Date walked 4th September 2013
Distance: about 9 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 path starts (or ends in my case) at St Dogmaels.
The Pembrokeshire Coast is also a National Park which is responsible for planning decisions
The regular readers of this blog will have noticed that where I started this walk was not where I left off the day before, so I had better explain.
Yesterday Neil and I had stayed the night at Cnapan County Guest House in Newport but I had walked past the town to a point a few miles further along where Neil had picked me up.
My intention today was to ask him to drop me off near where I had left off. But come the morning I was feeling a bit feeble. I had a headache which for once was not a hangover and just, well, not myself. So as we were approaching the point where I would have got out, Neil suggested that he drop me instead where the little road passes Ceibwr Bay near Moylgrove and I readily agreed.
By my reckoning this cut nearly two miles off the days walk. It doesn’t sound much but it produced quite a lot of internal debate about whether I would return to do those two miles at a later date if I wanted to claim (or indeed feel) that I had walked the whole of The Wales Coast Path.
The even more careful reader might interject that I had already cut a mile or two off the path when I was near Marloes sands. And at Pembroke I took the train to the dock rather than start again in Pembroke High Street where I had left the path on that leg. As of now, I think that no reasonable person (myself included) would quibble over a few miles in the overall context of the 870 mile length of the path, but we’ll have to see what my psyche does with all this in due course.
This was what was occupying my mind as I waved Neil goodbye and then climbed up the very steep side of the bay and looked back towards where I should have walked.
Ahead were several more dramatic headlands and associated deep gullies and I was reminded of the comment by Manthorpe that this would be the most challenging part of the whole Pembrokeshire section of the path. Today certainly felt like a continuation of yesterday’s strenuous walking.
After passing the hill called Foel Hendre there was a good view ahead of Pen-Yr-Afr, and its spectacular cliffs.
But before getting a closer look there was one more sharp decent at Pwllygranant, where a footbridge crosses a little stream.
The closer up view of the cliffs was mind-boggling. How layers of rock that were once horizontal could get twisted and turned into such extraordinary patterns I found impossible to comprehend even if I understood the theory.
Having rounded that promontory the path continued to climb to the highest point of the Pembrokeshire path at 574 feet. Not high in absolute terms but relative to the drop to the sea below it felt pretty dramatic. I was glad that from here the path levels off then begins to descend as it reaches Cemaes Head, passing an abandoned and rather quaint look-out building.
As the path joins the little road that goes to Cardigan, some 4 miles off, the path changes in character. Gone are the cliffs, replaced by a more domesticated rural landscape with occasional properties. The road continues down hill past a youth hostel to a large car park by Poppit Sands where the RNLI have a Lifeboat Station (how do they launch when the tide is out?) and where (which was of more interest to me) there was a cafe where I bought an ice-cream.
Still walking by or on the road, its another mile and a half to St Dogmaels, where the Pembrokeshire Coast path officially ends (or begins). For most walkers getting to this point, if they had started at Amroth some 186 miles back, this would feel, quite rightly like a fairly momentous occasion. For me, I can honestly say that I felt very little as I paused to take a picture of the slate faced monument, though I thought it worth a quick tweet and received a congratulatory reply.
A new footpath sign appeared, but quite what it signified I couldn’t establish.
After passing the abbey at St Dogmaels (i didn’t stop, sorry) I failed to find the little footpath that on the map promised a river side stroll to Cardigan.
Instead I had to make do with walking by the busy road until it crossed the river by the castle.
I had arranged with the very helpful people at the Tourist Information Centre in the theatre that Luggage Transfers Ltd would pick up my bag from Newport that morning and leave it with them. When I introduced myself at the desk they were very interested in where I had come from and gratifyingly impressed by how far I had come to date. They very kindly gave me a little map to show me how to get to the bus station. I had arrived in time to get an earlier bus back to Carmathen (where I had a train connection to get me to Chepstow).
It was a very nice thought that I would be back in time for me to have supper with Anne (and that she would pick me up from the station). And it was a very nice experience to take my boots off as the bus bounced and shuddered out of Cardigan and change into more comfortable sandles.