Tag Archives: The Dorset Rambler

At the Flower Market, Kolkata

9 Jan

If you have been following my blog, you will know that I have just returned from an amazing trip to Kolkata and Bangkok and if you missed my first blog post from the trip, you can find it here. This was my first time in Asia so the initial ‘culture shock’ was marked, even though I knew what to expect.

One of the places I visited whilst in Kolkata was the Mullik Ghat Flower Market, a vibrant and colourful place. As you would expect, this place was full of…….flowers! But for my visit I wanted to focus more on the people as there were many colourful characters there – in fact, in many ways the characters were more colourful than the flowers!

At the Flower Market

Mullik Ghat Flower Market

Mullik Ghat Flower Market has been in existence for well over 100 years and it is said to be the largest in Kolkata and one of the largest in the whole of Asia. It is a hive of activity from dawn to nightfall as the wholesalers arrive first thing in the morning to auction their flowers to the stall holders who then sell those flowers throughout the day, creating arrangements and strings at their stalls. I say stalls but in reality, most consist of just a patch of ground.

The other thing that takes place here in the early morning, and perhaps somewhat incongruously, is wrestling! A sandy area has been set aside so that local wrestlers can practice their craft. I visited in the afternoon so there was no action to photograph.

Sitting Up

Threading Strings of Flowers

Kolkata is a city that thrives on flowers, with these being a seemingly essential and major part of every temple ritual, wedding, and festival. The sellers weave flower heads into garlands, strings, bouquets and other floral displays with patience and deftness. Orange and yellow marigolds are everywhere, but there are all kinds of blooms on display. This is much more than a market though, it is a community, a way of life and for me, was much more about the people.

At the Flower Market

Happy Sellers

At the Flower Market

Standing

Many of the sellers live on site in makeshift homes, more like shacks really, and they wash themselves and their clothes in the River Hooghly which runs alongside the market. This market and the Mullik Ghat area is therefore their home and livelihood. The word Ghat, incidentally, refers to steps leading down to the river.

Tragically, it was all but destroyed in 2008 when a fire swept through the area but fortunately it was rebuilt, albeit still as makeshift shacks.

Sitting Up

Precariously Perched

It was really interesting just walking around looking at the sellers and the different way they set up their ‘stalls’, some spread on the ground, some in baskets, some on makeshift tables. Some under cover and some out in the open. Some sellers perched seemingly precariously on stools, some sat cross legged on the ground, whilst others were much more active!

Come and Buy

Come and Buy

In amongst the melee of sellers and buyers lining the busy walkways, porters weave their way in and out carrying heavy baskets of flowers and other paraphernalia on their heads. Rickshaws wind their way slowly around too. There is just so much happening constantly in this thriving and wonderfully vibrant place.

Porter

Busy Porters

At the Flower Market

A Resting Porter

Two

Two

Even in this busy place though, there has to be time for some rest, perhaps to read the paper, or maybe to just sit! In the heat of the day, people will even sleep despite the constant noise, hustle and bustle all around.

Reading

Reading

Resting!

Resting

Oh, and of course, time for a shave from one of the barber’s stalls amongst the flowers!

Shave?

Time for a Shave

The faces here are often craggy and characterful, they are faces that seem to say, ‘we’ve had it tough but we are still here, and we are still smiling’! It was a privilege to be allowed to wander amongst them and take their pictures.

At the Flower Market

Characterful Faces

All the portraits you see here were willingly given and were taken in situ, without any ‘setting up’ or posing by me, and they were all taken using available light. Any attempt at posing would in any event have failed since I was unable to communicate with any of them – they spoke no English and I spoke no Bengali, Hindi or Urdu.

At the Flower Market

Late Afternoon Light

My policy was always to ask first by simply indicating my camera – sign language tends to be universal 🙂 ! Actually, even more universal is a simple smile which breaks down any barriers quickly! For the most part, the sellers were very willing to be photographed although a few indicated either ‘no’ or that they wanted money in return. My policy always was just to respect them as individuals and to respect their wishes. And also to show them the pictures afterwards.

