Hello to all my regular readers! I know there are a number of you out there.
Thank you for your interest.
At last we have got back to our Grand Coastal Trek after a break of 21 months due to complex problems at home. Now well into our seventies, we find we are walking a lot more slowly than previously -- but still enjoying it enormously. We have now reached Angle on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, and hope to continue from there later in the summer.
To all my readers, thank you for your interest in our venture.
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')
Ages:Colin was 73 years and 62 days.Rosemary was 70 years and 204 days.
Weather:Sunny and hot.A slight breeze in exposed places which was
very welcome. Location:Newport
(Trefdraeth) to Fishguard. Distance:13 miles. Total
distance:3842 miles. Terrain:Cliff
paths which were narrow, uneven and steeply undulating with lots of steps.Overgrown in many places, it had a neglected
feel.We often felt ‘imprisoned’ on a
narrow strip between a barbed wire fence on one side and a hedge on the
water 2.30pm approx. Rivers: No.450,Afon Gwaun in Fishguard. Ferries:None. Piers:None. Kissing gates:Nos.881, 882, 883, 884, & 885.(Better than the last Walk!) Pubs:None. ‘Cadw’ properties:None. Ferris wheels:None. Diversions:None. How
we got there and back:We were staying
in our caravan in Letterston.This
morning we drove to Fishguard and parked in a picnic site overlooking Goodwick
Sands.We walked to the bus stop in town
and caught a bus to Newport.There we walked down to Parrog Beach. At
the end we came to the car.We had our
tea, then returned to the caravan.
From the car park, where we parked last time, we walked on to the
seafront.It wasn’t really a seafront as
such, it was the mouth of the river Nyfer.The tide was more or less out and there were a number of small boats on
the sands and in the river.It was a
lovely scene on this bright sunny day.
We walked a short way on muddy sands, then on a path which went in front
of some cottages.We greeted a group of
ladies who were sitting with their dogs enjoying the sunshine and early morning
coffee.They looked very relaxed.
The path led up on to the cliffs where we were treated to amazing
We saw a number of different birds
on the cliffs which they use for nesting, the season being almost finished by
now.It was a beautiful day and all
seemed right with the world — if only my
b----y knee wasn’t so painful!
was about a mile and a half to the beach at Cwm Rhigian along a very wiggly
route.The path was narrow and it was
very up & down — not an easy walk.But it was worth it because of the panoramic views all along.
On the beach at Cwm Rhigian we sat on a rock to eat our pasties whilst
watching kayakers playing about in the water and swapping canoes between
themselves.Colin wished he could join them!
We carried on up the cliffs, it was very hot.Sometimes we managed to get into the shade of
bushes or trees and then it was cooler and we felt better.We loved the views, and the eroded rocks we
could see at the bottom of the cliffs were interesting too.
We descended to
sea level again at Cwm Dyffryn where there was a footbridge across a
stream.We ascended again on a much
better path so we were able to walk more quickly.This path eventually led on to a tarmacked
lane which took us down to Cwm-yr-Eglwrs where we came across an ice cream van
— we couldn’t resist!
We sat on a
bench eating our delicious concoctions whilst watching the world go by.There were quite a few people about by then,
all enjoying the lovely day.A lot of
people were on the beach and in the water — but we had a long Walk to get on
with so we mustn’t dawdle. We had a look
at a ruined church which we passed, and then got going.
We started up the footpath to Dinas Head
which soon opened out to fantastic views.It all seemed very colourful, we loved the green of the fern against the
blue of the sea.
There were lots of
people about walking in both directions around the Head.We reckoned it was the most popular path we’d
been on for a long time.
My knee began to
be a nuisance, especially on steps.I
stopped to take paracetamol and ibuprofen in tandem, but it didn’t make any
difference.In fact it got worse the
further we walked.
One chap we met,
looking at my walking poles, made that tired old ‘joke’ about skis — aaaaaaargh—gh!That
was all I needed!
At last we made it
to the viewpoint at the end of Dinas Head.There were lots of people about, but somehow it didn’t seem
crowded.We found a rock for me to sit
on which was a natural armchair.It was
very comfy!We ate our sarnies there
looking out over the sea.It was sunny
with a gentle breeze — just perfect!I could forget about my painful knees for a
As we continued along the Coast Path there
were magnificent views in all directions.In the distance we watched the Irish ferry leave Fishguard, our
destination for today.The ferry was the
only one for the rest of the day — not many ferries use Fishguard these days.
