We were walking the coastal path in Pembrokeshire in 2007 when we saw the small handwritten notice tied to Trefalen Farm gate; Cottage for long term rent. Within a month we had become the new tenants of Trefalen Cottage and we have divided our time between the (very small!) former out house and Bristol ever since. For seven years I have enjoyed scrambling and walking over much of the nearby coast ; and now I have my Nordic walking poles to add to the fun.This is an account of a walk I did on the recent bank holiday.
I walk out of the cottage door, past the alpacas, and three minutes later I am standing at the top of the steps that lead down to Broadhaven Beach.
At the bottom of the steps I strap on my poles and set off across the sand, heading for the cliffs at the far end of the beach. Some days I stay on the soft sand close to the sand hills, but this is hard work. So today I am walking in the wet sand left by the retreating tide, close to the swimmers, surfers and body boarders….and those who, like me, just enjoy jumping in the waves. (In fact all sand, wet and dry, is harder on the legs and arms because the surface is more of a challenge; although, surprisingly, I seem to ‘take off’ better; something to do with the sea air ?)
At the far end of the beach I unclip my poles and scramble up some rocks to gain the coastal path which stretches across the cliff tops to Barafundle Bay. It’s a few weeks since I’ve done any Nordic walking, so I go over my check list as I walk. However this is not the Downs. I am walking on the cliff edge, with a very steep drop to my right, so I need to concentrate more on direction than on technique.
Barafundle Bay is said to be one of the prettiest beaches in Wales and, as it isn’t accessible by car and has steep steps at both ends, it is never crowded. I cross the beach and then, in fifteen minutes, I’m at the Stackpole Quay cafe. I’ve taken Just under an hour, but I can improve on that! There is usually plenty of room in the cafe, but this is the middle of bank holiday weekend. It is full of families escaping the weather, as well as serious walkers. I hate queuing, so decide to do without the tea and cake I had promised myself.
There are lots of different return routes. The real alternative is through the Stackpole Estate and the Lily Ponds, a trip full of historic interest as well as the opportunity to see otters. But the paths may be crowded today and I don’t want to spear anyone. So I go back over the cliffs, on a slightly more inland route to cut out some of the headlands. The return journey is slower. Some double poling, some single poling (I have to get that left arm sorted!), some stops to pick blackberries and my usual hopeless search for mushrooms; all bring my speed down.
Back at the cottage I am so desparate for a cup of tea that I forget to do my stretches; which is NOT good. But I am so pleased to have got going again… and already I feel fitter and more relaxed. Tomorrow I’m going in the opposite direction to St Govan’s Chapel, even if it rains.
Thank you to Norma Sherratt, one of our walkers, who kindly contributed this Blog