Wednesday 28 September
Distance: 19.4 miles
Weather: Dry for the first hour, then mist/fog/mizzle/drizzle the rest of the day
Half an hour after Mick dropped me back off by Saundersfoot this morning, I walked past where we had spent last night. I really could have managed that yesterday, although all I would have achieved was to make today shorter, as there was no sensible option for carrying on beyond St Clears today.
I started my day by dropping down onto the beach, in the hope that I could walk the sand around to the harbour, but the tide was too high, so back up to the road I went and a little up and down ensued. It was to be a bit of a theme for the day, as three times in the first section I dropped down to a beach, hoping for a shorter, flatter walk, only to then have a fit of sense/overactive imagination; I wasn’t completely certain that the tide was receding and the last thing I wanted to do was to find myself stranded. Moreover, by the time I reached Amroth fog had developed and I couldn’t see much of the beaches to assess how viable they looked.
So instead I followed the Wales Coast Path as it did a very thorough investigation of an awful lot of contour lines for the next four miles. It did, however, look like it would be a nice route, in good weather.
looking down on Pendine Sands in suboptimal visibility
Mick was waiting with coffee cups and egg baps poised when I arrived in Pendine. In spite of the mizzle, I’d not donned anything waterproof until that point (my windproof top and body heat combined were doing an adequate job of fending off the moisture) but by the time I set back out an hour later it had become wet enough to warrant a more substantial jacket.
From Pendine my route turned inland, to spend a couple of days getting across the Rivers Taf and Towy, starting out of Pendine by generally following the line of the A road. First there was a good foot/cycle way adjacent to the road, then there was a bit of a service road, then there were field edges the other side of the hedge from the road (sometimes in the form of a fenced in walkway, sometimes just the edge of an open field). Only about a kilometre was on the road and fortunately very few vehicles came towards me whilst I was on it*.
It was a bit of a trudge really, although I did encounter pleasant surroundings on my way into Laugharne – a place that is most famous because of Dylan Thomas, but which sticks in my head because my father looked at buying a business there when I was thirteen, and thus it could have become my home for my teenage years. I do believe it’s the only place on this section that I have previously visited. The weather hadn’t perked up any, mind, so I didn’t get the views out over the estuary, which I’m sure are worth seeing.
After lunch with Mick in Laugharne, it was onwards, past Mr. Thomas’s Boathouse, through some nice woodland, and then onto a section of path about which the best I can say is that the WCP route planners managed to keep the path off the road. It would have been better if a good chunk of the land I crossed didn’t give all appearances of being abandoned, with the kissing gates and fenced-in walkways overgrown.
I was initially bemused on this section to come across a ladder stile sitting stranded up a near-vertical 6’ high mud bank:
Helpfully, someone had tied a knotted rope to the stile, and thus I was able to haul myself up and carefully negotiate the slippery steps. It was only when I got the other side, and could see no waymark, that I thought I’d best check the 1:25k map, whereupon I realised that I was meant to turn right before crossing that boundary. I can report that hauling oneself up a 6’ near-vertical mud bank via a knotted rope is somewhat easier than the reverse manoeuvre!
St Clears didn’t come a moment too soon and a few minutes along trundled Colin to whisk me away to a nearby Marilyn.
(* My personal observation, after much experience of walking along roads on all of our long walks, is that too many drivers are in such a tearing hurry that it’s too much trouble to slow down to ensure that pedestrians are passed safely, finding it perfectly acceptable to pass at speed and within inches. I have also found that if I hold my walking poles so that the tips stick out into the road, then (even if it sometimes earns me angry waving fists and the like) cars usually give me a much wider berth. The conclusion I reach from this is that those drivers are quite happy to put a pedestrian’s life at risk, but not at all happy to risk a scratch on their paintwork. Priorities a little out of whack, meth+inks.)