You guessed it; another wet day dawned. Sometimes the task seems daunting in the foul weather, there’s not much enjoyment except to load on the miles and hope.
The route suggests I take a circuitous arc of more than 20 miles through the petro-chemical installations of Milford Haven, out onto the wild windy reaches of West Angle; it seemed from OS OL 36 unlikely I would find accommodation and an drying fire. The locals confirmed my worse fears: the rain was set for the day.
In cut out and discarded the 20 miles round the oil refineries. i took a bus as a gesture of defiance and set out from a more southerly point in the pouring rain.
Nature was closed for the day. At Stackpole Head there were no kittiwakes, razorbills, fulmars or guillemots and my new ‘bins’ remained in my backpack. The sea had the all the character of a wet blanket, even the blow-holes were closed for the day and the ruffians at the base of the cliffs were having a lie-in.
The bakery and teashop at Stackpole Quay was lifeless, a single fishing smack anchored off shore rose and fell with the gentle swell. There was only me, the cliffs and the sea.
Soon into my rhythm the light rain presented few problems. The grass on the track, however, grew in great tussocks of rain drenched leaves and soon my boots were waterlogged; I had only one option and I was exercising it with little enjoyment. There were places to stop and amaze at the view through the rain. Vertical strata rose out of the sea and at times the cliffs resembled giant organ pipes. In other parts the vertical cliffs were ground down by the sea at the base of the cliffs like a vast surface of wet, black waffles, each indent an enticing, deep mysterious rock pool. Sweeps of sandy beaches rinsed by the rain came and went, missing the chatter of birds and cries holiday makers on sunny days.
At last the path nose-dived from the cliff tops to an arching stretch of would be golden sand. In the beach toilet block I warmed my hands and dried my fleece hat in the hot air hand-dryer and plodded onward on the soft wet sand; soon a path rose steeply into the cloudy sky and I was back in business.
Up on the cliffs, I gave up taking photos as the rain notched up a gear and I began to crave a log fire and hot buttered toast with strawberry jam.
A few hours later I lay in a hot bath, my sodden jacket and sloshing boots whisked off to dry by the AGA and replaced with a pot of Darjeeling and a dozen chocolate Digestive biscuits. Upon recommendation from a couple of dog-walking residents of Manorbier village, I landed in the B&B of Wendy and Roger, not their real names you understand.
I had a burger and chips at the local pub with couple of pints of cider and stayed to join in the quiz before hobbling ‘home’ in the brogues borrowed from Roger. He told me he’d purchased the pair in Buenos Aires. He clearly never paid for them because they squeaked and began to sever my big toe from my foot as I tottered back to my billet. I woke the ancient ‘deaf’ Jack Russell called Crumble and climbed the last steps of the day, not to a hilltop but to an enormous four poster bed and voluminous duvet. I knew breakfast was going to delight. I fell asleep instantly and dreamed of galleons in full sale.
There’s always a tomorrow.