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]

Monday, 26 September 2016

WCP: Pwllcrochan to Bosherston

Monday 26 Sept
Distance: 21 miles
Weather: rain. Nothing but rain, with a bit of wind adding itself to the rain later

Unlike on Saturday, there was no avoiding the weather today. Rain was to fall all day long, so neither an early nor a late start would have helped. The only options were a rest day, or a walk in the rain. I’m feeling quite proud of myself that, as a fair weather walker, I didn’t just spring out of bed before daybreak, but spent the whole day getting wet too.

It’s light enough to see by 7am, if you’re out in the open. My start this morning was down a little lane over which the trees have grown to form a tunnel. It was dark in there, and a little way along was the ruin of a building with its open doorway fronting the road. Inside of that doorway was a bush or bramble, which to those of a nervous disposition or with an overactive imagination, could be taken as being a mad axe murderer. Suitably spooked, I hurried on.

Within a few minutes I was out in the open and what a sight greeted me. No, not a fine bit of coast, but the very impressive sight of the Roscrowther Oil Refinery lit up like a Christmas tree. I’m not sure a snap on my phone could ever have captured a true likeness of the sight, but with the addition of a waterproof cover, it failed miserably.

Wet fields took me around the refinery, accompanied the whole way by the smell of petrol, and (unusually for me) I was pleased to find that the access track to the refinery’s jetty was actually a road, which allowed me to speed along for a while.

More fields took me towards Angle, and just before reaching the village a glance at the map brought to my notice a right of way which runs right across the bay. My eyes told me that the tide was low and the route free of water (save for the couple of steps through the flowing channel, but my feet were so wet anyway that a splash through a stream was of no consequence), so the only question in my mind was whether this was a viable right of way, or one that leads one into deep mud. In the absence of any warning signs, I opted to go for it and I’m glad I did, as a couple of minutes later I was on the other side, with half a mile of walking saved.

Mick was waiting for me at West Angle Bay, and I arrived during a period of very heavy rain, which had been persisting for about half an hour (it rained the whole time I was out today varying between very light and horribly heavy).

The worst thing about stopping was putting all my wet stuff back on to restart, but I only had a couple more hours to walk before Mick was to meet me again, at Freshwater West. That section was gorgeous in its scenery and also featured the best weather I had all day, with mainly very light rain. That all changed just before I reached the beach at Freshwater West when it became torrential. For the second time today, I stripped off dripping attire. Then I set about demolishing lunch.

When I planned this walk, two years ago, I helpfully made some notes to myself on the map. Unhelpfully, I haven’t been looking at the upcoming map sections in advance, and thus it wasn’t until last night that I noticed that today the Coast Path meets the Castlemartin Artillery Range. A call to the information line told me that there was live firing all of this week* and thus access was closed. Darn! If I’d just known that yesterday lunchtime I would have skipped ahead to walk that section on Sunday, when access wasn’t an issue.

I expected an afternoon on roads walking around the range, as that’s what the map indicated for the alternative route. However, in 2010 the Army created (and now maintains) a permissive bridleway called the Castlemartin Range Trail, which keeps to the perimeter of the Range, often just the other side of the hedge from the road. It was all farmland, with lots of wet grass and a very high gate count (but all bridleway-style gates, which are easy to open and close), but whereas yesterday I bemoaned the quantity of inland farmland, today I didn’t mind at all – even though I had a herd of cows decide to indulge in a game of ‘chase the walker’. I refused to be hurried, although the way they were stampeding around and towards me did get my heart thumping more than the flat land warranted.

For the third and final time today, the rain started absolutely lashing at me about twenty minutes before I reached my end point. Accordingly, Colin is now a steamy place to be. Fortunately, the weather is forecast fine tomorrow, which should allow everything to dry.  

(*They certainly were firing today. The first of a dozen big bangs nearby had me exclaim out loud. The next few had me fighting the urge to run for cover. Then the machine gun fire started up too.)


1 comment:

  1. I stayed in the pub at Bosherston and had a nighttime firework display from my bedroom window as the army let fly loads of their ordnance. I too had to walk round the range. The military path only took me north onto the road, and it was dire ankle twisting stuff. I walked twenty miles that day to Pembroke.