Sunday, 17 June 2018

Pembrokeshire Coastal Path Summary

Total walked distance: 208 miles
Total ascent: 7800m
13 days walking

Day 0 - 6 miles - to Amroth, Wiseman's Bridge Inn
Day 1 - 15 miles, 570m - to Manorbier Beach, Castlemead
Day 2 - 19 miles, 620m - to Warren, Corston House
Day 3 - 21.5 miles, 650m - to Hundleton, Highgate
Day 4 - 15 miles, 360m - to Millford Haven, Lord Nelson
Day 5 - 13 miles, 450m - to Dale Village, Lobster Pot
Day 6 - 16 miles, 430m - to Musselwick Sands, Lobster Pot
Day 7 - 10 miles, 300m - to Broad Haven, Anchor
Day 8 - 12 miles, 650m - to Solva, Cambrian
Day 9 - 12.5 miles, 570m - to Whitesand (via Skomer and Ramsey islands), Grove Hotel
Day 10 - 15 miles, 750m - to Trevine, Cranog
Day 11 - 19.5 miles, 950m - to Goodwick, Seaview
Day 12 - 15 miles, 670m - to Newport Sands, Castle Inn
Day 13 - 18 miles, 900m - to St Dogmaels, Cardigan Castle

Friday, 8 June 2018

Pembrokeshire Coastal Path Day 13

Distance 18 miles
Ascent 900m
Weather bit cooler, overcast, few spots of rain
Stonechat, meadow pipits, buzzard
Horses in gorses 7

We left Newport this morning under cloudy skies but dry, walking via the Spar out to the estuary, where there were oyster catchers, snoozy swans and canada geese amidst the gulls and labradors.
This last section is described as a long, remote and rugged day's walk, dominated by two big climbs, although the rest of the way was hardly flat. A long steep climb started us off up on to the cliffs, which seem darker and more solid looking than those south of here.

At Godwr Mawr we stopped at the top to watch the guillemots, razorbills and house martins nesting. I've been informed that apparently yesterday there were also razorbills on the cliffs. The path to was narrow and grassy, often overgrown, with bracken dotted with bluebells. There was an odd hawthorn tree here and there, stunted and mishapen into the direction of the winds.

We has a sit down with some cows at Gerddi-bâch, they were most interested in us to start with but then wandered away.

The path veers steeply down near Carag Bica, there were choughs squawking loudly. Lots of sea birds but no fins or seals today. The shore started looking more rugged, with caves and a natural arch, thought one of the caves might be an archway but there were voices so I think it was people inside with a torch. At Bwn Bach, a steep decent into a narrow inlet took us over an impressive rock arch carved out by the waves underneath. A kestrel was circling around worrying the other birds. I expect  this place appears on Instagram a lot.

We stopped for lunch at Ceibwr Bay and then headed back up. The cliffs at Traeth Godir-côch are very geological indeed, huge waves of rock curved around and folded up, caused by the movement of tectonic plates. It looked like more recently there'd been a fire. We saw a fox and fox cubs (or possibly three cubs) playing on a scrubby section below is, they scattered into the bushes when they saw us. Cemaes Head is a nature reserve, but we're not sure what for, as it didn't seem much different to anywhere else, and then we joined a lane and walked down into St Dogmaels, which is the end of the Pembrokeshire Coastal trail.

Our day's walk carried on into Ceredigion, we are staying in Cardigan, at the castle. I have learned that bopty means bakery.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Pembrokeshire Coastal Path Day 12

Distance 15 miles
Ascent 670m
Weather warm and sunny

From the hotel we walked around into Lower Fishguard Town around the Marine Walk, where it was laundry day in the car park.

A plaque at Goodwick harbour tells a grand (and possibly fictional) story of a heyday of transatlantic liners porting here before they moved to Southampton. Fishguard harbour is pretty but not touristy, there is no beach here. A path leads out to the remains of a small fort, armed with some cannons and a crow. These (apart from the crow) date from 1797 French invasion, the last successful invasion of Britain, despite being a bit crap and surrendering within two days.

From the harbour we climbed steadily upwards, then dropped down a bit then climbed upwards some more. Repeat.

We saw a red kite and guillemots on the nooks and crannies of the cliffs. The path wiggles its way around heads and coves, along the boundaries of fields and the cliff edge and along little hawthorn lined paths. There were plenty of butterflies, bees and songbirds. Also flies, but they are less romantic.

We had a sit down at the beach at Aber Bach, which was very peaceful, then walked around to Pwllgwaelod bay where we had lunch at the Old Sailors pub, sat out in the garden in the sunshine.

