Trip report: PEMBROKESHIRE COAST PATH – part I / III

The extreme western point of Wales is not so well known as the more popular long distance trails in UK. However, the 300 km long Pembrokeshire Coast Path should offer a magnificient experience along sandy beaches and windswept cliff tops. After my previous, hard mountain trek in the French Alps, I felt it was again a turn of a coastal walk. To Wales then!

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After an exhausting travel, with many different trains from London Gatwick, I finally reached the village of Kilgetty, near the starting line of the trail. The day had been sunny and promising so far but when I got off from the train, it started to pour water. It poured like giving a last warning or a reminder if I really wanted to do this. I could still turn back. After making the last groceries, a beautiful rainbow led me towards the campsite at Stepaside, some 30 minutes away.

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DAY 1, STEPASIDE to MANORBIER BAY (28th of April)

Distance: 33 km

Time on trail: 6:30 – 18:00

Kelpie campsite (5£ as it was officially closed)

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In the morning, the tent was covered with rime but I had felt warm during the night. Birds were signing loud while walking the last few kilometers to Amroth and the seaside. The Atlantic Ocean was waiting, glimmering gloriously in the morning sun.

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Low tide at Saundersfoot.

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While approaching the walled seaside town of Tenby and its colourful houses, westerly wind got suddenly stronger. But soon I was inside the town walls, walking along the main street. The local outdoor store had only large gas cartridges but fortunately I found a medium size from a Morris&Brothers hardware store. As always, it was a huge relief to find the gas. After a 45min lunch break I began a long stretch along the beach towards Penally and the first MoD firing range. In the freezing wind, I couldn’t help but to wonder, how the locals were wearing so few clothes?

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A red flag in the mast meant that the army was firing in the area and I should use an inland detour.

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Lydstep had a big caravan park but no one was around at the Happy Acre campsite. I decided to keep going, and soon after, I found nice grassy patches at the clifftops. For an hour, I was trying to make up my mind whether to wild camp or push until Manorbier. My feet felt good, so finally I started to move again and walked the last 6,5 km.

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The Kelpey campsite was closed due to an installation of a new toilet block. I cursed my bad luck. The owner, who was a nice lady, didn’t want me to stay at first, but in the end she couldn’t refuse the easy buck. I might have looked quite tired too… I stayed near the fence, out of sight, boiled pasta and observed a curious Red Robin flying around. The dark clouds promised rain for the night and I hoped, that by morning it would be clear again.

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DAY 2, MANORBIER BAY to BOSHERSTON

Distance: 18 km

Time on trail: 7:00 – 14:00

Free campsite

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It rained hard during the night but the morning was full of positive feeling, the air was filled with the sound of waves hitting the Manorbier Bay.

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Until Broad Haven I climbed up and down the seaside cliffs and passed by beautiful sandy beaches, Barafundle Bay being the most stunning. The sun was shining but westerly wind made me feel chilly, as soon as I stopped walking.

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The MoD range of Castlemartin was also closed, so I turned inlands and to the lily ponds of Bosherston. The ponds were quite disappointing as I didn’t see birds at all, and the hard midday sun made heavily wooded slopes and the lakes look dull and uninvited. Soon after, I reached the village and found an empty campsite. It felt way too early to finish the day, but as the next day I couldn’t reach any further than Angle, I decided to stay. The village didn’t offer much to see, and as no other walkers were anywhere, the rest of the evening felt long and lonely.

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DAY 3, BOSHERSTON to ANGLE

Distance: 25 km

Time on trail: 6:40 – 14:30

Castle Farm campsite 5£

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Another fine morning. I walked through fields to the army barracks of Castlemartin and an observation area, from where one could see the military training. Unfortunately, nothing was going on at that early, so after a breakfast break, I tackled a long stretch of road walk to reach the sea again at Freshwater West.

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Many ups and downs followed before I reached the Angle Peninsula and the Thorne Island, that rose from the sea like the fortress of Alcatraz. It felt strange to see the northern shore where the trail would eventually go – after walking first some 50 km around the bay of Pembroke!

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Angle is a bit more lively village with a nice campsite. But still, unfortunately, I was the only hiker. The next day would be all urban and industrial with oil refineries, liquid natural gas terminals and city of Pembroke waiting. My plan was to pass by it all at once. A hard 45 km walk all the way until Sandy Haven, far from the other side of the peninsula. To succeed in that, I needed some refreshments:

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To be continued…

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