Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Current

Hello to all my regular readers! I know there are a number of you out there.
Thank you for your interest. 
I thought I had better update this post since I haven't done so for over a year.  We had planned to return to Pembrokeshire late summer of 2019, but our 27 year old caravan was falling to bits so we cancelled the trip and got rid of the caravan.  Come 2020 we bought a new (well, 3 year old) caravan and booked the Freshwater East site in both May and September.  Then coronavirus happened.  May booking was cancelled, of course.  We were looking forward to at last getting going next month when we received a phone call from the warden at the site -- They were flooded out (there was some tale about floating caravans!!) and therefore our booking was cancelled!  So now it will be 2021 before we can get going again, and we will both be even older than before.  But very determined to complete this venture somehow, some day!
To all my readers, thank you for your interest in our venture.
Rosemary

PS  Go to   www.bognorregisbeach.co.uk  to see what is happening NOW just left of Bognor Pier! (On the website, click on  'Live Webcam')

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Walk 376 -- Abereiddi to Whitesands Beach

 Ages:  Colin was 75 years and 38 days.  Rosemary was 72 years and 180 days. 
Weather:  Sunny and warm where sheltered.  Windy in exposed places. 
Location:  Abereiddi to Whitesands Bay.Distance:  7½ miles. 
Total distance:  3873 miles. 
Terrain:  Entirely cliff paths.  Undulating, uneven and challenging.  Some very steep slopes. 
Tide:  Out. 
Rivers:  None. 
Ferries:  None. 
Piers:  None. 
Kissing gates:  Nos.900, 901, 902, 903, 904, 905, 906, 907 and 908 spread along the way. 
Pubs:  None. 
‘Cadw’ properties:  None. 
Ferris wheels:  None. 
Diversions:  None. 
How we got there and back:  We were holidaying in our caravan near Whitesands Bay.  This morning we drove to St David’s and parked for free in a back road.  From there we caught a bus to Abereiddi. 
At the end we caught a bus from Whitesands Bay.  I got off at the caravan site, and Colin got off in St David’s so he could drive the car back.
 
Today’s Walk was a real test of my new knees.  It was along a wild bit of the coast and quite tough going at times — even Colin admitted that it was.  There was a group of youngsters, aged about fourteen or so, putting on wet suits in the car park at Abereiddi.  Later we saw them jumping off cliffs into the Blue Lagoon.  They were under supervision on one of those ‘coasteering’ courses.  Rather them than me — I don’t think I would have done that even when I was their age.  Colin probably would have, but I don’t think he would do it now!  I didn’t even learn to swim until I was twelve because nobody taught me, nor took any interest in my wanting to be able to do so.  So I taught myself by kneeling down in shallow water and pushing myself forward.  I was amazed to find I was actually swimming!  But it was a couple of years later before I dared to swim on my back, and I never could do crawl.
 
From the beach car park we walked up the road to the junction and turned down a lane.  After about a hundred yards we turned on to the cliff path.  We didn’t touch tarmac nor come across a building again until we got to Whitesands.  It was a wild and untamed bit of coast, but the scenery was fantastic and the wild flowers were lovely.
 
We met lots of other hikers going in both directions all day.  The Pembrokeshire Coast Path is very popular, unlike Ceredigion which is just as scenic but few people.  All the other walkers were faster than us, and those going in the same direction as us passed by and disappeared ahead.  But I bet I was the only one with two recently replaced knees!  Very little of the path I would class as ‘easy’.  Often it was too narrow to walk comfortably, and there were lots of trip hazards, stones etc.  It was very undulating!
 
But the scenery was amazing!  Lots of interesting geology, rock arches, caves, etc.  It seemed exciting as the sea foamed when waves splashed against rocks and the bottom of the cliffs.  There was a colourful variety of wild flowers all along the way.  We had good views back to Abereiddi, then we turned a corner and that scene was lost.
After an hour or so we came to a very deep cleft.  The way down was almost vertical and the path descended natural steps in the rocks.  I found this very difficult indeed.  I relied heavily on my poles, and on Colin just in front of me to give me confidence.  On the way up the other side we sat on a wall to eat our pies, we were sheltered from the strong wind while still in the cleft.  I find it easier going up steep slopes than I do going down.
 
