Stage 58, 28th April: Whitesands Bay to Strumble Head
Now it really was rather amiss of me not to mention in my last blog that I enjoyed a Twister when I passed through Newgale on Friday. Humble apologies to those who like to know a little more about my ice cream intake.
I knew today would be one of stunning scenery as I set out over the next few days to cover very familiar family holiday territory. What I thought would be a glorious sunny day to compliment the scenery was indeed sunny, but disappointingly hazy. The light and conditions were poor for photos and when I met a photographer with his huge SLR camera plus oversized tripod on the cliff path shortly out of Whitesands Bay, we agreed.
The first ten miles to Porthgain was, to put it simply, gorgeous. If I could recommend any ten-mile section of the coast so far it would be this one. I had so many “Wow” moments with so many different scenes and that’s despite the fact that I know the area well. Usually I get a couple of these moments per day, here it was a couple per hour. I feel I’d be robbing people the opportunity to see for themselves by trying to describe what I saw, so I won’t. Hopefully some of the pictures I’ve put on Flickr will do a few of the scenes justice, but I suspect they fall way short.
For part of this section I met up with Stuart, half of the Stuart and Phil support crew combination I had as company for the week. Phil had to vanish back to work for a day or two, but Stuart joined me at Abereiddy where we lingered at the Blue Lagoon (photo), scene of one round of the 2013 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. We ambled at a leisurely pace over to Porthgain, passing the lovely beach down below the cliff at Traeth Llyfn and my favourite Sea Bass fishing mark (no, I’m not telling). On reaching Porthgain we enjoyed a rare lunchtime pint in The Sloop and browsed around the gallery. The brick / slate / roadstone history of this little port gives it a dramatic backdrop and we lingered probably a little longer than we should.
I left Stuart at the gallery and headed back on the path for some increasingly rough and rugged terrain to cover. Time was noticeably ticking by and the day was already wearing a little long, as were my feet. Though the afternoon didn’t carry as many wows, I still felt that the camera couldn’t really do it justice. Even the spectacularly sited youth hostel high on the cliff edge at Pwll Deri looked dull to photograph and by the time I reached the Strumble Head lighthouse it was well past 7pm and we were due back at Wol and Taffy’s for my last night of pampering. Even if Strumble Head didn’t photograph brilliantly today at least I had one I made earlier to hand (photo).
Stage 59, 29th April: Strumble Head to Newport Sands
With genuine and heart-felt thanks, Stuart and I said our goodbyes to Wol and Taffy and headed out for another sunny, yet disappointingly hazy day. The terrain continued to be rugged with an almost scottish lowland feel about it. I couldn’t really identify any particular landmarks, but that didn’t make the walk boring or dull. But real entertainment value was had as I stood aside to let a full coach load of ramblers walk by followed by a large group of Geology students from Keele, this time carrying blue hard hats and their regulation issue yellow field notebooks. It must have taken a good fifteen minutes for me to try to say hello to all of them and in catching the second rambler I saw for a two-minute chat caused a bit of a traffic jam.
On dropping down the cliff into the port of Goodwick my eye was immediately drawn by the sight of an ice cream van parked bang on the path. On approaching, my eye was further drawn by the fact that it seemed to have one of my flyers posted in their window alongside the iced-lolly menu. Stuart had primed them. I couldn’t resist – a Mint Feast was soon in my mucky palm and I didn’t even get a discount.
A tarmac path bypassed Fishguard along the Marine Walk taking me around the headland and down to the prettier Lower Town. Onwards I discovered many hidden inlets and coves, including a real gem at Aber Bach and a gentle but long climb up the south side of Dinas Head took me to a trig point at the farthest end before a gentle mirrored descent down the north side and a return to cliff top walking and even more pretty bays all the way to Newport. With a quick inland diversion around the bird rich estuary of the river Nevern and I was back across a links golf course to meet up with Stuart at the north end of Newport Sands and a very welcome overnight stop at the luxuriously appointed Llwyngwair Manor Holiday Park.
Stage 60, 30th April: Newport Sands to Mwnt
Although it was overcast and cool with occasional spits of rain, it was not enough to dampen my spirit. The long knee-deep grass gave me a wet start and I spent the first hour knocking dew off the tufts overhanging the path in a vain attempt to keep my feet dry in boots which were not quite as waterproof as advertised. The terrain was rugged again with many ups and downs and with inlets and coves to circumnavigate. It was all very pretty, yet also a little samey, until I reached Traeth Bach where the inlets became inundated with added arches, caves and even peculiar little sea etched tunnels.
Heavy folding in the high cliff strata with sharp anticlines and synclines reflecting the geology I saw way across the water back in North Cornwall was equally spectacular at Camaes Head (photo). Some of the folded rocks were bent double in the water and at first glance resembled the back of a very large beached whale.
From Camaes Head a gradual fall took me to Poppit Sands and the Afon Teifi estuary up to St Dogmaels and around to Cardigan. On the pavement alongside the main road into Cardigan I sadly turned and said a fond farewell to the acorn symbol of Pembrokeshire and hello to the waves and cliffs symbol of the Ceredigion Coast Path. The first few miles of pavement, farmers fields and roadside walking back down river from Cardigan to Gwbert and across to Mwnt didn’t bode well for Ceredigion. I rather hoped it might improve along with my aching right shoulder, nagging sore toes and a grumbling left knee. More ibuprofen anyone?