I leave the house in darkness, my feet trod the pavement for the 20 minute walk to the tram, I’m due to catch the 6:25am train to start my journey along the Pembrokeshire coastal path, 140 miles of undulating (trail speak for flipping hilly) sea side loveliness.
4am I awoke to silence, quietly gathering my gear before closing the door on my life for a weeks get away. It was a crazy few days at work, one day saw 2 deaths to deal with, which as omens go was as bad as you could get, working in mental health is never that easy but my team are great and we support each other immensely.
I’d had an extended break, being some 4 weeks since I tackled Northumbria, the ankle issue subsided within the week after a brief visit to my sports therapist and I take short runs in the local area to ease up my legs and feet. New sunglasses, shoes and bag were all arranged to replace the failing gear from before. The bag I’ve had for over a year, a Fjallraven Frulift 45, it has to be the most amazing bag I’ve tried, hoisting it onto my back, the frame and design spread the load making it almost unnoticeable, it’s also cavernous for 45ltr (review to follow).
I board at Grand Central and change at Shrewsbury to head into Aberystwyth, the driver announcing that we were all lucky to be getting this train today as it was nearly cancelled an hour before departure. From listening to others it seems to be a regular occurrence round these parts and the first I’ve come across. Once arrived, I board a bus for an hour to start the coast at Cardigan, as I leave from Birmingham I realise I forget to install the SD card into my
Gopro so a quick stop in Aberystwyth to purchase a new one is required and a quick chance to grab a bite to eat. The journey by bus to Cardigan seemed to take forever, much slower than the forecast journey time. Tourist and locals hopped on and off as a group of kids treated the bus to 10 rounds of ‘the wheels on a bus’, thankfully they depart fairly soon and a silence returns to the bus.
Arriving, I decant onto the High Street and thread my way through a multitude of tourist who seem intent on getting in my way, all to soon I was passing from one busy high street on to the small hamlet of St Dogmaels,
wandering the road way towards the estuary of Afon Teifi, the route soon left the busy roads and off onto back streets before joining the road alongside Poppit Sands and on towards Cemaes Head. The views looking back towards Cardigan were
nothing more than spectacular which happily set the scene for the rest of the trip.
The coastal path steeply wound its way along the rocky hillside, a gentle wind buffeted me, offering a cooling breeze from the heat of the mid day sun, the paths being well maintained offered little difficulty other than the constant descent and ascent which after a few hours had began to punish my legs and strip my energy levels.
I stopped regularly to admire the views along this stunning rock and dramatic coastline, taking in regular
water and food as i went. My body and mind were beginning to drain of any energy now, the 2 previous days I had barely slept, having had only 4hrs sleep prior to leaving home it had started to take its toll on me as I slowed and really struggled with any inclines, adding to the frustration, I could see Dinas head some 6 miles away as the crow fly, but this being the winding and twisting land that it was, I was still some 10 miles away.
Newport came into view around the headland of Cyfrwy, it looked
deceptively close as I descended onto the beach, Newport Sands teemed with day trippers, some packing up, washing sandy fun from their feet whilst others strolled relaxed without cares along the golden sand. There didn’t appear to be anyway to simply cross the sands with a deep estuary blocking a quick and short route I was forced to follow the coastal path around, people strolled the evening sun with partners and pets, stopping in local pubs which as my energy was now pretty much exhausted and each time I looked at my map my end point never seemed to get any closer seemed to be a cruel trick to play on me.
I passed through Newport and onto yet more hills, little bays and inlets came and went along with my enjoyment, a number of times I came to points where I thought about wildcamping for the night but opted to dig deep and carry on.
Cwm-yr-Eglwys came into view, a few people pottered around as I passed by taking a few brief photos of the once teeming church and coastal village a tragic tale of a lost place, cutting
across the small peninsula and up another steep path and into Dinas Island camp site, the pleasant owner greeted me and made the remark of how I looked, before giving me a few tea bags and directing me towards my camp pitch.
I was greatfull to stop 22 miles covered in 7hrs had certainly taken its toll on my weary body, once I had washed and eaten my energy levels began to increase and I felt immediately better, I rehydrated on tea and water before settling into my sleeping gear for an early night and an early morning.
I wasn’t sure what day 3 would bring, I knew that the next day I was to dip off the coastal route to take a look at some of the other features and wonders around national park. For now sleep was needed and came quickly.