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countryside landscapes light light quality National Trust photography The National Trust the sea the seaside the shore Wales

A Stroll along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path – Part One

Every year I set myself a challenge that defies my disability. Something totally silly if I take my health into consideration! Something I definitely should not be doing! But these challenges are great fun! I love them! Jude accepts my need to do them but worries when we are following these strange desires. Sometimes I have a need to go a bit further than my actual abilities!

For 2014 my challenge was to walk a mile along a stretch of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, probably the most beautiful of Britain’s long distance paths. For me a single mile is a long distance walk! I did it in late November and survived! Okay I suffered for a good few days after but boy did it feel good! I had such a feeling of elation when I finished the walk. Anyone else would have to climb Everest to get the same thrill! My consultant was proud of me. He likes my crazy ideas.

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So come with us on our trek along the windswept coast near St Davids. As we dressed in suitable gear for a walk in the cold and most likely wet weather we noticed these two using the beautiful backdrop to take photos of their stained glass window. No doubt some great shots will appear in their promotional materials.

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We made our way onto the path by passing through a beautiful stone wall. A sign with wording engraved on slate informed us that the walk to St David’s Head was 1 mile. I hoped to make half way to give us a round trip of 1 mile.

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Jude looked ahead and could see just how far away the headland was that I was aiming to reach. She thought I was mad! We soon started finding colour in the tough grasses – wildflowers of coastal habitats. The first was this Armeria, the Sea Thrift. Close by the much brighter coloured Gorse added a bit of sunshine colour.

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This little delicate plant foiled us completely – neither of us could remember what it was.

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Every rock was painted with Lichen and Mosses. They look just like they have been daubed by an artist. These rocks had fallen from the field boundaries that are specific to this area – stones with soil in the gaps and on top. The soil provides homes for the local flora.

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The light was changing by the minute. We could be in sunshine one minute and then under heavy storm clouds the next. Just see the extremes in the photos below taken within minutes of each other. The temperature varied in the same way – hats and gloves were on and off all the time.

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What made this walk extra special was that it gave double value. We had views over the inlets and headlands over one shoulder and views of the countryside inland over the other.

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As we passed through a wooden gate the landscape changed and the views opened up. The signs on the gatepost invited us to carry on with our walk but be careful not to fall off the cliffs! We hadn’t been planning to! The National Trust sign informed us that we were on St David’s Head. We realised then that we had already walked further than we had intended. We should have turned back and made our way back but my stubborn nature won over and we decided to carry on perhaps making it to the headland in the far distance. This would give us a total walk of two miles. Far more than I should have been contemplating! We had rugged open moorland to cross to reach the headland itself.

 

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Jude was fascinated by a label hanging over a rock and just had to have a close look. We found it was a marker point on a trail laid out as part of an army training session. We were tempted – just for a moment – to pick it up and take it back to the local barracks to tell them we had found this label. Common sense prevailed however and we resisted the temptation.

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In the photo below we can see the headland for which we were aiming right on the horizon.

 

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My legs are aching and pain is creeping up my spine just writing this post and loading the photos so we shall take a break for now and return in Part Two.

 

 

Categories
countryside grasses nature reserves the sea the seaside the shore wildlife

Strands – Discovering a Beach – Part Three

Okay here we go with the third and final part of my Strands posts, where we make our way – very slowly as you will see – back to the car. We went by way of the grass path above the strandline and explored the wildflowers growing there as well as enjoying glances across the sand dunes to the sea.

But first a reminder of the photos of Jude (Mrs Greenbench) beach combing and collecting objects for our seaside at home.

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We found our pathway home by scrambling over the pebbles and then over the sand dunes.

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Sadly some of the walkers who trod the path before us lacked caring and thoughtlessly left this plastic bottle. The seashore has enough of a problem with the plastics that roll in on the waves. It makes you wonder how many Coke bottles are dropped to bespoil our countryside every year.

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Along the path we found interesting wild flowers and the dried remains of last year’s flowers stiffly standing among them. The first clump of photos show a beautiful blue leaved grass which is grown to bind the sand of the dunes to keep them from shifting. It must have an amazing network of roots working away down there.

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The variety of the flora here on the beach itself, on the strandline, the dunes and the pathway alongside illustrates just how effective a narrow strip of land can be as a really good little nature reserve. Butterflies, bees, insects, invertebrates, mammals, birds and amphibians will find homes, shelter and food here. As you look at the following photos spot, in particular, the blackberries and wild carrots, relatives of our crops grown on our allotments, and wild forms of erodium, achillea and others that are the cousins of our garden plants.

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As we moved closer to the car park shrubs took over, some brightly flowered and berried, mostly rose briars and a type of broom. Their cheerful colours made a fitting end to our great day of beachcombing.

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