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I am busy taking photographs. Charlie is a considerable way ahead. I follow my nose and climb a very steep rise, reaching the top, before realising the path goes round it. Still, the view is good. I retrace my steps and finally find Charl laid out on the grass beyond the lighthouse. I do my usual "rant" along the lines of why can't he just wait for me when I'm taking photos but he seems to find the whole thing extremely funny.Strumble Head amongst other things is famous for it's bird population. Apparently, there are migratory paths along this coast and the site is popular with birders. We do not see a single bird but there are signs of other life in the way of a great deal of litter (there is vehicle access and a small area for parking). We contemplate picking it up but decide we are carrying too much weight all ready. However, a like minded person draws up in a car, looks at the rubbish, rummages about for a bit and produces a black plastic bag and we collect all the litter, tutting like a couple of old ladies as we go. We continue along the path which weaves in and out of little hillocks of volcanic rock. We stop at Pwll Arian, where a small valley runs down to the sea, and have a late breakfast. There are many caves and wild coves in this area.
It is a very steep climb to the Pwll Deri Youth Hostel. Fortunately, there is a bench at the top so we take the opportunity of dumping the sacks for a few minutes and taking in the view.
Further along the path we meet another herd of ponies. They are standing directly in the path, blocking our way. Who will give ground first? Thankfully, the ponies, but not until we are just a few feet away.
We stop for lunch just before Pwllcochran, where a spring runs into the sea, and watch another seal swimming below. Gas is now getting very low.
We cross the bays of Aber Bach and Aber Mawr. Aber Mawr has an impressive storm beach. It is hard work walking across the pebbles. We see more seals around this area.
The walking around Penmorfa is flattish compared to the rest of the walk so far but there is another very steep ascent and descent at Pwllstrodur. It is at this point, we decide to cut our day short by a mile or so and treat ourselves to a B&B in Abercastle.
We arrive at Castell Coch which has an Iron Age promontory fort of which there are very many on this coastline. We are soon walking into the picturesque village of Abercastle. I stub my toe on a rock that is really too big to miss and begin to limp.
We have no water, no gas and after enquiring - no B&B!
We will have to camp in Trefin after all. Two locals tell us that Trefin is only 10 mins up the road. We decide to take this option and I limp off. 10 mins by car, maybe! It takes us 45 mins and it is all uphill! We wish we had taken the path!
We arrive at Trefin and sit on a grass verge to look at the map and find the campsite. A man runs out of a bungalow opposite and asks us if we have heard “the breaking news”.
It is September 11 2001.
There is no gas at the site in Trefin. We are told we can get some at the garage a mile up the road. We decide to sojourn to the pub and go to the garage before our walk tomorrow. I have Abercastle crab, which is delicious, followed by banoffee pie. Charlie has gammon steak and apple pie. We cannot believe the pictures we are seeing on the television in the pub. This morning was like a dream, camped on a deserted beach with only a seal for company. This afternoon we have walked into a nightmare. We return and fall asleep even though the news is heavy on my mind and the ground is like concrete.
At this moment, I also realise, I left my bag and camera in the pub last night!
We walk up to the garage but they neither have a stove nor gas. We are told we will have to go to St.David’s. We pick up some buns at the shop, on the way back, and enquire about bus times. We also call at the pub to retrieve lost property but it is deserted. We return to the tent, eat our buns, without tea, and catch the bus at l0.30am. We arrive at St. David’s in heavy rain. We buy a new stove, gas and provisions. We have coffee and by the time we leave the coffee shop the rain has eased. We sit on a bench and watch jackdaws squabbling over who is going to sit on the optimum vantage point in the way of the church steeple opposite. We catch the bus back to Trefin, call at the pub once more and succeed in retrieving my bag and camera; so are now on course again!
In the afternoon, we walk back to Carreg Sampson, which we missed yesterday, having taken the road to Trefin. Carreg Sampson is a Neolithic cromlech or burial chamber.
We leave at 8.30am and it is indeed extremely windy. In fact, it is strong enough to blow me uphill, pack and all. In double fact, it is an advantage (blowing from behind) - I make a steep rise, in double time, with no effort at all!
We somehow lose the path just outside Trefin and have to negotiate a fence to regain it. We soon arrive at Porthgain.
Porthgain is an unusual little harbour used for the export of slates, roadstone and bricks during the period 1837-1931. The old brickworks towers above it. It is a very atmospheric place where man met nature and then left it again.
We sit on the wooden bench, under the brickworks by the harbour, and watch a fisherman loading lobster pots. I go on a “loo” expedition and find a pub serving breakfast. Not to lose an opportunity, we enjoy bacon rolls and coffee. Whilst in the pub it starts to rain and combined with the wind, the day looks bleak. The campsite at Pwll-caerrog is looking like a good decision but, miraculously, on leaving the pub, the rain stops!
We pass the Abereiddi Tower which is a harbour marker. There are also the remains of an old slate quarry here. The flooded quarry is now known as "The Blue Lagoon". The wind is still strong and gusty and it whips up the sea.
We arrive at Pwll-caerrog to find the farm gate tied up and no sign of tents. At this moment the sun breaks through so we decide to go on to Whitesands anyway. We stop for lunch at Aber Pwll, in the sun and the shelter of the rocks. It takes an effort to get going again. It is so relaxing out of the wind with clear blue skies that I am beginning to think I am on a beach holiday. Let's get out the sun tan oil and a good novel ........ no, on with the pack and climb onto the cliffs once more. The gradient eases around this area and there is much easy walking amongst gorse and heather.
Charlie is walking behind me. At one point, I hear a trip, then rushed footsteps getting faster and nearer, as if someone is trying to regain there balance. I know what is going to happen ….................as the blur, which is Charlie, rushes past me. After deciding he is not going to regain his balance, Charlie flings himself into the bracken and away from me and even more importantly, the cliff top. I do check for injury before taking the photograph! I have to release him from his rucksack before he can get up. This I can barely do for laughing.
Ramsey Island comes into view. The sun continues to win the battle. The black clouds stand no chance with the high winds. As we approach Whitesands, we can see many surfers in the bay and, indeed, the campsite is full of them.
After a couple of miles we come to Porthstinian where there is a lifeboat station. The weather is bright and sunny and, thank goodness after yesterday, there is no wind. We sit above the harbour for a smoke break in the sun and are accompanied by a sea gull..........who waits patiently but we are saving our last piece of bread for lunch, ahhh.
Some way along the path I spot a caravan site. I make a detour (while Charlie looks after the packs ie: sits down). It is quite a trek to the camp shop and I manage to acquire gas but, unfortunately, no food to cook with it! As we continue, we watch a lifeboat exercise off Ramsey Island. I also visit another caravan park........ Still, no food.
After about another 4-5 miles, we stop for a break in Caer Bwdy Bay. It is always hard to pass a quiet beach by especially in the sunshine. The pebbles are warm and all shades of pastel.
We have to make a little inland detour to Nine Wells campsite up a small wooded side valley. We arrive, still with no dinner. Other campers tell us there is a shop about a mile up the road. We start walking. After well over a very fractious mile, we give up but, fortunately, find a farm shop where we buy tomatoes, mushrooms, a pepper and courgettes, a plum, a pear, two nectarines and two apples. It is now quite late and I cook in the dark. We have a stir-fry, surprisingly tasty without seasoning, and fruit for desert.