A sustained climb up onto Dinas Head brought us to the view point, topped with a trig point (142m) looks our to sea. We got grunted at by ravens and stonechats. On the way down, we followed the 'cliff edge path' sign down a steep grassy slope, leading to a narrow path clinging to the side of the cliff. We got a very good view of the gulimots and gulls on Needle Rock, but it was a bit vertigo inducing. A sit down and ice-cream at Cwm-yr-Eglwys was appreciated.

The way continued up a narrow lane and then through woodland, or possibly just a big hedge, ot was hard to tell through the trees. Not many views.

Crossing a pebble beach, there were loads of gulls having a paddle in a fresh water pool under the cliff at Cwm Rhigian. As we walked up on the cliff on the other side, we could see the flocks of birds waiting their turn on the ploughed field above.

The path crossed some high, jagged cliffs before gently descending down to Parrog, at the estuary, then follows the salt marsh into Newport, which is prettier than I'd expected. There have been tractors coming and going all evening, hopefully they'll stop soon as they are noisy.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Pembrokeshire Coastal Path Day 11

Distance 19.5 miles
Ascent 950m
Weather warm and sunny
Choughs, wheatear, grey heron,adder, seals, dolphins (or possibly porpoises)
Number of girls in canoe designed for one: 3

It was supposed to be cooler today, but already quite warm when we set off at eight thirty, without much of a breeze at all. By mid afternoon it was decidedly hot. Also someone has been round with a strimmer and the dead, dry grass now covering the path was very slippy.

We saw an early peregrine, looking out to sea from a rocky perch, and also a kestrel on a pointy rock. We tried to fix a broken gate into a sheep field, and out on the other side had some sheep-on-the-path related anxiety, thankfully the lamb jumped up to the wall on the right, not the cliffs to the left.
We went round a point marked in itallics on the map as Castell Coch but there was nothing much to see, which was rather disappointing. Other places we passed today were Pant y Dwr, Pwl Hêr, Pwl Bach and Aber Felin.

We had a sit down by the beach at Aber Fawr, where we overheard some chaps discussing where the fence used to be while pointing out to thin air and sea.

We stopped for lunch on a bench at Carn Ogof with amazing views over the bays of Pwll Deri and Porth Maynmellyn to Dinas Mawr and the islands. The bench was really uncomfortable. We continued on around the peninsula passing iron age fort and springs, feeling more like rocky mountain tops, even quite boggy in places, with heather, gorse and bracken. Towards the end of the walk there was even a proper cow-y bog. It's like they were expecting us.

As we walked through the hills we could see the Carreg Oneg bay lighthouse, complete with bridge over to the mainland. Second lunch was had on a rather sloped bench just before we reached the car park, where most people were ending their day's walk and waiting for the bus. We walked on.
An adder was sunning itself by the edge of a quiet path right next to the car park, it slithered away into the heather.

A great day for wildlife, there was one seal at Trwyn Llwyd, and at least three lazing on the rocks in the sunshine a bit later. A bunny tail darted across the path. We stood for ten minutes watching dolphins jumping far out in the waters at the top of Strumble Head, saw a very plush looking fox, a brief peregrine falcon, a kestrel in the distance, a buzzard circled overhead and lastly there were oystercatchers in the bay at Goodwick.

Things were rather rushed once we'd arrived at the hotel but we've got dinner, beers and a sit down so we are happy.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Pembrokeshire Coastal Path Day 10

Distance 15 miles
Ascent 750m
Weather sunny spells
Buzzard, chough, peregrine, grey seals, wheatear, stonechats, linnets, swifts, kestrel
People who can't speak Welsh 4 (including me)

After a slow start involving breakfast, buying lunch and getting the coastal bus to St Justinian, we were ready to go about quarter past ten. We had a bit of a chat with a chap from one of the boat companies who told us there'd been a tornado in Pembrokeshire yesterday, somewhere further south of us.

The path started fairly gently around too Whitesands and then headed up onto St David's Head. It was really rocky, more like mountain terrain than the cliffs we've been on. There's a burial chamber, marked by a propped up rock and lots of flowers, including orchids. At the rocky cairn at the top of St David's Head we reached the dizzy heights of 65m.

We saw a meadow pipit (it sounded like a meadow pipit and it had pink feet) and a wheatear. Lunch was had on some conveniently shaped rocks on Penlechwenn, and then we walked around the headland, the terrain more rugged and rocky. There was a cooler breeze, although when the sun came out it was warm.

Rob asked me about some of the pink flowers by the path, so I pointed out some of the things growing along the way, until he told me to stop. The last couple of days, perhaps because it's been so warm and dry, the flowers have been almost finished flowering but today they were in full bloom. Orchids, pink and white campion, ox eye daisies, cornflower, saxifrage, tormantil, hawkweed, bird's foot trefoil, kidney vetch (not to be confused with vetch which is purple), bluebells and even primroses.

