesands

7241 5.26

9370 6.81

13,363 9.71

Total Steps: 13,363 – 9370 steps on the trail 3,993 off the trail

Total: 6 miles 4.2 on the trail, 1.8 miles off

Running Total: 23.8 miles – 16.5 miles on the trail, 7.3 miles off

On the way to Whitesands bay, I stopped in St David’s to book a boat trip for early on Friday, after studying the leaflet I had picked up earlier. All things being well, this will mean an early start (I need to be at St Justinian’s, ready to go at 8:15!) and sea birds and more!

It has to be said, I wasn’t feeling 100%, due to the efforts of yesterday and an unwise excess of chick peas. I set up a touching point using a smart stone coast path sign near where I had parked the car.

I decided to walk to St Justinian’s first and then get the celtic coaster back, and see how I was. It was a sunny start (but not hot – no heatwave here), with people already on the beach – and the path was pretty kind – narrow and rather overgrown in places, but not challenging! I also saw a small lizard (rush across the path) and my first orchids – so these can be wildlife of the day.

 I availed myself of a bench (a rarity on the trail) for a brief stop. The early part of the walk the people were at a manageable level, but post my coffee stop (again with fantastic views of Ramsey Island) it was getting quite busy. This was a bit awkward as we wound round into St Justinian’s as the path was very edgy, narrow and a bit overgrown. I realised I was close to the time of the celtic coaster, so I didn’t avail myself of the available ice creams, touched the puffin touching point, and walked back up to the bus stop. The bus came a couple of minutes later.

I disembarked at the top of the Whitesands car park, by the café, so had a coffee and a cake. My first of this holiday. The only choice was Victoria sponge, which tasted better than it looked. The café had seen better days I felt, as I had frequented it before. It had clouded over at this point, and I dithered about what to do.

I decided to give the onward coast path a bit of a go, so touched my coast path touching point and set off. I am on the horns of a dilemma. The next section of coast path is described as tough by the guide. It is 7.5 miles to Abereiddy where I finished the trail in September (but with no easy exit points!). I am keen to join the dots, but not put myself into terrain which is a step too far, and which could stretch my low level of fitness! I did another mile, with the going getting increasingly difficult – and the wildness of this section becoming much more obvious. I used a rock at the junction of paths as the touching point, and near some more wild horses, who were posing rather scenically.

I took a left hand track, to go over the shoulder of St David’s head (not to ascend to the top) and head back towards Whitesands bay. The views from my higher vantage point were splendid in both directions – but this has also helped my resolve that this section of the coast path really should not be attempted in my current condition and on my own, so I need a plan B! The views back over the ground I had covered was equally inspiring (and I was a bit awed by how far it looked like I had walked over the past few days!). I found a good vantage point for lunch (but didn’t eat much as I was still digesting that Victoria sponge!). Whilst I was watching from this vantage point, I saw the “Fflecsi” bus and I wondered if that might help me joining the dots.

I drove home, and got to grips with understanding the ‘Fflecsi’ bus system and downloaded the app – eventually after a helpful chat with Cameron, a cunning plan B was sorted. I have booked to go to Abereiddy on Monday morning on the Fflecsi bus, and I will walk back across the peninsula from there (rather than on the coast path) to join the dots – It will be nice to have a change of scene on paths and lanes. This is not the first time I have had to be practical and pragmatic about what it is sensible to do!

Meanwhile – this Fflesci bus system might also help me with the path onwards with the non running walker minibuses due to driver shortages. We shall see! To be continued……….

Beyond the Gribin, and Porth Clais and back again

Sunday 12th June

Solva circuit (furthest point on the coast path Porthymynawyd)

Total Steps: 14,753 – 8403 steps on the trail 6,350 off the trail

Total: 6.3 miles 3.4 on the trail, 2.9 miles off

Running Total: 11.5 miles – 6 miles on the trail, 5.5 miles off

No bus options as it was Sunday, so did a circular walk from Solva and the opposite side to where I walked yesterday. I drove to the car park, and was all ready to go before 9:40am, meeting some of my neighbours from base camp before I got my boots on. I touched the touching point by the bridge. The initial outward path quickly deviated from the coast path, so I decided to count the steps when I get to the furthest point on the coast path and then walk back! Anyway the path took me up on to the Gribin – the view was great but it was a bit edgy and rather rocky! The path down to continue the walk was rocky, eroded and steep, and I took my time. I was conscious I was going to have to repeat this part of the walk going back up the path I had not enjoyed descending, and this rather weighed on my mind.

