The Puffin Shuttle stops in Marloes to wait for the connecting service to arrive from Dale. I take the opportunity to leap off and snap a photograph of the colourful paintings on the side of the bus…
… before we continue to Martin’s Haven. Last time I was here there was a gale blowing and I felt exhausted. Today is calm and sunny. The weather makes such a difference!
Most of my fellow passengers head straight down towards the shore. But I set off to walk around Marloes Peninsula, which is not officially part of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, but I’m following my rule of sticking as close to the coast as I can.
On the way around the peninsula I see a couple of choughs and manage to catch a photo of one silhouetted against the bright sea. You have to take my word for it: that beak is red!
The sea is ruffled and frothy with strong currents. From the peninsula it seems a short hop to Skomer Island to visit the puffins. I was half-thinking of taking a boat trip over – but I’ve missed the nesting season.
In a cove below me I see a grey shape moving through the water. A seal. It surfaces for a brief second and I catch a blurry image.
Most people don’t walk around the whole peninsula. They just head for the highest point, where a small crowd has congregated. Beyond is the blue water of St Brides Bay. The land in the far distance must be St David’s Head.
After I’ve completed my tour of the peninsula, I walk down into Martin’s Haven and pick up the coastal path. I don’t get far before I hear a loud buzzing and meet a couple of men who are strimming the grass, somewhat ineffectually it seems.
And then I hear a louder rumbling, and another guy drives along the path riding on a sit-upon lawn mower. He leaves grassy carnage in his wake.
I have mixed feeling about the business of path maintenance. On the one hand, I appreciate walking without the pain of battling through nettles and thorns. On the other hand, the cropped path has a jagged and unpleasant look to it. And the dust gets up my nose and makes me sneeze.
Further along, I meet a few walkers and a couple of joggers. And a snake. It slithers across the path but disappears into the bushes on the side of the path before I have time to swing up my camera. It was large and grey-green in colour. A grass snake. I’m glad it escaped the lawn mower.
Snakes. Hmm. I begin to watch my feet more carefully.
Ahead is Musselwick Sands – a couple of linked coves. Very pretty.
After dipping down towards the beach, the path continues along the top of cliffs. The rocks display a range of amazing colours – warm brown, grey, yellow – all set against a backdrop of blue sea and green foliage.
Behind a stone wall is agricultural land. Ahead my path is blocked by a group of ponies. A sign warns me not to approach the ponies, and I manage to find an alternative route through gorse bushes in order to avoid them.
On the brow of the hill I can see a big building. As I get nearer, this turns out to be St Bride’s Castle, built as a stately home in the 19th century and now used for holiday lets. The stone wall belongs to the house.
I follow the curve of the shoreline around to St Bride’s Haven. The little cove is relatively busy, with children playing on the beach and families setting up picnics on the grass.
I stop here for a snack lunch of chocolate and cherries. And am approached by a male walker with a dog. He wants to know how far it is to Martin’s Haven and whether he can catch the bus from there. I give him all the information he needs, including the time of the next (and only) bus from Martin’s Haven. His dog isn’t so keen to continue the walk, and she tries to hide under my bench.
After lunch I continue along the top of the cliffs. It’s a perfect day for walking. Warm and sunny, but with a gentle breeze to keep me cool.
I pass a field of young cows. They come trotting over to look at me. From the safety of the other side of a fence, I think they look quite sweet.
As I continue, they follow me around the periphery of the field. It’s not the first time I’ve acted as pied-piper to a group of cattle. I must be fitted with some sort of inner cow-magnet.
This is a beautiful part of the coast. Dramatic cliffs. Clear water. Rocky coves. I see a group of people in wet suits leaping into the water. Coasteering.
I injured my back a few days earlier and have been taking anti-inflammatory painkillers. So I was feeling a bit nervous about this walking trip. Would my back hold up? In fact, I feel very comfortable and make good progress.
When I stop to take a self-portrait, I’m amazed by how fit and healthy I look. My goodness. I could be mistaken for a professional walker!
But in reality I am getting tired. The last mile of a walk is always the hardest. I think your unconscious mind begins to wind down, assuming the walk is already over and finished with. So I’m pleased to arrive at Musselwick Bay (another Musselwick!) and see Broad Haven (another Broad Haven!) across the water.
My destination is hidden in one of the narrow coves. Little Haven. It’s a pretty place.
I stop at the pub and have an early evening meal. Welsh Caul. It’s a thick soup with meat and vegetables – a stew really – served with bread and cheese. Perfect.
Animals encountered: two choughs, a seal, a snake, several wild ponies, a herd of cows and one reluctant dog.
Miles walked today = 12.5 miles.
Total along Wales Coast Path = 419.5 miles
Total distance around the coast: 2,026.5 miles