I catch the bus from Carmarthen to Llangain and the bus driver lets me off at the very spot where I gave up last time – wet and miserable with badly fitting boots. Today I have my new, very comfortable boots on and it looks like it’s going to be a lovely day.
The road sign at the bus stop catches my eye. The English translation is Smyrna Road, which funnily enough is also the name of the road outside my part-time home in Copenhagen (Smyrnagade). I can see Smyrna Chapel just up the road and research tells me that Smyrna is the ancient Greek name for Izmir and is mentioned in the Bible. So there you go………
I set off down the main road but quickly turn up a narrow muddy footpath off to the left. After a few squelchy episodes I come out onto a tarmac lane and continue to follow this for quite a while. Summer flowers have disappeared from the hedgerows but the grass and ferns are still a wild neon green.
Further on, a coast path sign leads off to the right but I decide to stay on the main road – it is closer to the coast and there is not a lot of traffic. I walk on, maintaining a steady rhythm and marvelling at how comfortable my feet are. Lost in my thoughts I am startled by the sound of a large dog barking on the other side of the road. I freeze and then quicken my pace, murmuring what I hope are friendly, doggy salutations and refusing to look behind me although I can hear panting. Some way up the road I do turn round and catch sight of a very large poodle (no no……..poodles can be big) about 50 yards away. That was a mistake …..I walk on and suddenly sense its presence behind me followed by a large moist nose thrust into the palm of my hand. I have no time to react before it is bounding ahead of me obviously thinking I’m up for a walk. My relief at its friendliness is quickly supplanted by anxiety as the dog races from one side of the road to the other up ahead of me. I don’t know what to do – the dog is now a safety hazard and I hold my breath as cars have to brake to avoid it and then stare accusingly at me, assuming I am the irresponsible owner.
Feeling a bit silly I phone the police and talk to a very pleasant woman who wants to know everything bar my bra size and as we talk the dog suddenly disappears from view and does not come back. Whew!
By now I can see the outline of Llansteffan Castle up ahead, which is wonderful, as I am in dire need of a cup of tea.
Walking in to the village I see a sign for the beach off to the left just in front of a strange, whitewashed building which apparently used to be used to house straying sheep (what about stray dogs? I think to myself)
Then, following directions from a man on a ladder I carry straight on to the postoffice/cafe/shop which seems to be the beating heart of the community.
A couple of flushed, sweaty cyclists are sitting inside at one of the two tables so I am invited to take the armchair next to the fire. And tea is served……..
Coming out of the shop I stop to take a photo of a battered old tin tabernacle on the other side of the road, pleading for renovation.
Refreshed, I follow a path down towards the beach and turn right in the direction of the castle on the cliffs above. On the other side of the estuary is Ferryside where I was refused entrance to a cafe and stuffed my old raincoat into a dustbin. It seems so long ago……….
The sand here is very soft, almost mud, but there are firm patches imprinted with fishermens’ footsteps. There are a few dog walkers out, but I am soon alone as I walk towards Wharley Point in the distance.
As it happens I am due to take a closer look as I soon realise that I should have done my tide tables homework – the tide is coming in and I can walk no further.
It’s a pity but I know that there is a path starting from the house which will take me where I want to go. Back I go……..through a gate, past the house and up into a lovely patch of woodland.
The path comes to an end and I join a narrow country lane that takes me through fields, ending up at a few holiday homes called Pentowen. On the other side of the estuary I can Laugharne, the home of Dylan Thomas, and where I will be heading tomorrow.
Turning off right I cross a few fields and then follow a narrow path through some woods. The path is very overgrown, obviously little used and at one point it disappears completely and all I can see is the logo of the Welsh coast path popping its little head up from the undergrowth.
A little later I find myself scrabbling up a bank of torn tree roots and crumbling vegetation to reach the stile ahead.
Up over yet another stile I find myself in a field with no exit as far as I can see. I wander despondently around and then catch sight of the familiar blue and yellow on a post right up in the top right hand corner of the field. Eventually I find myself back on a country lane which takes me all the way to Llanybri.
The road leading up to the village is steep and narrow – two or three cars pass me but only just and only if I flatten myself against the hedge. In the middle of the village are the remains of the old Llanybri Chapel with its leaning tower (I must learn something about perspective) and stone clock.
What is the point of a clock that doesn’t move? I ask myself, as I settle down on a bench beside the chapel in the late afternoon sun. The sign on a tree just up the road seems to answer my question.
Distance: 13 miles