Come and Buy

A Lady Seller

As you will know, landscapes are much more my normal subject because I spend a lot of time in the countryside of Dorset, but I love photographing people too. In a different culture and on my first visit to Asia, I have to say that I was somewhat out of my comfort zone at first and was really glad to have a friend with me who currently lives in Kolkata. He was a great help as I found my feet in this unfamiliar environment. I discovered, though, that it actually didn’t take long to gain confidence and feel at ease and this is certainly in part down to the friendliness of the people.

At the Flower Market

Beside the Bamboo

I found this visit and the challenge of doing something different, really rewarding, and I met some great people even if I was unable to converse with them. It was fantastic to see a different culture close up and to connect with the people, albeit briefly. Their lives are very different to mine but we all live on the same earth and are all ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’.

At the Flower Market

Packing

Mullik Ghat Flower Market is just an amazing place. Colourful, vibrant and bustling, so much to see and take in, and so many characters to photograph. I would love to have gone back for a second visit but unfortunately time did not allow, but one day……!

I hope you have enjoyed walking through the market with me today and meeting some of the characters there.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend
The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All words and pictures in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and may not be reproduced without permission.

 

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Kolkata, City of Joy

5 Jan

I have just returned from an amazing trip to Kolkata and Bangkok and I thought we would start off the new year with something a little different, and something that is not Dorset. This was my first visit to Asia and the contrast in cultures was something of a surprise, bearing in mind that I knew what to expect before I went. The thing is, I knew about Indian culture but I didn’t really know it at all! These are my first impressions, written after being in Kolkata just a day or two.

City Streets

City Streets

Leaving the airport, the first impact was the HEAT, even though it was winter there. Having come from the UK’s winter temperatures, it was a shock to the system despite the preparations for it. It was like a wall of heat that hit you as you left the air conditioned airport behind. Day time felt temperatures in the 30’s and night time temperatures of nearly 20 degrees Celsius, compared to zero degrees in the UK.

Never a Clear Sunset

Never a Clear Sunset

The somewhat heavy and mist filled atmosphere hanging in the air – we could see this from the plane before we landed. This of course was not so much mist as polluted air that at times gets in your throat. To me, it seemed like it lifted slightly in the heat of the day but came down again as the day wore on and the temperature dropped. I never saw a clear sunset while I was there!

Crowded city streets

Busy, Busy, Busy!

The noise, hustle and bustle, of the city streets. The crazy rush hour traffic, horns constantly and continuously being blown. Cars, buses, trucks, auto-rickshaws, cycle-rickshaws, walking-rickshaws, all fighting for every inch of road and squeezing into the tiniest gap in traffic – if there was a gap 1 mm wider than the vehicle, you just know someone is going to drive into it! I should say here that horn blowing in Kolkata is a requisite – in the UK, a horn probably means anger or aggression, but in Kolkata it simply says, ‘Hi, I’m here’. In fact many vehicles have the phrase, ‘sound your horn’ written on the back.

The constant chopping and changing of lanes. To a westerner from a culture of giving way, it seems a crazy and even dangerous way to drive and yet, it felt safe because everyone drives that way and everyone is alert to the fact that vehicles could come from any direction at any time and they react accordingly.

The state of the roads, humps, bumps and potholes everywhere.

The state of the vehicles, dirty, damaged, dented and scratched from many scrapes.

Heavy Loads

Heavy Loads

Rickshaws of all kinds, some loaded up with huge piles of cargo!

The seeming deprivation – I say ‘seeming’ because that is what it appears to be to a westerner’s eyes although it is hard to separate deprivation from what is simply cultural. This applied straight from the airport. Certainly there are many slum areas and great poverty in this city and it is sad to see! It makes you realise how much we really have!