We marched on for a couple of hours, up and down slopes and looking at wonderful scenery.  We came to a large stone by the side of the path in a fairly sheltered position — we decided it was an ideal spot to sit and eat our sarnies.  (I can’t sit on the ground because it is impossible for me to get up.  I can’t kneel on my new knees, and my leg muscles are not strong enough to push me up.)  It’s a good thing we chose that spot to sit because as soon as we got to the next rise we were exposed to the wind for a good long way.
 
We saw some seals splashing about in the water at the bottom of the cliffs!  Colin saw them first, then we both saw lots of them.  But they moved too fast to get any photos — Colin tried a video but all he got was empty sea!  He thought some of the birds we were seeing in the distance were gannets, and this was confirmed by a woman hiker who passed us.  She told us she had seen them diving.
 
We descended to what was perhaps the lowest part of the cliffs on today’s Walk.  We went down another very steep slope, but I did it with more confidence now that I was really into the Walk.  Further on we found a nice sheltered place where we could sit on a rock and eat our apples.  We could hear singing in the distance which was rather strange.  Then a lone girl hiker came up singing to herself as she walked along.  She told us, “I sing to keep myself entertained!”  We replied that we liked to hear it, the melody was rather nice floating along on the wind.
 
We rounded a corner and had a wonderful view of the way we had come.  We rounded another corner the other way and realised we were on the ‘home straight’ — or so we thought.  The ground opened up with paths going off in all directions.  There were no signs to tell us which was the official coast path.  We tried to keep to the nearest safe path to the shore but it was difficult to see exactly where we were. Huge mountains of rocks lined the cliff tops blocking our view.  Whitesands Bay began to appear to our left, but we were walking away from it.
We came to a big crossroads of paths with not a single sign giving us a clue as which was the path to take.  We were tempted to take a shortcut in the direction of Whitesands, but conscience make us climb a hill in the direction of the sea.  Further up, at last, we came to a sign telling us we were still on the coast path.
 
This path didn’t go to the top of the rocky ‘mountains’, but cut across and started to go downhill.  It became more and more indistinct, and we thought we had lost it several times.  When we came to a swamp we’d both had enough!  Colin went further forward and said he could see a well-marked path further down the hill.  This path led off in the direction of Whitesands.  We used a steep and narrow cross-path to get down to it.  We hadn’t reached the tip of St David’s Head, but we had as near as dammit and we were both satisfied with that.
 
It was still another mile of undulating path before we stepped down on to the car park at Whitesands Bay, but it was mostly downhill and the scenery was still wonderful!  We were too late to buy an ice cream, but not too late to catch a bus which turned up ten minutes later.  I got off at the caravan site, but Colin stayed on until he got to st David’s so he could pick up the car which we had left there this morning.
 
 
That ended Walk no.376, we shall pick up Walk no.377 next time on Whitesands Beach.  It was twenty past five, so the Walk had taken us seven hours forty minutes.  We had our tea and chocolate biscuits when Colin got back to the caravan with the car.  We were both a bit sunburnt, but had really enjoyed the Walk.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Walk 375 -- Abercastle to Abereiddi

Ages:  Colin was 75 years and 36 days.  Rosemary was 72 years and 178 days.
Weather:  Mostly overcast.  Breezy and warm.
Location:  Abercastle, via Porthgain, to Abereiddi.
Distance:  6½ miles.
Total distance:  3865½ miles.
Terrain:  Undulating grassy cliff paths.  Some deep clefts to overcome.
Tide:  Out, coming in.
Rivers:  None.
Ferries:  None.
Piers:  None.
Kissing gates:  Nos.898 & 899 just outside Trefin.
Pubs:  The Sloop Inn at Porthgain where we drank ‘Warrior’ brewed by Evan Evans and ‘Farmhouse Scrumpy’ made by Cowynty Draig.
‘Cadw’ properties:  None.
Ferris wheels:  None.
Diversions:  None.
How we got there and back:  We were holidaying in our caravan near Whitesands Bay.  This morning we drove to Abereiddi and parked in the free car park on the beach.  We caught a bus to Abercastle.
At the end we came to the car.  We had some tea and chocolate biscuits, then drove back to our caravan. 
 
