Even at the end of our first day out of Cardigan, when I might have jacked it all in – when we were dusty, sweaty and with my feet in tatters, we were struck by the kindness of strangers. The occupants of the cottages at Ceibwr who gave us oranges to share, as well as much needed water at the end of our first day, while we waited for Alex’s mum to come and pick up all the kit we didn’t need; the man in the kiosk in Porthclais who gave us flapjacks to go with our coffee; the lady we flagged down to check we were actually going in the right direction to the campsite outside Dale who not only confirmed we were on the right track but offered us and our weary feet a lift.
Feeling the love in Laugharne
As we hit the Carmarthenshire section of the Welsh Coast Path, we had yet another fantastically warm and fuzzy moment while we visited the tea room at Dylan Thomas’s Boathouse at Laugharne. We struck up conversation with the lady behind the counter, exchanging tales of adventure. It turns out she had seen more than her fair share, working for the Red Cross on the Iraq border in the days of Saddam Hussein. We eventually got down to the business of our visit and ordered the 2 coffees our daily budget allowed, before sitting down to listen to Under Milk Wood courtesy of a recording Alex had managed to conjure up on his phone. Before long, and completely unprompted, we were presented with a bag of welsh cakes and bara brith along with our coffees – because we needed something sweet to help us along our way. She also told us not to start on the cakes because she’d put some toast on for us to make sure we had a proper breakfast! As I said, the kindness of strangers struck us pretty much every step of our journey. We didn’t just receive kindness (sympathy?) but support and interest too. It seemed that when we told people what we were doing, it struck a chord. Maybe we should listen more willingly to those voices that many of us admit to, telling us that there must be more to life than being a wage slave, confined to an office or production line…
Saying yes to the dress
Back in Tenby, I bought a dress. Given the commitment to minimalism we’d made after the first day of the walk, buying a dress might seem like a frivolous, if not incomprehensible act – but bear with me!
As we approached the Gower peninsula, we were initially underwhelmed by the hard surfaces of the main road through Pen-Clawdd and a very unlovely industrial estate, but it wasn’t long before we were walking through the Llanrhidian salt marshes. This wide expanse of salt marsh populated with wild horses and unexploded ordinance took us for nearly 11 miles to the Whiteford National Nature Reserve where we found a place sheltered at the edge of the sand dunes from both wind and tide to pitch up for the night.
Waking to the sounds of the sea and nothing else, we looked forward to a day walking towards Rhossili Bay. Through the dunes was hard going after walking on relatively well-made path, but as we walked through Broughton Bay and Llangennith Burrows, we could only marvel at the amazing wildlife these well-established dunes harbour. Bees, birds, butterflies, flowers – it was hard to know what to take a picture of next. The walking was magical, but I was getting sick of shorts and T-shirts – the same shorts and T-shirts every day. To slip into a dress at the end of a long day marked the end of ‘walking’ – another day completed, another goal achieved. I still have the dress we bought in Tenby – it’s perhaps the perfect garment. Lightweight, easy to wear and now steeped in memories of these amazing few weeks.
While we had enjoyed the kindness of strangers at many points along our way already, we decided that there were far too many strangers, kind or not, at the campsite at Rhossili and chose to keep on going to find somewhere to wild camp. Taking the high path out of the campsite to Rhossili village, we hit the highest point of the Gower with stunning views of where we had been and where we were going. From there, we rounded the Worms Head and, deterred by the many ‘No Camping’ signs, continued into Mewslade Bay where we found flat ground to camp, an empty beach to swim, dinner and sleep!
The next day dawned – still no rain – and we set off again with a plan to get to Oxwich Bay. Another change of plan was quickly engineered when we had word from my sister and her partner that they were going to come and ‘surprise us’ later on. Our walk took us along stunning limestone cliffs, deep gullies full of flowers and butterflies to Port Eynon where our rendezvous with Beth, Gareth and their dog Dexter took place. So much fun was to be had sharing our adventure during impromptu meet ups such as this – with family and friends (and their dogs!) during our walk. As much as we enjoyed the time to be just the two of us together, we relished the time when we were joined by people we love and could give them a little bit of what we were experiencing.