We descended the
western side of Dinas Head, it was a much gentler slope this side.There were lots of people climbing up, but we
were hot and tired even though we were on our way down.We came to a pub at the bottom — wonderful!But we ordered tea, not beer, because it is
so refreshing on a hot sunny day.Tea is
a real pick-me-up. We thought we
were about halfway on our Walk at this point, a signpost told us it was six
miles to Fishguard along the coast path.In hindsight, considering the state of my knees, we should have
curtailed our Walk at the pub where we had our tea and done the second half on
another day.(Hindsight is a wonderful thing!)
We climbed a steep slope with lots of steps, and the pain in my knees
was hell despite all the painkillers I had taken.But I
wasn’t going to give in! It opened out at
the top, and we thought (hoped?) that
the path might be kinder for this second half — we were wrong!It soon
closed up to a strip between a barbed wire fence and hedges which blocked our
view.It was narrow and very overgrown
for the most part, we felt trapped.We
met far less people on this leg of the Walk, now we knew why. Mind you, when we could see the view it
continued to be amazing.
bushes which were leaning horizontally, and we conjectured that it must be
extremely windy a lot of the time up on these cliffs.We’ve certainly been lucky with the weather
today, it could have been hell and those bushes were the evidence.But we’ve both been sweating buckets, it’s
been so hot.
Then the gullies started — one
deep one, and half a mile later we descended to a stony beach.Some of the steps to get down were HUGE!I couldn’t have got down without my walking
poles, and the path was horribly overgrown.
We crossed a
narrow wooden bridge, then ascended a good stony path — a refreshing change
from the difficulties of the descent.At
the top we sat on a fence by a gate to eat our first chocolate — we had packed two each for today’s long
We walked up a zigzag lane
with the sun in our eyes because we were going due west.Because of our temporary blindness we almost
missed the path leading off taking us back to the clifftop, but luckily Colin
noticed it before we had walked past it.Again the path was narrow and overgrown between a barbed wire fence and
hedges to seaward — it felt like a long thin prison.My knee pain got worse and worse, I don’t
know how I bore it at times.
The scenery we
were passing was fantastic!It included
a rock arch, and was easily the best coast for rocks we have been on for this
But the sun directly in our
eyes was horrid, and our progress was slow because of my painful knee.We came to a holiday park and hoped that
things would be better after it.They
We went up to a
“Castell” owned by the National Trust, but even that was over-grown.We could see the houses of Fishguard ahead,
but first we had another gully to cross — we couldn’t believe it!The sun, by now, was behind a cloud but there
was no sign of rain, thank goodness.
came out in a fort with guns!(Well, cannons.)It was interesting looking around.The fort is in a prominent position
overlooking the little port
We walked down
the road to the river bridge where we came across a sculpture celebrating the
herring industry which was very important in this area at one time.Even that had a cannon next to it.Our route was all on tarmacked paths from now
on, which was just as well because it was beginning to get dark.
alongside the river on the north-west side for a little way, then started up
the hill.It was me who noticed where we
had to turn off on a path which went back on itself, Colin almost missed it
because he was so tired he was walking along in a kind of a daze.This path took us up high where we had good
views over Fishguard village and the river bridge.
Then we went down and down.We thought we may have gone too far along the
high path and missed the car park where we left our car this morning, but it
was not so — we came to it spot on!It
was full of young people sitting in their cars chatting from car to car.
That ended Walk no.372, we shall pick up Walk no.373 next time in the car
park overlooking Goodwick Sands.It was
twenty past nine, so the Walk had taken us twelve hours.We had our tea, then returned to the caravan.We had enjoyed the first half of this
spectacular Walk, but not the second half.We couldn’t believe it had taken us twelve hours!!I’m wondering how much longer I can continue
with my increasingly painful knees.
Ages:Colin was 73 years and 60 days.Rosemary was 70 years and 202 days.
Weather:At the start threatening showers came to
nothing.The sky cleared and it was very
sunny for most of the day.A strong wind
nearly blew us off our feet at times, but it was not cold.Towards the end it clouded over turning to
drizzle and then rain. Location:Cardigan (Aberteifi) to Newport (Trefdraeth). Distance:18 miles. Total
distance:3829 miles. Terrain:Tarmacked lanes at first which were mostly flat.Good tracks towards the end, again these were
mostly flat.But the majority of the
Walk was very challenging, not helped by the strong wind.We climbed steeply undulating cliff paths,
many were overgrown and there were huge steps in places. Tide:High
water noon, low water 6pm – ish.
