I find a circle on Aber Mawr beach. Someone has taken time to sort rocks into colours and create this pretty pattern.
Stone circles seem to be the theme of today’s walk. There are more to come – later.
On the other side of the beach, I climb a bank and come across the end of a roadway with cars parked along the verges. I didn’t realise there was easy road access to these beaches. It explains why this place is popular with strollers.
It’s only a short distance from Aber Mawr to Aber Bach. I walk along the edge of a meadow which is vibrant with yellow flowers.
The beach at Aber Bach is deserted apart from a couple setting up for afternoon tea. Or maybe it’s a late lunch? They have folding chairs, a thermos and sandwiches.
Beyond Aber Bach, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path follows the line of the cliffs. The wind is brisk and in my face, but the path is flat and easy.
Easy? That soon changes.
The path dives down into a valley – narrow and deep, just a cleft in the rocks. At the bottom is a waterfall. To my left is a steep drop to the shore.
This is Pwllcrochan. It’s beautiful, but somewhat scary. I slip and slide on loose stones.
I realise I haven’t met any other walkers since I left the beaches behind a mile or so ago. In fact, there is not a soul in sight.
Now is not the time to twist an ankle.
Or break a leg!
I make it down safely, and then face a steep scramble as the rocky path turns upwards beside the waterfall. I make my way carefully, puffing and panting, until I’m safely back at the top of the cliffs. But, a short distance later, and the path dips down again, and then up… Whew. I’m exhausted.
From the top I look back at Pwllcrochan. It’s a beautiful sheltered cove. Perfect for seal spotting. There are several on the beach.
From here the path climbs relentlessly as the slope continues to rise. I stop from time to time, both to admire the views and to have a rest. The gorse in this area is burnt. The black and twisted branches, set among pale rocks, give the impression of an alien landscape. The sun is low ahead, the wind blowing fiercely, and there is nobody in sight. It’s all rather spooky.
At the top of the slope, on the headland of Pen Castell-coch, is a circle of large stones with a grassy interior.
At first I think it must be an old shepherd’s hut, or a sheep pen, but it looks too freshly made. Is it an exercise in dry-stone walling? I don’t know, but I’m grateful for the meagre shelter it offers from the wind.
I hunker down on the leeward side of the circle, and take a break. Time for a drink and a quick snack.
From here the coast turns and runs due east. The path leads up to a stony crest, and then… disappears. I clamber up among the rocks, using hands as well as feet, unable to see far ahead because of the steepness of the slope. And I begin to think I must have lost my way.
I’m nervous now. There is nobody about, the wind is blowing a gale, I’ve lost my phone signal, and now I’ve lost my way. Surely this mountain scramble can’t be the official path?
But, if this isn’t the path, where is it? It seems to have disappeared.
I hoist myself up and over a tricky jumble of rocks and – yes – I can just make out the route. It’s worn slightly smooth by the passage of boots, and has patches of dirt showing between the stones where the grass has been disturbed. But it’s definitely a path – of sorts.
As I climb higher something strange and wonderful happens. The wind drops completely. And the sun appears, and spreads intermittent rays across the landscape.
It’s all very serene and beautiful. I begin to relax and start to enjoy the views.
I’m walking along the top of a high ridge. Looking down and to my right, I can look across green fields, and there’s the dip in the coastline – with the waterfall and beach at Pwllcrochan now lost from sight.
While ahead the path snakes across a landscape which glows russet in the afternoon sunlight – covered with heather, ferns, and prickly gorse.
To my left is a steep plunge down to the sea.
This wonderful ridge appears nameless on my map – which is strange, given it’s prominent position. I’m really enjoying this part of the walk now, as I continue picking my way between rocks, with the ground slowly rising, until I come to the highest point.
The high point is marked, of course, by another stone circle. This time it’s a cairn.
Now I can see a white building ahead. Is that the Youth Hostel at Pwll Deri? If so, I’m nearly at the end point of my walk for today.
And what a wonderful way to end the walk. The views from the ridge are staggering. In the distance are threatening clouds, sitting over inland mountains, while around me the landscape continues to glow with intermittent sunshine.
The path slowly comes down off the high ground, and follows a curve around the bay at Pwll Deri, before rising up a slope and… ending – unexpectedly – in a quiet road.
As I begin to walk along the road, in the direction of the Youth Hostel, I’m irritated by the sound of a car coming up behind me. After walking the last 4 miles surrounded by splendid scenery, and in complete isolation, this unwanted traffic seems like a horrible intrusion.
I stop and stand pressed against the hedge to let the car go by. Inexplicably, it slows down and stops. What?!
Oh, I recognise the driver. It’s my husband, arriving to collect me. Perfect timing!
Miles walked today: 12 miles
Total along Wales Coast Path = 472 miles
Total distance around the coast: 2,079 miles