Day 2 broke grey and damp, a light mizzle softly soaking everything around. This was to be a day in contrast to yesterday’s blue sky and sun, a continuation of the previous evening when cloud covered the sunset. And yet, somehow, it was pleasant walking in the gentle rain…….although this was to get worse before it got better.
We made our way along the road out of the village, looking back at Newgale Beach, still beautiful even without the sun. Such an amazing wide expanse of wet sand and only one solitary walker in view.
It was still early as we left the beach behind – we were on a mission! Five miles into the day’s walk there was a lovely, rather arty and bohemian hotel where they served breakfast, but only until 10.30am! We wanted to walk the first five miles before then 🙂 !
As yesterday, flowers lined the path, even some, the stonecrop, seemingly growing out of rock. This always amazes me! In my veg garden at home, I have to keep the plants well tended, weed free, watered, encouraged, cajoled and nursed carefully just to get them to grow to some sort of maturity, but here they seemed to grow out of nothing and yet still flourish. Life isn’t fair 🙂 ! Mind you, these are well designed for this terrain, the fleshy leaves retaining moisture……not that they needed that on this day!
Shortly after leaving Newgale, we reached Trefane Cliff Colliery which was something of a surprise because you don’t normally associate coal mining with the Pembroke Coast. The workings here though were once substantial – in the 1800’s there were 26 shafts in this area. Now, all that remains are a chimney with parts of the engine shed, and some now overgrown spoil heaps. Nature reclaims its own!
We passed through Nolton Haven, once a busy port which was the main exporting centre for the coal which was carried there on carts drawn by traction engines. Now, it is a cove surrounded by a sleepy hamlet, very different from what it would have been a century or two ago.
The good news for us was that we made Druidston in time for breakfast which we enjoyed looking out to sea across Druidston Haven. Apart from anything else, it was a chance to dry out, as outside the rain was still falling. The beach at Druidston Haven was another of those typically Welsh ones with acres of sand exposed by the receding tide.
Druidston is a fascinating place, not only because of the ‘interesting’ hotel and good breakfast 🙂 , but also because of the rocks nearby. Massive white topped lumps of stone intermingled with deep chasms and crumbly cliffs. It must be a geologists paradise. We decided to explore, slipping and sliding down into one of the gullies…..which was in itself a mistake! Having explored the hidden depths, I managed to slip up on the very wet slimy rocks and clamped my left leg between too rocks. Apart from being mud covered with some grazes, I seemed to have escaped any major injury but it was to have consequences later in the day!
The rain was now heavier but the coast still had a beauty despite this, or indeed perhaps because of this. The heavy mood created by cloud and rain just seemed to suit the surroundings, bringing out their full character. And at least it was what I call English rain rather than Welsh rain – from my past experience, Welsh rain falls horizontally 🙂 !
One good thing about this section of the coast is that part of the path had been surfaced and a small parking area had been provided. This was to allow wheelchair access, meaning that disabled people are able to enjoy the coast too. Of course, by its very nature, with steep inclines, much is not accessible but at least some parts have been adapted.
By the time we reached the beautiful coastal hamlet of Little Haven, the rain had eased, although it would never be far away. Little Haven is a little sister to its much larger neighbour, Broad Haven, and together they make a delightful bathing spot. Little Haven in particular was a delight, with its lovely old cottages and pubs looking out across its diminutive bay. Perhaps more importantly, Broad Haven had a shop so we were able to replenish our food supplies. This is something that can be difficult on this coast path as there can be long gaps between resupply points.
The section after the two villages was both a surprise and a delight. Walking out to Borough Head, we passed through an area of lovely lush deciduous woodlands. Open views across the coast are always a pleasure but this was a very pleasant change and was most enjoyable as a light mist and a bit of brightness broke through in places.
Finally breaking out from our tunnel of trees, we came across a strangely placed sculpture known as The Eyes of the Sea by Alain Ayers. In fact, to be more exact, The Eyes of the Sea is a collective name for five sculptures which give an interpretation of the relationship between land and sea. They were installed in 1979. A strange place it might be, but I like these little surprises 🙂 !
It was along this part of the coast that we spotted the first of many ‘waiting’ ships at sea. These were to become a more regular sight as we were approaching the large inlet to Milford Haven with its many refineries, jetties and pipelines. These would be a feature of our last day.
It was along this part of the coast too that my left knee began to ache and it would get worse as the day went on! At the same time, Paul’s feet decided to complain, breaking out into blisters! My knee and Paul’s blisters would have consequences in the coming days!
Of course, there were yet more flowers, and many bugs and birds too.
By now, the rain had ceased but a gentle mist hung in the air. We reached Warey Haven and in the distance we could see Nab Head. Our day’s walking would end on the other side of that headland. Through the mist we could just make out the substantial pile of the St Bride’s Estate Castle.
The scenery here is as rugged as anywhere, with the red sandstone cliffs and rocks projecting into the sea. An overgrown dry stone wall made an interesting foreground as it seemingly leaned over the clifftop as if to get a better view. Much of it was presumably in the sea below, a victim of the constant erosion that affects all our coastline.
Eventually we ‘hobbled’ into St Bride’s Haven with it’s castle standing out on the headland. St Bride’s is a lovely coastal hamlet comprising just a few cottages, a couple of walled gardens, a lime kiln and a church in a wonderful setting. It makes a great picnic spot – we stopped for a break.
The main house on the St Bride’s Estate was built in 1833 by Charles Philipps of Picton Castle and was considerably enlarged in the early 20th century when the Kensington family, of London fame, took it over. In more recent years, it has been an isolation hospital, an old people’s home, and now it is holiday apartments.
It would ‘follow’ us around the headland as all the way round we tracked the dry stone wall that surrounded the house……not that it was very dry on this day 🙂 !
The long dry stone wall is a feature of Nab’s Head and so are its ponies. I remembered photographing these some four years ago when I backpacked the route for the first time.
The mist had thickened around the headland, all but absorbing the views, but the flowers stayed with us. It really was most atmospheric.
Finally we reached Musselwick Bay, our stopping point for the day, and we made our way inland. Tomorrow, all being well, we would rejoin the coast path at this point to continue our walk. We wondered what that day would bring.
Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler
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