PEMBROKESHIRE COAST PATH 2015-
A week of walking lay ahead for Geri and me, and as Sue and Stu were having to leave us on Monday, we decided to get an early start from Bucknell and 'fill in' a fow missing sections on the coast path for them. So today we arrived at Solva for the short(ish) hike to Porth Clais.
The first and most important thing was to get some food down our necks after the three hour drive. We found an ideal bench just along the coast path beside the harbour and took in the view. Once we were fully satisfied, off we went and climbed up onto the cliff top.
Solva harbour from the cliff top
It was a truly glorious day, with blue sky and a bit of a gently brezze which carried us along the path. Very soon we were spotting old friends like the inevitable stonechats and surprisingly we spotted a linnet - not that we knew what it was at the time, but the book later confirmed our earlier sighting.We puzzled over anoth couple of birds before I remembered Mike sage words of advice "....if it's got a white throat and it's a little brown bird, then it's likely as not to be a whitethroat..."!
We had plenty of time to stop and admire the birdlife as well as the scenery, and we were surprised by the number of other walkers we encountered as we headed towards St Non's chapel.
Approaching St Non's chapel
Looking back fron St Non's
A little further on we rounded a headland and our destination and Porth Clais (and more importantly - ice creans) came into view. A great walk to start our 2017 visit to Pembrokeshire.
Especially for Stu - an arch as we approach Porth Clais
Porth Clais harbour
the heather covered cliff top wasThe Maps
After yesterday's rather strenuous exertions, we decide to make today a shorter than planned walk. We left our self catering flat in St Davids and walked to the city centre bright and early.
St Davids early morning
We were soon walking along the footpath to Porth Clais, sitting peacefully in the warm early morning sunshine.
Porth Clais harbour
We climbed up along the familiar path to the cliffs and headed towards Porthllisky and Porthlysgi Bay passing the islands of Carreg Frân an Carred yr Esgob.
The dramatic cliffs on the approach to Porth Clais
On the way we came across a yellow flower which looked really attractive and at the back of our minds we were sure we'd seen it before. It was only when we got home that research proved it to be the Porth Clais - an old friend.
We left Porthlysgi Bay and headed towards Ramsay Sound, stopping quite soon for a coffee. Soon after restarting we came across the first choughs of this visit, one of which posed obligingly on a fence post as we approached.
As we rounded Pen Dal-aderyn the colour and scent of the heather covered clifftop was quite special.
We turned north and Ransay Sound showed that the tide was almost on the full, showing to great effect the strong currents around the Bitches near Ramsay Island.
In the distance our first view of ... new lifeboat station
In the distance our first view of the now almost completed new lifeboat station. As we got closer it was obvious that a lot of work was going on restoring the cliff top to its former condition, with diggers and dump trucks moving earth around. We passed behind the two lifeboat stations and found ourselves a good spot for out lunch break.
It was time to move on to Whitesands Bay and the promise of an ice cream (again). As we moved away from Ramsay Sound I tried out a new facility on my map application, and discovered that it was a really interesting feature enabling me to identify mysterious islands offshore.
This I shall have to play with a bit more!
Whitesands Bay came into view and the sun, which had taken a short break came out again.
A great walk and just enough time to have an ice cream before the Celtic Coaster bus arrived to take us back to St Davids.
I was quite surprised when Geri asked to do this walk again. My recollection was that it was quite a strenuous 7+ miles. But, you know what they say "The customer is always right".
We parked the car at Solva and caught the Puffin Shuttle to Nolton Haven in bright sunshine. After a quick spray with the factor 50 and a comfort break we headed off up the hill to the cliffs.
3 miles to Newgale
What then followed was a series of steep ups ( and downs of course) which took our breath away and stalled any chance of conversation. It was hot and the sea a deep blue as we rounded Rickets Head and made our way to Black Cliff - which to be honest didn't look at all black but its name no doubt derived from the coal that was mined during the nineteenth and early twentieth century at two sites - Nolton Colliery and at the Black Cliff.
Further on is the site of Trefrane Cliff colliery - the biggest pit in the vicinity, and its ruined buildings and tall brick stack make prominent features beside the footpath to this day. This mine was worked from 1850 to 1905 with a 300-foot deep shaft slanting under the sea, and a steep tramway up which the coal was winched to the top of the cliff near the coast road.
As we approached Newgale Sands we began to think kindly of our coffee breaks and we paused to sit on a grassy bank near to the car parks and toilets. Once we got going again we walked along the pavement to the end of the sands where we again made our way up. The sign here misleadingly informs us that it was 5½ miles to Solva, but according to my previous track it is only 4.3 miles.
