DAY 4, ANGLE to SANDY HAVEN
Distance: 45 km
Time on trail: 5:45 – 18:45
Sandy Haven camping 6£
I slept restlessly, listening the low humming of the distant oil refinery. It remainded me of the coming 45 kilometers. I knew my legs could make it if just having the right attitude – you’ll set out to do something and that’s it! To help to achieve this goal, I split the day in three parts: first 4h30 minutes to the Pembroke Castle, then 4h30 minutes to Milford Haven and at last 6,5km to the final campsite.
The oil refinery loomed in the distant shore like a grotesque temple, representing everything industrial. I walked closer while the morning progressed.
I reached the Pembroke Castle on time and sat down for a lunch break. After the castle, the trail headed into woodland where I got lost for some 20 minutes, and soon after got almost run over by few nervous cows. Only ninja jumps and quick feet saved me. The lost time and extra difficulties annoyed me like hell, like the day wouldn’t already be hard enough?
At the end of the bay the trail changed to road walking, and the day began to feel heavy. I passed by more and more industrial constructions, but in some way it was also interesting. Ugly but interesting. Short breaks followed one after another. It rained time to times and I had to walk the whole day in wet socks.
I don’t remember much from the last kilometres but at some point I started to believe that I was going to make it. I think I almost flew the last part but reaching the campsite was a huge disappointment. It was kind of closed and for a while, I couldn’t see anyone. Finally I saw some movement in one of the holiday homes and went to ask what should I do. The man was a friend of the owner or something, and had the key to the shower block. He asked me a fee and promised to deliver it to the owner. After few hours I dropped dead, while wind got stronger and stronger outside, playing with my lonely tent.
DAY 5, SANDY HAVEN to MARTIN’S HAVEN
Distance: 20 km
Time on trail: 7:00 – 14:00
West Hook Farm campsite 7£
Right next to the Sandy Haven campsite are series of stepping stones that can be crossed only at the right time of the day. That day the high tide was at 6:05 am and the low tide 6h10 minutes later. The stones are visible the earliest two hours before the low tide so I could safely cross the water from 10:15 am. That was definitely too much waiting for my taste, as I was already up at six o’clock. The wind and rain were hammering my tent and I wanted anxiously to get moving.
I took the 1h2o minutes detour along narrow country lanes. Mist hid everything and whenever the biting wind couldn’t reach me, I sweat like a pig. Taking the detour felt stupid and exhausting but fortunately I was able to cross easily the next stepping stones at The Gann.
Near Dale the weather got seriously worse. Strong eastern wind swept over the exposed peninsula and it was pouring with water. I had to stop for a hot tea and chocolate cake. At the same time, a cross country marathon and even an ultra marathon was taking place outside. Insane!
Apart from my severely leaking boots, my rain gear kept me dry enough, and for a while, it was nice to cheer up the muddy runners. But in that weather I decided to make the short cut through the Dale peninsula and get to West Hook as soon as possible.
This time the campsite was open, and there were even some other campers. But unfortunately still no sign of any other hikers. And as the two girls of my age, camping next to my tent, were not interested at all in my stories, fun of the whole trip was sliding further and further. The campsite was at a beautiful spot but the mist covered any views to the open sea. Darkness fell early and in my low spirits I could only hope for a drier weather again.
DAY 6, MARTIN’S HAVEN to NEWGALE
Distance: 31,5 km
Time on trail: 7:45 – 16:15
Newgale camping 7£
At seven in the morning it had not been raining for a while and I started to walk. The visibility was close to non-existent.
At St.Brides Ann my hike almost came to its sudden, cruel end. I met a Dutch photographer and biologist, who was studying small living creatures among the rocks and puddles of the beach. As soon as I was at the distance to say hi, I fell on my back without any chance to react. It was a stupid mistake and a combination of sloppiness, muddy boots, slimy and extremely slippery rocks. I was very lucky not hurting myself any worse, even the camera I was holding in my hand got only a small scratch. What a way to introduce myself to the Dutch!
The trail continued muddy and slippery because of the yesterday’s race, and it was painfully difficult to walk. Fortunately, some sun greeted me at Little Haven, but at Broad Haven it rained again.
I ate a cold lunch of yoghurt and bread, wearing wet socks a third day in a row and feeling slightly miserable in the cold wind. After Nolton I finally met some other hikers when I saw two British guys walking the same Coast Path but to the opposite direction. “What a lovely holiday weather!” they shouted and pushed bravely against the wind, like typical young British men centuries ago when exploring the distant lands and farthest corners of the empire.
Newgale had a big, open campsite without any other protection than a rocky seawall. My tent was swaying in the wind worse than ever. It was cold and rainy, and the only hospital place to be was the local inn.
To be continue…