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On the Pembrokeshire Coast Path – Part 4

3 Nov

Our last day dawned bright and we made our way through the quiet streets of Trefin in the early morning light to rejoin the coast path at Aber Draw with its old mill remains. Making our way along the coast path, we quickly reached the entrance to Porthgain Harbour with its distinctive white bollards on the headlands either side.

Porthgain Harbour Entrance

Porthgain Harbour Entrance

Standing looking down on the harbour, the expansiveness of the now ruined buildings on the dockside is immediately striking. These were the hoppers where stone was once stored, marking what was in many ways a 19th century industrial revolution. From 1837 for nearly 100 years, this little harbour was used to export roadstone, slate and bricks, with the stone being quarried from the hilltop behind the hoppers.


Porthgain Harbour

The port in fact reinvented itself several times. Having started life in the export of slates which were transported to the quayside via a tunnel bored into the hill, it was extended in the early 1900’s to allow larger ships to moor at the quay and not long after a brickworks was added. This used the waste from the slate quarry to make the bricks. For the last 20 years of its life, the port was used for roadstone, with the hoppers being filled with stone of varying sizes.


Porthgain Harbour from Behind the Old Pilot House

The port is now almost a museum of a bygone age, the once thriving busyness now replaced by an empty stillness. But it is a relic that is worth exploring.

Climbing up the steps behind the old pilot house, we discovered the other part of this old industrial complex, the quarry itself, that provided the raw materials for the port’s activities. Remains of brick buildings, stone crushing plant, weigh bridge, engine sheds etc litter the cliff top with inclines, cuttings and track beds linking them together.

Porthgain Quarry Remains

Quarry Buildings Near Porthgain

And by the water, the deep pits that formed the quarries themselves, huge areas where stone and slate were extracted for some 80 years. It felt like this was almost a graveyard of the quarrying industry.

Porthgain Quarry Remains

The Old Quarry, Porthgain

We spent much time exploring the old workings before continuing on our way. Not that we got very far before another detour at Traeth Llyfn – there was so much to see and explore all along this route. This is a lovely sandy beach that can only be accessed by steep steps……provided the tide is out! We climbed down to the beach despite the fact that we knew we would have to climb back up again ūüôā !

Traeth Lltfn

The Way to the Beach

Traeth Llyfn is a lovely secluded beach made up of craggy rocks and smooth sand – indeed, Traeth Llyfn literally translates as ‘smooth beach’. The steps down take you to the north end of the beach and great care is needed as it is easy to get cut off by the tide if exploring the southern end.

Traeth Lltfn

Traeth Llyfn

Here too there was evidence of quarrying, and some lovely colours in the cliffs too.

Quarry Remains

Evidence of Quarrying

Multi Coloured Rocks

Colourful Rocks

We climbed back up the 133 steps to regain the coast path and continued on our way……but again, not for long, as just a short distance farther on we reached Abereiddi, another place full of interest, and one to spend time exploring.

This again is an old quarry, with slate being mined here from around 1830 to 1904 and transported to Porthgain for onward shipment. The quarry gives the impression of having been a small port but in fact it was not. The illusion has been created by the fact that when the quarrymen had ceased working the area, they blasted a channel to the open sea and the quarry flooded. This is now known as The Blue Lagoon and is a deceptive 25 meters in depth. There are remains of buildings all around, including the old engine house which stands on the ledge across the lagoon.

The Blue Pool

The Blue Pool with the Engine House Beyond

Abereiddi and Blue Pool

The Blue Pool from the Cliff Top

Beside The Blue Lagoon, the headland of Trwyncastell stretches out to sea. This crag comprises volcanic rock and on its summit stands Abereiddi Tower which is thought to have been a watch tower although on ancient maps it is described as a summer house. It is a single story stone tower which apart from windows looking out to sea, also includes a fireplace.

Carn Lwyd

The Watch Tower on Trwyncastell

Actually one of the more welcome things about Abereiddi was that beside the beach was a tea wagon ūüôā ! We stopped for a cuppa and sat for a time listening to the waves rolling up the shore before heading off along the coast path again.


Abereiddi or Abereiddy with the Watchtower on the Headland Beyond

Posts, Rock and Grass

Posts, Rock and grass

We had already seen a number of seals during the walk so far but when we reached the tiny cove of Aber Pwll, the number doubled. There were adults and pups, the latter being so much more conspicuous with their cream coloured fur, and they were everywhere, even up a stream bed inland of the bay. They were obviously quite used to humans.

Aber Pwll

Aber Pwll

Just Chilling

Just Chillin’

Climbing out of the bay, we looked back across the expanse of craggy coast that we had walked.

Aber Pwll and Abereiddi

Beautiful Craggy Coastline

The day was drawing on and the sun was going in and out almost in recognition that the coast here does the same thing. We continued our serpentine way and could see in the distance another of those distinctively shaped headlands, St David’s Head. This is easily recognisable by the conical shaped tor that we dubbed Carn Lidl – its actually called Carn Llidi! Having dubbed that one Can Lidl, we figured the nearer and flatter hill must be called Carn Aldi ūüėČ !

On St David's Head

Nearing St David’s Head

Straw Bales in the Spotlight

Sunlight and Shadows

The clouds were gathering more and more, with the occasional breaks allowing the sun to throw spotlights across the hills. This was beautiful and much more interesting than straight forward bright sunshine although we feared that rain might reach us before the end of our walk.

St David's Head

Spotlight on the Coast

Eventually we reached the point where we were about to turn and round St David’s Head but before we did so, we stopped to look back the way we had come. The view took in the whole coast that we had walked over the last two days, reaching as far back as Strumble Head with the lighthouse visible on the extreme left in the picture below.