Anyway the inland outbound route, slowly climbed up the hill, to St Elvis’ farm. I had some doubts about this at the time, but I have been reassured there was a 6th century St Elvis! I enjoyed a path right next to a very impressive bull, whilst the Elvis ear worms were prolific! Later on this walk I also saw my first Pembrokeshire ponies too.  

After the initial track, there was a long section on field paths and then a long stretch on an overgrown ‘green lane’. I briefly passed through the hamlet of Lochvane, and another stretch of ‘green lane’ followed. I had a coffee break in a field at the end sitting on the first style of this trip!. I descended down to the coast path at this point near Porthmynawyd (establishing a touching point) and people became much more numerous. The conditions were terrific, bright blue skies, sunshine and a good temperature for walking.

There was a stiff ascent to start with, and then a very pleasing section of undulating cliffs, starting with another fort site (no archaelogists) at Dinas Fach. I met at different points my neighbours again (and the ladies had even been in for a dip in the sea!). I got to a second long promontory (Dinas Fawr). I didn’t take the optional path on and off as it looked even more edgy then the Gribin had been.

A particularly attractive stage of the coast path undulating down to Gwadn bay where I had initially turned off followed. I stopped for a second break to fortify myself for the climb back up the Gribin. It was steep but easier to get a grip going up. It was a relief to have negotiated it successfully. I was annoyed with myself that it had worried me! I wound back down to the village, which was very busy. I touched the touching point again, and indulged in a rum and raison ice cream. Yum!!!

Monday 13th June – Porth Clais to base camp (Upper Solva)

Total Steps: 16,812 –  12422 steps on the trail, 4390 off the trail

Total: 7.6 miles – 5.6 on the trail, 2 miles off

Running Total: 19.1 miles – 11.6 miles on the trail, 7.5 miles off

Some homework with the different bus companies paid dividends, I got the T11 at 9:41 from the bus stop about 10 minutes walk from the base camp to St David’s, and then the Celtic Coaster on to Porth Clais for the start of today’s walk. (The latter is not run by Richard Brothers who have the driver shortage). It was cooler and significantly cloudier but by 10:20am I was ready to go having availed myself of the National Trust facilities at Porth Clais. I used the Porth Clais bus stop as the touching point and off I went.

I wasn’t paying attention and started on the wrong path! After a straying into a caravan site and getting further away from the coast, I realised my mistake. Fortunately, I found a connecting path and was soon enjoying the delights of slightly lower cliffs than the last couple of days. I saw 2 lots of cliff climbers (the second lot being from Birmingham University) and a large group of ‘coasteerers’ initially on the rocks and then in canoes. I did think about doing such dangerous sports! I shan’t be trying them! There was again lots of people on the path. Interestingly several Americans, and four of my fellow travellers on the bus had been German.

I stopped for coffee just round the bay from St Non’s retreat centre, and was delighted (and surprised) to see a solitary gannet. So much more majestic than ordinary gulls, and it did a characteristic vertical dive into the sea right in front of me. So that can be wildlife of the day.

The route was rocky in places, and undulating but generally it kept height pretty well. I had to descend down at Caer Bwdy, and lost some height near Trelerw. There was a steep final descent into Porth y Rhaw (not as steep as the Gribbin), but this afforded more excellent views of the Archaelogical dig I saw on Saturday (no digging today), and how this point had been a fort back in the day.  Here I had set up a touching point on Saturday’s walk – which I duly touched. I had my lunch overlooking the inlet, and eventually spotted some stone sculptures.

After lunch I walked back up to the holiday let, seeing more ponies and the archaeologist’s portaloo amongst various farm machinery long unused.

