I am dropped at the church where Damian and I finished last time and head down the “Marsh Road” which skirts Llanrhidian Marshes. The sky is blue, it’s a beautiful morning and my first encounter is with a flock of bewildered sheep caught between the farmer in his Landrover driving them forwards and me striding purposefully down the road towards them.Despite my muttered apologies they scatter blindly up onto the bank as I approach, from where they are immediately chased by the sheepdog back onto the road behind me – the farmer seems unperturbed. After a while I pass a field of drowsy horses, heads hanging, back legs drooping and as I pass I see one of them attempt a lacklustre graze at a nearby tuft of grass. The movement unbalances him and he almost falls over in the process – it makes me chuckle.
After a while of walking on the tarmac lane I reach the village of Crofty where I am thankful for grass to walk on. The path skirts the village and takes me through a former military area with the obligatory warnings.
In the distance, on the other side of the estuary I can see a swathe of industrial buildings which I may have to pass through on the way to Llanelli – and the bridge I will have to cross when I come to it is the Loughor Bridge.North of Crofty I am obliged to join the road so it’s head down through Pen-clawdd and on to Gowerton, trying to block out the cars rushing past me. My feet are now starting to smart with all the hard surface walking and there really isn’t much to look at – this street name provides some momentary relief. So on I go, up onto the even busier A484, a stretch I was dreading but which is made more bearable by the cycle track running parallel.I am now getting close to the bridge and as I walk around the back of a soulless housing estate I see the ruins of Loughor Castle high on a bank to the left of me.The Loughor Bridge (pronounced Lucker but the ck is soft, barely a scrape of the throat) stretches over an expanse of sluggish water and mud flats – it is a dreary sight.
…….but halfway across my spirits rise – I am crossing into another county!Coming off the bridge I walk through a carpark and over a bridge following signs for the Millennium Coast Path. I don’t know why the mast of the bridge looks like it’s tilting as it is perfectly straight in reality – I feel I need to read my new camera’s manual a little more carefully.Anyway, from here, the path takes me past the sewage works (which wasn’t as bad as it sounds) and up onto a path running parallel to a road. To the right I recognise the chimney and the buildings I had seen from the Llanrhidian marshes. The path itself is overlooked by a line of towering electricity pylons and I find myself thinking of a book called The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Botton in which, after encounters with enthusiasts working in the industry, he writes about electricity pylons: “In different species, I noted varieties of modesty or arrogance, honesty or shiftiness, and in one 150-kilovolt type in ubiquitous use in southern Finland I even detected a coquettish sexuality in the way the central mast held out a delicate hand to its conductor wire”
Moving on, the path meanders through a forlorn landscape of mudflats and mournful bird calls until I catch my first sight of proper sand.…………and the first of many identical sculptures that mark Llanelli’s Millennium Coastal Park.
Again, I have no idea what causes the lean – I need to learn about perspective.
Approaching LLanelli I see a stark white building of strange angles in the distance. Closer to it doesn’t look quite so impressive and I later find out it is the Visitor Centre. It has a cafe, so I sit nursing my bruised feet before hobbling off to find my BnB. It has been a long day, a long walk on a lot of hard surfaces.
Jawbone says 26 Kms which is about 16 miles.