On St David's Head

Looking Back Towards Strumble Head

Finally, we left the view behind and rounded the headland and we could see below us the wide expanse of Whitesands Bay which would be our stopping point. We dropped down onto this beautiful beach in the fading light and as we made our way up the narrow lane that leads to the city of St David’s, light rain began to fall.

Whitesands Bay

Whitesands Bay

You could call this four day walk the ‘Two Saints Way’, having walked from St Dogmael’s to St David’s, and with the latter being named after the patron saint of Wales, it seemed a fitting end to our journey. It had been four days of wonderful walking in near perfect walking weather. What could be better?

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me,¬†my email address is¬†‚Äď comments and feedback are always welcomed.



On the Pembrokeshire Coast Path – Part 3

23 Oct

The next day dawned to a damp mist although with the forecasted strong breeze, we didn’t think it would last long. We made our way through the tiny hamlet of Llanwnda, a somewhat quirky and quaint settlement with a rich past. It’s most recent claim to fame was featuring in a documentary of Griff Rhys Jones in 2007 called ‘A Pembrokeshire Farmhouse’ which detailed the restoration of that building. This though was a place steeped in Celtic Christian history. We¬†stopped to look at its remote church, the church of St Gwyndaf.

St Gwyndaf was a 6th century Celtic saint from Brittany who settled for a time in Pembrokeshire. He had an aristocratic background and married a noblewoman, the couple having two children. All four became Saints. The church itself dates from medieval times and has some interesting features. On the ancient roof beams is carved what is thought to be the head of a monk – see if you can spot it in the pictured below. The small high up door to the right is thought to have at one time led to a rood screen which has long since been removed.

St Gwyndaf, Llanwnda

St Gwyndaf

St Gwyndaf, Llanwnda

Spot the Hidden Monk

Our route from Llanwnda took us out of the village and down a damp and lush wooded valley to reach the coast path again at Carreg Wasted. This is famous for being the landing place of a small French army in 1797 on what was to be the last invasion of Britain. The invasion didn’t last long and the troops surrendered just four days later at Goodwick Sands. A memorial stone has been erected on the headland to commemorate the event.

The Memorial Stone at Carreg Goffa

The Memorial Stone

The mist had by now lifted and although a dull day, the still vibrant yellow gorse made it seem like the sun was shining.

The Colourful Coast

Sunshine Yellow

As we made our way onwards though, the sun did start to make an appearance. We passed Penrhyn with a single delightfully remote white rendered cottage right on the clifftop. What an idyllic place to live!

Oh, and apparently there are Dolerite Outcrops too……although again, we thought it would take a geologist to point them out ūüôā !

The Lonely Cottage


After two days of steep climbs and falls, it was pleasant to be walking for a time on more level ground, with fine grassy stretches mixed with rocky outcrops. In the sunshine, this was most picturesque. Level, however, is not a word that can be used to describe much of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path as we were to find out all too soon as the path once again became rock strewn and undulating!

Strumble Head Scenery

Rocky Outcrops

At Porthsychan we came across the first seals of the day, an adult and pup just languishing on the beach. We would see many more before the day was done, some swimming in the sea, some playing in rock pools, some just dozing on the beaches, some resting under small waterfalls, some perched on rocks – we wondered how they got there as they are not noted for their climbing ability ūüôā ! They are always interesting to watch, especially as they attempt to waddle and wriggle their way up the beach and over rocks.

Seals at Porthsychan

Seals at Porthsychan

As we neared Stumble Head, we turned to look back the way we had come and could see in the far distance that same distinctive shape of Dinas Island with a myriad minor headlands between it and us. We had wound our way round and over every one of them.

On Strumble Head

Looking Back

Soon we reached Strumble Head with its well known lighthouse standing atop one of the islands. I say ‘island’ because that is what it is, although in reality it is just a short hop from the mainland and is connected by a footbridge. The lighthouse, now unmanned, was built in 1905 to replace a lightship that was previously moored nearby, since there had been numerous shipwrecks in the area. Interestingly, as recent as 2003 one wreck was discovered that was thought to have been part of the French fleet that invaded in 1797.

Strumble Head Lighthouse

The Strumble Head Lighthouse

Looking at the foaming seas even on this relatively calm day and with the bay sheltered by the headland, you could see why a lighthouse was needed at this point.

Foaming Seas

Choppy Waters at Strumble Head

At this point too is one of the best examples of up-cycling that you are likely to see. This is an old wartime lookout post that has been converted to a wildlife observation post as this area is well known for its dolphins and porpoises…….not that we saw any on this day ūüė¶ ! The whole area is an SSSI, rich in wildlife, and the lookout was opened by Bill Oddie in 1988.

On Strumble Head

A Great Bit of Up-cycling

As we made our way round the headland and turned south, we could see clearly the three islands lined up before us across Carreg Onnen Bay. Interestingly, the two smaller islands to the left in the picture, Ynys Onnen and Carreg Onnen, were offered for sale some years ago having been in the hands of a local farming family for generations. The problem of course is that you couldn’t build anything on them so they would be of little use to most people. The papers at the time were suggesting figures of around ¬£40,000 but I do not know if they were ever snapped up.

The Strumble Head Light

Two Islands for a Bargain Price

There was some delightful walking along this section. Although some of the land was a little marshy, the long yellow autumn grass made a beautiful foreground against the rocks beyond. Already in the distance we could see another distinctively shaped headland that would be our route tomorrow, St David’s Head. It is on the extreme right in the picture below.