Back on the trail 2022

Porth y Rhaw – Solva

11,546 steps 5,769 steps on the trail 5,777 off

5.2 miles – 2.6 miles on the trail, 2.6 miles off

On 10th June – I returned to Pembrokeshire, for another session with the Welsh Coast Path. I finished at Abereiddy back in September 2021. It is good to be back, and this time in the more colourful June.

I have a number of things to contend with on this trip. I am not very fit and had several weeks off sick in the run up to Easter this year. Also, the walker’s buses (Strumble Shuttle, Puffin Shuttle etc.) are not operating fully due to driver shortages. I have to say if I had a bus driver’s license, I would think these walker’s buses have some of the most scenic routes around! When I say not operating fully, currently that means 1 day a week, which is going to mean more circular walks (as I did today to begin to stretch my legs!). This is going to test my resolve and navigating skills as well as trying to make the most of the other buses that are running!

I set up base camp, which is near Solva yesterday. After all the driving to get here I devised a circular walk from base camp. It was definitely not the day to start where I finished in September (as the next bit of the trail from Abereiddy is wild and isolated and long! Much too long for my current level of fitness)

The weather is set fair, with a stiff breeze and a good temperature for walking. I joined the coast path after about a mile of fields and footpaths arriving at Porth y Rhaw, and established a touching point. The initial section of the coast path, was relatively straightforward, and invigorating (I do love this kind of walking). I went at my own pace (which was not fast). My descent was particularly slow!! I had a good view back at the complex where base camp is too. Early on, I met a couple of archaeologists, and admired the digging going on at an ancient fort site sponsored by Cadw. Well, what I saw was people moving earth with wheel barrows rather than digging as such!

I had a very scenic coffee stop and saw a small brown snake on a less well trod part of the path, so that can be wildlife of the day (It hid before I could get the camera poised). The path eventually turned towards Solva and I enjoyed winding down into the centre (including a trip into one of Jane’s favourite shops – Window on Wales – to buy post cards). Solva is sufficiently bustling to have 2 public toilets, and I used the first one I got too. I established a finishing touching point (and intend to do another circuit from there tomorrow), just beyond a very familiar café and pub where Jane had post- ordination refreshments many years ago.  

The coast path was busy, with lots of people making the most of the conditions, and there were even more in and around Solva. I found a path up into the village without having to dice with death walking on the narrow main road! (and slowly did the last bit back up to base camp). There was one house painted with birds, and a particularly nice owl! It was a bit of a slog back up the hill. A good effort for a first walk – and now not too achy!  

The end of the trail (for now!)

On the trail 6515 steps, 4,611m, 2.8 miles

Circuit to get back to the car 7,084 steps, 4900m 3 miles

I had a difficult choice to face on what to do on my final day on the trail – the next section was 3 miles or 11 miles to the next exit point with the Strumble shuttle. The final 8 miles is pretty remote with no easy exits etc, and there were a number of things to consider. I was stiff after yesterday and the weather forecast (and the weather) was not ideal. The wind had got up and rain was forecast from late morning (and it did!). I decided to do the 3 miles (and a circuit to get back to the car)!

I drove to Abereiddy and established a touching point for when I take up the trail again at this point (the Abereiddy Strumble shuttle bus stop)! and then did the inland route first. The paths were a bit overgrown but it was quite pleasant initially on paths in fields, and then about a mile on the road back to Porthgain. I touched the touching point (life buoy) and used the facilities and climbed up the steps at the end of the quay. I found a place out of the wind amongst the remnants of the brick/slate works on the cliffs and areas that had been quarried for a coffee break. At this point the rain (of the horizontal sort) began in earnest.

I completed the rest of the cliff walk in pouring rain and high wind. It reminded me what luck I had had with the weather on this holiday!. There were dozens of ‘coasteer’ types in the ‘blue lagoon’. I returned to the car – extremely wet!

I drove the five miles from this point to St David’s, waving at bus stop touching point as I went past. Thankfully the rain turned to drizzle as after I parked up and went to the cathedral grounds to pay my respects. This is the second place Jane is remembered – and I had had some very fond memories earlier of us visiting the ‘blue lagoon’ and walking on the cliffs at Abereiddy previously (with Ginnie the dog!)

