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.
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 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.
Terrain:Entirely cliff paths.Undulating,
uneven and challenging.Some very steep
Kissing gates:Nos.900, 901, 902, 903, 904, 905, 906, 907
and 908 spread along the way.
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.
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
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.
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.
Terrain:Undulating grassy cliff paths.Some deep clefts to overcome.
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.
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.
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
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
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!
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
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.
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
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.