Abercastle to Whitesands – Wales Coast Path

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In Scotland they bag a Munro, Lucy and I have been bagging Coastal paths in Wales. Today we completed the compelling, rugged, captivating Pembrokeshire Coast Path, all 186 miles, from Amroth to St Dogmaels. Which makes it 413 miles in total from Chepstow to St Dogmaels.

Our pincer movement along the path means that our final walk starts in Abercastle, but not before an early morning stroll around St Davids, following yet another comfortable night stay at The Old Cross Hotel.

There is only limited parking at the small jetty in Abercastle, with an honesty box located just before you access the path.

A swift detour to Carreg Samson, a 5000 year old Neolithic Dolmen, it is only a quarter of a mile away from the path, not using up much energy.

At Trefin we see the remains of a corn mill, putting me in mind of a favourite Welsh poem by Crwys-

Nid ye’r Felin heno’n malu
Yn Nhrefin yn min y mor

The mill is not grinding tonight
In Trefin at the edge of the sea.

The poem talks about the death of the miller and eventual dereliction of the Mill.

We cross a small footbridge passing the old mill at Aber Draw. The water, the power source, still forcefully spills down the slope to the sea.

Up a tarmac path and road then through a gate, all clearly signposted, the path goes close to the cliff edge at times.

We reach a white beacon, before descending into Porthgain,
A small harbour which used to ship slate quarried in both Porthgain and Abereiddy. The slate gave way to a brick industry. It is now a protected area with small art galleries, The Shed fish restaurant and The Sloop pub where we stopped for a drink.

We tripled our water intake on this walk – it was so hot! We still ended up with sausage fingers and toes! Make sure you take on plenty of water if planning this walk as it gets fairly remote once you are past Abeireiddy.

Steep steps take you out of Porthgain, Lucy earwigs on a group of fair walking conservatives hovering at the top of the steps are animatedly discussing the future of Theresa May!

We pass above Traeth Llyfn and swiftly pass The Blue Lagoon, where the Red Bull diving champion have been held, reaching the beach at .

This Coast is buzzing with people coasteering, canoeing, diving, young and old walkers, fathers carrying toddlers on their backs, all making the most of this wonderful natural landscape.

The path dips at Porth y rhaw, we then steadfastly made up and across Penberry Hill. Steep and rocky in parts we shoo grazing horses away so we can make our way through a gap between rocks. Heading towards St David’s Head the moorland opens out ahead, rough ground here, the heather is just about coming through – it will be a purple haze around here in a few weeks.

Once passed Penllechwen headland the path becomes less prominent – you could take your pick of routes across the common. If in doubt stick to the right! At one stage opted for the middle and had to work our way back to the path as we came down into the sandy, sheltered beach at Porthmelgan. A broad very visible path leads us down to Whitesands Bay!

Hurrah – conquering the Pembrokeshire Coast Path we headed for home feeling very satisfied.

Whitesands to Solva – Wales Coast Path

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Approximately 13 miles on a sunny day – this was a relatively easy walk.

Rising gradually from Whitesands, passing the lifeguard station, beyond a couple of houses and we are out on the cliff tops to Porthselau.

The sheer rocks beyond Point St John are impressive, with Ramsey island nature reserve in the distance we make good time to St Justinian lifeboat station. There has been a lifeboat station here since 1839. It now sits alongside the new station, and is the embarkation point for trips to, from and around Ramsey.

We slow our pace, as this is too beautiful a day and too glorious a setting to hurry. We reach the most westerly point in Wales out on the remote Treginnis Peninsula.

From Pen Dal-aderyn looking down on Ramsey Sound, we head towards Porth Lysgi, named after an Irish saint who landed here.

We eventually reached the tiny harbour of Porth Clais, drop off point for pilgrims and saints travelling from far and wide to visit the very holy St David’s.

We didn’t meet any saint, but Lucy’s neighbour – such a small world!

The harbour is surrounded by limekilns – lime has been used on soil in these parts since the 1600, but these kilns came later. Limestone imports were burnt with culm to a powder.

We cross to the other side of the harbour and climb steadily, across St Non’s Bay with its crumbling cliffs, we detour off the coast path to take in The 600 year old St Non’s chapel and St Non’s well. Non was the mother of St David, Wales’s patron saint.

