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Wales 2004

On September 3, 2004 Linda and I flew from Philadelphia to be picked up the next morning by her cousin Kathie at Heathrow Airport for a drive past Oxford and Gloucester to southwestern Wales and a week of day hiking based in the seaside town of Tenby. During the Wars of the Roses Henry Tudor, the future King Henry VII of England, sheltered within Tenby before sailing into exile in 1471. Noted for its well preserved town walls, Tenby also boasts a number of mediaeval alleyways. Caldey Island lies a little offshore and has been a monastic settlement for over 1500 years. The present order of Reformed Cistercians who have been there since the 1920s were traditionally farmers but have now developed a thriving trade in perfume and chocolate to cater for the summer tourist industry.

Arriving in town we made our way through the winding streets to our rental digs looking out across the Tenby Harbor and into Carmarthen Bay. We arrived on the first day after the summer car ban in Tenby so that there were many people enjoying the first opportunity to drive their cars in the town. As a result our passage through the town was much impeded as we made our way along narrow High Street through the center of town and made the turn onto even narrower St. Julian St, down to the crowded harbor front where we found our pretty yellow townhouse. I then assisted Kathie in finding a far away parking space for our rental car and we made a long uphill climb back to the townhouse where Linda and Miriam were busy establishing order. After an al fresco dinner at a nearby pub we were serenaded by a Salvation Army band before going to bed..

Tenby Tenby Tenby Tenby
Tenby, Wales Tenby, Wales Front Window View Tenby Pub

9/5/04 After breakfast in an eclectic little cafeteria where I enjoyed several bangers but rejected most of my blood sausage, we jaunted off in the suspect company of a boatload of other tourists to visit the nearby Caldey Island and its Cistercian Abbey. Our boat docked in Priory Bay and we then walked to visit the Abbey and the cliffs above. The island's population consists of 40 permanent residents and a varying number of Cistercian monks, known as Trappists, whose predecessors migrated there from Belgium in the early 20th century. Today the monks farm the island, chiefly raising dairy cattle, and make a range of items including cheese, shortbread, perfumes and toiletries.

Leaving Tenby Caldey Approacj High on Caldey Bill, Linda, and Miriam
Caldey Island Caldey Island Caldey Island Caldey Island

9/6/04 By next morning we were itching to get out onto the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail which is some 186 miles of striking coastal scenery, awash with wildlife, and bordered by fascinating archaeological remnants. We made our way west out of Tenby along the North Beach and looked at Caldey Island from Giltar Point before scrambling through a firing range and the coastal limestone with its numerous caves, arches and potholes on our way to Lydstep Haven with its engulfment of mobile homes. Here I was abandoned by my companions but I proceeded around Lydstep Point through Skrinkle Haven and Barafundle Beachand on to Manorbier Bay where I wandered around the ruins of a castle before catching a bus back to Tenby.

North Beach Lydstep Point North of Tenby North of Tenby

9/7/04 We drove across the southwest peninsula of Wales to the city of St. David's which is said to be the smallest city in the United Kingdom. Our first interest was to visit the famous St.David's Cathedral and then after milling around a bit we set off in different directions and with uncoordinated intentions to walk the Coast Path again. I first passed the sheltered little harbour of Porth Clais at the mouth of the River Alun which was once the place where goods were brought in for the cathedral in St David's. . I stopped on a headland a little way past the ruins of St Non's Chapel. It was a lovely sunny spot with a steady breeze blowing and a beautiful view back up the coast. Leaving St. Non's I was next hypnotized by Caerfal Bay then a shingle beach and all of the jagged black and gray rock walls contrasting with the brilliant turquoise of the sea. The Coastal Path path led me down to the bay, a sandy beach at low tide and then back up to the cliff tops that enclose the bay to the next headland, where the views stretch west to Ramsey Island.

