Post image for Wales Coast Path: PorthY Dwfr to Pwll Deri Youth Hostel

Wales Coast Path: PorthY Dwfr to Pwll Deri Youth Hostel

October 6, 2013 · 16 comments

Date walked  1st September 2013

Distance: 17.5 miles (too far!)

Map required:  OL 35 -North Pembrokeshire

Suggested walking guide-book: Pembrokeshire Coast Path by Jim Manthorpe

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path Officer is Dave MacLachlan. His email is

The Pembrokeshire Coast is also a National Park which is  responsible for planning decisions


Last night’s bivvy by the side of the path was the best wild camp yet.  I was warm in my Voyager 600 sleeping bag and protected from the elements by my Gore-tex bivvy bag. The ground was level and accommodating and although I woke more than I would have done in my bed, each time I did so I opened my eyes to a sky full of stars and  was lulled back to sleep by the sound of the sea and that experience is priceless.  But by 6.30 I was awake and the sun was directly behind Carn Penberry as I packed up and re-joined the path.

Carn Penberry, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Leave nothing behind, take nothing but photographs (and the odd pebble or piece of driftwood)

The path only requires you to cross the shoulder of this igneous intrusion but there was a fine view back towards St David’s Head in any case.

View towards St David's Head from the shoulder of Carn Penberry, Pembrokeshire, photographed from the Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

My bivvy site was just by that first cove you can see

I passed another (see last post) field of frisky heifers who were leaping about like lambs.

Heifers by The Wales Coast path in Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Heifers really want to be your friend.

Ahead the coastline looked deceptively flat but there were many little coves ahead where the path drops down to the beach.

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path photographed by Charles Hawes

Tip: a little flare in the picture is to be expected when you are photographing towards the sun

At one such little place within striking distance of  the campsite at Caerog Farm some industrious and creative types have re-discovered the possibility of writing on slate.

Sorry, I’m sure I could have developed this pic better to make the writing clearer.

It was another beautiful morning and although this was quite strenuous walking it was exhilarating to be out there with the coast to myself.

Aber Pwll, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Aber Pwll (I think). Tip 2: you need to adjust your pics for such contrasting light to get closer to what we see with our eyes.

The first settlement I passed was Abereiddy. I was far too early for the ice-cream van and the hippy types lounging in the back of their  van in the beach car park did not offer to share their breakfast. Abereiddy was remarkable, though for coating its roofs with mortar.


It also has a nice little beach.

The beach at Abereiddy, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

That’s a look out tower on the headland.

It has another claim to fame, though, as just after the beach is an extraordinary flooded quarry known as The Blue Lagoon, that is now used for high diving competitions.

Diving platform in The Blue Lagoon, Abereiddy, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

That’s an 87 feet drop.

The quarry was flooded by blasting though the narrow section of rock that separated it from the sea.

The Blue Lagoon, Abereiddy, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

But why did they bother to flood it?

If you have been following this blog you will know by now, if you did not already, that in walking the coast you are walking though man’s history of mineral exploitation, but I had not come across anything as impressive as I found at Porthgain, just a mile or so further on.  You know that something particular was going on when you pass the extensive brick-built ruins situated right on the cliff top (which would make a great camping spot I reckon).

Ruins above Porthgain, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

I bet some wild parties have taken place here.

And at your first view of the village you might wonder at why it has such a  substantial harbour for such a small place. 

Porthgain,Pembrokeshire,  photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

That’s a lot of harbour for a few fishing boats.

 And then you see, built onto the side of the little cove, a massive wall that appears to have windows and above it more ruined buildings and you notice your jaw dropping.

Brick retaining walls of stone holding area at Porthgain, photographed by Charles Hawes

It might not be pretty but it is impressive!

This is what remains of the holding area for stone that had been quarried nearby and transported here by trams.  The scene would have looked like this around the turn of the 20th century.

