Distance walked: 11.8 miles
Date walked: 20th 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.
All the photographs were taken on my new Canon G15. I chose this camera partly because it was capable of taking pictures in a RAW format. This would allow me best control over the image processing. I have only now found that my version of Photoshop will not recognize this relatively new camera so I have tweaked the camera’s own jpegs on this occasion whilst I arrange an expensive upgrade!
Sorting out my journey to Pembroke was easy enough. A taxi to Chepstow Station and then a train through, changing at Cardiff. My only problem was that I didn’t bring all the fistful of stubs that came with my tickets and I was technically travelling without the right bit but the Kind Conductor let me off.
I have a confession to make. I have cheated and have missed a bit of the path. It was a pretty warm afternoon and as I neared Pembroke around 3pm I should have got off there to get me back to the High Street where I had finished my last walk in April but Jim Manthorpe’s words about skipping this whole section because it was so boring came into my mind. I felt reluctant to tramp though Pembroke’s hot streets so I stayed on the train to Pembroke Dock thus depriving myself of walking past the Ferry Terminal.
I re-joined the path at the A4139 and followed it to a roundabout where the A477 heads over the Cleddau Toll Bridge, admiring (not) the municipal planting on the way.
The busy road bothered me not a bit. I could see for miles over Milford Haven with the refinery at Angle Bay and the nearby power station silhouetted in the haze.
The Wales Coast Path follows the road over the gorge of Westfield Pill where a small marina shelters dozens of sailing boats.
Coming off the main road I was already glad of the shade afforded by the little wood that runs along the far side of the pill to the unremarkable village of Neyland. From here I continued on the minor waterside road past the little church of Llanstadwell. I did pop in and popped out again in a few minutes.
My forecast for the next few days was as good as it gets in this country if you like it dry, so I had brought with me by way of shelter just the vintage Gore-tex bivi bag that my Uncle Nigel had kindly donated and a silk liner. If it had been wet The Ferry House Inn at Hazelbeach would have been the only Bed and Breakfast opportunity between there and Milford Haven. Though nicely situated by the water it had very little charm from the outside and I felt happy to press on. I had a few more hours of daylight left.
As I approached the outskirts of Milford Haven I had a fine view to Pennar Mouth on the opposite side of the sky-blue water.
Passing through caged tunnels over two sets of pipelines that led to a docking platform was a reminder that there was a massive refinery on my side of the Haven and then I glimpsed a couple of storage tanks beyond the rusting perimeter fence.
There was a slight smell of sulphur in the air. The sound scape an ephemeral humming of engines and motors, gulls squawking, and the rustle of grasses in the wind.
A detour inland to Black Bridge was required, though looking at the map I could not see why access had not been negotiated across the swing bridge at the mouth of Castle Pill. The pretty view of the houses reflected in the high tides waters was compensation for this roadside stint.
I doubt that Milford Haven has won many prizes for its townscape but I felt welcomed when I reached the broad path that overlooks the water and leads to its centre.
The begonias were not doing well in the drought afflicted circular flower bed and no one seemed to want to take advantage of the garden where a bench is carefully placed to give a view over it to Angle Bay’s refinery.
A Tesco’s was conveniently situated by Milford’s own marina and knowing that I had no further opportunity to find supper for the night I called in and was glad of a few minutes in its air-conditioned hanger. I came away with a large tub of hummus, a small artisan loaf and a couple of 175ml bottles of an Australian Red. And two pastries for breakfast.
Passing a beautifully distressed container of God Knows What, the road out of Milford gave me a good view of the marina.
The suburb of Hakin didn’t delay me and at Gelliswick Bay the road gives way once more to grass underfoot. In the low sun a man finishing under a massive jetty was oblivious to me, concentrating on his probably futile recreation.
I was tiring now and had begun to scan around for a place to stop. It was a perfect evening and the views over the pipelines in the Haven and the jetties with their docked tankers were sufficient to make me want to sit and gaze.
But there were passing ships, too and clouds to contemplate. To my right a low fence protected a complicated concrete clad building which I thought worthy of investigation.
Butting hard up against a perimeter fence of the refinery it was a fascinating piece of work with steps leading underground. But it also afforded some level ground that would be out of sight from the path and it was an easy decision to decide that this would be my camp.
I set up my bivvi and hung a ground sheet across my resting place (just in case) and brought my supper to the very warm and comfortable wall next to the path. I found that I had a good 3G signal on my phone so emails were sent and received and I had a little chat with some friends on Twitter, taking and sending pictures as the sky darkened and the sun dropped.
As I munched in the twilight a couple passed by and I greeted them cheerily with “ I wasn’t expecting to see anyone else here by this time”. “I could say the same” was the reply. I was in my bag by the time they passed back.