Pembroke 2015

the annual pilgrimage to the coast and cliffs of Pembrokeshire sees a repeat of last years venue, Trevallen Bosherton. As I had no plans for the week a ready made plan was taken off the shelf to cycle to Pembroke. The weather dictated a start on Wednesday morning with the Heart of mid Wales train from Shrewsbury to Builth Road and then to follow the sustrans route 8 to Brecon. Distance, 33 miles on minor roads accompanied by a blustery south westerly wind. The start saw me reversing a section of road which was the end of a previous ride from Llanbister Road over Radnor’ llanbedr and Llandeilo Hill in 2013. At 7 miles I came across a small art gallery and tea shop, which was a former railway station on disused line from Llangurig (“Oh Dr Beeching! what have you done”once again I groan) little did I know that it contained some quality pictures and other interesting items.

 After a cup of tea I progressed along the former bed now a macadam road until reached the small village of Boughrood and the charming St Cynog’s Church. Interestingly, the spires had been reconstructed after being taken down for safety reasons. My thoughts turned to St Bueno’s. Here they had employed a steel skeleton and wrapped the stone around – looked very good and the significantly the stone type and jointing appeared to resilient.

  The hamlet of Glasbury was neat and tidy with an attractive Hotel, I couldn’t justify another refreshment stop so pressed on over the Wye and the A40 trunk road winding up towards the ramparts of the Black Mountains. The road led me past a campsite with we had visited in 2013. Arriving at Talgarth I briefly spun round the village centre and pressed on as the weather was appearing a little threatening. Llanfilo, is small   Village with a historically significant church, dating from pre Norman times the most notable feature being the 15th century rude screen although restored is quite unique. I spent some sheltering under the loch gate whilst a small squall passed through. A steep ascent onto a fortified hill above, I was beginning to flag and was glad to see Brecon and the Wellington Hotel, which, was better than anticipated.

Thursday, 65 miles from Brecon to Port Talbot. All began well enough, the sun shone and after a reasonable breakfast I set off along the ‘Taff Trail’ the first mile or so follows the canal and then breaks off towards the Talybont Reservoir.

 A relatively easy gradient (former bed of the the Merthyr/Brecon line) to the bwlch at which point it rained, and rained, whilst forecast, the rain accompanied me down the trails into Merthyr by the time it ceased I was quite cold and damp. The trail is easily followed and winds its way through the tight valley crammed with houses and industry like they are being inexorably drawn into the River Taff. Pontypridd, was my lunch break, here they pedestrianised the town centre which helps elevate the environment. The second part of my day was a change in NCRNo.4. I was immediately faced with a steep hill which I responded to with much blowing, I hoped that this was not the precursor to a roller coaster ride. After Tonyrefail and another shorter climb the trail picks up another dis-used rail bed – now this was good – the decent into Tondu, and beyond was surfaced trail, very civilised. The final stage of my day included a wild life park and Margam Country Park. Glad to reach Port Talbot – didn’t expect to be saying that – ever.

Friday, the night spent at the’Twelve Knights’ again exceeding expectations. I felt a little stiff though and, was a little out of sorts as I peddled down the back streets of Port Talbot. Efforts have been made to resuscitate the patient but until somebody grasps the nettle and sweeps away the houses occupying the strip between the M4 and the steelworks the urban mess will act to be a social sink. Traversing the labyrinthine roadways and with the imminent rain storm about to soak me I ducked into Macdonalds – which I was glad of. Half an hour later I was away again heading for Swansea negotiating the many twists and turns and eventually making headway along the sea front. I stopped again for coffe and cake at an attractive cafe; I checked my progress and was disappointed to note that I was only ten miles in after two and half hours – time to put my foot down on the gas. Another disused rail line takes you up and over the ‘neck’ of the Pennisula a side step places you on the coastal nature trail adjacent Llanelli. After another coffe and cake stop I was head on into the wind which provided much resistance to my progress a puncture didn’t help. Fortunately the sun shone and once I made it into Pembry forest I was able to take advantage of the cover to increase speed, next stop Kidwelly.  St Ishmial church.

Back on roads with cars, the route follows the estuary to Carmarthen  add in a few hills and by the time I hit Macdonalds for a shake I was ready to call it a day. However, I decided to continue thinking that to coordinate a pick up from Ellie would be tricky, so a quick tour of Carmarthen and then a steep ascent up a minor road running parallel to the main road and I was in the wriggling roller coaster narrow lanes. A phone call, and we rendezvous in Llangynog.

Saturday, having arrived at Trevallen and met up with the club I spent the day with Rich (see climbing notes). A good day, I am still struggling with the ‘Inner Monkey Mind’ whilst wanting to climb at the grade I’m certainly capable of climbing at, the fear of failure is still bugging me. I invent all kind of excuses for not just getting on with it.

Sunday, I spend with Ellie and the dog, my mood was not good maybe too tired? we pick up Toby from the station. Early evening I go with Bram, Dave and Sam to Stennis Head for a limb in the rain, not usually my preference but was better than expected.

Monday, Rich, Toby and I go to Saddle Head, I lead Sea Mist a local classic but whilst wanting to do ‘Blue Sky’ I was anxious about leading so when two other guys jumped us to the climb I was strangely relieved and we repeated ‘Landvetter’ but this year we started at the low tide platform. We returned to the campsite and packed up, Toby and I would start our two day traverse of the Coast path. My right knee was playing up and by the time we reached Fresh Water East I was ready for the stop and in particular a shower. Evening meal was taken at the local Pub and then an uncomfortable night in the tent.

Tuesday, we rise early and get going, a brief stop at a secluded bay just before Manobier provide relief to my feet and legs.

 We both acknowledge that this coast line is pretty special. Arrival at Lydstep a shop provides refreshment. The last stretch into Tenby a peninsula and crossing of the beach. We chill out on the beach spend waiting for the train to take us home.