The Path Round Strumble Head

Autumn Grasses and Rocks

And along this part too, some strange signs! One wonders what that path to the right is like – could it be precarious……..go down there and you will fall flat on your face? ūüôā The sign stands at the lip of Pwll Deri, one of Pembrokeshire’s most popular beauty spots, and home to one of its most remote youth hostels.



The day had now become overcast again bringing some lovely clouds to the pictures. It was a subdued light that somehow suited the landscape, adding a mood that was appropriate to the character of this rugged and rough coast.

On the Pembrokeshire Coast Path

Moody Weather

Before long, we reached Abermawr Bay, with now heavy skies above. For once there were people around us, a sure sign that there is parking nearby.

Abermawr Bay

Abermawr Bay

We stopped at this point and fell into conversation with a lady with a dog. She told us that her husband was out in the bay somewhere swimming and my immediate thought was, ‘rather him than me’! It seemed that he loved to swim whatever the weather but that this was likely to be the last of the year. His dog gazed out to sea, watching to see him come ashore……


Looking Out to Sea

……which he did a short time later, and his dog ran off happily to meet him.

After the Swim

Greeting on the Beach

There was something else strange along this part of the coast and that was that the sheep were all clean! Normally they are quite grimy but these looked as though they had just had a bath and a coiffure ūüôā !

Clean Sheep

A Clean Sheep

We passed another little cove at Pwllstrodur, and another dog walker silhouetted against the patch of bright light reflecting off the water. The apparent peaceful tranquility belied the very breezy conditions!



Eventually we reached the delightful old harbour of Abercastle with its row of cottages on the hillside overlooking the water. This is another ancient trading port, exporting slate, grain, limestone, butter, honey, etc in bygone days. Now though it is a stopping point for pleasure craft.


Cottages at Abercastle

The sun was low in the sky as we rounded the harbour and made our way back out along the other shore. Across the harbour, we could see being picked out by the sun, a cottage, the ruined ivy-covered granary, and the islet of Ynys y Castell, a promontory earthwork fort.


Abercastle with Cottage, Ruined Granary and Islet Fort

We had decided that our stopping point tonight would be Trefin and we climbed out of the harbour onto the last few miles of coast path for today. And what a lovely part it was too, with level grassy paths underfoot and a setting sun before us.

At the End of the Day

Walking into the Sunset

The lower the sun got in the sky, the brighter pink turned the clouds to our left. what a beautiful pastoral scene this was, especially with the dark clouds that had still not blown completely away.

Darkness Beckons

The Day’s End

As we neared our stopping point for the night, we took a last look out to sea to watch the sun drop below the horizon. It cast highlights and shadows across the sea as the waves rolled in on an endless quest to reach the shore. The craggy coast took on a dark, foreboding nature as everything settled down for the night ahead.



Reluctantly, we turned away to follow the last half mile of path into Trefin and our night stop. On this beautiful evening, I couldn’t help but think back to the last time I stayed here. On that occasion, there had been driving rain and a howling gale and as I had laid in my tent, I almost feared that it would take off or that trees might come down on me in the night. Oh, how different this day was!

What a fabulous day! Another 17 miles of awesome walking along some of the best coastline you could hope to find! We were nearing the end of our time away, but as we settled down for the night, we were looking forward to what joys tomorrow would bring us.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me,¬†my email address is¬†‚Äď comments and feedback are always welcomed.

On the Pembrokeshire Coast Path – Part 2

16 Oct

The morning dawned bright and sunny with the promise of another good day, and we were looking forward to slightly easier walking than yesterday as the ups and downs were said to be just slightly easier. I’m not sure that we actually found that that was the reality though!



We had a brief walk around Newport before dropping down to the coast path again. This runs beside Newport Bay and passes the Parrog, which is the town’s old port. It is hard to imagine that at one time this was a thriving and active harbour, a far cry from the quiet and peaceful place we were walking through. Back in the 1800’s, slate, herrings and woollen goods would have been exported from here, and there was also a shipbuilding and repairing industry. The silting up of the estuary put paid to those activities.

Newport Bay

Across Newport Bay

Looking across the bay, we could see the headland we walked around last night at the end of a hard day’s walking. Seeing Newport in the distance was a welcome sight then. Now, we were about to leave it behind again as we made our way along the beach, a part of the coast path that is only available at low tide. The alternative takes a slightly more inland route.

The main challenge today would be climbing up over Dinas Island, which is in fact not an island at all. This headland is pentagonal in shape, with one side attached to the mainland and four facing out to sea. Its rather distinctive shape stood out across the water as we walked, as if it was beckoning us to visit.

Towards Dinas Island

The Distinctive Shape of Dinas Island Beckons

This was to be another day of climbs and falls, and of many craggy inlets to be negotiated. This meant constantly weaving in and out and up and down, adding many more miles to the distance a crow might fly when travelling from Newport to Llanwnda – although I am not sure why a crow would want to fly that route anyway ūüôā !

We dropped down to sea level to reach the first of many beaches we would cross that day. This was Aber Rhigian, a remote pebble beach with nothing but a few washed up relics like the debris in the picture below. In truth, this and all the beaches along this first stretch are partly man made because slate was once quarried here. I say slate because that is what it is called locally but in fact it is actually shale slabs.

Aber Rhigian

Aber Rhigian

Shortly after, another beach came into view. This one was Aberfforest, a delightful cove with a stream running down the valley to exit into the sea. It doesn’t take long to realise that all these beaches bear the name ‘Aber’, which is a Celtic word meaning ‘confluence of waters’. We looked out to sea again in the hopes that dolphins or porpoises might be swimming but there was no sign of any.

We moved on, once again climbing out of the bay and onto the clifftop where we could see Dinas Island getting closer.