Unfinished! A strange choice of word but everything appears to be ‘unfinished’. Houses in an incomplete state by UK standards where everything has to be neatly finished off in order to be acceptable. One wonders who has got it right. Does plaster have to be perfectly smooth or is it ok to have things slightly rough around the edges? Does it really matter in the grand scale of things? The roads are similar, not neatly edged with kerb stones and grass verges but mostly left ‘rough and ready’. Everything seems higgledy piggledy rather than neat and orderly. Oh, and there are few flower beds in Kolkata!

City Streets

At the Roadside

People often seemingly doing nothing, living a slower pace of life, being much less slaves to the 21st century’s demands for instant response. There always seem to be men just standing around, although of course this is a city that comes alive at night.

Dirt and rubbish all around, even in the river which is a tributary of the Ganges, a holy river. Mind you, the rubbish provides an income for some as there are constantly litter pickers sifting through it looking for things to recycle/sell for a few rupees – such is the level of poverty.

Wires! So many overhead cables!

Motorbike Repairs!

Motorbike Repairs!

 

Little ‘shanty shops’, made up of anything that was at hand, corrugated iron, sheets of plastic, tarpaulins etc. Some of these are bike and motorbike repair shops, some sell food which of course leads to another major part of Kolkata…….Street Food!

Shack Shops

Street Food

Stray animals. I had expected cows of course but there were goats, sheep, monkeys in places, and of course dogs – so many wild dogs wherever you go. For the most part, these animals are skinny and find food wherever they can, mostly from rubbish dumps.

Bamboo Scaffolding

Bamboo Scaffolding

Bamboo scaffolding poles. Strange but I noticed this straight away, bamboo is used for lots of things including the ‘shanty shops’, scaffolding, even ladders, such is the strength of this natural resource.

People washing outside, either in the river, beside a bucket, or by one of the stand pipes along the city streets.

Men peeing in the street. Whatever you think of this, it is just an accepted part of city culture.

Rust! There seems to be so much rust caused probably by the constant wet/dry of the monsoon season. And dirty buildings too – things don’t stay clean very long in a polluted atmosphere.

Nice and not so nice buildings all in the same area. A comparatively nice, up-together building can stand next to a ramshackle one. This is a city of contrasts.

Mosquitoes!

Count-down traffic lights – these count down the seconds to the time they change.

Beggars – especially in the touristy parts. Really sad! Heart breaking! Children, very young children, coming up asking for money. It seems that teams of these work for adults and they have to deliver their takings at the end of the day.

Happy

Happy People

The people, friendly and content.

If you follow my blog, you know that I love to walk in the open countryside, the lanes, and the coast of my beautiful county of Dorset. I love to breathe the clean, fresh air. I love to photograph the landscape. I love the quiet tranquility of the rural areas and to listen to the wildlife. Kolkata offers none of this so you might think that it wouldn’t be my kind of place but in fact nothing could be further from the truth. I fell in love with this city and the people almost immediately. It is hard to define why but it has a wonderful atmosphere, it is vibrant and alive, it is gritty and real with lovely people, it has community.

In fact, it truly is a City of Joy!

This blog entry has been just a snapshot of first impressions of Kolkata. Over the coming weeks I will post more and perhaps relate something of the deeper impact that this city had on me. It is not a place that you can visit and leave again without being changed in some way.

I hope you have enjoyed walking the streets with me today.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend
The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All words and pictures in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and may not be reproduced without permission.

It Seems Only Yesterday…

18 Nov

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

Fallen

It seems only yesterday that he was just a bud, forming slowly as the winter days grew longer. With the coming of spring and that oh so slight increase in temperature, he started to plump up more, as a pregnant creature might, and ultimately he broke free like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. Just a tiny thing at first, growing almost imperceptibly and with that beautiful lime green colour that heralds the arrival of spring.

