What follows is one and a half days of pain and frustration caused by rain, new boots, menacing cattle and nasty dogs.
The friendly taxi driver and his wife drop me in Kidwelly outside the sparsely stocked village shop. It is pouring with rain. Taking advantage of the shelter in the shop I pull on my waterproof jacket and trousers and take all the necessary precautions for walking in the rain. iPhone and camera are put into small plastic bags and tucked deeply into my rucksack along with the sandwich and chocolate. I stare gloomily out of the glass door, it is not going to get better, might as well get on with it.
Following directions I head up the hill on the road to Ferryside, there are no photos, I dare not take out my camera. After a mile or two the road forks and I head down to the left which takes me closer to the mouth of the River Towey – the Welsh coast path veers off inland but I decide to take the minor road closer to the water. At one point the view opens up and the rain gets lighter – I stop to take a photo across the marshland to my left. I now follow the tarmac road for quite a while giving me plenty of time to notice the “hot spots” developing on my left foot. I have spanking new boots on, their maiden voyage and they are starting to give me jip. Pretending not to notice the pain, I stride purposefully onwards, “they have to give at some point”, I reason miserably, “they were fine in the shop”………………
The narrow road winds on, I mince from the left to the right hand side of the road, trying to avoid being run over by the surprisingly heavy traffic on this grey Monday morning. Where are they all coming and going from? I soon have my answer.
I am by now limping so I force myself to sit down on the wet verge and find the blister plasters. These work for a while……….and then not………..and then it starts to rain again.
By the time I get to Ferryside station (where there used to be a ferry over the river) my “waterproof jacket” of 6 years standing has sealed its own fate and my boots are going back to the shop. Dripping from all surfaces I burst into the railway cafe to get a cup of tea only to be turned away as they are too busy to serve people who just want drinks – I summon my best withering look and hobble out the door. Fortunately I spy a pub on the other side of the road which though closed, the landlady takes pity on me and lets me in to a small bar where some locals are quietly breaking the law over a few pints – she makes me tea.
Ferryside developed from being a landing stage on a ferry route to a fishing village and does in fact have a sandy beach. I am not in a position to go exploring and this is the only shot I get before catching the train to Carmarthen to go and sort out some new boots and a new jacket – I leave the old one in a dustbin on the platform – what a pitiful end for an old friend.
It is too early to give up my walk so after a rapid cull of the two outdoor shops in Carmarthen, which leave a few sales assistants blinking nervously in my wake, I manage to find a jacket on sale and a cheap pair of boots. Suitably armoured I head back to the railway station and after 20 minutes find myself in Ferryside again from where I follow a path next to the railway line until it branches off to the right, winding through fields and past isolated farms. By now the sun has come out and although the new boots are heavy and too big, at least they are not pinching. I settle down into an easy pace on the tarmac but the peace is soon to be broken.
Rounding a corner I am pulled up by the sight and sound of three golden retrievers and a small terrier running directly at me barking furiously. I freeze inside but then notice that the retrievers are wagging their tails – I try the “good boy, I’m not at all frightened approach” and it seems to work for them but the terrier is not having any of it. It continues to bark at me, running round me in ever decreasing circles, I raise my walking pole as if to hit it and to my relief it scuttles off and I take the opportunity to turn up a side track and walk rapidly away from the scene, my heart beating furiously.
When I have recovered from the incident I am pleased to see that my deviation is not serious and that I will soon be on the right track again. It is now late afternoon and the light throws long shadows – the landscape looks like it could have been made of fuzzy felt.
Eventually I arrive in the pretty village of Croesyceliog where the bus shelter catches my eye.
……….and not too long afterwards I arrive in Carmarthen, past the station and over the bridge. Halfway across is a memorial coracle to a young boy swept away by the river – I will investigate tomorrow, my feet are still hurting.
Distance: 13 miles