Day 113 Talacharn to Saundersfoot 10 June 2019

Day 113 Talacharn to Saundersfoot 10 June 2019

I had an early start today, as I was leaving the delightful accommodation for a new location, so had to pack everything up and get to Saundersfoot in time for the bus. As it happens, I misread the timetable and left myself with nearly an hour to wait. The bus was then slightly delayed, which worried me, as I had a ten minute gap at Pendine to catch the second bus. However, the driver clearly believed in hitting his timetable, as he haired down the country lanes at a scary pace.

At the Pendine bus stop were another couple of walkers, from North Wales, so we had good chat. There was also a lady who clearly had some mental health issues. She asked me to watch her dog whilst she went back home for something. It was not clear why the dog could not go too. I told her I was catching the bus, and could not wait, but she assured me she would be back. The poor creature set up a tremendous torrent of barking. Another woman at the stop more-or-less told me that she does it all the time. I felt guilty when I got on the bus, and left the poor dog barking, but what else could I do?

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Dyklan Thomas’s 30th Birthday Walk.

The sun was not so bright this morning, but Talacharn/Laugharne is still very pleasant, and the first 20 minutes of walking through the woods where Dylan Thomas did his famous walk, to celebrate his 30th birthday and wrote a poem about it, were lovely.

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Woods to the west of Talacharrn.

Then there was a long trek underneath the cliff on a paved track.  A rather depressing puppy-farm made a lot of noise, before the path turned up to the road. Once again, considerable effort has been made to keep the path off the tarmac, but the whole four miles was dull.  As we approached Pendine, which I discovered was the home of the land -speed record. I was amused by a sign announcing this, together with the words, ‘drive safely’.  Another sign for my new collection.

I was worried that as I passed the bus stop where I had boarded earlier, the dog might still be there, but fortunately, it was not. At the far end of Pendine, I bought a coffee and sat to eat my sandwiches, looking back along the amazing beach, where the land-speed record had been set, which, sadly, is largely closed to the public, as an MoD property. There was constant shooting in the background. The path climbs high up out of the village. I stopped at a viewpoint and chatted to a couple with a rather nice dalmation dog, named Jasper. The man’s brother is also walking the entire coast! Quite a coincidence, although I expect there is some statistical quirk that makes it all quite unsurprising. Like two people in every 23 having the same birthday.

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Me with the long stretch of Pentywyn/Pendine sands behind

The sun was now beating down, and although the path was quite tough for the next four miles, the views were superb – it was even possible to see the Devon coast in the far distance, and the Worm’s Head was very clear.

I slapped on loads of Factor 50, having decided, foolishly, against wearing my hat. Since the only lipstick I can find that lasts all day (and protects from cold-sores provoked by burning) is pillar-box red, the effect with thick Factor 50 is rather like Coco the Clown.

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Pentywyn Sands – Worm’s Head to far right.

By the time I got to Amroth, I was hot and tired. There was a very welcome pub where I sat on a comfortable chair and cooled down. At this point, my blister was still intact.

At Amroth, I began the official Pembroke Coast Path. The beach looked inviting, but the tide was coming in and there were lots of groynes. I did not want to find that I could not get out at the end and have to backtrack, so I stayed on the cob. The path climbs up again, then down onto the road into Wiseman’s Bridge, after which it winds around the promontory, then through a very odd cave (formerly the railway tunnel, I think) with bizarre red lighting.  This brings you onto Saundersfoot beach, which, happily, you can walk over.

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Beach at Saundersfoot.

I arrived at the new Air B & B, keen to eat and put my feet up. It is very disappointing – absolutely miles from the bus or train station, and when I arrived, the key-lock number did not work. I tried, and one of the neighbours tried. There was no phone signal, so I had to drive to the nearest pub, to log onto Air BandB and check the number. I was definitely trying the right combination. I had to track down the owner and get him to come out.  He used an entirely different code. There is no TV aerial, and the injunction on the info sheet to play board games instead is rather limited for a single person. The DVDs provided as an alternative are all what you might call family viewing – eg Mrs Doubtfire!  I am not a big TV watcher, but I do like some shows. The owner slightly redeemed the situation by offering me a lift tomorrow morning to the station, now it transpires I cannot walk there very easily. I am going to have to rejig my timetable.

Weather superb – 14.5 miles and another Silver day.

Day 109 – Cheriton to Gowerton 25 July 2018

Day 109 – Cheriton to Gowerton 25 July 2018

We had a great celebratory meal last night, at an Italian restaurant in Mumbles, and I confess I was a little heavy-headed this morning. We hoped that today might be the lucky day for finding an 11 o’clock coffee stop, but alas, no joy.

We left one car near the station at Gowerton, then came back to the pub we finished at yesterday, and turned off down the lane where, had the sea wall at Cwm Ivy still been intact, we would have emerged from the salt-flats. To begin with the walk meandered around the flats again, but then entered farmland and some pleasant wooded areas.

However, it was not long before the path joins the road at Crofty.  We arrived there around 10.15, but neither pub was open.  The door of one was actually open, and a lady was laying tables, but she did not feel able to serve us coffee – nothing could be done before twelve.