Eventually we reached the start of the ‘island’ and a remarkable place known as Pwll-yr-eglwys which literally translates as ‘the valley of the church’. The church in question is St Brynach the Abbot, and at one time this holy building could seat 300, that is until 1850/51 when stormy seas destroyed the chancel and undermined the foundations. There was huge damage to the graveyard too, with human remains being exposed by the deluge. Some nine years later another storm further damaged the building leaving it in a state that was beyond repair and it was abandoned. The ruins remained in place until 1880 when they were demolished, with the exception of the west wall, in order that a sea wall could be built to protect what was left of the graveyard.

Pwll-yr-eglwys is a truly delightful place. It just oozes peace, tranquility and stillness being nestled between protective headlands and sheltered from Westerly winds. A line of benches looks out across the sandy beach and out to sea, and they called to us to sit awhile.



All too soon, it was time to move on and we made our way out of that idyllic place and started our climb up and around Dinas Island. The undulating path here was soft underfoot and made for pleasant walking, especially with the amazing views that greeted us all along the way.

On Dinas Island

Climbing Dinas Island

Autumn coloured bracken contrasted beautifully with the blue of the sea and sky, and as we climbed higher, we could look back to Newport where we started out our day.

On Dinas Island

Looking Back to Newport

This is a popular part of the coast path because there is parking nearby and circumnavigating the pentagonal headland makes a great 3 mile walk. We passed numerous dog walkers and day trippers on our way up to the high point of the headland, Pen y Fan at 466 feet. We just had to stop and drink in the views from this lofty vantage point. In fact, that is one of the problems with walking this coast, there is just so much that you want to tarry over and absorb that time seems to just disappear.



We had to move on, and we made our way round and down the westerly side of the headland to reach Pwllgwaelod, another sandy beach, albeit one that this time was exposed to the westerly winds. In fact you could avoid climbing the headland altogether by simply following the valley that leads directly from Pwll-yr-eglwys to Pwllgwaelod, one side of the pentagon instead of four……but, really, why would you!

We reached sea level again, and couldn’t help noticing that there was a pub near the beach that served teas. Now, normally when I’m walking, I try to avoid the more commercial parts, but today the draw of a good cup of tea was too strong so we stopped for a brew ūüôā ! And what a great spot to enjoy a cuppa too, sat at a picnic table gazing out to sea.



Refreshed, we climbed up once again onto the clifftop to pass a place with an even more unpronounceable name, in fact, a name with no vowels in it at all, Pwll Cwn. I’m sure the name makes complete sense to a welsh person, but to an Englishman……!

Pwll Cwn

Pwll Cwn

It was along this section that we bumped into two fellow walkers coming the other way. We had passed the same two yesterday and just exchanged greetings. This time we stopped to chat. These two were walking the same route as us but doing it in a slightly different way – they had two cars and each morning they would drive in one car to their next overnight stop and then walk back along the coast path to reach the previous night’s stopping point and the second car. They would then drive to that nights stopping point to join the first car. We bid farewell knowing that we would see them again tomorrow.

This section was again full of geological features, dark shale cliffs, lots of creeks, offshore rocks and stacks, and little beaches such as Pwll Gwylog and Aber Bach. The latter is sheltered from the westerly winds and because it is not easy to reach, is very unspoilt.

Aber Bach

Aber Bach

One of the more famous stacks along this section is the Needle Rock which stands just off the cliff face. With its ‘eye’, it looks for all the world like a needle that has been pushed into the sea bed. In the distance, we could see houses, a tell tale sign that we were approaching civilisation in probably the largest conurbation to date, Fishguard and Goodwick.

Needle Rock

Needle Rock

We would reach that all too soon but not before passing yet more craggy inlets and mini ‘islands’. Looking back, we could see in the distance the distinctive shape of Dinas Island again.

The Rocky Coast

The Rocky Coast

The first sign that you have reached Fishguard and Goodwick is the old fort that stands at Castle Point. Fishguard Fort was built in 1781 to defend the local community against privateers, although at that time this was a much smaller settlement. Then, the main settlement was Lower Town, another coastal trading harbour, shipbuilding centre and fishing port. This has now been very much superseded by its larger neighbours of Fishguard and Goodwick – it is from Fishguard Harbour and it’s jetties that the ferry to Ireland comes and goes.

Fishguard Fort

Fishguard Fort

From the old fort, our route took a sharp turn south and we made our way to Lower Town and onto the Marine Walk, a tarmac path that rounds Saddle Point to reach the town of Fishguard which then very quickly blended into Goodwick. One strange anomaly here is that Fishguard Harbour is actually not in Fishguard but Goodwick.

Along the way here, we passed some interesting old outhouses so being a lover of quirky things, I grabbed a picture ūüôā !



Looking back from Saddle Point, we could see the old Lower Town below us, settled neatly around its sheltered drowned valley. You could see why it had once a port, and perhaps why it had faded with the coming of much larger vessels.

Lower Town

Lower Town

One of the problems with such an unspoilt coastline is that facilities along the way are few and far between so there is always a need to think ahead. One of the very few shops along this four day stretch was at Goodwick so we stopped to stock up on food. We knew also that there was nowhere to eat at Llanwnda, our overnight stopping point, so with the light fading, we decided to eat at Goodwick which actually made a lovely end to the day as the meal was delightful.

In the two days that we had walked so far, we had covered nearly 34 miles, and what fantastic miles they had been. As we made our way to our overnight stop, we wondered what tomorrow would bring!

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me,¬†my email address is¬†‚Äď comments and feedback are always welcomed.

