Tuesday, June 29, 2021

walking back to happiness WOOPBAH et cetera

It was our tenth wedding anniversary at the weekend so Hazel and I managed to wangle a quick break away (specifically, away from the kids, bless 'em) in Pembrokeshire. We borrowed (again) our friend Clare's chalet at the Pleasant Valley Heritage Park (now seemingly just branded as Heritage Park, which seems pointlessly bland and non-specific, but then I am not a marketing guru). Obviously among other things this location, and its proximity to Tenby in particular, allows me to recycle a lame joke I made here and speculate that we'll be going to Elevenby next year, Twelveby the year after that, et hilariously cetera.

Along with general relaxation, getting some reading done, and quaffing lots of prosecco we decided that we wanted to go for a walk on the Saturday (our only full day there). What I came up with was a walk along what used to be known as the Pembrokeshire Coast Path but seems now to have been absorbed into the larger Wales Coast Path for branding purposes (most of the signage says Wales Coast Path now, for instance). You'll recall that the main problem with coast paths is the difficulty of organising a satisfactory circular walk, unless you happen to be in the vicinity of a narrow-necked peninsula of suitable size or are prepared to sign up for a walk that takes a fortnight to complete. As with my trip to Devon a couple of years ago the best solution turned out to be to make use of public transport to get a suitable distance away from the start point, and then walk back. In this particular case there was a convenient railway line with stations at Kilgetty (a mile or so from where we were staying) and Penally (the perfect start point for our walk), so we made use of that. 

A quick note about pronunciation: I was pronouncing Penally's last syllable to match that of Llanelli, i.e. with the proper Welsh voiceless alveolar lateral fricative ll sound. It turns out this marks me out as some sort of hopelessly gauche amateur who may as well have the word TOURIST tattooed on his forehead, as actually Penally is the already-pre-Anglicised version of the name of the village, which in the original Welsh is either Penalun or Penalum, depending where you look. Either way it should just rhyme with Sally; imagine if you will a little alleyway populated entirely by stationery and writing implement shops - that's right, Pen Alley. I recall encountering a similar problem with the village of Llanfoist, near Abergavenny, which we went through on our Blorenge walk - this looks like it ought to be pronounced Llanvoist as a single f in Welsh is rendered as a v sound, but actually the Welsh name is Llanffoist and the single-f version is the supposedly tourist-friendly one. A little learning is a dangerous thing, as Alexander Pope once said, thus conveniently proving my theory from here

One final digression: since there are no ticketing facilities at either Kilgetty or Penally and no-one came round during the twenty-minute train journey to collect monies and issue tickets we got the trip for free, which was nice for us but does raise the question of how much fare money these little regional railways with unmanned stations lose in uncollected fares from people who would have been quite happy to pay given the opportunity (it would have cost us about four quid each). I guess there is a calculation of fare loss versus the infrastructure cost of installing ticket machines and/or barriers at stations, and additionally, during the current pandemic, of the risk to on-train staff of coming through and conversing with the great unwashed. It seems like a problem there ought to be a solution to, though.

Anyhoo, the walk. Starting from the station you walk across the dunes, including crossing the south-western end of Tenby golf links, and emerge on Tenby's South Beach. The tide was out when we were there so we walked along the beach; if it's in then ploughing along the soft bit of the beach for a mile or so would probably be a bit of a slog and you might be better advised to take the path through the dunes or the one that hugs the course of the railway.

One way or the other you eventually arrive in Tenby; we'd had a leisurely lie-in before getting the train so we were there just in time for lunch which we did in two stages: first a refreshing pint outside the Harbwr Brewery - I had a pint of the Tamar's Tusk Pale Ale which was very nice. Duly rehydrated, we moved on to the Pembrokeshire Pasty & Pie Co for one of their stupendous lamb pasties which we ate on a bench overlooking the North Beach being balefully stared at by some large seagulls. Technically I'm not sure if birds salivate but these guys looked like they were giving it a go. 

The best section of the walk is the section of "proper" clifftop coast path between Tenby and Saundersfoot; once you get round the headstone at Monkstone Point it's a steady downhill walk into Saundersfoot where we had a pint in the Boat House (I had the Sharp's Atlantic Pale Ale). Then it was on through the old railway tunnels to Wiseman's Bridge for another pint (the Atlantic again) and a very tasty burger and chips in the Wiseman's Bridge Inn, and from there a short walk back to the chalet.

Route map is below (as always, right click and open it in a new tab to enlarge); this is off my phone app and phone signal is somewhat patchy in this part of Wales so the distance and altitude information was worthless. A separate calculation suggests that it was approximately nine miles (ten if you factor in the walk to the railway station right at the start). The highest point was probably somewhere just after leaving Tenby at no more than eighty metres or so above sea level. A few photos can be found here.


The black rabbit said...

"...technically I'm not sure if birds salivate..."

Innnnderestingly enough, many birds do (technically & literally) "salivate".

But those salivating birds are basically seed or small insect-eating birds. Swifts being the obvious example (birds nest soup basically being a soup made out of the swifts' nests glued together with their saliva).

Woodpeckers are another good example of a species that can and does salivate - in doing so, it makes its tongue sticky. All the better to catch those ants which it loves to eat.

But the birds that probably exhibit the smallest or least functional salivary glands are almost certainly sea birds. I don't think Pelicans, for example, have any functioning salivary glands at all... and one might presume gulls (or seagulls [sic]) are in that respect, relatively similar?

So. If your gulls were (technically and literally) salivating, that is to say, visibly drooling... they probably were suffering from canker. In which case, they weren't gulls at all, but pigeons instead.

Less innnnnderestingly... my stepfather, John, was from Saundersfoot. His family (my ex step family (does that make sense?)) all still live around there and I'm pretty sure that when I last went there, we all ate in the Boat House too.

Small world. Yadda yadda yadda bottle of wine.

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