We’ve just come back from a glorious long weekend in Pembrokeshire in South Wales, with son, daughter-in-law and her parents. We were near St. David’s, Britain’s smallest city. Its population is the same as that of Laroque d’Olmes, and in other ways too the area seems to qualify as Ariège-on-Sea. Craggy mountains; fields of sheep and cattle; tiny one-track roads where the only likely traffic is a tractor, or even more likely, a herd of cattle coming home for milking; and long vistas, from the hill tops, of apparently endless countryside. And of course, the sea.
Our objective was to cover a goodish distance along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. It’s some 299 km long: we managed about 40 km. so we have some distance to go. But what a journey. This scenery must be among the most stunning in the UK. Steep limestone cliffs and bays, volcanic headlands, beaches, inlets and flooded glacial valleys are the home to innumerable seabirds, and at this time of year, seals seeking sheltered nurseries to give birth to and rear their pups.
For me, this was the toughest walking since we’d left the Pyrenees. You know where you are there. On the whole, you’re walking up a mountain. Then you come down. Whereas along the coastal path, you’ll be scrambling upwards to reach the top of a high cliff, before descending again, perhaps almost to beach level. Then up again. After that you might swoop down to a cove before marching upwards to the next headland… and so on. Bright sunshine, warm breezes, and bracing sea air cheered us along and kept our energy levels high…. until the evening, when we found ourselves drooping and heading for bed as early as 10 o’clock.