Artists impression of stone works at Porthgain, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

For once you can really get a sense of what it must have been like for this picture

 But best of all at Porthgain was that at The Shed Wine Bar and Bistro freshly baked scones were being served and even though it was only around 10 am I thought  a cream tea (and an orange juice) was a  perfect breakfast. As I munched I chatted with a fellow walker who turned out to be a social worker (as I am) of the same age as me who worked (as I did) for what was once the County of Avon. Small world.

My extracted Guide (I had only brought with me the pages relevant to this stint)  informed me that Porthgain has an “explosion” of art galleries but I felt that I could ill-afford the extra effort of exploring them.  I still had a long way to go.  So I didn’t take the minor detour to explore the next village, Trefin, despite Manthorpe intriguinly describing it “feeling like you have stepped back in time when you first set foot in the place”. I did notice that the roofs of a row of cottages on its outskirts were similarly clad with mortar to those at Abereiddy.

Cottages near Trefin photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I don’t think they could have been sloping like this; must be a perspective thing.

I took a snap of the finger post pointing to the Youth Hostel in homage to my Uncle Nigel who had walked and written about this stretch of the Coastal path in The Sunday Telegraph some 43 years ago. He had not stayed there, either, preferring to walk on into the evening and camp by the path.

Finger post for the Old School Hostel, near Trefin, Pembrolkeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

For the next few miles it was cove after cove and precarious views into them as the path kept closely to the cliff edge.  They were totally inaccessible save for those with a boat or flippers; I spied one or two seals on some pebbly beaches.

View to Pen Castell -coch from near Trefin photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

The view to Pen Castell- coch – the furthest sticking out bit


Natural arch in the coast near Abercastle, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes


The coast near Abercastle, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Before reaching the little village of Abercastle I took the small detour to see Carreg Sampson which is said to be the most impressive cromlech (burial chamber) near the path.

Carreg Sampson, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Carreg Sampson with sheep. “We, like sheep….” (haven’t had that in joke for a while)

There was a good view from near there to the deep and narrow inlet that leads to the beach at Abercastle.

View over Aber Castle inlet from near Carreg Sampson, photographed by Charles Hawes

I think that my destination might be in the distance – or maybe it’s the next bay.

No refreshment was available at Abercastle; the boats in its mouth were a pretty sight.

The beach at Abercastle, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Abercastle: a perfect little place (apart from the lack of ice-cream)

 The rugged coat continued for another couple of miles, clothed, where it was merely steep (as opposed to sheer) in bracken and gorse and strewn with rocky islands. 

The coast near Abercastle photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

The sea really was this lovely blue/green.

I was tiring now. I was carrying quite a heavy pack as not only did I have my camping gear with me, I had also burdened myself with a change of clothes, some extra toiletries and a smaller backpack. My friend Neil was joining me at Pwll Deri Youth Hostel and he had asked that we arrange a baggage transfer for our next couple of days walking together. So although the sight of the pebble beach at Aber Mawr made a pleasing change of scene, I found myself sagging as I traipsed along its shifting surface.

Aber Mawr, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

OK, done that, what’s next (not a good frame of mind).

It was quite hard going for the next few miles. The twisted strata of the cliffs provided a welcome distraction from my fatigue.

Contorted strata in the cliffs near Aber Mawr photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

After the bay at Pwllcrochan, Manthorpe describes the path as climbing “relentlessly”. Except that it wasn’t; there were more descents and climbs to do before I was finally climbing up the steep, heather-carpeted mile section that passes over Carn Ogof.

Wales Coast Path over Carn ogof, Pembrokeshire,photographed by Charles Hawes

This is where you start wanting this summit to be the top, only to have your hopes dashed when you find it isn’t.

But when I did reach the top I did have a view across Pwll Deri (the name of the bay) and I could make out the white painted building (centre of the pic by the cliff top)  that is the Youth Hostel.

View acxoss Pwll Deri photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Nearly there!