I'm  back !
Two years and two new knees later, I'm back walking the coastline of mainland Britain!
I was seriously depressed when I found I was unable to go for a simple walk in the countryside – when the pain was so bad I couldn’t even walk round a supermarket – when my knees gave way suddenly and I couldn’t take another step without falling – when I was told the pin in my left thigh would have to be removed, but that was so difficult it might destroy my leg and put me in a wheelchair – when they kept telling me that the pain in my knees wasn’t as bad as I said it was – when all they would do was prescribe painkillers and ‘happy’ pills – when appointments with surgeons were cancelled and I couldn’t get another despite hours on the phone – when my GP told me to come to terms with the fact that I would never be able to continue the Coastal Trek……… 
When I was at my lowest ebb a friend told me to go back to my GP and ask for a second opinion.  Wow! all of a sudden things started moving!  I saw a surgeon who was positive.  He looked at the X-rays and was appalled at the state of my knees.  He told me he could give me a new left knee without removing the pin.  And this was all at a private hospital, though funded by the NHS.  My left knee, the really troublesome one, is now ten months old.  My right knee, which was fast deteriorating in the same way, is now four and a half months old.  And I am good to go! 
We started today’s Walk at the exact spot on Abercastle Beach where we were forced to give up two years ago.  We followed the path along the clifftop on the west side of the inlet and rounded the point.  The path followed the clifftop
very closely — some of it was easy and some challenging.  The occasional cleft wasn’t nice, some of the steps were huge!  I found it more difficult going down than going up.  I couldn’t have done it without my poles, and without Colin helping me over the more difficult bits.
But it was well worth it.  The scenery was amazing, with lots of interesting geology, dramatic rock arches and caves.  The wild flowers were nice, and a wren was singing its heart out on the top of a foxglove.  I felt like doing the same!  I was so happy to be back.
 
We began to meet other walkers — in particular we were passed by two men who had been on our bus this morning where we’d had a conversation about knees.  (It is surprising how many people suffer with bad knees as they get older.)  Colin opened a bag of crisps and ate them as he walked along, he said it was his elevenses.
We passed a ruined building, some sort of industrial past we assumed.  Next to it was the remains of a stile just the right height for a bench, and for the first time on this Walk I was able to have a sit-down rest.
At last we reached Trefin where we found a proper seat I could sit on.  (I can’t get up from the ground because the muscles in my legs are not strong enough, and I cannot kneel on my new knees.  So I have to look around for something that is the right height for a seat before I can sit down.)
 
At Trefin we came across a ruined corn mill.  I sat on a slate seat and ate a banana (my elevenses) while Colin looked around.  There were some millstones inside a ruined building, but that was all really.  Apparently there had been a corn mill on this site for five hundred years, but this one closed in 1918 when it became economically unviable.
 
We had to walk about a hundred yards on a quiet road before we turned off on to the clifftop path again past a stone circle.  Somehow this didn’t look particularly ancient, and it is not marked on the map.  Is it, perhaps, a folly?  Dead in the middle of it were nettles covering loads of sticks, and we wondered at the significance of this.  Further on there was a standing stone which looked equally unreal.
 
We passed more fantastic scenery — I was so happy to be walking along the coast again I wanted to sing at the top of my voice!!  Life is wonderful! 
As we approached Porthgain we could see white marker posts on the cliff top each side of the harbour entrance so that it can be seen by ships at sea.  We didn’t bother to go right out to the cairn as it was only a few yards away and a dead end, so we thought, but followed what seemed to be the main path round so we could get a view of the harbour below.
The path down from there was very difficult — slippery, steep and narrow.  Colin had to help me down.  We were nearly at the bottom before we realised we were not on the proper path which swept round in a wider circle and was of a much better quality.  It wasn’t evident from the top, it must have been behind the cairn.
 