Rounding the corner at Pen y Cyfrwy we walk towards Caerfai Bay with its gentle curve, clean sands and caves to explore!

The path is easy to follow, and what we have particularly liked on the Pembrokeshire Coast is the small white plaques with the grid reference and names of each bay clearly marked. It has made it so much easier to pinpoint our location on a map!

Caerfai gives way to Carn Bwdi Bay leading to an easy walk at Morfa Common dropping down to a bit of a stream below Nine Wells.

The remains of three Greek boats wrecked in 1981 can still be seen at Loch Warren.

You can see Upper Solva a long time before you reach the corner and turn down towards Lower Solva – it is a bit of a hash of a route down a sunken path to the harbour – hard to believe that in the 18th and 19th century was one of the busiest ports on this coast.

Bet you didn’t know that musician David Gray lived in the village from the age of 8!!

…..and I didn’t mention the large stinky fish washed ashore!!

Nolton Haven to Solva, Wales Coast Path

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This turned out to be a relatively easy walk – just under 11 miles. Mainly over cliff tops but with some steep steps. I still hate steps, give me a natural incline or decline any day!

We set off but quickly returned to the car as the heavy mist had turned into a drizzle, Nolton Haven is a bit of a scrappy shingle beach and even the surfers didn’t look happy with the weather.

Given a break in the mizzle we set off up the incline and out on the headland. It was breezy!

Our first surprise was evidence of coal mining . Something you wouldn’t associate with modern day Pembrokeshire Coastal Park. Trefrane Colliery was opened in the 1850s and records show that in 1896 it employed 36 miners and 8 surface workers.

Further into the walk we reach the two mile stretch across Newgale Beach, the tide was out and we made our way down to the sands, an easier and more satisfying way to walk the two mile stretch rather than along the busy road.

It did mean a scramble up the large pebble wall, deposited by the great storm of 1859, this forms a natural barrier between the beach and the roadway. We headed for the Duke of Edinburgh for a swift drink – non alcoholic and more importantly a toilet stop.

We stroll up the hill out of Newgale, there are quite a few steps on the next stretch to Cwmbach, but pretty easy walking to Porthmynawyd. I had never been to this beach before, but I did vaguely recall it being mentioned in The Guardian as one of Wales’s top ten secret beaches.

It nestles into Dinas Fach, one of two headlands, we quickly reach Dinas Fawr (Dinas –City. Fach – small and Fawr- Big)

We come to a pretty valley named after Elvis, the Irish Saint who baptised St David not as in Presley.

More steps at the Gribbin before eventually walking down passed the limekilns dating from late 18th to early 19th century into the pretty harbour of Lower Solva, straight into the Harbour pub for a swift pint of Lime and soda!

If you like your pint after a long walk there are at least three pubs within 100 yards!

St Martin’s Haven to Nolton Haven – Wales Coast Path

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St Martin’s Haven to Nolton Haven.

Lucy and I stayed overnight in Cross Hotel, St Davids which we would highly recommend.   We welcomed the crisp bed linen, the fluffy white towels and a nice bottle of Malbec and steak. It made a change from self catering, comfortable and convenient as that might be….

The hope for a second day’s walking following an overnight stay is that it surpasses the previous day’s trek. This walk exceeded expectations.

Mainly along cliff tops it offers some easy walking around 12 miles in total

Parking at St Martin’s Haven we headed up the coast passing Musselwick Sands towards Nab’s Head. The path was overgrown around East Hook with some nettles – a prickly start.

The headlands stretch out endlessly before us, blue on green on blue – sky, land, sea.

Tower Point provides distinctive landmark – a large sandstone stack, following on we catch glimpses of St Brides castle, built in 1833 by William Charles Phillips and added to by 6th Baron Kensington in early 20th century.

St Bride’s Castle became a sanatorium and I have memories of visiting as a child when my mother became an in patient for some nine months. For the next hour, Lucy and I pleasantly traded family memories.

St Brides is a tranquil Haven. St Briget’s church was named after Bigid of St Kildare who travelled to Wales with St David in the 6C.