I returned back to base camp to attend to some necessary packing and organising (and the rain persisted!). I also did the necessary maths. This week I had done 35.8 miles on the trail and 13.2 miles linking up bits of the route on circular walks. Making a total of 49 miles, which adds to last weeks 46 miles – is 95 mile total (81.8 miles on the trail). All is at least 6% margin of error! Either way I am very pleased as much of it has been challenging going too and involved some uncharacteristic rock climbing!

I will return to this trail at some point

(but here are a few shots from what I did on my gentle route back on Saturday via a couple of favourites – Bosherston Lily ponds and Llansteffan)

A long and lovely walk to Porthgain

September 16th 2021

27,888 steps, 19,000m, 11.9 miles

The day began with a drive to Porthgain, my planned ending point for the day and then getting the Strumble shuttle bus back to the Woollen Mill where I left off yesterday. I was very early so had a bit of mooch around (establishing a touching point)- admiring the industrial history of bricks/slate production and the decaying buildings around the harbour. The bus came and it took about 25 minutes to get back to the wool mill. As it wasn’t very crowded, I had a coffee and a tasty piece of barabrith contemplating the day ahead. There hasn’t been much opportunity for on route coffee stops. All this meant a latish start heading off about 10:30!

It was warm and sunny and very still! Initially a nice walk down a lane to get back to the coast path – and then on to a beach Aber Mawr. This was a place that we found on the 2004 visit to this area – and was within walking distance of the holiday let back then. The path included a stony walk across the beach! Over the other side there was a zigzag path to regain height – it was cut very deep so I couldn’t see over the close vegetation and it was narrow so it was a bit claustrophobic. Then a lovely stretch with good views, seals and the rest. By the time I needed another rest (and my flask coffee) I had just done a step descent into the Pwllstrodur bay. The walk continued in the same vein as before and I reached Abercastle before I needed to have lunch. I did avail myself of the toilet, and had a chat with some chaps I had seen several times already who were eating their lunch!

I decided to have lunch once I had reached Castell Coch, the chaps passed me at this point. The path continued and Trefin came on to the horizon, but the path really only touched the far side of it – with 3 steep dips up and down before finally reaching the bay. I had a drink and some fruit on an available slate bench. My legs were beginning to feel it, but it was another 2 miles to go to get back to Porthgain, starting with the inevitable climb out of the bay.

This section was mostly reasonably accessible, with 2 steep short ups and downs, and I took a short cut back to Porthgain when it was presented! The chaps were just finishing off their pints in the Porthgain when I got back to the pub (via the touching point). It was about 4:15pm by then. They were determined to do another 10 miles (on difficult terrain! – rather them than me).

The final part of this day included some views back to where I had started on Strumble head just 2 days walking ago. Pretty awesome

I also took my best shot of seals!!! amazing to see the pups on the beach and adults swimming in the clear water! (and without having to lean to far over the edge!)

Strumble head invasion!

Sept 14th Strumble head to Carregwstad point

9,687 steps, 6,781m 4.2miles

Circuit to get back to the car!

13,074 steps 9,192m, 5.7 miles

Slightly ethereal light as I began at the car park at Strumble head. The touching point was set up as one of the smart new stone signs. It was a good temperature and I hoped it would stay dry (and underfoot was getting drier which makes things easier). The first mile of so wound along nicely, and then the path narrowed and the ups and downs set in. The scenery was completely stunning with plenty of seal sightings but it was getting increasingly difficult. There were two short steep dips down to footbridges. After yesterday’s tumble I was particularly careful on each of the 10 I crossed in the entire walk. The dips however involved a degree of rock climbing – which I am much better at going up than going down!

Eventually I had a brief coffee break by one of the short dips to give me inspiration and then a longer one when I finally reached the Carregwstad point memorial – which I was suddenly upon. I have to say this seems the most ridiculous place to try and mount an invasion. The terrain is challenging to put it mildly!!! This was also overlooking yesterday’s very seal filled bay – Aber Felin.