We chatted with a couple from Bristol who were sitting on the harbour sketching the view.  Then we went to a fish’n’chip restaurant for our lunch — lovely fish’n’chips beautifully cooked, almost too much to eat.  We both felt better then.
We went across to the Sloop Inn and relaxed in their garden with drinks — Colin was pleased that the Round-Britain-Beer-Tasting Trek had resumed!  We spent a good long time resting in Porthgain.
 
We also had a look round this amazing hidden harbour.  It was built in 1851 to export local slate.  In the early 1900s it was extended to allow in more and bigger ships.  Stone was quarried nearby and has been used to surface roads all over the country.  Bricks were also made from the waste at the slate quarry, and exported from here.
Nowadays it is mostly a tourist hotspot and contains a few small fishing boats and leisure craft.  As we were about to leave we met the two men again whom we had chatted to on the bus this morning.  They seemed surprised that I had got so far on my new knees!  They, too, had been fooled by that false path leading down to the harbour.
 
The way out of the harbour was up a steep flight of steps straight up to the cliff top.  At the bottom was a weird plant the like of which we had never seen before.  At the top was a beautiful wild flower.
I took my time, and using the handrail my knees got me to the top!  There we met two Welsh ladies who were very chatty.  They asked if we were going to the Blue Lagoon, which they weren’t, and we told them we had heard it spoken of but weren’t sure exactly where it was.  They answered, “Over Abereiddi way!” pointing vaguely in the direction we were going.  It turned out they were retired teachers, as I am, and old college friends.  I told them about my B.Ed honorary degree which I gained last month, and they knew nothing about it.  They wondered how they could get hold of theirs. 
(When I qualified as a teacher in 1966 I was awarded the Teacher’s Certificate, and it was always emphasised to us students that it was not a degree because the standard wasn’t high enough.  A few months ago an old college friend rang me to say she had heard from a friend of a friend that, after 51 years, we were now entitled to an honorary B.Ed degree because our old college was now a University and had decided that the three years study we had put in all those years ago was of degree standard!  We could apply by post for our certificates, or take part in a ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall in London on the 15th of May!!  So that is what I did, and I met up with ‘girls’ I hadn’t seen in over fifty years!  Over five thousand teachers, mostly retired, had applied to receive these certificates, and I and my friends were amongst the 2200 lucky ones to gain tickets to attend the ceremony.  The oldest teacher there was aged 96, and several teachers aged over a hundred had applied for their certificates to be sent by post — it meant so much to all of us.  I felt a bit sad that my sister, Veronica, was also entitled to the degree, but she died two years ago knowing nothing about it.  Otherwise it was a wonderful day, and I got my degree fifty-one years after I had passed the exams!)
 
The two miles from Porthgain to Abereiddi is fairly flat and easy going, but I was extremely tired by the time we arrived.  I have tried to keep up my fitness since my operations, but it takes a long time to build up the strength.
At one point on the route we almost lumbered ourselves by following an old train track from slate mining days which went slightly inland.  Luckily I saw our mistake before we had gone too far, and we were able to rectify it.
We passed fantastic scenery and hidden beaches on our way.  One particularly beautiful beach we would love to have walked along, but it was too far to go down to it only to come up again.
 
As we approached Abereiddi we came to the edge of the cliffs and there was the Blue Lagoon.  It is a large pond hued out of the cliffs where slate has been taken away.  It is very deep and very blue.
Later we visited Abereiddi on one of our ‘rest’ days, and watched youngsters on a ‘coasteering’ activity jump in from great heights — not for me that kind of thing!
A zigzag path led us down to Abereiddi Beach.  There we met those two men from the morning bus for the third time.  We stopped for another chat.  They were waiting for the bus to take them back to St David’s, but our car was in the car park right there.
 
 
That ended Walk no.375, we shall pick up Walk no.376 next time in Abereiddi Beach car park.  It was quarter past five, so the Walk had taken us seven and a quarter hours, but that did include about two hours resting in Porthgain. We had some tea and chocolate biscuits, then drove back to our caravan.