I set off from St Clears on a bright and sunny morning, heading down the east side of the River Taf, back towards the sea.
The buildings along the A4066 are somewhat unloved. I pass a dilapidated shop and a closed-down pub. But, further along, a cheerful garden makes me smile. Check out the flowerpot men.
There are more potty figures around the side of the house, but I couldn’t fit them all into the photo!
I cross a bridge and leave the town behind. Traffic is light, but I’m relieved when the path diverts off the road. The sunlit field behind the kissing gate seems very enticing, even if I end up walking on the right hand side of the road and, therefore, the wrong side for the river.
The nights have been cold and the foliage that lines the path is covered in dew. By the time the path emerges onto the road again, I’m soaking wet from the knees downwards. Despite waterproof spray, my boots are saturated. Soggy socks. Again.
The Wales Coast Path is doing it’s best to keep me off the road. It dives off to the left and takes me across fields and down a hill. From the slope I get a good view back up the river valley towards St Clears. The river that winds around the edge of the town is not the River Taf, as I first thought, but another tributary – the Afon Cynin.
Ahead of me is the River Taf, but this is the nearest I get to it…
… before the path takes me back up the slope again. I walk beside the road, separated from the traffic by a hedge. Despite my frustration at the contortions of the path, and still not being close to the river, I really enjoy this section of the walk.
The authorities who oversee the Wales Coast Path have really done their best to make this hike a pleasant experience. A raised wooden walkway lifts me above any mud, punctuated by the insistent yellow flag irises that have forced their way through gaps in the planks.
The fields are lush with wild flowers and pretty grasses. June really is a lovely month for walking, despite a surge of hay fever.
Soon my path turns away from the road dips down to run closer to the river. I walk through flower meadows and then through woodland.
I reach a track and follow it up a hill. The route is shaded with trees.
Then, after walking along lanes, I come to a collection of buildings close to the river, where the plants seem even prettier than normal. This is Delacorse and I later learn its gardens are open to the public via prior arrangement only.
My footpath runs right past the organic kitchen garden, where a young man is busy arranging plants under netting.
Beyond the gardens, a long strip of field is sandwiched between the river and a tree-covered slope. Here I meet a couple of walkers coming towards me. They’re the first hikers I’ve seen today.
I’m hot in the sun. Some fallen tree trunks provide a handy spot for a rest, a drink and a chance to apply more sunblock to my face and arms. My feet are still soaking from the dewy grass earlier this morning and, while my soggy socks steam gently in the sunshine, I try to mop up excess moisture from the inside of my boots with a scrunched up tissue.
Then, with my feet slightly less wet, I pose for a self-portrait.
At the end of the long field the path enters woodland, climbing and twisting, following the course of the river. It’s lovely and cool beneath the trees.
I’m hungry now and thinking of lunch, so I pick up speed and make good progress…
…until I come across a vehicle on the path. It’s one of those 4×4 mini-trucks. I wonder what it’s doing here and edge around the vehicle with difficulty – only to find a man working with a digger a few yards further on.
They seem to be taking good care of this section of path and I wonder why.
Another couple have been walking towards me but shortly, faced by the obstruction, they turn back.
And, as I continue, I meet more people – and the occasional cyclist – on the path. I must be getting close to Laugharne. It’s a lovely day, but it’s only a Wednesday and I didn’t expect to see so many people out and about.
I begin to wonder what’s so special about Laugharne. Is it the castle? I can remember seeing its grey walls rising up from the shore when I was on the other side of the River Taf.
When I plan my walks, I use OS maps to check the route, Traveline timetables to check for buses, and Google Maps to check for cafes and pubs, but I rarely read a guidebook or do any other background research. This is not just laziness. It’s deliberate. I don’t want to have a list of sights that must be seen. I just want to take each walk as it comes and enjoy the serendipity of new discoveries.
So what’s so special about Laugharne?
[To be continued…]