The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

WCP: Newport to Strumble Head Lighthouse

Tuesday 20 Sept
Distance: 20.1 miles
Ascent: I don't even want to think about that number!
Weather: overcast, clearing to sunny intervals just as I finished my day's walk

There are three things which occur in everyday life of which I have an intense dislike (some may say bordering on phobias): aggressive Border Collies, milk, and pedestrian footbridges over multiple lanes of traffic. Today featured all three.

The day started uneventfully, and very early, as I was woken by passing traffic at five to five, so by six o'clock I thought I may as well get up and get walking. The bonus of the early start at this time of year was that, by occasional glances behind me, I got to witness sunrise:

The dog incident of the day came not long after, as I was walking along a very pleasant cliff top path, and would barely be worth a mention if it wasn't for today being the 'day of the phobias'. Border Collies sense my fear of them and, as a matter of course, react to me with aggression, so it's something that happens all the time (this was the second time in 48 hours). Happily this owner didn't blame me for their unleashed hound's behaviour (a surprisingly common occurrence), but restrained it and apologised. I carried merrily on along the narrow, undulating path, wondering if they had witnessed, a couple of minutes earlier, the incident when I'd realised, again, that my phone was missing and started running back along the path to find it. I'd not gone more than fifty paces when I remembered I'd put it in a different pocket - so that I wouldn't lose it.

Whilst I was enjoying this fine morning, Mick was having a bit of drama. He'd pulled into the parking area we had earmarked for him to meet me for elevenses, and decided to have his breakfast. A new four-pint container of milk was got out of the fridge and the seal removed. The mishap came about as Colin was parked on a notable slope, and as Mick turned to put the seal in the bin, the full, uncapped container slid off the side. Let's suffice to say it was very messy and I'm glad I didn't arrive until the clean-up operation had been completed (as far as possible; the carpet, a tea towel and one of the seat covers are in need of deep cleaning).

After rounding Dinas Head and stopping for second breakfast in a lovely cove...

not this cove, but a later one just like it
...many, many more wiggles in the path (there were a lot of wiggles - my morning came out, as measured by the GPS, as being 1.4 miles longer than it measured on the map) I eventually reached Fishguard Fort Car Park, and Mick, who was not a happy bunny after the milk incident.

My morning had taken me 20 minutes longer than my estimate (although I suppose it had been further than expected) and I was thoroughly unconvinced at that point (11.4 miles in) that I wanted to do another 8.5 miles. So, after a lengthy break/elevenses/early lunch, I set out (finding five minutes down the road another free car park, in a much more attractive position and dead-flat such that milk containers couldn't slide even if they wanted to) for just another couple of miles where Mick was going to meet me again, that being the last obvious place I could bail out before the intended end of my day.

The going around Fishguard was so fast, on a tarmac cycle path, that Colin was deserted when I reached him. Expecting me to be longer, Mick had gone out for a look around. One of the lessons learnt from the incident when we lost each other on the Welsh coast a couple of years ago was that I should carry a spare key and that was the one lesson upon which we acted, such that I was able to let myself in*.

After another cup of tea, by which time Mick had returned, I'd decided that another six and a half miles were perfectly doable, so off I went to face my final fear: to cross the port access road and railway line, the WCP goes over a footbridge. It was awful. So much so that I nearly cried half way across, and it was only when I was safely on the other side that I gave myself a mental slap and pointed out to myself how irrational I was being.

The final six miles of the day, around Strumble Head, turned out to be a delight. Wide grassy tracks through bracken and gorse were common, the ups and downs seldom steep, and the views of the rocky coastline superb. With the addition of the mournful wailing of seals echoing around one particular cove, it was a fantastic afternoon. Moreover, the going was so good that I reached my destination a whole hour faster than anticipated, just as the sun came out.

Strumble Head Lighthouse, around which lots of people were about, thanks to the two car parks nearby

(*other lessons learnt from that incident were for me to carry a pen and paper; for both of us to carry mobile phones on two different networks; and to have map printouts for both of us. I still don't have a pen and paper in my pack, we still only brought one extra phone between us on a different network and we couldn't find the extra maps, which we know are printed and in the house somewhere.)


  1. Dogs don't like the tungsten end of a walking pole which is what they would get if I was intimidated.
    We spilt some milk in the car but even after cleaning it we could smell it. A week later the smell was worse so got the carpets out, washed them and put them back. Still the smell remained. Then we found it, a fillet of Salmon had fell out of the shopping and gone down the wheel well. It was serious hangin, no "g".

    1. I find that the tip of a walking pole to be an effective away to keep dogs at bay without any contact needing to be made. In fact, it's the reason I carried my poles every step of the way on the Welsh coast, even on the sections where I neither wanted nor needed them for walking purposes.

      Milky carpet and a rotting salmon fillet? That must really have been quite an experience!

  2. Your mileage is impressive. My late wife Ann and I spent many holidays with our caravan on a quiet farm site near Strumble Hesd and I have many very fond memories of that part of the Wales coast path, going for early morning runs, dare I say it with our Springer Spaniel, Barney ( who was friendly to all), and picking mushrooms to die for in the fields, and as you mention the seals et al.

    Daughter Jill left milk in my car which emptied itself under the seat.. I reslly do not want to depress you, but despite the most strenuous attempts at cleaning I csn still smell it a year later. We could not remove the carpets without rrmoving most of the other trim in the front of the car.

    1. I bought a car off my parents in my late teens which had sufferent a 'milk incident', and when I sold the car three and a half years later you could still smell sour milk in it on a hot day.

      Happily, Colin's carpets are loose Flotex which we placed over the lino-esque flooring*, so the biggest concern for lingering smells was that some may have got under the join between kitchen and wardrobe or under the fridge. Fingers crossed, we don't seem to be suffering from any lingering odour - except on the tea towel, which is now in the washing basket for the fifth time!

      (*we bought that Flotex as a remnant for £10, thinking at that price we could replace it every year. It's been down 5 years now, so even if we did have to bin it as a result of the milk incident, we've well and truly had our money's worth out of it.)