Walk #387: Milford Haven to Wooltack
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 felt much better this morning that I did yesterday, and I found that I had a spring in my step as I walked westwards from Milford Haven. I had slept for over nine hours last night, and this was the longest that I had slept for some considerable time. Unfortunately it was achieved after taking a couple of sleeping tablets, but as much as I dislike taking tablets they certainly had the desired effect. I will probably take a couple of tablets for the next few nights to try and get myself into the habit of sleeping well.
There are two river crossings that had to be done today, and both of these can be crossed for two hours at either side of low tide. I was unsure about the time of low tide, but I knew that it was low early on in yesterday's walk, and so I was hopeful about not having to do the long inland diversions. When I finally reached Sandy Haven, I was glad to see that the tide was out and the stepping-stones and the little bridge were well uncovered. I strode over, being careful not to slip on the slime on the stones, and went up the road on the over side. According to the guidebook it takes two hours to walk to the Gann estuary (the next tidal crossing), and this again can be crossed for two hours either side of low tide. As the tide had been very low at Sandy Haven, I was slightly concerned about getting to the Gann in time and so I walked quite fast, taking a little over an hour and a half to get there. I need not have worried, as when I reached the Gann the tide was well out. I crossed the first little bridge over a small tributary before reaching the main estuary. There was no bridge over this section, but it was fairly easy to cross at a series of boulders without getting my feet wet. The area around the Gann Estuary is quite nice, and as I walked along the beach at Pickleridge I admired the views of the extensive mudflats.
I met Sam for lunch at the lovely little village of Dale, although after she had parked Mervan we discovered that the local pub was not open on Tuesdays. We reconvened in the van, and I ate my lunch as we sat and chatted about the day so far. it is really nice meeting Sam for lunch, and it certainly seems to add something to the day. I had reached Dale much earlier than I had expected to due to not having to make diversions around the estuaries, and as I ate I therefore decided to extend the walk and make the end of the walk Wooltack Point, rather than St Ann's Head. This made the walk quite long, but I was feeling fine and I was eager to make the most of the glorious weather.
Mill Bay is famous for two reasons. Henry Tudor landed at the bay on 7th August 1485 (his 2,000 men landed at Dale) and after a 15-day march through Wales he won the English crown at the battle of Bosworth Field, becoming Henry VII. There is a little memorial to this above the bay, but I could find no trace of the other (in)famous event - in February 1996 the Sea Empress spilt 72,000 tons of oil into the Haven when it ran aground at Mill Bay, one of the worlds worst oil spills. A little over seven years later I could see no trace of oil, and all the beaches and rocks looked clean. I daresay that experts could show me where oil remains, but I certainly saw no trace of it.
unfortunately there is not much access to St Ann's Head, as there is a coastguard station at the tip of the headland. This stopped me getting some views that I wanted, but I could still clearly make out Sheep Island on the other side of the Haven, which I passed a few days ago. However at St Ann's Head there is access to quite a spectacular section of cliff called Cobbler's Hole, where the folding of the rocks can be seen very clearly and exemplifies the forces that cause such folding. It is amazing that the way that rocks, normally so brittle, can be bent into such dramatic folds by the extreme forces and pressures without shattering. The cliffs on the path north from St Ann's Head were very spectacular, and it made for a beautiful walk in the lovely sunshine, and it is a walk that I would love to do again. Even though it is a cliff top walk it is very easy going, with a good path underfoot and only a few descents and ascents to make the going harder.
Tomorrow promises to be another sunny day, and I am looking forward to the walk along the cliff tops as I start to head northwards once more. I am rapidly nearing the halfway point of my walk, and when I reach it we will certainly have to have a celebration.
This makes a total distance of 19.7 miles, with 4036 feet of ascent and 3950 feet of descent.
There is not much at Wooltack, so we drove Mervan the short distance into Marloes, where we parked in front of the toilets and opposite from the Lobster Pot Inn.
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And finally, enjoy your walking!
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