Sunday, May 04, 2008

Pembrokeshire Coast Path

Well, at last I've been able to realize the "dream" I had been fostering for two years: walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
In the very beginning of my long distance projects, I was a bit intimidated by the toughness of the path and its remoteness from Heathrow. So, as my first long distance walking experience, I chose the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path which revealed a wonderful trip as I related in previous posts.
Although quite different, I found the Pembrokeshire Coast Path too, a magnificent hike. But more about that below.
In contrast with the previous hike, I won't transcribe here the journal kept during the last trip; I don't consider it of much interest for the reader. So I'm just giving a short summary.
I took more than 900 pictures; if interested, please, take a look at the gallery top-right. They are arrayed by leg.


April 19-20, 2008. Getting to Wales

Landed to Heathrow (from Rome) in the late evening, just in time to catch the midnight National Express coach bound to Swansea. There - being Sunday - waited from 4 am to 10,30 for the first train to Haverfordwest. Town tour, dinner. Accommodation at College Guest House.

April 21, 2008. From Marloes to Broad Haven 25 km

9,00 Bus from Haverfordwest to Marloes where arrived at 10,05.
Lost a little time in finding the public footpath to the coast.
Started the Coast Path walking at Ragged Rocks (Marloes Sands) around 11 pm.
Half an hour break around 1,30 pm (after Musselwick Sands) for refreshment (water, chocolate, rice cakes, dried apricots and sesame bar).
An other short break 3 miles before the goal.
Reached Broad Haven around 6 pm. Accommodation at Anchor Guest House (nice).
Supper in my room with cheese and apples. Half bitter at the local pub.
Beautiful weather all day.
Very exhausted and knees hurting during the last miles.

April 22, 2008. From Broad Haven to Lower Solva 18 km

Waken up during the night with strong headache (persisting all day long). Drunk juice of 3 lemons bought in the local shop (my favourite remedy for headache due to gluten).
First break around 1,30 pm (with light refreshment as above) plus a second shorter one later.
Got to Solva in the afternoon.
Accommodation at Gamlyn B&B, nice cottage along the River Solva.
Supper with apple and rice cakes.
Beautiful weather all day.
Very tough leg although shorter then the previous one: many steep hills to climb.
Come across an adder coiled in the middle of path.
Met scanty walkers; mostly short distance.
A little trouble with the cows barring the passage after a stile. Not seeming that peaceful, made a dangerous detour passing on the verge of the cliffs.

April 23, 2008. From Lower Solva to St David's 23 km

Headache almost gone.
Start walking around 9 am.
Beautiful weather all day after a bit overcast in the early morning. When sheltered from wind even hot. I got sunburnt on the neck and nose. A sun hat would have been appropriate.
Break half way on the verge of the cliffs with usual refreshment contemplating an astonishing view.
Got to St David's through never ending 2,5 miles of roads.
Accommodation at Y-Gorlan Guest House; very nice and refined.
Pain to a heel tendon. Application of Arnica Heel ointment (vanished overnight; I recommand it as the walker companion!). Started to assume Rhus Toxicodendron against possible tendonitis.
Nice town for Wales standards. Interesting cathedral although very renovated.
Emotion hearing in the cloister a soprano rehearsing a Haendel (?) aria with piano accompanist.
For supper bar food at the local pub a little spoiled by the huge TV broadcasting the match Manchester-Barcelona or whatever.

April 24, 2008. From Whitesands beach to Abercastle 25 km

Got to Whitesands parking by bus. Start walking 9,45 am.
Still exceptionally fine weather. Tough path too, with many steep climbings.
Break about 1 pm with refreshment as usual.
Coffee break around 3 pm in Porthgain.
Garn Isaf B&B room unavailable because delayed works; instead I had the self catering cottage all for myself!
No pubs near: light supper with caffelatte and rice cakes.

April 25, 2008. From Abercastle to Goodwick (Fishguard) 26 km

Bad day: heavy rain all time. Boots and trousers soaked. Many steep hills to climb and often on difficult path.
Short break around 1 pm roughly sheltered in an unfinished sort of building.
Troubles with cows barring the passage: detour by the cliff edge.
Accommodation and dinner at The Ferry Boat Inn. Nice and good quality.
Dried boots and other wet garments over the heating.

April 26, 2008. From Fishguard (Lower Town) to Newport 22 km.

Got to Fishguard from Goodwick by bus.
Bought the only waterproofer available in Fishguard (for my shoes).
Started the walking from Lower Town reached by bus.
Halt about 2 pm in Pwllgwaelod (coffee and carrot cake in the local pub). Very tired: probably accumulated fatigue.
Lovely weather all day.
Accommodation at Golden Lion Inn. Nice place; unfortunately no shower, only bathtub. Supper at same inn bar. Chat with nice customers. Very animated (Saturday night).
Newport is the nicest town seen in Wales (thus far). Stone houses, Gothic church, castle remnants, burial chamber.

