Hello again! Thanks for visiting this page and for caring about me enough to read this!
So, it’s been a little while since my last blog post! I’ve had a really great and beautiful, but also rather frustrating last month and a bit. The coastal path has been a total treat with gorgeous views, pretty fishing villages and epic wildlife, but unfortunately my knee has been getting worse.
I’ve finished the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and am very close to finishing the Ceredigion coast path, but I think I’ve had nearly as many rest/recovery days as I’ve had walking days – which is why it’s been taking me longer than I had originally planned/expected.
The situation with my knee has meant that I’ve had to take a few breaks to let it rest before I begin again (as well as having a bought of tonsillitis for 4 days). I recently had to take 5 days rest (which was meant to be a whole week…) on the doctors orders after my first visit to the hospital. I’ve had an X-ray now (taken nearly 2 weeks ago) but I’m still waiting for the results from my GP – fingers crossed it’s not going to be anything too bad and something that will heal quickly.
More than anything, I’m finding this frustrating. All of me is raring to go, but my knee is seriously holding me back. I can feel my fitness increasing and my legs are looking lean and muscly now!
I know I never had a strict time frame in which to finish this walk, but I really would like to not take all year about it, and I really would love to be able to do it in one go. I’m still going to try and finish before October (which is looking less likely now), but I suppose I’ll just have to be a bit flexible and listen to my body. I have put a lot of pressure on myself, and I need to just accept this and enjoy it, rather than feel like I’m letting myself down. Which is difficult for a stubbornly determined, small Welsh, Taurean lady like myself. But I’m getting there, and I have to learn to be more patient with myself!
In my last post I had nearly finished the Carmarthenshire section of the path, so here are some updates since then! So without further ado…
The last days of Carmarthenshire involved a lot of roadside and field walking, the highlight definitely being the quaint and wonderful Laugharne. My friend Nick walked with me into Pembrokeshire at Amroth, and that day we got to Tenby. It was lovely to see Tenby growing larger as we walked toward it, it’s such a picturesque harbour town.
Then my lovely partner, Arthur came to join me walking for a week or so, we walked from Tenby to Broad Haven together, backpacking and camping along the way! It was rather wet and windy toward the beginning of our walking, which was definitely tough going and obscured a lot of the beautiful views, but it did clear up around the Stackpole estate which was a stroke of luck as it’s so beautiful!
Unfortunately, we couldn’t do the coast behind the alternative Castle Martin route as it’s only open on the weekend, so I’m going to go back and do this later on to see St Govan’s chapel and the Green Bridge of Wales.
Another highlight was spending a few hours in Pembroke castle – I think it has to be one of the most intact castles of that era that I’ve been to, and the history was incredible! Then we had pretty glorious weather after Milford Haven as we walked over the double tidal crossing between Sandy Haven and Dale. Thanks to Sandy & Steve in their Van from the Forest of Dean for making us lots of cups of tea at the campsite in Sandy Haven – your kindness lifted our soggy camping spirits, haha!
We then continued to Marloes where we met my Mum and sister and her boyfriend, then the next day we went to visit Skomer island – if you’ve never been, you should really go as it’s such an incredible day out. There were so many puffins and I just love them so so much! Highly recommend.
I may have mentioned this before, but I’m a total insomniac so whilst sleeping in the tent I had next to no sleep… so the last day of walking to Broad Haven at the beginning of St Brides Bay was beautiful and thoroughly enjoyable, but also a massive struggle. I was very happy to take that weekend off to then relax and also visit family for my Nan’s birthday. Arthur got the train back to the Netherlands.
Then after the weekend, me and my mum picked up from Broad Haven, with a car loaded up with camping gear. I can’t thank my mum enough for doing essentially a hop along service for the next few days so I didn’t need to carry my huge backpack. She would walk with me a bit, walk back, drive to a further point, then walk back to meet me and we’d then walk back to wherever she had parked the car. On the first day, just past Newgale, I bumped into Neil, another Wales perimeter walker!! The first and only other I’ve met so far. He was such a lovely man raising money for the Wales air ambulance trust, and you can find out more about his journey here.
Really loved all the lovely coves and beaches around here. Mam and I went sea swimming at Caerfai bay which was utterly refreshing, and had hearty veggie breakfasts in Mamgu Welshcakes (this breakfast literally lasted me all day until dinner at 19:00) in Solva and the Meadow in St David’s, and a few campsites even let me stay for free as I was walking for charity. So many beautiful places, another mention is Porth Clais, a place where saints and missionaries used to sail into. I also saw my first dolphins of the walk as well as loads of Choughs around the headland opposite Ramsey island.
I really enjoyed the isolated walk between Whitesands Bay and Abereiddy, the headland with the Coetan Arthur burial chamber was beautiful and we had lots of fun. The weather was swelteringly hot, and the cliff tops were so barren so there really was zero shelter from the shade – so I was completely exposed to the sunlight for the entire day, which was tough going. It was quite a hilly, steep section too, so as you can imagine I was knackered by the end of the day. Luckily I could go and cool off in the Blue Lagoon in Abereiddy!
