The Pembrokeshire Walkies || Part 4

DAY TWELVE
Trefin – Pwll Deri
Predicted Mileage: 9.5 miles
Actual Mileage: 11.4 miles
I’m not going to lie guys. I cried about 4 times today. There were so many times that I wanted to chuck my bag down, nap for an hour and eat half a cake. But, not only did we not pass through anywhere with a shop (we barely even passed anyone all day), it also rained sideways all day. Everything we owned was soaked through. So after a hard-old trudge to Pwll Deri (which again, took us over some huge peaks and through sodden heathland), we gave in and hid in a hostel for the night where we were able to tumble dry everything. Hopefully tomorrow this weather will pass, and after a big breakfast we’ll feel more optimistic about life. Only 3 days to go!!

 

POST WALK NOTES: I had some serious apologising to do to Jamie after this day, he was so patient with me for the whole walk, and I was simply horrible. I don’t think I have ever been this grumpy in my life. This was the wildest stretch of coastline we’d seen thus far, we only passed a handful of people all day, and after we left Trefin in the morning we didn’t go through any village with a pub, a café or even a shop. We had packed down the tent in the rain and we had nowhere to hide from the elements all day (except for a tiny lime kiln full of spiders). I was over it. And the thought of putting our tent back up in these conditions was all a bit too much for me. We’d tried calling the YHA hostel in Pwll Deri earlier in the morning but were told that is was fully booked, so we had no choice but to camp.

We had to drop Steve off at the hostel so we thought we’d try our luck again anyway. Can you imagine our tiny faces as Martin behind the counter told us that they did in fact have plenty of room for us to stay? I have never felt such joy before (this was, in fact, the 4th time I cried that day). He was incredibly hospitable and showed us round the hostel like he was showing us his own home. I think I will always be thankful for his kindness and smile. It definitely set us up right for the following day.

DAY THIRTEEN
Pwll Deri – Pwllgwaelod (via Fishguard) 
Predicted Mileage: 16 miles
Actual Mileage: 16.6 miles
We set off early from the YHA in Pwll Deri after an amazing night sleep, exactly what we needed to set us up for the longest day we’ve had since day 3! The thought of not having to put a tent down in the rain (again) was incredibly exciting; so much so that I danced my way down the stairs and into the kitchen where Jamie and Steve were already awaiting my arrival. We ate up and strapped up quickly, bid our goodbyes and well wishes to Martin and set off. Even the rain wasn’t going to get me down today.

 

Today we hit over 900m of elevation gain, but I took over as team leader and set a pretty quick pace. We crushed the first three miles in an hour and then sat at about a 2mph pace for the rest of the trek to Fishguard.  We made it to Fishguard (10.5 miles) just in time for last lunch orders. After a burger, loads of coffee and a refill on blister packs and Haribo we were off again.
The last 6 miles to Pwllgwaelod became increasingly windy, the last couple of miles we were struggling to hold ourselves up on the paths and away from the cliff edges. We finally dropped down off the hills by The Old Sailors pub, and over a pint discussed our next movements. Dinas Island Farm campsite was only half a mile up the road but the wind had become boarder line dangerous. We called up at the farm anyway and hoped that Lynda might have some form of shelter we could take refuge in (all we needed was a barn!), instead, she offered us the world! She booked all three of us into the old converted farmhouse – a beautiful cottage space with two double beds, a stunning dinky kitchen/ dining room and a wet room, and then asked us if we wanted fresh bread delivered to the cottage in the morning. Of course, we said yes, and booked in for a couple of breakfast baps and a fresh loaf of Bara Brith. We were beyond relived that we didn’t have to erect 2 tents in the strong wind and rain. In fact, we were so relieved that we couldn’t stop laughing all night. How perfect…

 

POST WALK NOTES: I remember waking up in the youth hostel at about 7am and instantly feeling a little disorientated and wondering why I wasn’t in a tent. This feeling was quickly replaced with relief as I realised where I was. Even though the weather was awful again, I couldn’t shake the tiny excited fire in my belly. That fire meant I was able to keep a solid pace for the whole day.

 

By the time we’d gotten to Lynda in Pwllgwaelod we were thoroughly beaten by 16 miles of tough terrain and harsh winds coming off the Atlantic. She was more hospitable then we’d ever expected her to be, I wanted to hug her SO much. Jamie and I are actually planning on going back to stay with her again at the end of the summer, and I 100% recommend that everyone else does too. The cottage itself used to be the original farmhouse. It’s £60 a night and will comfortably sleep 2-4 people (one double bed and one large sofa bed). It’s in the middle of a working farm, and the only place on the Island that’s has some protection from the wind due to being tucked behind a large tree line. I am far too excited to be heading back there!