Rivers: No.448,Afon Teifi in Cardigan.No.449,
Afon Nyfer in Newport. Ferries:None. Piers:None. Kissing gates:None. Pubs:None. ‘Cadw’ properties:No.11, St Dogmaels Abbey which we visited on
a different day. Ferris wheels:None. Diversions:None. How
we got there and back:Two days ago we
towed our caravan from London
(where we had been visiting our grandson) to Letterston in Pembrokeshire.This morning we drove to Newport
and parked on Parrog
Beach.We walked to the bus stop in town and caught
a bus to Cardigan.There we walked down
to the river bridge. At
the end we came to the car.It was very
late, so we got straight in and returned to our caravan.
I have been dealt a triple whammy this year.As a child I was the sixth in a family of
eight, and my eldest sister, Veronica, was eleven years older than me.Like me, she led a very active life in
retirement and seemed to be in good health for her 81 years.She loved gardening, hiking, playing bowls
and above all — dancing.Twice a week
she went to her local dancing club and danced the night away with her husband
and friends.Last February she rang me
up and said, “I’ve got ovarian cancer and
it’s at quite an advanced stage!”I was
struck dumb!“How long have you known about this?” I managed to ask
eventually.“Only a couple of weeks!” she replied.
died twelve days later!
Veronica was like a second mother to me when I was a child.Because our mother had so many children, Veronica
took on the task of helping care for her younger siblings.I had long hair until I was six, and Veronica
used to brush and plait it for me each morning before she went to school.When I started school, she used to meet me
off the bus and see me across a main road to my school before cycling on to her
own.It was Veronica who taught me to
knit, a skill in which I take great pleasure to this day.It was Veronica who took me to the cinema for
the first time — we sawAlice in Wonderlandand I remember her laughing because I was
frightened of the Cheshire Cat and hid under the seat!Veronica took me and my brothers to our first
pantomime, and to Chessington Zoo before it became a theme park.She paid for my dancing lessons out of her
first pay packet.To lose Veronica is
like losing my mother for a second time.
My eldest brother, Frank, was nine years older than me.He was a Salesian priest and had lived in Malta since
1970.He taught maths and geography in
various Salesian schools there, but his main interest was keeping disadvantaged
and disaffected boys off the streets by interesting them in sport.He was an athlete himself — he used to run
marathons and cycle all over Europe, even in
his fifties and sixties.When he retired
from teaching he instituted an athletics club in Malta which he continued to run for
many years, enthusing the children — for by now girls were allowed to join — to
do their very best, and more.In his
late sixties Frank was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.Slowly he began to lose the ability to run,
and then he could no longer even ride his bike — his first love had always been
cycling.Then he lost the use of his
legs and had to resort to a wheelchair.But
lost his enthusiasm for his athletics club even from his wheelchair, and
continued to encourage the children to do their utmost on a daily basis.The Parkinson’s affected his heart, and he
had stents put in.He told me, “Ihave
to take 21 pills a day, I don’t know what they are all for!”
Frank and Veronica were always very close — they had been through many
frightening experiences together during the War when they were little.The last time I spoke to Frank, on the phone,
he said, “I always envied Veronica her
good health!”He had a fatal heart
attack a couple of weeks later, dying just 3 months after Veronica.He was 79. Over the past months my knees have deteriorated considerably,
particularly my left knee.Some days I
can only hobble, and I have taken to using crutches when I go out to save
myself from falling when my knees give way.They are so painful!I am determined not to give up on the Coastal
Trek because it is something I have wanted to do ever since I was a child.But unless I can get effective treatment, I’m
going to have to.The thought of never
being able to walk in the countryside again, through a wood or along a beach,
fills me with gloom.In fact, I am quite
seriously depressed, but all my GP can offer me is ‘Happy Pills’ which I don’t
want to take.Pills are not the answer! Now, after that rant, I will get on with writing up today’s Walk.
We visited St
Dogmaels Abbey on a different day towards the end of this break because we
didn’t have time on the Walk.My knees
were giving me hell, and I could barely hobble about.The abbey was built in the 12th
century and abandoned in the 16th after Henry VIII’s mob had routed
out the remaining monks — usual story.The building was left to rot and there is not much of it remaining
today.A group of people were standing in
the middle of the ruins singing jolly Christian songs on the afternoon of our
visit.We declined to join them, though
we would have been welcome had we wanted to.
Walk was a long one due to lack of access points.So I downed loads of painkillers, grabbed my
walking poles and we got going.There
were no kissing gates on the whole Walk — we felt cheated!(Doesn’t
Pembrokeshire County Council believe in them?There were plenty in Ceredigion.)There I go, ranting on again — get on with writing about the Walk, girl!