However, that over exposure to the sun for several days definitely took it’s toll on my body… and I came down with tonsillitis literally overnight. I was pretty feverish and my throat was nasty, so I then had to take some rest days. I felt rather low and weak, and quite deflated that I had to take time off. To me, it was frustrating – when reading about other people doing walks like these, hardly any of them ever seem to have to rest as much as I’ve had to due to illness and injury, and this made me feel like I wasn’t adequate, like somehow I am weaker. But then I had to remind myself how far I’ve already come and how most people never even embark on adventures like this anyway! I am strong, but I’ve just had a few setbacks. And I think the setbacks are helping to make me more mentally robust.
My family went to France a few days later, so I packed up the little car (I hadn’t driven in 2 years prior to this because of living in the Netherlands!) and I drove to the hostel at Pwll Deri. I parked the car there, caught the bus (the Strumble shuttle) back to Abereiddy where I finished a few days before and made my way back to the hostel. Went through some idyllic places such as Porthgain, Abercastle and the gorgeous coves around it. Met a few people who donated to my chosen charity, the bumblebee conservation trust! When I got back to the hostel I had a good chat with the lovely volunteers there, Elsie & Stago, and watched the sunset over the bay.
I walked the section between Pwll Deri and Fishguard the next day, past the lovely Strumble Head lighthouse, and there were some nice breaks in wooded areas, which was a pleasant change in the heat from the barren cliff tops. Saying that, I am loving this sunny warm weather! It’s just nice to have the option of shade when you’re doing strenuous physical activity. After this, I had a couple of cold nights camping, weirdly, as the days were so warm, but my tent was thick with dew in the morning.
One of my favourite days yet on the coastal path was the section between Fishguard and Newport, particularly on the approach to Dinas Head. I challenge you to find more beautiful and secluded coves and beaches than these! Bloody gorgeous…
However, my knee began to hurt, so I took an ibuprofen (which I don’t normally do, even when in pain) whilst having a cup of tea at the old sailor by the beach at Dinas Head, and after Cwm-yr-Eglwys I walked up the hill, and as I started to walk downhill something in my knee gave a very sharp, cold, nerve like pain that I hadn’t felt before. Not good. So I hobbled back to Parrog, sat down and uncovered my knee to find it very swollen, unable to bend and the area around my patella felt weird and fluidy. So I made the decision to drive home.
The next 5 days consisted of going to the doctors, then to the hospital, then back to the doctors, then back to the hospital again and elevating and icing my knee in between. Thanks to the Kind family for inviting me out for drinks & tea to stop me from going insane whilst I was on my own in the house for days (and for checking up on me to make sure I was actually resting…). Also thanks to my lovely boyfriend who video chatted with my multiple times a day to keep me company – ik houd van jou!
Then my lovely friend Hannah came to join me, and she’s going to continue with me for the next few weeks. We started off with a short walk, but then accidentally did an 11 mile walk that was sooooooo hilly from Moylgrove to Cardigan, and my knee protested a lot. I couldn’t bend it and it became extremely painful, so then had to take a couple more days off to let it heal. Committed to carry on walking, we decided to only do short mileage days for a while (around 7-8 miles usually).
We spent lots of time sea swimming (so many jellyfish!!) and eating copious amounts of ice-cream, and we went past some of my favourite sections of the coast… especially around Llangrannog and the Ynys Lochtyn headland where we were treated to an absolutely incredible dolphin display! My mum, dad and friend Nick joined a bit as well – but mostly we commuted from home and caught the Cardi Bach bus and walked back to the car. We had incredible weather and it was an amazing couple of days!
My friends Jules and James then came to join as well, and we had a lot of fun! We drank quite a lot of beer so we were quite fragile, so as well as walking we also took a day and went kayaking in New Quay – and New Quay is the halfway point of the WCP!!! Woohoo! What a milestone!
They left later that day and Mark (Hannah’s boyfriend and my ex-housemate at Uni) came to join us for walking the next day. We finished in Aberaeron and had some tasty food at the Hive.
Hannah and Mark left for a weekend away in Snowdon, and my other friend Bryony came to join! Us, my parents, her boyfriend Jack and a load of our local friends (one of which is Jack’s brother, small world) then stayed out at the pub quite late and did a lot of singing and dancing – which was hilarious! But Bryony and I still managed to do 11 miles the next day and finished it off back through Aberaeron with a honey ice-cream. So basically this week has been so much fun, but also knackering! Have caught up with so many of my fabulous friends, and have eaten my body weight in ice-cream and beer. Zero regrets.
And finally, yesterday my mum and dad walked with me and we finished up in Aberystwyth. It was the first day where I was looking to my right inland as much as I was looking at the sea, as the landscape is becoming more mountainous and epic. From tomorrow on, I’ll be backpacking and camping again with Hannah, as we make our way North! Still waiting for the results from my knee x-ray, fingers crossed it’s all okay. It feels a little bit better again, as I haven’t been overdoing it these last 10 days, so hopefully it won’t get worse when I’ve got the backpack on again. Wish me luck!
Well, that’s all for now from me. I’ll try not to leave it as long between posts again but no promises! Please, if you can, donate to my JustGiving page for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust!
Lots of love,