On the Pembrokeshire Coast Path – Part 1

13 Oct

Some three years ago I backpacked the whole of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path during a very cold, wet and windy April and despite the weather, I fell in love with that rugged coastline. Recently, it beckoned me again but this time I walked it not alone as I did previously, but with the best walking companion, my son Paul. And that wasn’t the only difference, this time it was October and the weather was near perfect……for Pembrokeshire at least ūüôā !

The Path runs from St Dogmaels in the north to Amroth in the south, a distance of some 186 rugged miles. This time, we were intending to walk for four days, finishing at the city of St David’s, named after the patron saint of Wales.

St Dogmaels

Setting out from St Dogmaels 

We set out from St Dogmaels on a bright and breezy morning, walking along the shoreline of Cardigan Bay, following the road and then track that climbs steadily upwards to reach the point of Cemaes Head where the path takes a sharp left turn. At this point, we were greeted by some unusually inquisitive sheep.


Inquisitive Sheep on Cemaes Head

And sheep weren’t the only animals to greet us either, as a little further on, some very friendly ponies came over to say hello. Nice to have a bit of a welcome party and to know that the natives were friendly ūüôā !

Pony on the Path

Friendly Ponies

All along this coast, there are relics of war and we passed the first of these on Cemaes Head. A lookout post in a comforting state of dereliction – these relics of war are also a symbol of peace by their very dereliction from decades of disuse. You can’t help but wonder though what it would have been like standing there when this building was in its heyday. In fact this particular post dates from long before WW2, having been built originally as a coastguard lookout in the 19th century.

On Cemaes Head

Relic of War or Symbol of Peace!

The coast along the northern part of Pembrokeshire is truly spectacular with many high headlands and craggy inlets where river and sea meet. It is a switchback of steep climbs and falls and a sign part way along makes it very clear that this is a tough section, stating that there are no escape routes, no water and no provisions until you reach Newport. But of course it is this very fact that makes it such an awesome place to walk.

The highest point of the whole coast path goes by the somewhat unpronounceable name of Pen yr afr. We made our way across this 574 feet high monster bathed in beautiful sunshine – so very different from the last time I passed this way. The only similarity was the wind although even that was nowhere near as fierce as three years ago when I struggled to even keep on my feet.

On the Pembrokeshire Coast Path

On Pen yr afr, the Highest Point

It is of course the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ and with that comes a plentiful array of fungi. We would pass many more of these before the end of our walk. As we walked, we kept a constant eye on the sea for any telltale signs of dolphins but on this occasion they were conspicuous by their absence.


Coastal Fungi

Along this first part of the walk, the path underfoot was soft and grassy and with beautifully autumnal bracken on either side. This was not the case with the path generally though as much of it is rocky and hard on the feet. For now though, we enjoyed the softness and the slanting autumn sun. In the distance, we could see the distinctive shape of Dinas Island, which is actually not an island at all! We would be walking round that tomorrow.

The Slanting Sun

Autumnal Bracken

Very soon, we dropped down once again to sea level at Ceibwr Bay, a one time seaport serving Moylgrove and its farming community. Just before the bay we passed a well positioned seat, sheltered nicely from the wind, and lunchtime suddenly appeared out of nowhere ūüôā ! Refreshed and replenished, we explored the bay with its rocky outcrops and not quite ‘crashing’ waves. The upturned strata made for an interesting and rugged coast, but needed great care when walking across it.

Ceibwr Bay

Jagged Rocks at Ceibwr Bay

Rocks and Waves

Not Quite ‘Crashing’ Waves at Ceibwr Bay

Just a short way on, having climbed up over another headland, we dropped down yet again to another equally rugged inlet with an even more unpronounceable name. This was Pwll y wrach, also known as The Witches Cauldron, marine erosion at its best. Several caves formed at this point when softer rock was worn away by the sea along a fault, and the subsequent collapse of some of these created the cauldron itself, accessible only by boat. This was definitely a place to explore!

It was at this point that we saw our first seal, a cream coloured pup sleeping on the rocks, unreachable because of a tract of water in front of us. This was the first of many as throughout this walk, every bay and inlet had seals either sleeping or playing.

Pwll Y Wrach

Pwll y wrach and our First Seal


Caves at Pwll y wrach

The light as we walked along this part of the coast was spectacular. Bright sun intermingled with cloud gave a spotlight effect which combined with the outcrops and foaming sea made a breathtaking scene. One can only stand and wonder at the beauty of this created landscape. It is one of the things that motivates me to walk.

Carreg Yspar

Sunlight and Shadows at Carreg Yspar

According to our guidebook, a feature of this area is ‘rotational slumps’ and apparently there are a number although we decided that it would probably take a geologist to recognise them. They are caused when the top layers slide in a rotational manner down harder and slippery sub-strata, causing a layering effect to the land.

After much up and down, in and out, winding walking, we finally rounded a headland to see Newport Sands in the distance with Newport beyond. That would be our stopping place for the night.

Newport Sands

Newport Sands come into View

We dropped down off the headland to reach the Nevern Estuary and the wide expanse of sand to reach the crossing point of the river and made our way along the southern estuary shoreline as the sun set before us, to enter the town itself and our overnight stop.


Entering Newport as the Sun Sets

They say that walking the whole of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path is the equivalent of climbing Everest in terms of ascent and the first section from St Dogmaels to Newport is the toughest but the views and the sheer ruggedness of this coast makes it all worth while. To walk it in such perfect conditions just made it all the more special.

Tomorrow would see us out on the next section of the path, heading for Llanwnda. We were looking forward to it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me,¬†my email address is¬†‚Äď comments and feedback are always welcomed.

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path – On Reflection

19 Jun

South Beach, Tenby
Follow the Acorn

Those of you who follow my blog will know that I have just completed an end to end walk of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and I thought I would set out some random thoughts on the walk, and on backpacking generally.