At Mill Haven we encounter the grass cutters – the path will be cleared for future walkers

Tantalising views of Broad Haven beach in the distance, before the scenery changes quite radically as we move onto Burrough Head, entering a cool woodland, providing welcome relief from the heat.

“Boo” – a man who had previously walked on by is sitting a bench – startling me – but we all laughed, I had been lost in thought.

A young man and his father hasten by to catch the walker’s bus, we wander down into Little Haven and walk across the beach to Broad Haven where we stop for a snack and cooling drink.

Walking out of Broad Haven we had to remark on the sphinx like rock – Shag Rock.

We reach Settling Nose and Haroldston Chins in no time at all. We were both impressed with the accessibility track leading from the roadside parking to the viewpoint at the Chins.

Druidston Hotel bought back happy memories to both of us, and we laughed our way down the track, we can see the roof of the “Teletubby House” or Malator, the earth house designed by Future Systems.

Looking across at sandy Druidston Haven, there is quite a lot of soil erosion – a bit scary.

Eventually we descend into Noltons Haven, passing the church and into the free car park with toilets – you wouldn’t believe how important WC stops can be during and following a long walk

Martin’s Haven to Dale – Wales Coast Path

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The wind had dropped, and we have a beautiful clear day, but the rains are coming in at 2pm, necessitating an earlier check out from the cottage, cars to pack up and get to our starting point, sooner rather than later

Martin’s Haven is the place where the boats depart for Skomer island. The Puffin watchers were up early and the National trust car park was filling up!

Skokholm in the distance, some 2.5 miles from shore is a bird and wildlife haven, while Skomer island closer to shore is home to half the world’s population of Manx shearwaters! Although the Atlantic puffins are a photographer’s dream bird!

We quickly reached the very stunning Marloes Sands and the tidal island of Gateholm at its head is very noticeably featured in the film Snow white and the Huntsman. A computer generated castle is added to the island in post production.

Pass an old airfield we drop down the Valley into Westdale Bay.

We reach St Anne’s Head and lighthouse only to find the access gate to the path blocked by a cow rubbing her nether regions against the gate, with no intention of moving despite shooing. Attracting the attention of the other cows in the field. We had no option but to circumnavigate the field until we found another entrance!

The next point of interest was Mill Bay where in 1485 Henry Tudor landed with his French allies and set forth to do battle at Bosworth Field, defeating Richard 111 and taking the throne of England.

Onwards to the West Blockhouse, a garrison built in 1857 for 34 men and 1 officer, now owned by the Landmark Trust it provides very comfortable holiday accommodation.

Beyond Warwick point with its huge navigation pillar, we eventually get to Dale Point, reaching the road and eventually down through the woods to Dale village.

Then it rained!

Dale to Sandy Haven – Wales Coast Path

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The sea was sparkling in the morning sunlight as we headed out of the village towards Musselwick, over the stepping stones, perfect timing as the tide was far out.

We went up a path and through woods to Monk Haven, with its high walls you can envisage the monastic settlement here. Except that the high walls are a lot more recent – a boundary to the nearby estate.

Quietly waiting for Eniko and Lucy I got talking to a local bird watcher. When the others arrived he insisted on walking with us a little way to point out the nesting peregrine falcons.

He leaped up on a hedge, drew me up after him, then complained that I was still too short. Whereupon, I fell backwards into a gorse bush. I love meeting people who are passionate about their interests, despite a prickly bottom

I only got to see the circulating falcon, not the nest!

This should have been a simple walk, and our intention had been to walk on to Milford Haven, but by the time we got to Sandy Haven, the tide had turned.

Four miles on the road to Herbranston, a quick stop in the pub, some friendly guidance by a man who walked us to the pub, before we could turn back down to Sandy Haven. Needless to stay we didn’t walk any further!

We had been so aware of the earlier tide at Musselwick, I hadn’t made an allowance for the tide in Sandy Haven.

My metatarsals were mangled from road walking I was so grateful for the vicious June storm that came in overnight!

Milford Haven to Sandy Haven – Wales Coast Path

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Milford Haven to Sandy Haven

Following a very bad storm where it rained all day, we switched our plans from walking around St Anne’s Head to the more sheltered haven.

The miles flew by as we caught up with our friend Gill.

