The day started in the normal way: up soon after 7, pack up gear, cooked breakfast. Mavis the Landlady gave the two other guests and me a lift to our starting points, in my case Freshwater West, in theirs, Angle. We were, initially, walking the same bit of coast but in opposite directions, so we would meet at some stage. I struggled across the beach, which I recall visiting in 1965 and was the place I learned to swim. The only other people about today were a couple of dog walkers.
There was a pretty stiff breeze and quite a bit of spray in the air from the Atlantic rollers that came roaring up the beach, although it wasn’t cold and I didn’t need a fleece or a waterproof. After labouring my way through the dunes I began to climb, and the cliff path became rather wild. Clearly far fewer people walked this section and bits of it were narrow. Not overgrown, but my walking poles were occasionally being impeded by the vegetation on either side.
This section was almost 6 miles and I had something more than 4 hours before my bus to Pembroke left Angle. There was a good deal of up and down, and at times the path ventured quite close to the cliff edge, with views down some ravine or other where the waves were crashing onto the black rocks. At last, now that there was no-one else around to disturb them, I had some excellent sightings of choughs and at one point counted 12 of them together on one rock.
I felt the the other two guests from last night were very likely to walk considerably faster than I was, so i wanted to ensure that I had at least two miles under my belt by the time I met them. Thinking about them (I had noticed from the guest book that she was called Jane Davis!) brought my mind wandering back to more mundane issues. Had I paid for last night’s accommodation? The logistics of this trip had become quite convoluted, particularly after I had changed my mind about camping. I had the rail tickets first and then set about trying to fit in the B & Bs. Some I arranged through booking.com, others directly after internet searches, but last night’s was by word of mouth when the Hibernia Inn was full. I was sure I hadn’t paid and the landlady hadn’t prepared an invoice or reminded me.
As soon as I had a signal I phoned her and she couldn’t remember whether I had paid when I booked, thinking I had booked at an agency. It was agreed that I would leave the money at the Hibernia, which was where I was to catch the bus.
Shortly after this I climbed yet another steep slope to see two figures clad in identical garish red waterproofs: it was the Davises! I “Ahoyed” them and we had a chat about our respective progress. I had been told by another walker a day or two previously that the walk to Angle gets flatter as you go, so I was delighted to inspect the Garmin to find that I had covered 3.3 miles in little more than 90 minutes, well over half way. Even better was the news that there was an excellent café at West Angle Bay and I should be there in plenty of time for lunch.
Shortly the silhouette of Sheep Island came into view and my path turned north. Another mile or two of relatively flat walking saw me into the café and a very welcome lunch of brie and bacon baguette with couscous salad. After this I wandered to the Hibernia, explained about the mix-up and left £45, which I thought was pretty reasonable for a very comfort room with lifts to and from. The rest of the day was spent travelling on 3 buses to Herbrandston. I had decided not to bother to walk the oil refineries and urban stretches of Pembroke, Pembroke Dock, Neyland and Milford Haven. I had a rather enjoyable 2 hour break in Pembroke, sitting in a café overlooking the castle during which I took a fairly lengthy call from my daughter, who had a few toothsome morsels of school politics to impart.