The first thing to say is that this is a wonderful walk along what is an amazing coastline Рno wonder it features in a list of the top ten walks in the whole world!  It is rugged and generally unspoilt with fantastic scenery and a well marked path.  It is also a very challenging long distance trail with lots of steep climbs which can seem relentless at times Рthey say walking it is the equivalent of climbing Everest in terms of ascent (and descent).  Because of this, there were times when I just had to grit my teeth and keep walking Рthese were times when the Welsh weather did its worst to stop me completing the walk!  But hey, even if you are remotely considering trying it, I would resoundingly say, GO FOR IT!!  And here are some more specific thoughts to help.

To backpack or not to backpack? ¬†There are a number of ways to walk this coast and most people probably do it by using B&B’s, with or without baggage transfer, or simply by doing a series of day walks. ¬†For me, I decided early on that I was going to backpack it in one go because I liked both the challenge and the freedom that gave me, plus of course…….it was cheaper – my average overnight stay cost around ¬£5. ¬†The downside of course is that you have to carry more weight, which leads to the next point.

Ready to go
How much should you carry?

How much do you carry?  There are numerous suggestions as to how heavy a pack should be, most suggest a certain proportion of body weight.  My pack weighed 18/20 kg but it needs to be remembered that wet clothes, wet tent etc will weigh more.  I think for enjoyment, lighter is better so take the minimum you can get away with, without leaving out anything essential.

North to south or south to north?  I did the former, partly because it meant I would be walking mainly into the sun Рalthough since the path winds constantly, you actually walk in all directions!  In terms of difficulty, although there are steep climbs all along the whole route, it is true to say that the most rugged sections are in the north so the walk gets marginally easier as you go further south.  On the other hand, it also becomes a little more urbanised in the south so arguably it is better to walk that part earlier by walking northwards.  At the end of the day it is down to personal choice.

Where to get food? ¬†Because this coastline is so unspoilt, there is a need to think ahead to make sure you have enough food. ¬†Some days I passed nowhere to buy food and some overnight stops were too remote to be near a pub. ¬†I found a good plan was to have a small stock of cuppa soup, mini pork pies etc for those times when forward planning failed. ¬†You can of course carry dehydrated meals. ¬†The one area I probably failed in is breakfast – my plan was to eat breakfast bars at the tent and then stop en route for something more substantial……but I rarely passed anywhere to buy breakfast.


Planning the walk.  I found it helpful to carefully plan the walk in advance so that I had a schedule of probable overnight stops whilst also retaining some flexibility to vary the plan according to how I felt.  This gave me the skeleton of a walk but also allowed the freedom that backpacking gives.  I only pre-booked one overnight stay and that was purely because it was an unmanned site.  I also changed a number of planned overnight stops as it suited me on the day.  I had no problem finding somewhere to pitch my tent.

Electrical equipment. ¬†I thought this was going to be an issue but in the end, it did not prove a problem. ¬†Every time I stopped at a cafe or pub, I asked if I could charge my phone and/or camera and not one said ‘no’. ¬†Everyone was most helpful……and one cafe even offered to dry my wet clothes! ¬†Having said that, there were times when I had to turn equipment off in order to preserve the battery. ¬†I carried an emergency battery pack but this failed so I am now researching portable solar chargers. ¬†Just from a safety point of view, I did carry a spare ‘pay-as-you-go’ phone for emergency use.

Keeping warm.  The main issue with going in April is that the evenings and nights can be chilly in the tent and it is important to keep warm before going to bed.  I quite often went for a walk in the evening which kept me warm but I know there are those who suggest doing star jumps before getting into the sleeping bag.  One possible option if all else fails is to take an aluminium water bottle, fill it with hot water and put it inside a sock (preferably a dry one!) to make a hot water bottle.

On the Pembrokeshire Coast Path
Wet grass means wet feet!

Keeping dry.  I had good waterproofs which kept me dry except for my shoes and socks Рunfortunately footwear tends not to be completely waterproof unless you wear walking boots and I prefer to walk in approach shoes.  This can make it difficult as shoes will not dry overnight in a tent especially on damp nights which means wearing wet shoes again the next day.  Ideally you need to carry some light weight shoes for the evenings to avoid having to wear your wet day shoes.  Something to remember is that shoes do not only get wet when it rains Рinvariably the grass was wet either from overnight rain or dew so my shoes got wet very quickly even on dry days.

Organising the rucksack and tent. ¬†I don’t think there are any particular rights and wrongs to this except to keep everything inside waterproof stuff sacks. ¬†What is important is to be well organised by storing¬†everything in the same place in the rucksack each day and tent overnight so that you know exactly where everything is and can put your hands on it easily. ¬†This is vital when living in such a confined space. ¬†I managed to get everything inside my tent apart from the rucksack, stove and shoes which were stored in the porch.

Organising the day.  This is obviously down to personal preference.  I quickly got into a natural rhythm of getting up with the sun and going to sleep with the sun which meant I was on the trail by between 6.30 and 7.30 am and at my stopping point by mid afternoon.  I found that this gave me an opportunity to put the usually wet tent up early enough for it to dry out, plus giving me a chance to explore the local area.  I was usually in my sleeping bag by 9.30 pm.  For me, lunch stops were flexible.

Drying Time
Drying in the sun

How far to walk each day?  Well this is clearly down to the individual and your fitness level.  If you are not a regular walker, it is better to start slowly and build the miles up as your fitness level grows.  My shortest day was 12 miles and my longest was around 18 miles, although in reality, each was probably longer when the detours round various headlands etc are taken into account.

What would I change?  Probably nothing as it all worked out brilliantly, although possibly I might include an extra day or two just to give an opportunity to explore some of the islands such as Skomer, Ramsey, Caldey etc.