His siblings broke out all around him and together they adorned the tree that was their host, bringing a freshness of tone and shade, and bringing new life to the woodlands. As spring progressed and summer arrived, his colour deepened into a darker, richer shade of green and creatures regularly used him as shade and shelter……some even used parts of him as food, nibbling his edges. Sunshine, winds and rain came in turn, attacking him constantly. The wind beat him crazily against the surrounding branches, it was like a fairground ride, both exhilarating and scary at the same time. He wondered what the health and safety leaf would say about it. The sun attempted to burn him! But he stood his ground, proudly enhancing the woodland and living out the purpose for which he knew he had been born.

People came and went below him, he could hear their voices, and their pleasing praises for his colour. Children climbed through the branches, scuffing against him as they did so, almost crushing him with their feet. But still he held firm!

Summer passed and autumn arrived and gradually his deep green started to take on a warmer hue. His friends all around him were changing too, turning ever so slowly to shades of orange, brown and red until the green had disappeared completely. He was tired now, and as the autumn winds came, he struggled to maintain his grip on the twig which had been his home. Little by little he began to lose his strength until finally, one fateful day, he could hold on no more and he gave himself over to the mercy of the wind. He let go!

He drifted softly to the ground below the tree where he formed a part of an ever growing carpet that covered the earth. He had lived his life well, played his part in beautifying the countryside, and now his time was over…….but not completely. Even now, his usefulness continues as he lays decaying and in that very decaying he provides a feast of leaf mould that will feed the tree and bring out another generation of fresh new growth when spring comes around again. His children and his grandchildren will follow him.

His life on the tree is over and it seemed so short. He was once a new leaf – it seems only yesterday!

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend
The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All words and pictures in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and may not be reproduced without permission.

Ode to Dawn

13 Nov

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

River Stour at Dawn

Ode to dawn

Dark, like a mantle, has covered the ground,
But the first dregs of morning have come,
Driving away the black with no sound,
And bringing new life and the day.

The mist as it rolls o’er the meadow and lea,
Covers each leaf with its dew,
The duck on the stream have stirred from their sleep,
And the owl has gone to his roost.

But man has not stirred to spoil this scene,
It is left to the wildlife and me,
To gaze on the beauty of God’s earth of peace,
Ere the noise of the day break the spell.

The sun has now risen far away in the east,
And the hustle and bustle of day
Comes all too soon, but , oh, may that peace
Remain in my heart always.

(Copyright The Dorset Rambler)

The wonder of the early morning when there is that distinct stillness, peace and solitude. Just the gentle whisper of a light breeze that caresses your face, the gentle trickling of the stream making its unhurried and winding way to the coast, the faintest rustling of reed on reed, the intangible hint of mist that drifts past your eyes like a gossamer that is almost invisible, the near silence and wonderful aloneness. These are the joys of the early morning till gradually and distantly, the first light noises of man’s stirring drift into earshot, slowly increasing as the sun rises in the sky to drive the magic away.

Oh to be able to capture that mysterious and un-capturable dawn specialness, to be able to carry it into the day to ward off the hustle and bustle of normal life, to have a mind in the early dawn meadows even whilst in the heat of the mid-day.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend
The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All words and pictures in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and may not be reproduced without permission.

 

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

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

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 🙂 !

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 🙂 ! 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

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 😉 !

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 terry.yarrow@gmail.com – 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 🙂 !

The Lonely Cottage

Penrhyn

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 🙂 ! 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 😦 ! 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? 🙂 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.

Precarious?

Whoops!

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……

Watching

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 🙂 !

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!

Pwllstrodur

Pwllstrodur

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.

Abercastle

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

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.

Sunset

Sunset

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 terry.yarrow@gmail.com – 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!

Newport

Newport

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 🙂 !

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.

Aberfforest

Aberfforest

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.

Cwm-yr-eglwys

Pwll-yr-eglwys

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.

Watching!

Watching!

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 🙂 ! And what a great spot to enjoy a cuppa too, sat at a picnic table gazing out to sea.

Pwllgwaelod

Pwllgwaelod

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 🙂 !

Doors

Doors

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 terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.