We started the
Walk wearing full wet-weather gear because yesterday had been an horrendously
rainy day and it was still pouring when we got up this morning.We crossed the bridge over the River Teifi in
Cardigan which meant we were now in Pembrokeshire.Following the road on the west side of the
river, we passed a redundant loo block which was fast becoming overgrown with
bushes.(But we had just used toilets in Cardigan, so we were OK.) We failed to
find the path by the river which was shown clearly on our newly-bought OS map. We concluded that it must be overgrown or eroded
and slipped into the river.The road we
were on was narrow and fairly busy.The
‘official’ Wales Coast Path route would have sent us uphill and across several
fields, so we ignored it and made do with the road, which was nearer the shore
anyhow.We soon came to a place where we
could access the riverside, and what’s more — the sun was shining!We sat
on a bench and divested ourselves of our wet-weather gear.
We ate the pies
we had bought at Tesco that morning.The
pastry underneath was soggy — we might have known because of all the accolades
on the packaging, “We only want to make
you happy!”“Tweet us!”“Like us on facebook!”and other such rubbish.No thank you — your pastry was soggy!It was a good path by the river, easy to
We came to a
green with a children’s playground.Colin stopped to chat to a man about his dog while I read a notice about
an “answering stone”.Apparently it was where
they used to bless ships on their way from Cardigan Port,
but there is no port there now.We think
there was supposed to be an echo across the river, but we tried it out and
there was hardly one. (We have heard better echoes at Lathkill Dale
in Derbyshire.) We continued to a
mermaid statue and a mosaic footprint — don’t know what that was all about, but
there were good views of the river from there including Cardigan Island which
we weren’t allowed to view from the other side because it was someone’s ‘private’
Colin stopped to
chat to some women and their dogs without any inkling that we had a very long
walk ahead of us, which is the reason we got up at 5 this morning.He has
no idea of time, and never has had!Eventually
I managed to drag him away, and we followed the estuary up to Poppit
Sands.It looked a very nice beach, but
we didn’t go down on it because there was only one entrance/exit — hence a dead
The lane turned slightly inland,
was narrow and uphill.We had to squash
into the hedge every time a vehicle came by, luckily they were few.Colin saved a snail which was trying to cross
the road — goodness knows why because he hates snails, and if he finds them in
the garden he chucks them into the road to get run over! It was getting
hot, so Colin unzipped his trouser legs to turn the garment into shorts.But he couldn’t be bothered to remove his
boots to take off the lower parts, so he left them flapping around his ankles
like oversize socks.He looked utterly ridiculous!
We came to a farm entrance where we were
amused by the notice the farmer had put up to deter people from parking in his
way.There was a campsite there, but it
was very windy and I wouldn’t have liked to camp there.There was one brave taker whose small tent
was flapping in the wind.The path
doglegged around the farm, where a ‘shop’ was open, through a gate and turned
into an uneven cliff path up to Cemaes Head.
dawdling and taking far too long over these first ‘easy’ miles.As we turned south-east at Cemaes Head the
wind caught us and several times nearly knocked us off our feet.It was gusty and quite strong — we didn’t
feel entirely safe up there on the clifftops.
The path was narrow, uneven and very steep in places.
There were a lot of stiles, which I find
quite difficult to get over these days, and there were no kissing gates to
amuse us, just ordinary ones.This Walk
was proving to be a lot more challenging than we had anticipated.
conditions, there were quite a few people walking this part of the Coast Path
in both directions.(We are in Pembrokeshire now, where the Coast Path has been established
for many years.The Coast Path in
Ceredigion is just as lovely, but practically deserted.)
We came to a ‘corner’, and found a place
where we could sit on a bank sheltered from the wind by bushes.So we sat there and ate our sarnies.
When we got up I started walking off in the
wrong direction—somehow I had got disorientated.
We came to a
notice warning us that the path onwards was “remote
and rugged with numerous very steep hills, no escape routes, high cliffs to
seaward, no water and no facilities”.We carried on to wonderful views, lovely flowers and amazing geology!
It was wonderful to be by the sea again,
there were a lot of ‘white horses’ out there.It helped to clear my muzzy head after my family bereavements.The wind was a bit strong in places, but it
wasn’t cold and we got used to it — after all we had weathered far worse
conditions in Scotland.Yes, it was uneven and steep, especially one
gully where we had to descend a lot of steps to a footbridge and then climb the
other side.Some of the path was
horribly overgrown which made progress difficult.
But it was just so wonderful to be out on the
cliffs again, I felt as though all my anxieties were blowing away in the wind.