So, as I look back now, what are my main memories from this amazing walk?

Fantastic rugged coastline
Great views
Lovely beaches
The freedom of backpacking
Being free of the car for two weeks
The challenge to succeed
Dealing with things that crop up on the way
Steep climbs
The Welsh weather!
The Milford Haven inlet – probably for me the low point
The fact that everything went so smoothly
The unspoilt nature of this coast
The lovely people I met on the way
The buses that seem to stop anywhere
The feeling as I walked into Amroth at the end of the walk

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path
A fabulous rugged coastline

This blog entry is not intended to be an exhaustive summary of the walk or a full ‘how to’ guide, it is just a series of random thoughts, memories and tips. ¬†I hope this and my previous entries documenting my walk have been interesting and that it will encourage you to go out and do your own ‘end to end’ walk. ¬†Over the years, I have completed numerous similar walks, some using B&B’s and some using the tent, and I have some wonderful memories from every one of them. ¬†I can highly recommend it!

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,

Your friend
The Dorset Rambler.

If you would like to contact me, my details are on my website which is¬†¬†‚Äď comments and feedback are welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.


The Pembrokeshire Coast Path – Part 7

10 Jun

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 Рthe acorn had been a guiding presence throughout the walk so I took a picture as a reminder.

The acorn, a guiding presence

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.

The beauty of early morning on the beach – Tenby and its island fortress in the distance

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 ūüôā 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 Tunnel
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.

Wiseman’s Bridge

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.

Entering 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 ūüôā ! ¬†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 ūüôā ! ¬†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 ūüėČ but they seemed to have no connection whatever with what is a popular National Trail.¬† I think they are missing a trick!

For me, the glow I felt inside from completing a challenging walk, overcoming obstacles on the way, was sufficient in any event!

The finishing point at Amroth

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 ūüôā !

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,

Your friend
The Dorset Rambler.

If you would like to contact me, my details are on my website which is¬†¬†‚Äď comments and feedback are welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path – Part 6

5 Jun

DAY 11 – ANGLE to TREVALLEN – 18 miles

What a difference a day makes!  After two days of walking through the industrial hinterland of the Milford Haven inlet, today I walked out onto the coast path proper again Рit felt like walking out of a darkened room into bright sunlight!  And what a beautiful coast too, much more rugged and up and down than I had expected.

I was up and out on the trail again before 7.00am, walking initially around the Angle headland¬†with Thorn Island just off the coast. ¬†Most of this island is taken up by another fort built in the mid 1800’s to protect Milford Haven¬†from the French navy. ¬†After the Second World War it was converted to a rather remote hotel, with plans to link it to the mainland by cable car! ¬†It has since closed and in fact in recent years the island was put on the market for ¬£750,000. ¬†Hmm, now where can I get my hands on three quarters of a million pounds ūüėČ !

For Sale – Thorn Island

After only a short walk, I dropped down into West Angle Bay on the southern side of the headland where there was one of the few signs of commercialisation in the shape of a caravan park……..but no cafe!

West Angle Bay

I had expected the coast to level off as I walked further south but in fact it was still very hilly with many steep climbs and descents.  There were also many more remains from military activity with various gun posts etc.  This just demonstrates how important the Milford Haven and Pembroke Docks area was in the 19th/20th century, and indeed still is albeit for different reasons.

Military remains

After several miles of delightful coast, I rounded a headland to be greeted by the view below.  This was Freshwater West, one of those lovely open, spacious Welsh beaches favoured by surfers, with acres of sand dunes behind.

Freshwater West and the sand dunes

I walked down off the headland, through the sand dunes and out onto the road that runs around the bay and my thoughts turned to bacon sandwiches again! ¬†There was some kind of surfer gathering and I passed a busy car park but I could see no facilities……..until I finally spied a trailer cafe¬†hiding at the end of the car park. ¬†Needless to say I made use of those facilities, sitting on the edge of the beach with one of the best¬†bacon baps I have tasted and cup of tea ūüôā ! ¬†It was still a little overcast and breezy but it was still lovely sat there looking out across the bay.

A bacon bap and cuppa at Freshwater West¬†ūüôā

Freshwater West¬†sits just north of the Castlemartin Firing Range so permitted footpaths south of¬†here are limited. ¬†I followed the road for a couple of miles to reach Castlemartin village where I passed another cafe, this time in a village hall. ¬†I stopped for tea and cake………well a man has to have dessert :)! ¬†It gave me the opportunity to charge my phone as well. ¬†Passing the old circular village pound which has creatively been turned into a roundabout, I continued to walk along the road for a few more miles, passing a girl sat in her car at¬†a layby. ¬†She wound down the window to say hi and we got talking – she explained why she was there.

Apparently one year previously she had been walking the Welsh Coast Path and slipped on the wet surface, sliding down the steep slope and only coming to a stop with her legs hanging over the cliffs with a sheer drop below.  She managed to scramble out of her precarious situation and was now revisiting the area on the anniversary of what could have been a disastrous event as a kind of thank you for being alive!

We said our goodbyes and I continued on my way through the firing range, heading for the cliff tops again, and I took a short detour to look at the deserted hamlet of Flimston with its preserved church.

The deserted village of Flimston with its preserved church

Flimston was once a working village with its own community but it became a ghost village when the whole area was taken over by the army to be used as a practice firing range.  Today the houses and cottages are all derelict but fortunately the church has been preserved.  Occasional services are still held there but disappointingly the church was locked so I was unable to look inside.

Finally, after several miles of road walking, I reached the coast path again at Stack Rocks which as the name suggests are rock stacks standing just off the coast.  These were completely covered with nesting guillemots and razor bills making a huge din!  I heard them long before I saw them!

