Walk #385: Castlemartin to Pwllcrochan
Map of the walk
Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format. For a detailed table of timings for this walk, please see the table file.
I got off to a bad start today, as I found it very hard to get to sleep last night, and woke well before dawn today. This all added up to the fact that I had very little sleep last night, and this made me exceedingly tires during this walk. I think that this also meant that I found the walk today much harder than it should ordinarily have been, and by the time that I reached the church at unpronounceable place name of Pwllcrochan I had absolutely no intention to extend the walk as I had planned.
The section of path between the beautiful beach at Freshwater West and West Angle Bay was quite spectacular, with some great views along the cliffs. In particular the area around Sheep Island was superb, with the heavily folded cliffs looking like a layered cake, the red sandstone being the jam filling. This section was also much harder than I had been expecting it to be, with many steep ascents and descents to be made, but the spectacular scenery more than made up for this. Indeed I stopped more to look at the scenery than I did for rests, as none of the ascents were too long.
I stopped to have lunch at West Angle Bay, and I sat down on the little concrete slipway to get out of the annoyingly strong and gusting wind. As I ate a couple were walking around the top edge of the beach near me collecting large pebbles in buckets, so I asked them what they were doing. They had just built a pond in their garden, and they needed the pebbles to concrete in around the edge of the pond as a feature. I thought that the pebbles were more of a feature on the beach than they would be around the edge of a pond, but I felt it best not to mention this. Later on as I was getting ready to go a woman came along with a Collie dog on a lead. We chatted for a while, and it turns out the dog is twenty-one years old. It indeed seemed to be that old, as it walked slowly and ponderously along he beach, with none of the energy that you normally expect from a dog. It was a strangely sad but joyful sight, and I wondered how many times the dog had played on that beach over the years.
The walk around the oil refinery was far better than I had any right to expect it to be. I was fascinated to see all the ships moored against the massive jetties built into the Haven, and as I walked past I could smell oil in the air - not a bad or overpowering smell, and strangely pleasant as I walked past. A ferry went out as I walked past, and a large tanker came in to one of the jetties as well - I stood and watched as the two tug boats expertly and elegantly turned the massive ship around, doing a manoeuvre that could even be called graceful. They have obviously done this many times before, and the way the small tugs could manoeuvre the much larger ship was amazing, and very interesting to watch. The refinery itself was not an ugly structure, and the little that I could see of it was clean and seemingly spotless, with shining metal everywhere, and far from the usual image of an oil refinery.
Unfortunately when walking the last little section from the edge of the refinery to the church at Pwllcrochan I got annoyingly lost. The fingerpost at the northeastern edge of the refinery pointed vaguely across a field, and despite the fact that I could see the spire of the church nearby I could not find the start of the track that led down to it. I spent ten minutes crashing around three or four fields before I eventually found the start of the track downwards, quite near the fingerpost and not in the direction that it was pointing. This was annoying, and tired me out enough for me not to want to walk any further than the church. Fortunately Sam was waiting patiently for me when I arrived, and I could get back to the site for a much-needed shower and a rest.
Tomorrow's walk should not be the most scenic in the world, and will be mainly a positional walk to get to Milford Haven, from where a better stretch of path should start. My main aim, however, is to try and get a good nights sleep - if I do not manage this then I will not be in a very good state for another walk.
This makes a total distance of 15.9 miles, with 2349 feet of ascent and 2483 feet of descent.
We spent another night at the campsite at The Old Rectory, OS Field 1066, St Petrox, Pembrokeshire SA71 5EQ. They can be contacted on (01646) 683980. This site cost us seven pounds and twenty-five pence for the night, and was a nice enough site, placed right next door to the beautiful church of St Petrox.
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And finally, enjoy your walking!
This walk was mentioned in the following routes: