May 2014.

I've bought a campervan as a 60th birthday present to myself, made some curtains and a patchwork quilt, waved goodbye to my family, and set off. My aim is to explore the coastline of Britain, anti clockwise, starting in Kent. I have no idea what will happen.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The north Pembrokeshire coast


I spent two days with my friend Trish near Fishguard at Newport - not to be confused with the NATO Summit Newport on the M4. This one has a wonderful beach, busy with fishing and sailing and the narrow channel up to the river goes past Trish's house. It is easy to spend the day watching the boats and the surfers, and the tide go in and out.. But after an hour mackerel fishing Trish took me on a little tour.
We first went to see the Strumble Head Lighthouse on a little island just off the coast. It was beautiful and calm with sheep grazing happily on the gentle slopes that lead down to the sea. It's hard to remember on a day like that what a notoriously dangerous bit of coast this is when the weather turns bad.
Strumble Head Lighthouse
We went on to Llanwnda and parked, to see where what is referred to as “the last invasion of Britain” took place in 1797. 1,400 Frenchmen came ashore here at Carregwasted Head (and that must have been quite a feat in itself) in support of Irish Republicans. The landing in Wales and another near Newcastle were diversionary tactics to the main attack which landed in Ireland. The men who came to Wales were a rough lot, chiefly convicts and “irregulars”, and the invasion soon turned into chaos when they all got drunk and set fire to the church. It ended a few days later on 23 February at The Battle of Fishguard, where the British were victorious.
Up the road from Newport Nevern is a pretty village with a Norman church, St Brynach, with a “bleeding Yew” in the churchyard. There's a Pilgrim's Cross nearby where people came to pray on their way to St David's Cathedral 30 miles further west. Pilgrims came from miles around in the Middle Ages, landing in boats around the coast, and walking from all over Britain, to worship at St David's.
Today The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path makes life easy for walkers. It is 180 miles long and runs from St Dogmaels near Cardigan in the north to Amroth, between Tenby and Swansea, in the south. I think next year I would like to do part of the walk... perhaps not all of it. Its creation has taken 17 years and, though it may sound a little prescriptive, some of it is pretty arduous and the scenery is fantastic. Certainly the little bits I have done have been wonderful, and I don't think it would feel like a walk in the park.

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