The old Trefrane Ciff colliery chimney
Looking back to Rickets Head
Newgale Sands ahead
Back up on the cliffs again we headed towards Dinas Fawr via more ups and downs to spend some time contemplating the scenery and peace and quiet whilst we had our lunch.
The tide is in - leaving circular patterns at the high water mark
Looking back towards Newgale
use + or - key to zoom
Soon we were descending to the small beach at Gwadn then crossed over the wooden footbridge and up one final time before the long shady descent to Solva and a well deserved ice cream.
The ups & downs of our day
A change of plan today brought about by the Endurancelife competition. We parked one car at Nolton Haven and returned to park the other in amongst the chaos of the arrivals for the event.
The runners gather at Little Haven
We headed up the hill and then down into Broad Haven with lots of folks about enjoying the sun. We headed along the footpath beside the bay before climbing up onto the cliffs once again.
Broad Haven sands
The (now) sandy cliffs were showing much evidence of landslips causing one two diversions onto newly created stretches of coast path.
Sandy cliffs en route to Nolton Haven
As we approached Druidston Haven, a secluded long, sandy beach enclosed on three sides by steep cliffs, our attention was taken by the unique eco house overlooking the bay.
On arrival at the beach we discovered a red navigation buoy that had been washed up on the beach during Storm Imogen in February this year. It looks like it might now become a permanent feature.
Back up onto the cliffs again via a long set of giant steps before the final stretch into Nolton Haven.
Looking back to Druidstone Haven
We now had to decide on somewhere to have our lunch. I suggested that Stack Rocks might be just the place as we were staying at East Trewent tonight. Upon our arrival we were just stunned to see so many guillemots on the stacks with fulmars and kittiwakes also in evidence - but the huge number of guillemots was just amazing.
Stack Rocks as we'd not seen before
Finally, the Green Bridge of Wales
We had already decided to bring our long walk forward to today as we had been made aware of the Endurancelife run which would be taking place tomorrow. With the prospect of some 800 runners travelling in different directions actually on the coast path, we decided that it would be best to avoid that section this time.
So today we drove to Martin's Haven and set off to return to our bed and breakfast. I had 'done a Mike' today and promised a walk of about 8¾ to 9 miles, but in the event it turned out to be just over 10 miles. Humblest of apologies to my three walking companions who, bless them, did not complain at all.
We hit the coast path, pleased to find that the strong and cold wind was behind us today (we needed all the help we could get). The sun was out, but large clouds loomed nearby and threatened to give us a soaking. As we got going we looked back to see a heavy squall envelope Skomer and Martin's Haven. Initially Stu stopped to put on waterproofs, and a little while later with the threat ever closer the rest of us followed suit. As it turned out the heavy rain never materialised, and soon the sun came out.
...soon the sun came out
We were on a relatively flat section of the path heading towards Tower Point and Nab Head. As we approached Nab Head we spied 3 white horses which looked very much like the ones we saw 3 years ago. We sheltered in the lee of a stone wall for a coffee break, after which we followed the wall to St Brides.
We continued away from St Brides commenting quite excitedly at times on the variety of birdlife we were seeing. So fat today e had seen: stonechat, gannets, wheatear, Black Back Gulls etc, and up ahead of us just on the coast path we spotted a number of curlews. Our progress became ever slower as more and more frequent stops to view birds took over our walk. It was now becoming hot and for the first time, we started shedding waterproofs and fleeces.
The geology was quie stunning and worthy of comment. Layers of harder rock sandwiched between bright red sandstone. One sandstone cliff looked for all the world as if someone had carved chevrons on it.
Chevrons in the sandstone
We passed Halfway Rock at 5 miles, and headed for our lunch stop at Mill Haven near to the lime kiln. I had often wondered what two locations Halfway Rock was between - I now realise that it's halfway between Martin's Haven and Little Haven - maybe this should have givne me a clue as to the mileage we were going to complete today.
Mill Haven and a place to stop for lunch
Once we got going again and climbed out of Mill Haven we were soon at Borough Head when the terrain changed once again to woodland with plenty of bluebells to come in the weeks ahead. Chit Chats were in evidence here and Sue and I managed to spot one perched conveniently close to the coast path.
At last Little Haven came clearly into view, together with the large marquee on the hill above the village ready for the Endurancelife participants in the morning.
Broad Haven sands with Little Haven in the foreground
Little Haven with our B&B dead centre