Somewhat disgruntled, we marched on. Before long we saw a hiker coming towards us and stopped to talk. She is doing the Wales Coastal Path, but in the opposite direction. We talked about the optimum number of days to do on a trip. I said that in some ways, I’d like to do a really long chunk of two or three months, but that in fact, the longest stretch I have done was two weeks, by which time I was thoroughly fed up.  Her advice was that, once you push through the two-week mark, walking becomes your life, and you sink into it completely.  Not sure – one to think about if I have an extended period of free time – not likely in the immediate future.

The road was quiet to begin with, but became busier.  In parts, you can walk to the side on the old railway track, now a cycle-path, which used to serve a branch line from Gowerton to Penclawdd, initially installed to move coal from the mines in the Morlais valley. It is hard to believe there were once mines in the Gower – the Welsh Development Agency has done a fantastic job of removing all signs of this once pervasive industry.  Before the railway, there was a canal, which brought coal from inland to the dock, for transport to sea-going vessels.  There is the merest ghost now of the dock to be seen at low-tide.

Some effort has been made to make the route pretty with wildflowers, and it was good to see across the estuary, but after yesterday’s gorgeousness, today was bound to be a bit tame. Nevertheless, the weather was pleasant, and having my brother-in-law for company made it a silver day.

12 miles.

Day 108 – Porth Einon to Cheriton 24th July 2018

Day 108 – Porth Einon to Cheriton 24th July 2018

We promised ourselves that we would start earlier today, and we did a bit better than yesterday, finding somewhere to leave one car and wriggling all the way through the lanes to cross Gower from north to south for 9am.  The morning was somewhat overcast, but it was not raining, and the forecast was good. We set out along the east side of the headland at Porth Einon, climbing up past a campsite, and looking back across to the headland we were on yesterday.  There is a

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View east from Porth Einon

monument stone at the top, dedicated to Gwent Jones (1910 – 1962) and Stephen Lee (1889 – 1962), described as ‘Dau gyfaill gwyr’ – two faithful men, who, as members of the Gower Society, helped preserve the cliffs.

Their work was well done – the cliff top walk is fine walking. We were pleased to see some ponies enjoying the view, too.Ponies above Porth Eynon 24.7.18 The tide was out, showing how the cliffs have developed over millennia, rock thrusting up from the earth’s core, and being worn away by the constant pressure of the waves.  There are no trees on this stretch of path, nothing but gorse.  Although we have had rain the last couple of days, the grass is yellow and worn.

Around 10.15, the clouds began to clear. We were in hopes of finding a cliff-top café for coffee, but, once again, were disappointed.  The path winds in and out of the deep fissures in the cliff face – running inland for a few hundred yards, down and up a steep slope then out again towards the sea. We were looking out for the famous Worm’s Head, but were not quite sure we had found it, until we passed it and looked back, then the shape of it is easy to sea. Nothing to do with worms, of course – ‘worm’ is a mediaeval term for a dragon.

The cliff tops were easy walking, and we soon began to see lots of other people with children and dogs.  Passing the Worm’s Head, we could see the curve of bay that is the delightful Rhossili beach – voted Wales’ best beach this year (2018) by Trip Advisor, and apparently in their top ten for the last six years.  And it is, indeed, spectacular – probably the best beach I have encountered so far in the whole walk.  Some of the Norfolk beaches might run it close for length and beauty of sands, but with the cliffs and the scenery round Rhossili also being magnificent, it is in a class of its own.

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Me overlooking Rhossili Beach.

On a more prosaic note, there is also a fine café, where we had a super lunch, overlooking the sea. To reach the beach, you need to go down a winding path and then steps.  The sun was getting stronger, and the sky bluer – ideal conditions.

The beach itself is completely flat – the sands are soft and pale gold, and the water was warm- we took off our boots and walked through it – very welcome to the feet after several days walking. The size and quantity of jellyfish was less pleasing.  As we walked north (the bay is at the end of the peninsula, and turns north), we could see lots of para-skateboarders. Not sure that is the right name – they have skateboard type things, with sails, racing along the sands.  Some of them went so fast they took off and it looked great fun – shame I am too much of a wimp to give it a go.

The path climbs up the cliffs, to a hillier section. On this stretch, there is no beach – the rounded green hills just drop straight into the sea,  and you can see across the estuary of the Llwchwr into the county of Carmarthen.  Llanmadoc beach and the Llwchwr estuary 24.7.18We then curved round and down into some sand dunes, and the path meandered down to the beach at Llanmadoc   The beach went for miles, extending into an area called Whiteford Sands along a spit, and, for me, was quite as impressive as Rhossili. We kept thinking we must have reached the end, but the beach curved on and on for nearly four miles.  At the northern-most tip, it swung back on itself and the path went inland. To our left was a vast expanse of wetlands and marsh.  To our right,  a strip of woodland, Whitford Barrows, only a few hundred yards wide, but completely different scenery from the beach on the other side.Whitford Barrows 24.7.18

It used to be possible to cross the wetlands on a mediaeval sea wall at Cwm Ivy, but the wall was breached earlier this year, and has not been repaired. We therefore had to join the road and walk a mile or so along it, back to the pub, where I also picked up some good news about another project.

Unsurprisingly, with the views, the company and the weather, this was a diamond day – only my second. 18 miles.