With the realisation that life didn’t have to be beige anymore – that I could have the rainbow, and that I had the ability to make things happen for me, the complexion of the walk changed. It had taken 5 days of walking for me to recover myself – and we still had almost 3 months ahead of us!
The weather continued, unbroken. Those hazy, hot days of summer will stay with us both forever. We continued on the Pembrokeshire coastal path from St Davids, heading for Freshwater East on the South Pembrokeshire coast. Although we had ditched extra kit back in Ceibwr and been more realistic about the amount we could carry, at this point, we did decide to stock up as the next stretch of the coast path promised to be more isolated, perhaps even more so than the stretch we had already covered.
Out of St Davids, we dropped onto the broad sweep of St Bride’s Bay taking us through Caerfai Bay, Solva, Newgale and on to the Havens – Nolton Haven, Broad Haven and Little Haven to St Brides Castle. Alongside the walking itself, and the drinking in of the breathtaking views, our days consisted of route planning, kit packing, finding places to camp – whether wild camping or in campsites – and washing, always washing! Fortunately, in the early days of the walk, the amazing weather made this all very straightforward as we could always get kit dry!
Leave only footprints…
Wild camping might seem daunting to some – and it’s not everyone’s cup of tea – but to us on our journey, one of the highlights was going to sleep and waking up just the two of us on a beach, the sounds of the sea and the gulls our soundtrack. There’s a responsibility that comes with enjoying some of the most beautiful, lonely places in the world – leaving only footprints may be a cliché, but it’s one worth following – and we certainly adhered to it as we trod our path. When we stopped, we chose spots out of the way and made sure we stayed within the footprint of our tent (washing line notwithstanding). It wasn’t always totally idyllic – we had the occasional beach camp night wondering if we would have to pack up quickly as the tide advanced to prevent getting cut off! And we didn’t always wild camp – there are some stunning campsites around the Welsh coast line, and on the landlocked stretch from Cardiff up to the north coast, and we did enjoy the occasional night in a B&B as we made our way round Wales – but those moments of absolute peace and quiet are moments we’ll always look back on as hugely special.
On to Freshwater East
From St Brides Castle, we walked over to Dale, accompanied by the dramatic sounds of war – this section of the walk passes Castle Martin ranges and we had managed to coincide with some kind of complex war game. At least one night was interrupted by bursts of large calibre machine gun fire, and we honestly thought at points that the SAS were going to appear and usher us politely (or not so politely) away. Hardly a restful soundtrack to the glorious scenery, but that’s West Wales for you – the rough (however unlikely the rough) comes with the smooth and melds together into a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else.
Dale brought us a stunning campsite with views over Milford Haven, the perfect place to spend time with friends before by passing the industrial heartland of the oil refineries, enjoying ice cream with a view of Pembroke Castle and heading on to Freshwater East.
Having ditched the boots early on, in favour of the fetching socks & sandals combo to relieve the pressure on my poor toenails that had been wrecked on day one, by the time we reached South Pembrokeshire I was ready to go for something a little more substantial and invested in a pair of trail trainers – perfect for the next stage of the adventure.