DAY FOURTEEN
Pwllgwaelod – Newport
Predicted Mileage: 7 miles
Actual Mileage: 7.4 miles
And what a day it was! We had our freshly cooked Bara Brith loaf for breakfast, left the bags in the cottage and trotted around The 3 mile Dinas Island loop relatively easily. The wind wasn’t on our side today and it was a struggle to keep to the single-track path. But oh my gosh didn’t we laugh. For the first time in 14 days we were walking 12-15kgs lighter, we practically skipped the whole way!
After our 3 mile round trip we headed back to the cottage, loaded up, bid goodbye (and a massive, massive thank you) to Lynda and headed on to Newport.
The weather was much the same, and we were entertained throughout the walk by all the sea birds relentlessly fighting the wind along the cliffs. Some of our most magical moments were standing on cliff edges and shouting back at the waves. There’s something about it that makes you feel so insignificant and significant at the same time.

 

We reached Newport in just under two hours, sorted some accommodation and relaxed for the rest of the day. The boots and the waterproofs came off and we readied ourselves for tomorrow. Tomorrow is one of our longest (about 16 miles) and hardest days with regards to altitude gain. Of course, the final push HAS to be hard! We wouldn’t have it any other way!
See you on the other side!

 

POST WALK NOTES: I remember this section of the walk being the wettest morning we’d had. It did dry off just outside of Newport, but by that point we were so relieved to be there that I didn’t even notice the change in weather. Luckily it wasn’t a long day at all and we were showered and fed in no time. Jamie and I treated ourselves to a beautiful room for the night, however in hein sight it was far too much for what we really needed. The bed was a luxury, but it was actually more worth it for the hot shower and big breakfast.

DAY FIFTEEN
Newport – St Dogmaels
Predicted Mileage: 16 miles
Actual Mileage: 16 miles
We are so full of gratitude and love. Our team for today was three times the size we originally started with. As well as having Steve along again, today we were also joined by Sophie (another gorgeous young lady with Cystic Fibrosis) and her two friends, Sonal and Hannah. We had an absolute blast! The sun came out in full force and the terrain was tough, but we ate, laughed and talked for miles on end. 16 miles seemed like no time at all.

 

We can’t quite believe it’s over. These two weeks, as tough as they’ve been, have flown by. We are already planning our next adventure! A massive thank you to everyone who’s walked with us over the last couple of weeks, it got emotional. And a HUGE thank you to our support base back home. We are incredibly fortunate to have friends and family who look out for us as much as you guys.

As we bid you goodbye until the next adventure, I must leave you with this quote. It was relevant to us in every single step we took.

“I thought about how powerful the elements were, how even though we imagine that we are sophisticated, the wind, the sea, the earth and the sun still control our actions” Christine Willison

 

Until next time friends – keep walking.

 

POST WALK NOTES:

So I had been reading a book on Pembrokeshire folk tales for the entirety of the walk and by this point my eyes and heart were so full of magic and love. This feeling was amplified by the incredible weather and the dramatic sea cliffs, considerably wilder then what we’d come across so far. There the path took us through shoulder-high ferns, hugged the edges of cliffs that plunged straight into the ocean and up and down the biggest peaks we’d seen so far. It was breath taking.

 

But let me take a moment to talk about the time I got to spend with Sophie. We hadn’t spoken much before we walked, just a little bit to make sure we were both fit to be around each other (for cross contamination reasons). Now, I have never spent much time with other people with CF, my parents wouldn’t allow it as I grew up and I didn’t come into contact with other CF patients in my adult life. There was SO much that Sophie and I spoke about. I think there was about a 6 mile section where we didn’t talk to anyone else at all (sorry guys). We are both under the care of the CF team in Cardiff, so we already had so much in common. We spoke about the difficulties of fitting treatments in with a social life, which doctors were our favorites, the differences in our treatment routines, how some people on social media have turned to glamourizing their disease (it’s truly bizarre), the foods we love and the foods that make our tummies sad. I was openly talking about things I had kept to myself for 24 years… and she understood it all. It was such a relief to be able to talk like this. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely have people I can talk to about difficult things, but no one will ever have this level of understanding. So, thank you Sophie. You made the conversation all normal, which it has never really been for me. SIDE NOTE: Sophie and her bestie Hannah (who also joined us on the last day) have just completed Hadrian’s Wall! They set themselves long old days too. SUPER congratulations ladies!

 

Three Weeks Post Walk

 

We are back in the routine of normal life (it took a while). The jackets have been reproofed and hung up, the boots cleaned and polished and the platypus bladder’s back in the freezer. We talk about it like it was months ago, yet we still have a little sand in our shoes and our tan lines are still out in force. I think we will forever be in love with Pembrokeshire, and we have found a new kind of appreciation for our planet and the immediate environment around us. As soon as we finished our walk we got straight back in the van and spent 4 days revisiting all our favourite places and getting involved in the odd beach clean along the way. It felt like the right way to say thank you.

 

So where’s the next one?

 

With the Brecon Beacons in our back yard we will always be training. We aren’t too sure for what yet. We day dream about the Pacific Crest Trail; or the South West Coastal Path, or Kilimanjaro, but we are yet to settle on the next place. We know one thing though, the next one will be bigger and it will be harder. Of that we are sure.

Hannah out.

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