The start of the journey wasn’t very interesting, passing Tesco’s, then through Hakin.

Gill did point out her and Gareth’s boat – a project!

We walked beneath the gas pipeline leading to the refinery only to reach Sandy Haven in double quick time.

Pembrokeshire Coast Path is brilliantly managed and maintained, but parts of this walk was badly overgrown with tall grass and nettles. We did run into the grass cutters closer to Sandy Haven, hopefully by now the grass will have been mowed.

A very nice lunch was had @ The Bar in the Marina at Milford bought to an end a very pleasant catch up walk with Gill.

Pembroke to Milford Haven – Wales Coast Path

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The day started badly by missing the coast path signs coming out of Pembroke. I hate retracing my steps.  Coffee this morning in Food at Williams

We passed an old fort as we headed into Pembroke Dock, shuttered shop fronts made the how look quite deprived. That said the wall sculptures heading down to the Martello Tower on the Quay were a great insight into the rich history of the port. Irish Ferries link with Ireland was in port as we walked through.

We walked across the very windy tollgate bridge, looking down on the Aberdaucleddau estuary.

We then took another wrong turning. More retracing of steps and after the next bridge we turned towards Neyland.

At this stage my feet were beginning to ache from all the road walking so we paused and aired our feet with Brunel’s statue looking stonily on.

The village of Llanstadwell is the only pleasant distraction from now on, with its pretty church and road side flower displays.

Beyond this point is a plethora of high fences, walking under the massive wind turbines. The noise they make is reminiscent of the opening scene of Good Morning Vietnam – the thwack , thwack, thwack as they spin in the wind sounding like chinook helicopters.

We walk over the high bridges, over the lpg pipelines and onwards through farm fields to the edge of the river, over the Black bridge, being very wary of traffic here.

Through Pill to the Rath and down hill on Hamilton Terrace.

Glad to see the end of this lengthy walk, as my feet were killing me.

Lessons learnt: even if you wear great boots, check the state of your insoles. Mine were threadbare after 400 miles of walking, and I suffered for it

Pembroke to Angle West – Wales Coast Path

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Back on the Wales Coast Path – Pembroke to Angle West.

After a three week break we are back on the Path.

Starting at Pembroke Castle, we paused for coffee and waited for the rain to stop.

We all know that Henry Tudor – Henry VII was born here and we admired his bench.

By the time we had our coffee and retail therapy, at the very exciting Cornstore we set off for this 15 mile walk.

We headed towards Monkton, passing a woman who was berating her little boy in no uncertain terms….

We reckon we must have walked past the biggest tap in Pembrokeshire and It wasn’t long before the power station came into view.

We rested at Pwllcrochan – a very tranquil setting – the church dates from 1342, there is no access to the building, but we strolled through the church yard and down to a reed bed in the hope of spying some otters, but they were not coming out to play.

The rest of the walk until Popton Point was dominated by the refinery and jetty. We had a drink at  The Old Point House , but a long wait for dinner had us moving on to West Angle as the daylight was fading and we were yet to find our cottage for the weekend.

West Angle to Freshwater West – Wales Coast Path

West Angle Bay To Freshwater West

This is what I would call a top and tail walk. That is a short walk to link up two areas of the Coastal path either on the way to our main walking destination or on the way home.

There is a very nice cafe at West Angle Bay, Wave Crest .  We enjoyed crab sandwiches and also free parking.

As an aside, if you are a National Trust member do remember your card as it will save you a small fortune in parking along this coastline.

Looking out to sea, Thorn island with its Coastal artillery fort is intriguing, built as part of the defences against possible invasion by Napoleon. Later on we view Rat Island and Sheep island. The coastline here is away from the refineries of the Haven with much prettier views.

Shipwrecks abound on this coast, in 1878 the Loch Shiel went down with a cargo of whiskey, gunpowder and beer – it could be said to be the Whiskey Galore of South Pembrokeshire

We go past the ruined East Blockhouse, and as we get closer to Freshwater West there are several steep ascents and descents, with some 65 steps to climb near Black cave.

Freshwater west is a glorious stretch of beach and we have parked our car in the small free car park by the Burrows.

Only five miles or so, but another piece of the Wales Coast Path jigsaw completed.