Thursday 7 April 2016
Marloes to Dale
Albion House B&B, Marloes
The wind howled all night and I was very glad I wasn’t camping. I was the only guest and Joan, the lovely old lady who runs the B&B, cooked me a wonderful breakfast and phoned the Skomer boat company to check the boat was sailing. Bad news, the sea was too rough to land on Skomer. Joan said it must be bad because normally they just delay the sailing rather than cancel first thing in the morning. I always knew it was risky planning this trip to Skomer, hence they don’t give full refunds. Oh well, a new plan was required.
After a few phone calls and a rethink I decided to try again tomorrow as the winds might ease by then. In the meantime, Joan would accommodate for another night and I would walk the next section, around St Ann’s Head, to Dale, which is only a couple of road miles from Marloes. Sorted.
I set off along the road to Martin’s Haven, the South end of St Bride’s Bay, opposite Skomer Island. It was incredibly windy but nice and sunny. To keep warm in the biting wind I was wearing my windproof and my waterproof plus hat and gloves. I was also wearing shorts, sunglasses and suncream; a very odd mixture.
The National Trust and the Wildlife Trust have huts at Martin’s Haven and I spent an hour chatting to the different people working there. Gary and Chrissie were from Staffordshire and now worked the summer months for the Wildlife Trust, dealing with tourist trips to Skomer. There were some CCTV monitors showing the island and Chrissie was telling me it was full of puffins yesterday but they were all hiding from the wind today. Last year they watched ‘Mary’ the Manx Shearwater hatch from her egg live on tv. Gary was relatively hopeful for my sailing tomorrow.
I left Martin’s Haven and headed across to the other side of the promontary. Here there were great views of Skomer, Skokholm and Grassholm Islands.
It was definitely easier to manage walking the cliff top in the wind without a big pack on my back (I only had a light one today).
Marloes Sands was apparently named second-best beach in Britain by Countryfile and it was particularly beautiful in the sunshine.
The NT ladies also told me that this stretch of coast is popular with geology students as there are lots of different rock formations (Pembrokeshire came 2nd to Hawaii in this world category).
I was told to look out for the bedded sequence of Silurian rocks on Marloes Sands.
I passed a disused airfield and then, as I rounded the corner to approach Westdale Bay, the wonderful, low-lying ‘neck’ joining St Ann’s Head to the rest of the mainland came into view.
I could see right across it into Milford Haven (the Aber Daugleddyf estuary) and the Pembroke oil refinery. The village of Dale was on the other side of the ‘neck’, about 5 minutes away (or 2 hours if you walk around the coast path).
At the end of St Ann’s Head I was surprised to find 2 rows of cottages as well as a lighthouse and an old lookout (now a private residence). Quite a little community out on the exposed head.
More amazing rock formations at Cobblers Hole as well.
The wind eased off as I rounded the head into the relative shelter of Milford Haven. West Blockhouse Fort guards the estuary entrance (now a holiday residence).
The sea looked noticeably greener in the sheltered estuary. The sun had gone and the sky was very grey so although I could see lots (Pembroke, Milford Haven jetties, across to Angle Bay and even further around to Freshwater West) the drop in visibility wasn’t good for photos.
Just around the head is Mill Bay, where Henry Tudor landed on 7 August 1485 (his ships and troops landed around the corner at Dale) on his way to defeat Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth 2 weeks later.
I arrived at Dale and stopped at a cafe (run by Brummies, naturally) for coffee and a cake. Chatting to the staff paid dividends because no sooner had I set off to walk back to Marloes than two of them drove past and offered me a lift. It saved walking the roads back.
Another evening meal in The Lobster Pot pub. Fingers crossed for a calm sea tomorrow.