Date walked 31st August 2013
Distance: about 6 miles (from St David’s)
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 DaveMac@pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk
The Pembrokeshire Coast is also a National Park which is responsible for planning decisions
It was just over a month ago that Anne whisked me off from Whitesands Bay for a dirty weekend in Tenby. We only managed a night, but that’s another story. My journey back took around 6 hours, starting at Chepstow train station and changing at Newport for Haverfordwest. Rather than wait half an hour for the bus that would take me to St David’s I walked into town to stretch my legs. It’s a nice little place and I had time to look at the river and buy some chocolate and a sandwich, intending them to be my supper, before my bus arrived, dead on time. The journey on the near empty bus was very pleasant and took me through several places that I had walked past or through the last time I was on the coast. At Solva we caused a gridlock in its narrow main street until the oncoming cars accepted might before right and backed up.
At St David’s I alighted opposite a highly popular ice-cream parlour, so it was clearly fate that I should purchase a large honeycomb and vanilla cone before strolling down to the Cathedral.
It may have been 35 years since I had last visited this place and I had completely forgotten what a very beautiful and special setting the cathedral has with the ruined Bishop’s Palace next door.
It was the most perfect early evening and I would have liked to have stayed longer but I needed to get a few miles along the coast path to avoid an impossibly long walk the next day to get to Pwll Deri, so I pressed on along a quiet little road that stops at Whitesands Bay.
The sandwich supper was saved for next day’s lunch in favour of a bag of chips from the still busy cafe, which was serving evening meals. After a short climb up the sandy path the dunes became firmer under foot and then briefly descended to Porthmelgan Bay before climbing up to a plateau behind St David’s Head.
It being such a popular spot, there were lots of paths criss-crossing the Head but having satisfied myself that I had gone as far as I could it was easy enough to find the official path by keeping the sea as close as I could on my left.
It really was the most beautiful evening and the heather covered heath was lit up by the low warm sunlight.
The path takes a sharp turn south above a cove called Gesail-fawr. Ahead to my right the hill called Carn Perfedd and further on Carn Penberry.
At this point I began to try and work out where I might get to before the sun would set; I wanted to stop in time to sit and watch it, too. Somewhere between the two hills was my assessment. The next mile turned out to be a game of hide and seek with the sun as I passed little coves and headlands. Then, above the bay called Porth Y Dwfr I found the perfect spot to bivvy the night. Just to the right of the path was a low bank and behind it a flat dip of soft lush grass. It would put me out of sight, protect me from the wind and still allow me to be serenaded by the sea.
As I unpacked the sun began its now seemingly accelerated descent.
As the sun disappeared so did the warmth so my second supper of a large bar of chocolate and two small one-glass bottles of wine were enjoyed from the warmth of my Voyager 600 sleeping bag, protected from the elements by the Gore-tex bivvy bag that my Uncle Nigel had so kindly donated.
In what seemed like no time at all the stars began to populate the sky and if I lifted my head up from the makeshift pillow I could see the regular flash of the lighthouse at Strumble Head some 10 miles away as the gull flies. The gulls were quiet now but the sea continued its lullaby until sleep overtook me.
Some 43 years earlier, Nigel, writing for the Sunday Telegraph, gave his own account of walking this part of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in the year it was officially opened. His night was spent above Porth Egr, some three miles away, in a 4lb tent. His choice of drink a far superior Islay malt and his supper a Mountain House shrimps and rice cooked on a stove. You can read his account here.