While looking at the flowers we also saw at least three grey seals watching us from the water below. And coming around a particularly rocky section at Carn Penberry a peregrine falcon flew around a couple of times and landed on the cliffs just out of sight. The high point of the day was about 120m.

The coastline is really rugged with lots of geology (volcanic rock jutting out from the older Ordovician shale...) covered qith pretty flowers and little birds.

We saw a happy seal balancing on a rock and had very good ice creams while sitting on the beach at Abereiddy.

The last section pd today's walk was more grassy over flat headlands, with much evidence of bygone industrial activities.  Porthgain has a big brick works (dis) down by its tiny harbour, guarded on both sides by white stone pillars. There was some canoodling going on by one.

Coming into Trefin we added another twenty minutes on to today's walk to make tomorrow's a tiny bit shorter, as it going to be a long one.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Pembrokeshire Coastal Path Day 9

Distance 6+6.5 miles
Ascent 570m
Weather warm and sunny on land, chilly offshore

It waa clear blue skies and good visibility as we left Solva this morning. We stayed at the Cambrian Inn in the lower part of town) so had to walk up from the harbour on to the cliff tops. Walking around to St David's we saw choughs and linnets and solar powered yurts.

Leaving the coastal path we went into St David's to find out about possible boat trips to the islands. A trip was leaving shortly from St Justinians to Skomer so we booked tickets and Rhiannon very kindly took us down to meet the boat. We had a fantastic two hour trip out to Skomer and Ramsey Island, seeing grey seals, kittiwakes with young, guillemots, razorbills, lots of puffins, great black backed gulls (posted on high rocks) one shag, cormorants, indignant oystercatchers, caves and an oil tanker. On the way back from Ramsey Island we crossed the choppy waters of the Sound, getting quite up close and personal with the Bitches, the rocks that stick up from the waters here, which along with the strong current between has caused hundreds of shipwrecks. The boat pilot certainly knew what he was doing.

Back on dry land, we made a tactical error of getting pasties from the kiosk by the chapel, which led to serious indigestion. The walk back around the coastal path was a little uncomfortable - partly due to pastyitis, partly the boat motion and partly because the sea was on the right hand side and we'd become accustomed to leaning slightly the other way.

We saw a ragged looking buzzard and a gannet. After a bit of a sit down and taking things slowly for a while, we felt better.

The chapel of St Nun's, where we had left the path this morning, seemed quite near but there was the inlet of Porth Clais to walk down and around, with obligatory limekilns, which added quite a distance.

Back up on the clifftop, the path was rocky and pretty with flowers. Red Wall was pink with thift.  We has a look at St Non's Chapel (remains of) and Well. The bells of the cathedral ringing out at nine minutes to six.

Walking into the city we passed a cottage with the amazing name of Yr Hen Bopty. We are staying at the Grove hotel and there are a lot of noisy rooks roosting.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Pembrokeshire Coastal Path Day 8

Broad Haven to Solva
Distance 12 miles
Ascent 650m
Weather warm and sunny
Buzzards 2
Horses in gorse(s) 6
Sunbathing caterpillars 1

We had a relaxing night in Broad Haven, after a very good dinner we sat watching the sunset on our veranda with hot chocolate and hoped that the bats would eat the midges before they ate us.

The tide was in as we left, heading up onto the cliffs along a wide gravelly path that wound upwards. The day was already warm but the paths were quite gentle, following the undulations of the grassy clifftop. There were a lot of places named Haroldston (Cottages, Bridge, Hall, Glen, West and Chins) after the Harold Stone which is marked on the map in italics but we didn't actually notice. At Haroldston Chins I took a picture of the coastline from a little camera bracket they've put up and sent it off to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, for their #changingcoasts project where it will be used as part of a time-lapse film.

We tried to identify a diver that was out on the water with some herring gulls, but it was a bit too far away to see clearly. Closer to, there were a lot of small blue butterflies.

Druidston is a lovely spot, where someone has built a cool eco home underground with a glass front looking out over St Bride's Bay. The route got a bit more up and down-y here around areas of erosion. The paths becoming gritty and shiny black, with evidence of mines and pits nearby.

I got to practise my Barbara Woodhouse skills on an unruly dog, with impressive results if I say so myself.

We bought lunch from a cafe at Newgale Sands and sat on the pebble bank above the beach watching the surfers. We walked along the beach, got some ice-creams and then went up the cliffs. The afternoon's walk was harder going, the paths much steeper, but there was a breeze.

At Dinas Fawr the rocky coastline is beautiful, the caterpillar web infestation covering everything less so, we took care opening the gate lest we get trapped.

The place names are definitely more Welsh around here than earlier on the walk, we walked into Solva over Dinas Fach, Ogof y Cae, Carreg Dilys and St Elvis Rock.