Last night I moved, by train, from Carmarthen to a B&B in Tenby, and this morning I have to catch the bus back to Pendine. The journey takes an hour, with the bus rocking and rolling along the narrow lanes in a drunken fashion. I’m always surprised so few people travel by bus because it’s a great way to see the countryside. A funeral party gets on and then off somewhere near Amroth, and a couple of walkers a few stops later. By the time the bus reaches Pendine, I am the only passenger left.
I walk along the beach and take some photographs. Straight ahead is Dolwen Point with Gilman Point behind.
Nobody else is making the climb up to Dolwen Point. I stop for a breather and to take photographs of the view to the east, looking back across Pendine beach and the Pendine Burrows dune system. Unfortunately, a heavy atmospheric haze obscures the details of the landscape.
The last week or so of walking has been mainly on the flat or across gently rolling hills, and I had forgotten how tough a coastal path can be. And the unusual weather is an additional problem, because a high pressure system has swept up from north Africa and settled on the UK like a hot blanket.
By the time I reach Gilman Point, I’m dripping with sweat and longing for the refreshing touch of a sea breeze. But the air is motionless, thick with heat and humidity.
The path drops down into the next cove, which has a strange rectangular appearance and a shingle beach. The hut perched on the other side is a rather unromantic pumping station.
I climb up the next slope and, at this point, in the sweltering air, I realise I haven’t brought enough water with me. In my attempt to travel light, I’ve misjudged the difficulty of the path and the effects of the humid weather. And I didn’t drink my usual 3 cups of coffee at breakfast, as the coffee served in the B&B was excruciatingly bad.
Anyway, nothing for it, I have to carry on. It’s not far to Amroth, where I plan to stop for lunch.
The path meanders among ferns and gorse bushes above Ragwen Point. Ahead is a long sweep of beach, which would look even longer if the tide was out. This is Marros Sands. At low tide, looking at the OS map, I think you might be able walk along the beach, around the next headland, and all the way to Amroth.
There will be no beach walking today but somewhere down below, according to my map, the path divides and it’s possible to take a lower footpath running just above the shore. I was planning to do this, following my rule of staying as close to the sea as possible, but I either miss the turnoff, or the route is closed, or the path is too overgrown to spot.
The few clouds in the sky have disappeared. With no wind to blow them away, I assume they have simply evaporated in the heat. The Wales Coast Path dips among trees for a brief period, giving me some blessed respite from the sun. Then the route joins a track and zig-zags tortuously up a slope towards Marros Beacon. With the sun directly overhead I find this short section incredibly hard. I’ve only been walking for 2 hours, but I feel exhausted, unpleasantly thirsty, and very frustrated by both my lack of fitness and my lack of progress.
A single tree casts a patchy shadow on the track, and I sit down for a brief rest and allow myself a few more sips of precious water. It’s 1pm and I’m hungry as well as thirsty, but I didn’t brink any snacks. I thought it would be a quick and easy walk to Amroth!
After the break, and with 1/2 of my water gone, I set off again. Looking back I take a photo of my lonely tree and its refreshing patch of shade.
Shortly after this the path leaves the zig-zag track – thank goodness – and winds gently around the slopes of Marros Beacon. Some of the gorse bushes look as dry and withered as I feel!
Twenty minutes later, and I’m descending into a deep basin, passing slopes covered in dead trees on the way down. The path up the other side is as steep and tiring as it looks.
Another twenty minutes, and I’m staring into another valley. I believe I’m looking across the lower end of Teague’s Wood and the hill across the valley is Telpyn Point. (But I’m not sure, because I thought the previous basin was Teague’s wood.)
At the bottom of this valley is a bridge across a stream. I meet a trio of young men coming up towards me – the first walkers I’ve seen all day. They’re stripped to the waist, and look as hot and tired as I feel.
After a tough climb up the other side, I’m relieved to have some easy walking until, over the brow of the hill, I see a curve of bay lined with wooded slopes that reach down to the water’s edge. I think I must be looking down to Amroth – but I’m a little confused, because my map shows a beach, and I can’t see any sand below.
The path joins a road and I walk on tarmac, glad for once of the easy surface beneath my feet, and head down towards the shore. At a bend I see a welcome sight. A pub!
This small collection of houses is called, fittingly, The Water’s Edge on my map. I haven’t reached Amroth yet, but I’m too thirsty and hungry to walk past the pub. It’s time to stop for lunch.
[To be continued…]
Route so far this morning: