Distance walked: 9 miles
Date walked 22nd July 2013
Map required: OL36- South Pembrokeshire
Suggested walking guide book: Pembrokeshire Coast Path by Jim Manthorpe
The Pembrokeshire Coast path Officer is Dave MacLachlan. His email is DaveMac@pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk
The Pembrokeshire Coast is also a National Park which is responsible for planning decisions.
I was certainly happier with the ground underneath me on this second night of bivvying, but I was barely warm enough. With the forecasts for warm nights as well as days I had only brought with me a silk liner by way of extra insulation, so in the middle of the night I rather awkwardly put my socks back on and my shirt. The periodic waking gave me glimpses of the orange tinted moon and the lullaby of the waves was enough for me to wake around 6 feeling that I had had a reasonable night. I brewed a cup of tea on my neat little Coleman F1 Lite stove and despite a lack of breakfast felt quite ready to resume the path by 6.45.
Once again the early morning sun worked wonders with the grasses that grow at the cliffs edge. Down below me the water was as clear as any I remember from the Mediterranean (of course my memory may be entirely unreliable).
A stone wall on my right near Tower Point marked the edge of the St Brides Estate.
Rounding a corner the castellated St Brides Castle sits assertively over the surrounding open fields.
The path drops down to the sea at St Brides Haven where the low tide revealed the red sandstone geology of the area and then crosses a little beach to pass by a couple of cottages perched on the headland.
From around here and for much of the day I was walking between swathes of tall grass, bracken and bramble. I began to feel occasional gentle brushes against my arms that were not from this path-side foliage but spiders’ webs that had been flung across my route overnight. Most were just a few stands in construction but some were quite elaborate to the point where I regretted their destruction and regretted later that I had not stopped to photograph any of them. My attention having been drawn to the path itself I also began to notice the bodies of quite a few shrews, the reject corpses of some night-time predator who obviously found them distasteful. And beetles, too, scurrying across my route in a panic. The other quite striking thing about the path was that it had quite recently been cut back, as the debris from the strimming was obviously quite fresh.
But my attention was regularly taken back to the calm blue sea below and the decoration of the cliff tops with grasses and other wild flowers.
Just above Mill Haven someone has placed a simple sculpture in stone that I subsequently discovered is one of five in the area by Alain Ayres, this one called “Walking Eye”.
A wooden bridge crosses a book at Mill Haven and by it stands an old lime kiln, becoming submerged by the encroaching bracken and grass.
The path becomes more challenging with quite steep climbs and descents and although I had only been walking a few hours I was finding it quite demanding. The sheer cliffs contained several deep inlets and in one near Brandy Bay I noticed a seal almost motionless in the blue water, perhaps looking at me.
Quite suddenly, from near Ticklas Point, the shape of the cliffs changed and became more gently sloping and covered in gorse and bracken (and other stuff).
Once past Borough Head I passed through a wood of oak and beech, their trunks bare and slim as they have grown upwards, competing for the light.
This wood stops just short of Little Haven and above the little town the path affords a great view to the far side of St Brides Bay, some 5 miles ahead, before dropping down to the water.
Not having breakfasted and having walked around 5 miles I was ready to stop for a while but my first choice of café was so busy and so understaffed that I gave up after 10 minutes of sitting at my roadside table and took and paid for an orange juice from the chiller cabinet and felt a little cheated and hungry. I missed the steep road out of Little Haven and took instead the even steeper one that meant that I walked two sides of a triangle and was again ready for a sit when I dropped down to the beach at Broad Haven. I did better at a café where a piece of walnut cake and a coffee were my breakfast.
On the far side of Broad Haven’s sandy beach the path climbs steeply up to the cliff tops once more and levelled off for a while before turning inland briefly to take a minor road. I had identified on my map that my destination was just off this road and then below me I saw The Druidstone Hotel and its outbuildings as close to the sea as any building has a right to be. It was only half past one but I had walked 9 miles and I suddenly felt utterly exhausted so I could have kissed the receptionist when he told me that my room was ready.
I was on the top floor in the main house in what is called Roof South. It was a large room with wood panelled walls and ceiling and rugs on the floorboards. Opposite the entrance was a balcony overlooking the sea and a chair. I loved it and felt I could have happily stayed a week.
The bathroom had a bath and I had a long slow soak before closing the curtains and the blinds and climbing into the smooth sheets of the double bed for a long snooze.
Around four, having slept deeply, I went down to the bar and ordered tea and scones which I had on a table outside. They were surprisingly poor with a falling apart crumbly texture and very thin jam and not very thick cream. Which was a shame but the tea was OK.
A path from the hotel goes steeply down to the beach so I wandered down to its pebbly shore, passing an eco dwelling (one could not describe it as a house) that was set into the hillside and had an oval glass façade.
The little beach only had 3 other occupants having a barbecue and I spent half an hour just sitting watching and listening to the waves rolling the pretty pebbles up and down the gentle slope. I also chose two little pebbles to bring home for my kitchen windowsill.
I was looking forward enormously to dinner – the restaurant is in The Good Food Guide – and was pleased that I had not been tucked into a corner of the pretty dining room but was seated opposite a family of 6 who provided more than enough interest during the course of my very enjoyable meal. Whilst the food was good, the table decoration was delightful.
Everything, even the butter, had some plant either in or on it. Actually the dining room was far more than just pretty but I am not going to tell you more now- go and find out for yourself. Half way through the meal I picked up the news on my phone that our new Prince George had been safely delivered (though his name was not revealed at the time). I celebrated the birth by a third glass of wine, taken outside in the gently falling rain.