View to Pwll Deri Youth Hostel, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Even more nearly….

I arrived at the hostel at around 3pm and it took some composure not to have a cry on reading the notice  that the volunteer staff would not turn up until 5. I was desperate for sa lie down and a shower. But there was a toilet and a seat and at least I was able to change out of my boots into my sandles and sit and gaze at the sea and imagine having a cup of tea in two hours time.  And to think that tomorrow all I would be carrying was lunch and some waterproofs.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Ian Thorpe October 6, 2013 at 9:06 am

That’s a long walk! I’m impressed that you remember and can be bothered to take photographs as you tire. I was told years ago at a talk about an expedition to the Himalayas (Bonington?) that it was necessary to take photos at the worst of times so that you could make your living doing the talks and publishing the books when you got back. I’ve never managed to do it.


Charles October 6, 2013 at 11:31 am

It is more of an effort to take pictures when I’m tired of course and I do draw the line at getting the camera out in the pouring rain, which, thankfully I have mostly managed to avoid so far. As for making a living….I’m sticking to the night job, but this winter I do intend to explore publishing some of this in a different format.


Anne Wareham October 6, 2013 at 10:21 am

Yep – he does good, doesn’t he, Ian? I think this would make a great book. Apart from the spellings – intriguinly ?
But I think (not an expert though because I don’t do travel) it’s more entertaining than the usual guide book stuff. Makes me realise though what books lack in not being able to do links to other interesting/useful things in the way a blog post does.


Charles October 6, 2013 at 11:32 am

I tried that word several times and never got close enough for the spell check to give me the correct version. Go on, put me out if my misery.


Anne Wareham October 6, 2013 at 12:11 pm



Charles October 6, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Thanks! Actually I found it easily enough through Google.


John October 6, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Charles said “publishing …. in a different format.” He didn’t actually say “in a book.” There’s e-publishing these days, you know (you just construct a little paywall if you want to make money – intriguingly you can make as much that way as with a printed thing (in which any errors are permanent, of course). Especially if your coat is covered with bracken and gorse.

Great (and not too queasy) photos too!


Charles October 6, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Yes, keeping options open, though printed page is still my media of choice. Glad not to have induced nausea this week.


Nigel Buxton October 6, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Once again, greatly enjoying yr blog.
A friend has just remarked it’s a pity that my Walking in Wine Country couldn’t be given the Charles Hawes Blog treatment. A superb idea that I myself have often had. How about considering it as a project for yr retirement one of these days? Or sooner?


juia October 6, 2013 at 8:10 pm

exquisite – rather taken with the high board diving possibility.


Charles October 6, 2013 at 10:10 pm

If you enter, make sure to let me know. I’ll sponsor you. And take lots of pictures.


Paul Steer October 8, 2013 at 4:25 pm

The image of Aber pwll is beautiful, some of these coastal photographs are painterly. Because I know you walk swiftly (you also get a sense of that from your writing) do you find when working on these images that you linger at those places a little longer in your memory than you did in reality ?


Charles October 8, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Thanks Paul. Painterly sounds good. Very interesting question, but as far as I know I’m pretty quick on developing the images, too, though the particularly nice ones might get a few more seconds of study.


Neil October 14, 2013 at 10:28 am

Hi Paul 🙂 …. I consider it one of my (many) roles in life to slow Charles down, and oblige him to enjoy the here and now… The diversion down the man made gully being a case in point ! Forcing him to smile in pictures is another, as is sleeping in beds…


Neil October 23, 2016 at 9:45 am

Hiya, an odd historic post to make, but thought it appropriate as we are staying near here this fortnight, and I have just enjoyed reading this particular blog of yours in a new light having now visited many of the places you describe along the coast. Some fabulous harbours and beaches.


Charles October 31, 2016 at 10:36 am

Its always nice to get comments after the event. But you should have taken notes and offered your personal highlights!


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