As we put our toe into the water in more ways than one in 2019, I reflect on a few days spent on in the splendour of the Pembrokeshire Coast where I took the family to stay with close friends to see in the new year.
After a good 4hr plus drive along the M4 and the A40 we found ourselves back in a familiar location, a remote cottage nestled in a small valley and literally within a stones throw of the sea. In fact this year the sea seemed even closer as this area is susceptible to coastal erosion, the car park which services dog walkers, surfers and those waking the Pembrokeshire Costal Path is getting smaller each year. The seasonal storms shift the rocks from the foreshore with ease. One year we witness the arrival of a steel girder on one tide to see it removed out of sight on the next, the sea on this coast has an unimaginable power that shapes the shore like turning a page in a book.
We arrived just after dusk so settled in to the cottage spending the evening catching up over a sausage casserole and glass of wine or two. The following morning gave me my first chance to inspect the beach to see how it much it had changed since last year, and change it had with at least a good 9ft of the car park now out at sea. The shingle and boulders that make up the structure of the foreshore had significantly moved.
During the day we walked up and over the hilltop onto the coastal path, again each year the shoreline below changes with more coastal erosion and rock falls. It doesn’t take long for it to sink in that at some stage the coastal path will have to move further inland as in one or two places the current path is only a couple of yards wide before a sheer drop to the rocks below. This part of the Pembrokeshire Coast is simply beautiful if not breathtaking. The change in colour of the rock formation below and strata changes with every cove, sheep graze on cliff tops so steep that I can only imagine that one or two have ended up getting a salty bath. Littered across land are the footings of buildings of the Industrial Age. Slate mines and the supporting infrastructure abandoned over a century ago still remind us of harsh lifestyles people had in this region, yet the building last as a legacy, if you close your eyes you can imagine the hustle and bustle of the coastal mining towns right down to the noise of the servicing rail trucks.
Our walk took us to Porthgain a small inlet and fishing village, home to cafes, restaurants, art galleries, gift shops and The Sloop Inn where we stopped for a light refreshment before heading back up and across the cliff tops as the light started to fade away as the sun set.