Stacks, Bridges and Barrows

There have been a couple of longer bike rides since the last time I posted – one to the Green Bridge of Wales which is a superb sea arch near St Govan’s Head, and the other was to Foel Eryr, the second highest hill of the Preselis. The sea arch requires going through a military range so you have to check that the Castlemartin range is free from firing. Nearby, the Elegug Stacks are also pretty impressive. The stacks are probably a more impressive feature than the sea arch. Evidently marvellous for seabirds. As in the photo, they are one of the most dramatic features of the Pembrokeshire coastline.

elegug stacksThere are also a few collapsed sea caves where you can see down through the cliff to the sea. It’s a generally fascinating bit of coast, and you can cycle from the Green Bridge of Wales along the coast path (it’s fairly flat just here and suitable for army style vehicles…) to St Govan’s – just a few miles – visiting all these coastal wonders. There were quite a few seals in the sea too. It’s about 40 – 50 miles from the Saundersfoot area, there and back. A lovely day’s cycling and well worth remembering as winter hurtles towards us.

As for Foel Eryr, although it’s a fairly hilly ride to the Preselis from South Pembs, Foel Eryr is an easy ascent, and looks out over the western side of Pembrokeshire. It was hazy on the day we visited. There’s a Bronze Age burial mound at the summit. There’s a panorama board and you can see, just about, the Gower on a good day (yes, we could just see a grey shape out over the sea to the SE), even Lundy too apparently though I’ll have to take that on trust since the haze did not permit that. People say you can see Ireland on a really clear day, though this isn’t mentioned on the panorama. Hmmm, perhaps with binoculars. Since Foel Eryr is inland, the lanes leading to it are mostly very quiet and it’s a great route for reminding the weary cyclist fed up of seemingly endless beach traffic that there are still some wonderfully quiet lanes in the remoter parts of Wales. I did spot the Caffle Brewery near Llawhaden, who brew the excellent bitter called Quay Ale amongst others, my favourite bitter just at the moment, along with Butty Bach from Wye Valley.

Having not done a proper bike tour this year, we felt we had to try to do something in September between one lockdown and another that we’ve just got at the moment. So in the last weekend of the month, we cycled via Broadhaven Youth Hostel to St David’s. The first day took in some adventurous off road tracks around Llawhaden. At one point I was wading through a side tributary of the River Cleddau in light rain. Not so much a byeway as a public waterway. The rain really hit a couple of times, with hail too . It is rare that hail can sting even through a cycle jacket! It was great arriving at Broadhaven YH – after sheltering from the rain at Tesco in Haverfordwest waiting for conditions to improve…. The ride to St David’s was much better, sunny and breezy with windsurfers out in fairly biggish conditions at Newgale (but Newgale almost always seems to have biggish conditions). The coast road north from Broadhaven is great for cycling, and we headed off on route 4 inland to avoid the busier coast road after Newgale. Great to see the St David’s Cathedral – open and popular with visitors. Then back to Broadhaven, but with a loop around the windblown lanes near Whitesands. The next day, the route home included the gorgeous Marloes beach. Sad that the Youth Hostel at Marloes is now closed – could hardly have a better location. In the absence of the YHA being up to running it, it would be nice if the National Trust added running youth hostels or some such to their holiday cottages which are great but don’t have the communal and inclusive value of YHs. Some surfers out in small but useable waves. Surfing at Marloes, which I have done a fair few times over the years, has some of the best views you could want while surfing, it’s a joy to be in the water just for the views of the ampitheatre of cliffs. The cliffs are a multicoloured delight. Then home round the back of Milford Haven and across the Cleddau bridge to Pembroke Dock and along via Redberth and East Williamston to home. As I was reminded last September, when doing Cornwall in rather tough weather, cycling in Autumn (even early Autumn) does require you to be careful not to end up cycling in the dark! The habit of exploring curious byeways, visiting remote and unusual churches, etc, enjoying the comforts of hedgerow blackberries and a haphazard lunch on some back lane can take a bit more time than you’ve actually got….

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