Day 115 – Freshwater East to Castellmartin 13 June 2019

Day 115 – Freshwater East to Castellmartin 13 June 2019

Owing to a complete misreading of the timetable for the shuttlebus, I did not walk yesterday. Having waited a good half hour at Castellmartin, and been offered a lift in completely the wrong direction by a very helpful lady who even tried to ask one of her neighbours about the bus, I gave up and went to Pembroke to admire the castle and eat cake instead. To be honest, after Tuesday’s marathon which had me seriously contemplating the sanity of this whole project, a day’s rest did me no harm – although if I had planned it, I would have had a lie-in.

Having solved the mystery of the timetable, I went back to Castellmartin this morning, left the car, and caught the bus to the terminal, then all the way back to Freshwater East – the whole thing took three hours. By 11.30 I was 200 yards from the chalet, and had not walked a step.

I fortified myself with more coffee and cake, and set off up the headland. I saw more walkers today than all the other days put together. The weather was perfect for walking, although not so good for photos as Monday. It was broken cloud, with a light breeze and some sunshine coming and going.  Eventually, I even thawed enough to take off my waterproof. I don’t generally feel the cold, but it got into my bones on Tuesday, and the chalet is a dank, north-facing, shady place, that will never have any sun in it, and whilst I can’t say it is positively damp, it has a depressing chill. I sit on the sofa huIMG_4787ddled in the blankets thoughtfully provided by the host, in lieu of heating. The views were superb – the cliffs on this stretch are of the steep up and down, with long flat stretches along the top variety. I could see all the way back to Llanmadoc Hill on the Gower again. It was another wild-flower fest – red clover, some sort of sea-side loving borage, tiny little rock roses and primula calendula. IMG_4813I forgot to mention that on Monday I saw a tawny owl, down near the set-aside land at St Clear’s. I hoped for choughs today, but although there were hundreds of crows, their legs were stubbornly black. I may have to touch up a couple of photos.

The path drops down to Stackpole Quay, apparently the smallest dock in Pembrokeshire, then on to Barafundle Bay which advertises itself as the best beach in Wales. It was certainly delightful, although I think there are others as good – Porth Oer, near Aberdaron (although I may be prejudiced) but even the next bay along, Broadhaven. was just as gorgeous – rolling golden sands, clear water and impressive cliffs with caves and arches. There is one very odd feature on top of the cliffs – a deep, round hole, about thirty feet in diameter, which appears to be completely natural, and goes almost all the way down to the water.  There were other inlets with caves, and the sound of seagulls in them echoed strangely. IMG_4801

The MoD operates considerable swathes of cliff for a firing range and today was one of its days for closing them to the public so I walked around the inland route, which is no hardship at first, because it takes you past the lily ponds at Bosherton – I have never seen so many water lilies. I stopped at a little church – St Michael and All Angels- one of the many Norman churches in the district, built by the Norman Marcher lords, who were encouraged by the English king to take as much Welsh territory as they could. Tucked away in a corner was the tomb of a woman the leaflet named as one of the dowager-duchesses of Buckingham, but I don’t think that can be right – the clothes predate any of the duchesses.  I shall have to investigate!IMG_4822

The MoD has provided a reasonable path diversion, so that you are not obliged to walk too much on the road. There was a pleasant enough old trackway, for part of the distance, then a permissive path across fields.  Much of it was arranged with a three-foot wide stretch of path, with a fence to one side and dire warning about not touching military bits and pieces. Obviously, one of the few stretches without a fenced off path was a field full of my four-legged friends. I contemplated the alternatives – a long extra section on tarmac, or a scramble over barbed wire and along a deep drainage ditch. They looked harmless, mostly lying down away from the barbed wire edge, except for one calf, right next to it.  The worst thing you can do is get between the calf and its mother, which discouraged me going inward of it,  but walking straight it might not please mum either. I took the latter approach, and before I got to it, she called it, and it raced off. Good  – only two more ahead of me.  One ignored me, the other turned its head and waved its horns. The bull was in with his girls and had taken up position near the exit.   To go back would surely make him think I was more of a threat than going forward. I looked at the barbed wire again – three strands – I reckoned at a pinch I could crawl under and leap the drainage ditch.  Fortunately, he did not do more than watch me, as I walked briskly to the gate and slammed it shut behind me.   There was then about a mile and a half of tarmac – so hard on already tired legs.

Tuesday was 16.9 miles, and today a much gentler 10.5 – the diversion reduces the length of the section. I was glad enough to finish though. My knee is causing me some quite severe pain now.  I now need to wrestle with the mysteries of the bus timetable again – the driver explained this morning that there were some errors in it!

Today was a Tin day.

Day 95 Bridgwater to Burnham-on-Sea 29 October 2017

Day 95 Bridgwater to Burnham-on-Sea 29 October 2017

Today was one of those days when you seem to walk for miles and still get nowhere. It was little more than a re-run of yesterday, as I was coming up the east bank of the river Parrett. It took most of the day to arrive at a point opposite Steart Point where I was at 10am yesterday. The weather was better, not so windy and generally sunnier. In fact, I have windburn.IMG_2657

I did not start out in a very positive frame of mind. Lat night’s hotel, like all the rest was far too hot. I turned off the radiator (goodness knows why it was on, with the external temperature nearing 20 degrees) but the towel rail in the bath room was still pumping out heat, and the bedding was far too heavy. I do wish that hotels would put a sheet on as well as a duvet. Quite apart from the hygiene aspect of another layer between the various bodies and the duvets absorbing sweat, it would give the hotter amongst us a much pleasanter night. As usual, I took the duvet out of its jacket, but I still woke up every couple of hours.

The place was somewhat redeemed by breakfast. A good continental selection with high quality organic yoghurts and fruit as well as boiled eggs, vine tomatoes, cheeses, cold meats and pastries. I abstracted an additional pain au chocolate for elevenses.

The route starts out with a good couple of miles on the road, hard on the feet. IMG_2670It then winds backwards and forwards along the riverbank. Some interesting information about Bridgwater was on the various interpretation boards. Most of the towns in the area were once navigable by river to trading craft, and Bridgwater itself had a big export market for its bricks and tiles. There was once a castle here and there are some handsome early eighteenth century houses.

The route was littered with bovines, but all were pleasingly placid and lolling at the far ends of their respective fields. I did just arm myself with a plank of wood from one of the numerous bonfire heaps that are in preparation for 5th November, but my precautions were unnecessary.IMG_2689

The path wound inland to Highbridge, where I crossed the River Brean, and then went along the prom at Burnham-on-Sea. I am sitting with my feet up in the pub I am staying at. They are rather achey, I am sorry to say.

All adding up to an average, or ‘tin’ day.