Date walked 24th July 2013
Distance: about 5 miles
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 did rain on and off in the night and although my Gore-Tex bivvy bag kept me dry, I did find that the slightly sloping ground in my camp at St Non’s chapel slid me into a more exposed position a couple of times in the night. Note to self: make sure the ground is level in future.
My wife, Anne, was driving from home to meet me today and from wherever she picked me up we were heading to Tenby for a short break. I had walked further in the last four days than I had expected and looking at the map the only place that she would be able to rendezvous with a car was Whitesands Bay. As this was no more than 5 miles away this was not going to be a problem!
There is no fun having a lie-in when one is camping illicitly in middle of a CADW controlled site. For all I knew, the occupants of the nearby retreat might make a pilgrimage to the chapel at some ungodly hour, so I packed up quickly after waking at 6 and was back on the path by about 6.45am.
Just around the headland I passed a small campsite above the pretty inlet and harbour of Porthclais.
Above the harbour was a charming simple cottage. The path rounds the head of the inlet and passes this cottage.
There were toilets near the harbour where I re-filled my water bag but I was far too early to benefit from the contents of the adjacent kiosk. There are some lime kilns by the harbour: they are simple structures and there isn’t really a lot to see.
Porthlysgi Bay was a pretty spot and fairly isolated.
A half a mile further on I passed at National Trust sign announcing Lower Treginnis. From browsing the internet I was not sure if the sign refers to their nearby farm. I glimpsed a little cottage and there is a pond above the path.
As I walked this relatively flat heathland I saw several spots that I thought would make ideal sites for someone to camp the night. But when would I be back? The path then hugs the craggy cliffs once more, revealing the first sight of the small outlying islands off Ramsey Island.
As I rounded the headland of Pen Pedol I had my first view of Ramsey Sound. Even from a distance I could see that there was something most unusual about the water. I followed the path shown in this photograph and sat on the rocks above the Sound.
The island is about half a mile off the mainland. Between the island and where I was sitting it looked as if the water was rushing left to right, not in a steady stream but as a swirling, churning cauldron. It was, without doubt, the most exciting natural phenomenon that I had seen in the last 350 odd miles of walking the coast path. I really should have tried taking a video as still photographs cannot do it justice.
Eventually I carried on the path which keeps closely to the Sound. A small military boat passed through, its engine spluttering as if ticking over but it was moving at a fair old lick.
The lifeboat station at St Justinian’s was the next sign of civilisation.
I had no reason to hope for any refreshment there and had decided to brew myself a cup of tea nearby but a roadside kiosk was opening up as I arrived; tea was not yet available but a packet of crisps and an ice-cream made an acceptable breakfast. I had just missed a boat which was taking a group over to Ramsey Island or I might have been tempted to hitch a lift. It was a sunny day, though and I had begun to contemplate a nice long sit on the beach at Whitesands Bay.
It was just another mile or so to round Point St John and to reach the little family sized beach near the family sized campsite at Porthselau. On the beach a group of young boys appeared to be very excitedly picking up lumps of sand and then hurling them back into the sea. An activity more pointless might be hard to imagine but no doubt it carried great significance for them.
Whitesands Bay was doing a good trade and as I approached its large cafe I could see why. The surf was family friendly and its car park is situated right on the edge of the beach. There were toilets and showers and a surf shop and the cafe was selling everything that you could want for a nice day at the beach.
I purchased a sandwich and a drink and would have telephoned Anne to say that I had arrived but for once in several days there was no signal. I found one half way up the hill on the far side of the beach. Anne was still two hours away. Perfect. There’s nothing nicer than people-watching on a beach in summer.
And having a paddle. And an ice-cream. And then another ice-cream. And then have your wife come and pick you up!