April 27, 2008. From Newport to Moylgrove 16 km.

Accommodation at Swn-y-Nant B&B in Moylgrove. Nice and good quality. Supper with cheese and fruit.
The waterproofing of shoes useless: socks damp after a few steps in the dew wet grass.
Luckily fine weather all day.

April 28, 2008. From Moylgrove to St Dogmaels 16 km

God weather.
Coffee break with welsh cakes at Webley Hotel.
Reached Cardigan by bus.
Accommodation at Highbury House. Breakfast not particularly good although nice place and landlady.
Supper in a pub near the bridge on the river Teifi.
Cardigan is a pretty animated town.

April 29, getting back home

9,00 am bus from Cardigan to Carmarthen, then National Express to Swansea and another NE coach service to Heathrow where arrived at 17 pm. 8 pm flight to Rome. Landed 12 pm.


Very beautiful trail. I was astonished to find a so long stretch of coast quite unspoilt. Impossible to find an equivalent in Italy.
I'm glad to have chosen this time of year because not too hot for walking and especially because the full blossom. Magnificent carpets of gorse, hawthorns, violets and primroses.
Caught sight of a seal (from very far). Many birds and - particularly dear to me - skylarks, whose song was my enchanting companion during the whole hike.
Some troubles with the cows (see above). Seen many horses, wild welsh ponies and, quite unexpected, an adder.
Exceptional fine weather (only one rainy day).
A tough hike on the whole. But, notwithstanding the National Trail Guide, I could have walked the Newport - St Dogmaels leg in one day instead of splitting it in two.
As I couldn't afford to stay away more than 10 days I wasn't able to walk the entire 300 km of the trail. So I chose to start from Marloes, skipping the oil refineries area between Pembroke and Milford Haven and then proceeding northwards.


Well, it's hard to compare such different trails.
To begin with I must say that the Norfolk hike had the unique spell of the first time.
It was my first long distance walking experience and everything was magic to me.

Pembrokeshire Coast Path leads one through a long lofty stretch of colourful and almost savage scenery of high cliffs interrupted by secluded coves where crystal brooks flow into the wide Ocean.
You are often up and down on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, reaching 175 meters over the sea level. What difference with the Norfolk Coast Path which progresses through a flat sea marsh landscape. Or with the almost straight line of the Peddars Way where the highest point is only 75 meters o.s.l.

The Norfolk trail is definitely less spectacular but, at least to me, it has its own spell: wide horizons, huge oaks and limes and dear ash trees, the magic intermingling of earth and water.

While the Pembrokeshire trail offers to the walker the grand feeling of an unspoilt, primeval and solitary landscape, in Norfolk - although in some stretches one might feel secluded - you are always in contact with the history of the Country: the footpath tracing a Roman road, old English villages and towns with beautiful flintstone Gothic churches, remnants of once splendid priories and ancient pubs where, enjoying a delicious local ale after your long stroll, you almost expect to see Tom Jones coming in.
Yes, in my impression, what lacks in Wales (at least in what I've seen of it) are beautiful old villages and tidiness of houses and countryside. Outside the path I've noticed a little shabbiness which unpleasantly reminded me of Italy.

If I had to resume my impressions I would say:

Pembrokeshire "colourful unspoilt savage coastal landscape".
Norfolk "charming Old England villages and countryside".


I won't go into details of my equipment. I've already covered the item in a previous post related to the Norfolk trails. I just mention the differences from the latter.


I've been able to reduce the weight of about 1,5 kg. Lighter backpack: (- 800 g.) less food, dropped hat sun and shorts.


Ferrino Cumbre a 35 l. mountain rucksack revealed better balanced and comfortable than the Decathlon Forclaz 40 air I carried in Norfolk.


I wore very light walking shoes: Adidas Response Walk GTX. More comfortable than the New Balance NB985 because lighter (- 200 g.) and more breathable being in Goretex.
Unfortunately they revealed not in the least waterproof. They were soaked after only one hour rain. I can't say whether the New Balance would have been better because it never rained during the Norfolk hike.

Lesson learned

Sun hat indispensable.

Shorts would be much appreciated.

Water repellent mountain trouser Millet not in the least waterproof so next time waterproof overtrousers and light walking trousers convertible into shorts.

Arnica Heel ointment indispensable.

Light, breathable and waterproof footwear still to be found.

The rest is OK, no other changes to the Norfolk gear.


The long distance walking didn't fail to reward me once again of a glorious experience definitely worthy the effort it demanded.

Now, in order to console me of the longing for the past adventure, I'm going to consider which trail to choose for the next long distance walk (perhaps next September).


MarkG said...

Sounds like you had a good time on the walk and were lucky with the weather. The coast around Pembrokeshire really is beautiful.

For September I would recommend you visit somewhere like the Lake District (Cumbria Way perhaps) or around the North York Moors to see the heather in flower.


trainers shoes said...

I like this blog thanks for sharing it very informative


AddMe - Search Engine Optimization