We’re back in north Pembrokeshire, with H. and Ca., to fill in the ‘gap’ in the coast path left when we were rained off in May. This time there’s no complaint about being damp: we’re half way through the hottest and driest spell for seven years.
We resume at Aber Mawr, almost immediately accompanied by the usual skylark, but first call at Melin Tregwynt, the famous woollen mill, an outstanding example of a traditional Welsh industry not only surviving but flourishing through persistence and excellence. Then we hit the path – like madmen, just as the sun is at its height, cross the storm beach and climb the cliffs towards Trefin: four pairs of feet and two pairs of Nordic sticks.
The cliff tops and the fields at their backs show a contrast with May. Flowers are more luxuriant and many more species are in bloom – the occasional wild orchid, thrift and wild thyme in clumps, and bright blue sheep’s bit that shouts from the hedges. But what’s quite new are the flowering grasses lording it over the path, and the field barley, green but stained faintly red as ear-tips ripen. Ca. sings a song for us as we walk: ‘ Oats and beans and barley grow …’.
Pwllstrodur is a good place to stop for sandwiches: a small, secluded, comfortable cove (‘ystrodur’ = ‘cyfrwy’ = saddle), and a rare dip in the level cliff walk. Then on to the inlet village of Abercastle with its shining white cottage rows, and up again on the cliffs. A short detour inland leads to the neolithic burial chamber of Carreg Samson (or ‘Sampson’: giant or saint?), its huge capstone lodged on six stones, three of them supporting; in the background a row of caravans.
Few other walkers share the path. A silent couple from Germany or Holland, with an unwilling-looking teenage daughter, seem to find the walking an ordeal. Birds too hide from the hot sun, though two hawks scream through the air over the sea. Often sheer drops to our right are disguised by the thinnest of hedges: in his guidebook Dr John gleefully warns us of ceaseless geological destruction, including the mysterious ‘rotational slip’. Gradual erosion diverts the course of the path ever eastward.
Past Aber Draw near Trefin and on again to Porthgain, where the vertical ruins of the old brickworks glow in the evening sun as we approach from the cliffs above. Together they resemble a Roman city gleaming like a mirage in the deserts of Libya.
We’ve deserved a drink in the Sloop, before driving to Yr Hafan, a fine B&B near Llanrhian (where by chance Ce. and M. from Swansea are staying) and back to Porthgain for a meal and a textbook sunset.