Castlemartin West

I set my alarm for 7 this morning. Breakfast was at 8 and I had a bus to catch to the Merrion camp to meet the walk guide. I managed to pack all my gear up, including the Greasy Gull Garment from Thursday evening. The “Pleasant View” guest house in Kilgetty was adequate but basic, and the array of lavagerie available to the malodorous hiker was limited to one paltry disc of soap. At St. Govan’s Inn, Bosherston, the toiletries tray boasted no less a concoction than sea kelp shampoo and body lotion and who could possibly doubt the efficacy of such a high-class cosmetic? It worked a treat on chip fat, I can tell you, and the water left in the wash basin was reminiscent of something produced by the Torrey Canyon. I wore that shirt again today and no one can possibly have noticed that there had once been a greasy patch there.

This of course was largely because it pissed down all morning and part of the afternoon with a quality of rain that I have only ever encountered in Wales. Almost microscopic droplets driven by a biting wind, this stuff makes everything in its path very wet very quickly an because of that my shirt was covered by a fleece and my waterproof.

Whilst at breakfast it became apparent that two other walkers had had the same idea as I had but they were blissfully unaware, until I told them, that there was s convenient Bus service which would deliver us st the appointed time. They had booked a taxi and they offered me a place in it. £25 it knocked them back, for a journey of no more than 3 miles. That would probably be about £1.50 on the bus. I gave the driver a tip of £2.

More than a dozen of us turned up for the walk and the formalities of our names being cross-checks against lists of known terrorists took a while, as did the form we each had to sign absolving the military of any responsibility should some bit of ordnance garbage that they had left lying around explode and kill us.

We returned to Stack Rocks again and the first item on the agenda was the Green Bridge of Wales. Impressive as this natural arch seems when you first clap eyes on it, it pales into insignificance when compared to some of the arches in the western ranges. This of course is because the MoD commandeered this land from farmers in the 1930s and hardly anyone gets to see them, so they can scarcely be touted as a tourist attraction. I hope my photos have done them justice.

After about 7 miles of plodding through the rain looking at the geology, archaeology, flora and fauna, I will mention a couple of the highlights. It was quite possible to see where erstwhile sea arches, or other stacks, had come crashing down. Our guide pointed out an especially rare plant, a rock sea lavender, which he said was unique to Pembrokeshire; quite a lot of what I am pretty sure were choughs but they always seemed to make sure they were just too far away for a positive identification – those that were quite clearly jackdaws seemed much less wary of our presence. There was a dead fox cub and almost simultaneously we saw a similar sized live one, quite probably its sibling. More guillemots and fulmars and plenty of gulls, but the most impressive stuff was undoubtedly the rock strata. We observed a blow hole from afar – not in action sadly. The walk used to involve getting quite close and looking in, until it occurred to someone that since all the ground around the hole was severely undercut, and the metre or so of soil and rubble which constituted their vantage point was actually supported by nothing more substantial than 60 metres or so of finest Pembrokeshire sea air.

After the walk another participant, local, gave me a lift to one of the pubs in Angle, the Hibernia. It was shut. Luckily there was another, a ramshackle affair called the Old Point House, overlooking the mud of Angle Bay and the oil refinery beyond. They only sold one ale, a Cornish brew named Atlantic or some such. Quite pleasant, but the best feature of that pub was the swallow’s nest on the light fitting in the gent’s bog. The bird stayed on her eggs (I didn’t see or hear any sign of babies) just inches away from the wash basin.

Eventually the time had come to return to the Hibernia for dinner and my lift back to the B & B. Two other walkers were also staying there so Mavis, our landlady, crammed the three of us and our luggage into her not very big car. It seems that most people who are doing this walk are having the bulk of their luggage sent on. It’s only I who is doing my laundry every night. Tonight, I had the luxury of the biggest bath towel I have ever seen. Wonderful!

There is an unexplored shell in that picture, lodged just below the top stratum on the left.