We found another
sheltered bank on which to sit and eat our apples.From there we could see the lane coming up
from the hamlet of Moylgrove so we knew approximately where we were.Further on Colin complained that the lane
didn’t look any nearer, but I thought it did. (I think he was getting tired)
The path led us behind a cottage where we met
an old man, obviously a local.He told
us there were four choughs flying around on the clifftops squeaking for food
because their parents had decided they were old enough to find their own.We thanked him politely for the information,
but we didn’t see any of them.
descended lots of steps to sea level and crossed a stone footbridge at the
inner end of a tidal inlet.
the other side we found we were directly above a couple of blowholes which we
had seen while descending.I videoed one
of them — very exciting!
We started on
the next bit of the Coast Path passing a notice which told us it was 8½ miles
to Newport.Help!Best get on with it then — there’s no way out!This path was better maintained at first, so
the going was marginally easier.
to where the path crossed over a natural bridge.The sea came underneath us into a collapsed
cave.It is a pretty unique place, very
A couple of cyclists came down
the steps to it pushing their bikes — mad!
We came to
another notice telling us the way on was “remote
and rugged…etc…etc..” and that we still had seven miles to go.It was already gone 5pm — we were not making
very good time, mainly because my knees won’t allow me to walk very fast.
So we plodded on….and on….and on….over
stiles, through gates (not kissing!),
down steps, up steps — it was never-ending!
My knee had been OK all the morning, but by lunchtime it was giving me
gyp so I took paracetamol and ibuprofen in tandem.
We came to one hill that was particularly
steep, we were almost on hands and knees to get up.I don’t know how I did it — the wind didn’t
help, it was so strong as if it wanted to fell me.
We were both so tired!We had stopped talking ages ago, and I had put the camera away because I
couldn’t be bothered to take any more pictures.We thought we could see the “end”.We thought that as soon as we got round there we would see Newport.Oh!How we were fooled!Round “there”
was another gully with a steep climb up out of it.After that there was another one.When we got to
a third one I nearly collapsed. The sky had
clouded over by then and there was a mist approaching from the sea, though
fortunately it never reached us.We
stopped so I could put on my kag for warmth.Colin did the same.Then I bolted
down my second chocolate — I don’t think I could have carried on without the
extra boost of energy it gave me.We
stomped on in silence.How we did it
without having an accident I don’t know. At last we could
genuinely see Newport,
but it seemed a very long way away.I
had to concentrate extremely hard not to trip — too easily done with my lack of
3D vision — and a number of times I caught my foot on a stone.There was a steep descent, which I didn’t
find easy at all with my gammy knees.There were too many stiles — I find them quite challenging these
days.Then the path along the side of
the cliff was so overgrown it was almost impossible to see our way
through.Several times we slipped on mud
or tripped on a root which we couldn’t see because of too much
undergrowth.Then we came to another gully — cruel!The steps out of it were HUGE! At last we
reached the car park above the beach, we were relieved that we had reached
‘civilisation’ before it got quite dark.But we weren’t finished yet.Colin got it into his head that we could paddle across the river at this
point to save walking up to the bridge and back.He wouldn’t believe the map nor listen to
reason, and disappeared off to ask some people who were walking their dogs way
over yonder.He wasted half an hour over
this nonsense, and by then it was
quite dark.He can be so pig-headed at times! It started drizzling
as I marched off towards the estuary following the path marked on the map, and
he followed complaining loudly as only he knows how.(It was
all my fault, of course!)I don’t
know where he got the idea from that there was a “new” bridge halfway along the
estuary — it was all rubbish which he wouldn’t believe until we didn’t get to
it.There was only one bridge, the road
bridge marked on the map.And did I get an apology?You’ve got to be joking!Then I had to wait while he put his
overtrousers on — I couldn’t be bothered because I knew I could change out of
my wet things as soon as I got back to the caravan.I just wanted to get there! It was pitch
dark and pouring with rain as we crossed the river on the road bridge.We walked the last mile in total darkness
under trees.BUT — the toilets at the car park were CLEAN, FREE, WELL-LIT and OPEN!!Well done the local Council!
That ended Walk no.371, we shall pick up Walk no.372 next time in the car
park on Parrog Beach.It was twenty past ten!I don’t
think we have ever finished a Walk so late (apart
from Cape Wrath which was somewhat
exceptional).It had taken us
thirteen and a half hours!We got
straight in the car and returned to the caravan. We agreed that we had bitten off more than we could chew with this Walk,
and were thankful that we had completed it safely.We must never attempt a Walk this long
again, especially with my knees in the state they are.Smaller ‘bites’ along the coast in future!