DAY 13 – PENALLY to AMROTH – 9.4 miles
The last day (or rather half day) of my walk dawned bright and beautiful. It was strange laying in my tent listening to the noise of traffic as all my other camps had been remote and very quiet. It seemed fitting in some ways as, after two wonderful weeks of wild walking, I would be returning to ‘normal life’ tomorrow……..for a time at least! Because I was intending to travel home later today, there were time pressures on me so I was up and walking again before 6.30am.
I made my way out of Penally and on reaching the coast path again, I passed what seemed to be a brand new sign – the acorn had been a guiding presence throughout the walk so I took a picture as a reminder.
The first mile or two of the day took me along a wonderfully wide, flat beach in beautiful hazy early morning sunlight with nothing for company but the gentle lapping of the surf on the shore. I felt both excited and yet sad to be walking the last leg, but most of all it was the shear atmospheric beauty of early morning on the beach that occupied my thoughts. Before me I could see Tenby with its old island fortress getting ever closer.
Leaving the beach, I climbed up over Castle Hill and into the town which was still not awake, passing the old lifeboat station, now a private residence, on the way. It was interesting seeing the lifeboat station as I remembered following its conversion to a house on the television programme, ‘Grand Designs’, some years earlier. What a wonderful place to live!
The old lifeboat station at Tenby
The Tenby streets were quiet apart from the dustmen emptying bins and it was delightful walking past the quay and along the water front without the noise of traffic. With its harbour, two lifeboat stations, old fishermen’s chapel and pastel painted houses, it is a picturesque town. Set within medieval walls, Tenby was once an important fishing and trading centre and there were lots of powerful merchants living there in large houses. Now it is the tourists who are the main source on income.
Tenby – pastel painted houses, harbour and two lifeboat stations
I had expected this last day to be very flat and easy walking but I was to be disappointed as the next few miles were up and down over headlands with a particularly steep climb out of the Lodge Valley. Amazingly, despite the increasing ‘urban sprawl’, the coast seemed as rugged and beautiful as ever. After walking through many woodlands, and many bluebells, I dropped down into Saundersfoot, a spreading seaside town.
From Saundersfoot the route took an interesting twist. I could see further headlands in the distance and had expected further climbs to go with them but in fact the coast path went through them :) following the track bed of an old railway! Saundersfoot had become an important town in the 1800’s when the coal mining industry grew and harbour facilities were needed to aid its export that had previously taken place off the various beaches. The tunnels were blasted through in order to connect the coal mines with the harbour. These certainly added another dimension to this varied walk.
The trailway tunnels near Saundersfoot
Exiting the tunnels, I arrived at Wiseman’s Bridge. The day had now clouded over and there was a strong wind whipping off the sea across the rocks. I made my way through the village and followed the road over the next headland.
This was to be the last headland on my walk and as I descended through the trees, I caught glimpses of my final destination below me. Eventually I reached the road at the western end of Amroth, another straggling seaside town that started out as a small miners settlement. The last mile or so of my walk was along the road through the village as the start/finish of the trail is at the eastern end of Amroth.
I walked beside the sea wall and just before the road turned inland reached the plaque that marks the southern end of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path – and the end of my walk! I wasn’t sure what I should feel but after nearly two weeks and 200 miles of walking, the end seemed almost an anticlimax as there was no one there but me. I took some pictures to record the occasion and was about to cross the road to the pub opposite for some food when a car pulled up and two day walkers got out. “Are you going to walk the whole trail?”, they asked. “I just have”, I replied with a smile :) ! I asked them if they would mind taking a picture of me which they gladly did.
I celebrated with a coffee and a roast beef sandwich at the pub :) ! Strangely, despite my backpack, they didn’t even ask me if I had walked or was about to walk the trail. Since the pub was right beside the plaque, I assumed that the staff would be accustomed to walkers and would even offer free drinks or perhaps a certificate ;) but they seemed to have no connection whatever with what is a popular National Trail. I think they are missing a trick!
I wanted to allow enough time at the finish to just drink in the good feelings and my early start had allowed for this, but ultimately I had to leave Amroth and begin my long journey home. This started off interestingly!
I don’t use buses very often but when I do, I am accustomed to standing at a bus stop as that is the only place they pick people up. This doesn’t seem to be the case on this coastal service and they are quite happy to pick you up and drop you off wherever you want. A lovely lady bus driver picked me up at Amroth and we chatted constantly all the way from there to Kilgetty station – she was very interested in and impressed by my walk…….and she dropped me right beside the station :) !
The trains on this branch line are a bit different as well as you have to flag them down to get them to stop at the station! My journey home involved the bus, three trains, foot, and a car so I had plenty of time to think back over the previous two weeks, remembering with gratitude and fondness all the things I had experienced and seen. I will summarise some of these in my next post, but for now……..WOW, what an amazing and unforgettable two weeks!!!!
Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler.
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