I could see but did not quite get back to the touching point from yesterday – And it seemed a long way round as I had a longish inland stretch ahead, so forgive me I didn’t go back to it. I started an inland loop, which slowly went up to the road. This started ok, but soon became a track used for milking cows and was rather squelchy and not a little smelly (as it was fully sunny by this point). I finally walked through Tre-Howell farm yard. First I was woofed at by Maria (an adult black Labrador) and then rather over enthusiastically greeted by Darcey (a growing puppy black Labrador). I was already a muddy mess from the track (see trousers below) so a few puppy paw prints were the least of my problems.

A section on the road that leads down to Strumble head followed, with nice views down to the coast. After about ¾ of a mile I took a track down to the coast path again (thus avoiding the bit with the rocky dips!). This started well but soon deteriorated. There were issues (much to the amusement of some bullocks) with a stile.  The first step was very high and it was all leaning towards me making it very difficult to assail. After some minutes trying to work out a cunning plan (and getting an electric shock off the cattle fence) as I explored the options. Eventually I moved a spare fence post to give me a few extra inches and then I managed to get over. Thankfully the bullocks were very well behaved!

Then the path seemed to be confused about whether it was a stream or not and I got even muddier! Eventually it came out on the coast path, and after a short distance, I found a beautiful lunch spot for much needed rest and sustenance!

I walked the path back to the car, and helped a couple with a small child in a carrier about the delights of the bus service – and lo one arrived (which was very lucky as they are only 3 times a day) – and they were whisked off to Fishguard. I touched the starting touching point for completeness to complete the loop!

I took a bit of time to recky the next bits of the bus service in the car and found that Tregwynt Woollen Mill – was near to a place I stayed for a week a long time ago (June 2004!). Eventually I drove back to Fishguard via Tescos near the ferry terminal and set too to wash my very muddy trousers!

In the evening I watched Andrew Cotter in conversation at Bath pavilions with Olive and Mabel online. Just fabulous!!!

Sept 13th Strumble head to Tregwynt Woollen Mill

21,435 steps , 15,005m, 9.4 miles

I drove back to Strumble head and set off shortly after 9am and the conditions were pretty perfect – sunny and a manageable temperature. The path wound around the cliffs with good views of the lighthouse for quite a long way and then more occasionally as I got higher and higher. It was quite challenging, with a couple of rocky climbs. There was a boggy area (which I hadn’t seen for a while) and I appeared to be climbing a stream at one point to get to the path. I also saw some lovely white horses (with the inevitable child of the 60’s ear worm of the signature tune of the White horses TV programme in my head for a mile of so).

There were several ups and downs and the terrain was getting more rocky underfoot. We started to ascend as the Pwll Deri Youth Hostel emerged on the horizon. Whilst circling porth Maenmelyn, it became apparent there were a huge number of seals in the sea and on the beach. Taking pictures was difficult for a variety of reasons (here is my best effort!).

The path was not easy either, and there was another very dippy bit with steps and a rocky climb up (which I was jolly glad to be climbing and not descending). Shortly after that I found a rocky area with a good view for a coffee break, before a stiff climb up to the youth hostel and out briefly on to the road.

The next section started well as the path maintained height to reach Penbwchdy headland. There were three rocky outcrops to contend with, which were increasingly difficult to navigate, and find the path. I was quite glad when I started to descend to lower levels stuff on the path ahead. Again there were a couple of ups and downs, and time was pressing on (I had a deadline to catch the bus at the mill). I decided to cut in land on a path at Pwllcrochan and then did just over a mile on the road, rounding the corner to be confronted with the mill and some giant knitting needles. I found the toilet, and contemplated the gift shop (lots of lovely things!) I arrived with time to spare (and ate my lunch before The Strumble shuttle bus arrived to schedule at 14:46!). I used the bus stop as a touching point to finish for the day. There was just me on the bus and it took nearly 20 minutes to get back up to Strumble head, which was very satisfying to think I had walked that far!!

Having said that I have resolved to do the bus first tomorrow from Porthgain back to the Woollen Mill, so I don’t have a deadline to meet on the walk!!