From St. Govan’s Head the Pembrokeshire Coast Path continues through MoD land but as it is a bank holiday there is no firing and the area is open to the public. We pass through the metal gate and pick up a car wide earth/gravel path that runs parallel with the coast – rusting relics of tanks and other decommissioned military equipment litter the landscape. We veer of the path a few times to peer over the edge of the cliffs at caves and natural arches.
At one point the force of the waves has carved almost a perfect circle into the sheer cliffs – I keep my distance.
Making good progress on the flat land we soon arrive at Elegug Stacks which are the highlight of the walk today.
Here the land has surrended to the sea and all that’s left standing are a series of Gulliver’s boots – it’s a heady experience.
This is our turn off inland as there is no path registered on the map to enable us to continue through the artillery range. From the car park we walk north to join the road to Castlemartin. Nothing much happens on this road, we take a look at a lonely checkpoint hut equipped with just enough space for an armchair and a small table. There’s a kettle, a telephone and a few books – I wonder how long the shifts are……..
Castlemartin offers no creature comforts, the community cafe is closed and I’m already weighing up in my mind how long the biscuits and banana will last if we don’t find anything else before Angle. This is one of the downsides of walking in isolated spots in low season – not even a stray ice-cream van.
Acting as a roundabout just outside the village is a stone built structure which the plaque reveals is Castlemartin Pound, used to round up stray cattle.
Inside is a circular gravel path, raised flowerbeds and benches – probably a pleasant spot in the summer as long as the traffic was light.
Anyway, on we trudge, up the main road which will eventually leads us back to the coast.In the distance are the chimneys of the oil refinery which we will be passing tomorrow.
At one point we pass a dead fox lying up on the verge, covered with a white jumper. It looks so peaceful and there is no sign of injury but I think it must have been hit by a car and perhaps the motorist, as a sign of remorse, or attempt to keep the animal warm, had sacrificed his/her sweater.
We have urban foxes on our embankment and stories of stolen babies, upturned dustbins and bloodcurdling screeching in the middle of the night – as they fight for territory or with cats – has not endeared them to me. A rural fox is a different species altogether………
This is the last picture of Damian’s lovely cashmere hat which at the end of today will have joined the ranks of the world’s mislaid possessions – “fantastic lost things and where not to find them.” I am reminded of the high jinx of a host of inanimate objects with lives of their own in Tom Robbins’ Skinny Legs and All and how I’ve never looked at a spoon in the same way since.
After the relentless road walking it is with great relief that we reach Gupton Burrows and the beautiful golden beach of Freshwater West lays itself out before us. Unfortunately we have no time to lose, as we are again worried about the failing light and the lack of any roads inland between here and Angle.
Despite a host of surfers there is no friendly tea van so we tuck into the banana and biscuits, washed down with water. Far off in the distance is what we think is a lighthouse on a headland just before Angle and it looks very very far away.
From here on we clamber up the steep ascents and stumble, panting down the other side. Damian sets a fierce pace until we meet a couple with a dog who put us straight on how long it will take to get to Angle Bay – what we had been looking at was on the Milford Haven side of the estuary ……….chill…….
We pass Rat Island and Sheep Island until we reach Angle Point. Across the water from the friendly pub on the point is the oil refinery doing a passable impression of Manhattan by night.
The open fire burns brightly, the beer is just about drinkable and Damian forgets his hat (we think).
Back in Tenby, we are too tired to eat our New Year’s dinner so while we wait for a taxi we marvel yet again at young Welsh girls in mini shirts and high heels, sheer sparkly short sleeve tops and bare legs. Goose pimples must be fashionable.
Distance: 16 miles