203 am Porthgain to Aber Mawr

Porthgain used to be a busy port. Slate was brought in from the nearby quarries and cut up using water-powered mills, before being loaded onto ships. Waste from the quarries was used to make bricks and, later, crushed rock was exported for road making.

All that remains of this activity are ruins, including the impressive brick-storage hoppers which dominate the west side of the inlet. Porthgain is now primarily a tourist centre.

01 Porthgain harbour, Ruth Livingstone's coastal walk

I walk up the east side of the inlet, the path climbing steadily. Across the mouth of the harbour is a navigation marker –  a square column which was once white, but is now faded to a nondescript dirty-grey.

02 navigation marker, west side Porthgain, Ruth's coastal walk in Wales

While on my side of the inlet is another navigation marker – a round column covered in bright-white paint.

03 navigation marker, eastt side Porthgain, Ruth's coastal walk in Wales

The wind is brisk, and the clouds are rapidly clearing. It will be another lovely day.

This stretch of coast is north-facing, so I am walking into the morning sun, making photography difficult. Ahead is Gribinau Bay and Ynys-fach island – which is an odd shape. It looks as if someone has ironed the top.

04 Ynys-Fach, Ruth walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path

The path follows the top of the cliffs and I am relieved to find the route is fairly flat and easy. (My confidence has taken a knock after my bout of dizziness yesterday.) The first village I will come to is only 2 miles away along the coast. Trefin. If I feel unwell I will stop there. It has a pub!

Above Trefin, I come across a single standing stone. It is unmarked and I assume it is an ancient obelisk. I’m amazed to see it seems in good nick and hasn’t been felled by weather and storms.

05 standing stone, above Trefin, Ruth trekking in Wales

A short time later, and I walk past a whole circle of smaller stones. They are in a wonderful spot, overlooking the inlet that leads up to Trefin and I stop to take several photographs. I wonder what ceremonies took place here? I notice the circle isn’t marked on my map. Odd.

06 standing stone circle, above Trewin, Ruth Livingstone

Walking down into the inlet, I come to the ruins of an old water-mill. The stream still runs across the rocky beach and into the sea.

07 old mill at Trefin, Ruth hiking in Wales

My eye is caught by a couple of bright canisters, which stand on the old grinding stone just inside the mill. A sign explains ‘THIS EQUIPMENT IS BEING USED FOR A TEAM BUILDING EXERCISE…’ and a young man appears, apologies for the intrusive canisters, and offers to move them if I want a take a photograph of the mill. But I like the splash of colour they make.

08 team building equipment, Old Mill, Trefin, Ruth Livingstone

He is running the team-building exercise and is waiting for a minibus to arrive. After they’re finished here, they will go up to the stone circle, where there will be another task to complete. Then they will go on somewhere else…

I ask him about the stones. ‘Are they prehistoric?’ But he doesn’t know anything about them.

Onwards. The sunshine has brought out a few strollers. I walk past more ruins as I climb up to the top of the cliffs. The coast here is beautiful – indented by numerous small coves, separated by long fingers of rock which spread out into the ocean like giant talons.

09 punctuated coastline, Ruth hiking the coast in Wales

Although much of the route is flat, following the top of the cliffs, I do come across the occasional dip – like this one down to Pwll Llong, where another stream empties into the sea via a waterfall.

10 little coves, Ruth walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path

I begin to see seals. This one is swimming in a sheltered pool among the rocks.

11 seal swimming pool, Ruth Livingstone

And more walkers appear. The weather is confusing. Warm sunshine, but intermittent clouds and a cool wind. People are wearing a variety of clothing – from shorts and tee-shirts to bulky anoraks. I’m keeping my fleece on.

12 walkers on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Ruth Livingstone

I reach Abercastle, at the apex of another long, thin inlet. It’s hardly a village – a small collection of houses (mainly holiday homes I think) and with neither a pub nor a café. Just a car park.

13 Abercastle, Ruth walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path

On the shore I spot some odd-looking choughs. Red beaks – yes – but white waistcoats? Then I realise they are oyster catchers. The first I’ve seen for a long time.

14 oyster catchers at Aber Castle, Ruth's coastal walk, Wales

Leaving Abercastle behind, my next major waypoint is a pair of twin beaches called Aber Mawr and Aber Bach. I really enjoy this part of the walk. The path is lovely with a sprinkling of wild flowers along its borders…

15 walking towards Aber Mawr, Ruth hiking the Pembrokeshire coast

… and seals in every cove…

16 more seals, Ruth Livingstone in Wales

… with just a few ups-and-downs to tire my legs. I take my time on the steep slopes.

17 ups and downs, Ruth's coastal walk in Pembrokeshire

I love the Welsh names on my map. They are economical with vowels, fond of double ‘l’s, and stick ‘w’s and ‘y’s everywhere. The long strings of consonants are both exotic and confusing. Pwllstrodur, Aber Mochyn, Porth Glastwr, Trwyn Llwynog.

Rounding a headland, I see the twin beaches ahead. Good. I’m reaching the halfway point of my walk today.

18 Aber Mawr and Aber Bach, Ruth's hike Pembrokeshire coast

I stop on the beach at Aber Mawr, and have a break. Time for a drink and a snack.

19 Aber Mawr beach, Ruth trekking the Pembrokeshire Coast

The lovely weather has brought out strollers. I can’t see a road and wonder where they came from? I would like to stay here longer, but I need to get on. My husband is picking me up from a place called Pwll Deri at 6pm, and I still have a long way to go.


To be continued…

[Later I discover the standing stones above Trefin are not pre-historic after all, but a modern Eisteddfod stone circle. I have to confess, I’d never even heard of the Eisteddfod festival before!]


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, Doctor, woman, etc.
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4 Responses to 203 am Porthgain to Aber Mawr

  1. Julie Elliott says:

    Well done you!

    I’ve been following your Blog for a while now. It’s great to see all the photos of your walks.

    I have staggered around the South West Coastal Path with my husband over the last 4 years. We live in Stoke Fleming, South Devon. We decided to extend our walk last autumn and we have now got as far as Portsmouth up the south Coast and to Hinkley Point on the North Somerset coast. My aim is to do the same as you, but my companion is getting weary!

    I will continue to follow with interest.

    Kind regards,

    Julie Elliott

  2. Hi Julie! Stoke Fleming is a beautiful area. I remember stumbling across Blackpool Beach and thinking how lovely it was. And nearby there is the wonderful Dartmouth estuary.
    Well done for extending your walk. I wonder what you thought of Hinkley Point? I had a torrid time there. If your companion is getting weary, you may have to start walking solo!
    Best wishes, and do keep in touch. I love hearing how other coastal walkers are doing 🙂

  3. Marie Keates says:

    I’m glad you found out what the stone circle was, even if it wasn’t as exciting as you first thought. Glad too this walk passed without incident and you’re feeling better.

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