Stack Rocks, a haven for Razorbills and Guillemots

Nearby was probably the most photographed feature in Pembrokeshire, The Green Bridge of Wales, a natural limestone arch created by¬†the erosion of the sea. Ultimately, the arch itself will collapse and another ‘Stack Rock’ will result.

The Green Bridge of Wales

The cliffs along this part of the coast are full of crags, narrow cracks, gullies, caves and inlets so this is a fabulous part to walk as there are so many rock features to admire and explore. ¬†In many ways, the army does this coast a favour by helping to preserve the whole area for wildlife, albeit at the expense of human access. ¬†This hasn’t always been the case as the cliffs actually provided a dwelling for one famous ancestor. ¬†St Govan, born around 500AD, was an Irish monk who lived in a small cave¬†in the cliffs for many years. ¬†There are various suggestions as to who he was, and one story suggests that he was being set upon by pirates when a¬†fissure opened up in the cliffs, enabling him to hide and thus escape capture. ¬†He then decided to make that fissure his home.

The little chapel in the picture below was built over the fissure in the 13th century and St Govan is said to be buried beneath it. ¬†There are all kinds of stories told about the area, such as the number of steps down the cliff face to the chapel varies depending on whether you are going up or down, and that if you tap a certain rock you will hear the chapel bell chime! ¬†Just below the chapel is St Govan’s Well, now dried up, and beyond that is the open sea. ¬†The history of this place, whether the stories are true or false, is fascinating and it is a very beautiful place that I could have lingered at for a very long time.

St Govan’s Chapel

In fact, when I was planning my walk, I had thought that I might stay overnight in the chapel until I realised it was in the middle of a firing range!  Discretion being the better part of valour, I decided instead to stay at a nearby campsite.

What a great day; great walking, fabulous scenery, good weather, some good food……….and dry feet! ¬†I haven’t had the last mentioned¬†for some days!

DAY 12 – TREVALLEN to PENALLY – 16 miles

Once again I was up at 5.30 and out on the trail well before 7.00am.  It was a cloudy but bright start to the day as I dropped down off the headland to the beautiful Broad Haven beach, looking very unspoilt and untrodden in the early morning light.

Broad Haven with Stackpole Warren beyond

My route took me across the pristine beach and I turned to take a rather cliched picture of my footprints in the sand. ¬†Last night’s camp was on the headland in the picture below.

My footprints on Broad Haven beach ūüôā

I followed the coast path over Stackpole Warren and round Stackpole Head and very soon dropped down into Barafundle Bay, said to be one of the best beaches in the world, indeed it has been given various accolades over the years.  It is totally unspoilt, having no roads and being accessible only on foot.  Once the private beach of the Cawdor family of Stackpole Court Рyou can just imagine the wealthy ladies in their flowing gowns and parasols walking down the steps through the arch at the top, with the servants coming behind carrying the picnic.

The beautiful Barafundle Beach

Continuing round the coast, I reached Stackpole Quay, also built by Lord Cawdor in the 1700’s, and where I knew there was a cafe……..and hopefully breakfast, but I was to be disappointed as it didn’t open till 10.00am! ¬†I made do with a chocolate bar and continued¬†on my way!

Stackpole Quay

The scenery continued to be awesome as the rock changed from Old Red Sandstone to the Carboniferous Limestone of the south.  With the changing colours of the rock and the bright yellow of the rape fields, the coast was too photogenic to miss and I stopped for some more pictures.

The photogenic Pembrokeshire Coast

I continued to Freshwater East, another delightful Pembrokeshire beach, backed by more beautiful sand dunes, and more holiday homes!  I walked across the beach and climbed up through the dunes onto the headland beyond.

Freshwater East

The coast path continued to rise and fall constantly around more headlands, beaches and inlets and ultimately I reached Manorbier Bay with its Norman castle standing proud some way inland.  I sat on the beach and ate my lunch beside the stream that empties into the bay, serenaded by the trickling water.

Manorbier Bay

Continuing round the next headland, the path once again took a slight detour inland, passing around Manorbier Camp, another firing range.  In some ways, this was a welcome detour as the path across the headland was at least a bit flatter than the coast path had been.  The coast here was amazing, with a lovely path to walk and fantastic vertical rock strata.  It was just beautiful!

A beautiful path and amazing rock strata

Having circumvented the firing range, I returned to the cliff tops and very soon found myself at Lydstep Haven, one of the few commercialised parts of the coast path with a massive holiday park along the coast above the beach. ¬†I didn’t linger, although I did make use of the camp shop to stock up on food.

From Lydstep, the walk became a little easier, but also posed one of those conundrums as there are two routes into Penally, my stopping point for the night. ¬†The direct path would take me just a short distance¬†into the town, but the ‘true’ coast path¬†would take me an extra two miles round the tip of the Giltar Point headland – being a purist, I chose the latter.

Giltar Point

After nearly 17 miles, it was a relief to walk the downhill path into Penally where I found my campsite. ¬†It was a relief too to find out that they had showers (well one shower actually) – my last two camps had none! ¬†After ‘freshening up’ I felt more human and I walked to the local pub to recharge my battery, and also my mobile phone battery that had died during the day.

That night I lay in my tent with a feeling of great satisfaction.  I had now walked some 180 miles and tomorrow, a short walk of 10 miles would bring me to the finishing point of the walk at Amroth.  I dropped off to sleep wondering how I would feel as walked that final leg with the finish in sight!

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,

Your friend
The Dorset Rambler.

If you would like to contact me, my details are on my website which is¬†¬†‚Äď comments and feedback are welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.