St. David's Cathedral Porth Clais St. Non's Well The Cradle
Near Nine wells Along the Coastal Path A Lost Bay Reunited

The narrow path then passed through a thick cover of ferns on the approach to the quiet pebble beach of Caer Bwdi Bay before widening as I followed the coast alongside Morfa Common..After this short stretch of quietness I again walked atop steep-sided cliffs as I arrived at a particularly beautiful stretch of rugged coastline with a distinctive formation known as "The Cradle" jutting into the water. The Coast Path then descended steeply as I passed the village of Nine Wells and followed a path to a secluded pebbly cove, where black jagged rocks protruded from the turquoise water at high tide. At the end of the final headland before Solva there was a fine view of Gwadn, a shingle cove, and St Elvis and Black Rocks in the mouth of Solva's harbor. It is a picture-postcard sight: with pastel-painted houses nestled among trees at the head of the inlet and climbing up the hillside

Coastal Path St. Elvis Black Rocks Solva harbor

I celebrated my walk with lunch and some beer before starting to walk back to St. David's on the highway. Before I reached the edge of town, Kathie arrived to take me back to my much worried wife who had developed a fear that I had fallen from the rocks to my death. Both Kathie and Linda addressed me in the strongest possible terms concerning my responsibility to keep my companions aware of my whereabouts.

Arriving at Manorbier Manobier Front Manorbier Rear Manorbier Interior

9/8/04 In the morning we first drove west to Manorbier to take more pictures of the castle before driving on to the town of Pembroke for a tour of Pembroke Castle the birthplace of Henry VII. We parked our car in the lot and approached the front of the castle by walking up westgate Hill.and through the hugh arch before turning right through the massive Gatehouse and Barbican which formerly had three portcullises and great wooden doors reinforced with iron draw-bars. Across the flat surface of lawn is the massive form of the round keep. It was built soon after 1200 by William Marshal Earl of Pembroke. It was essentially impregnable and, had the other towers and outer walls been taken, the garrison would have made this Keep their last refuge. The walls are 19 feet thick at the base and the Keep rises to 75 feet in height and is crowned with a stone dome set as a centre-piece in a triple tiara of parapet and turret.

Pembroke Castle Pembroke Entrance Virtual Tour The Keep
Pembroke from Castle Up the Keep Pembroke Pembroke Castle

9/9/04 We set off in the morning to travel through Carmarthen, Swansea, and Porthcawl to visit Cardiff, the capital of Wales. After parking the car we strolled along Mermaid Quay, passed the magnificent Millenium Stadium, had lunch in a perfect resairant with a second floor view of the city center, then visited the National Museum of Wales before walking back through old streets to the Cardiff Castle.

Mermaid Quat Millenium Stadium national Museum Cardiff Castle

9/10/04 I had Kathie drive me east along Carmathen Bay to Saundersfoot from where I could hike back to Tenby on the Coastal Path and take in the views as I approached Tenby from that direction.

Saundersfoot Saundersfoot Harbor Saundersfoot Tenby Approach

9/11/04 This was to be the last day in Tenby for me and Linda before we were to be delivered to Swansea where we would spend our last night in a hotel before boarding the train back to Heathrow Airport on the following morning. I started my long slow goodbye to the town by walking east along the North Beach to the Gospar Rock where I took advantage of the low tide to explore some of the niches and crannies in the hugh rock.As the tide threatened to isolate me on the rock I continued to walk east and then climbed up toward Tenby Castle.

Gospar Rock Gospar Rock Gospar Rock Tenby
Gospar from Tenby Castle Tenby Tenby Castle Dragging in the Dock

9/12/04 We drove to Swansea where we arrived for lunch and an aquaintance tour of the second largest city in Wales. After wandering about for atime, Kathie left to return to Tenby for another week and Linda and I walked up a steep hill to our lodgings where we drank a final bottle of wine and turned in early to be sure of rising at 4:00 AM the next morning to see a beautiful morning as we ran in a panic to catch our train to Heathrow.

Castle and Fountain Swwansea Garden Goodbye to Wales Swansea Morning

Map of South Wales

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