It was day 4, and the last day of our walk for this year and we knew that decisions had to be made. We had planned to walk 16/17 miles into Pembroke today but the need to arrive there in time to drive home, combined with our inability to walk fast because of painful knees and feet, meant that this needed to be reviewed. There were of course possibilities to shorten the walk at either end, and since the first half crossed the industrial hinterland of the LPG refineries, we decided that that was the better part to shorten. So we organised a lift into Milford Haven in order to reduce the day to a 13 mile walk.
We started walking at the marina and soon came upon the first jetties of the day. Refineries and jetties line both sides of the Milford Haven inlet and normally it would take two days to walk inland along the north shoreline and back out again along the south shoreline. We would of course not be doing the latter this year.
Even here though, amongst this industrial landscape, there are pockets of natural beauty, such as Castle Pill, dry with low tide on this day.
For the most part though, it was industry, pipelines, jetties and wind turbines all the way. The last mentioned would have an effect later!
As interesting in its way as it was, the industrial part did not really encourage us to dawdle in the same way as country views might have done, and we soon reached the town of Neyland where we stopped for some lunch. The walk then continued through the marina and up the Westfield Pill Creek, passing beneath the northern section of the Cleddau Bridge, before climbing up out of the valley to cross the bridge itself.
Cleddau Bridge was built between 1967 and 1975 in order to improve communications between the two sides of the Milford Haven inlet – previously a ferry service had operated. The reason for the extended build time was that during the build, a section of cantilever collapsed causing four deaths and several injuries. Interestingly, such is the height of and exposure on the bridge, when the wind speed reaches 50mph some traffic such as motorbikes is excluded, and when it reaches 70mph, the bridge is closed completely.
The wind on this day was not too strong so we were able to cross safely. However we did notice a strange phenomenon and that was that the wind was pulsating as it passed over the bridge. We wondered if this was to do with the wind turbines that stand on the hill in the distance and that they perhaps created some sort of turbulence further along the valley!
Having crossed the bridge, we dropped down into Pembroke Dock passing one of its two Martello Towers, now a museum. Pembroke Dock was at one time a very busy shipbuilding centre and many warships were constructed here. In fact the town itself grew up mainly because of the presence of the Royal Navy Dockyard that was established in the early 1800’s. It served the navy for over 100 years, building 5 royal yachts and 263 naval vessels, until its closure in 1926 when the area became a centre for the RAF’s flying boat operations. They remained for some 30 years before that too was closed down.
These days, the main large boats you are likely to see in the Milford Haven inlet, apart from the tankers, are the ferries carrying people across to Ireland.
Moving away from the dockyard, we climbed up Barrack Hill. Even here, the naval presence was felt because it takes its name from the Defensible Barracks which was built in the mid 19th century to house the naval dockyard workers and to protect the docks from landward attack. This fell into a bad state of repair over the years after the navy left but was ultimately purchased by a private individual who is turning it into flats. It is a most imposing structure which thankfully is now seeing a new lease of life.
From the picture below, you can see why we shortened the first part of the day rather than the latter part as the route once again took us away from industry and civilisation to cross some beautiful meadows and woodlands to reach the banks of the Carew River.
This river would take us all the way into Pembroke and the end of our Pembrokeshire Coast Path walk this year.
We followed the river and soon, Pembroke Castle, once the family seat of the Earldom of Pembroke, came into view across the water. The castle dates from Norman times, the current medieval structure replacing an earlier motte and bailey castle built upon a rocky riverside promontory. Famously it was the birth place of Henry Tudor who became Henry vii of England.
Pembroke is the county town of Pembrokeshire so it seemed a fitting place to end our 4 day sojourn in Wales for this year. As we left the town, we were already thinking about our next visit to complete the walk. We couldn’t wait!
Despite injuries and ‘wear and tear’, this had been an amazing few days walking one of the best coastlines in the UK and if anyone reading this is considering taking on the challenge of walking this rugged coastline, I would unhesitatingly say ‘do it’! This has been my second time of walking it, and I would happily walk it numerous times again, such is its beauty!
Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler
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