Monday 11 April 2016
Angle to Manorbier
13 miles (+ car ride)
Manorbier Youth Hostel
After a very comfortable night on a camp bed in the Master-Gunner’s house I was plied with lots of coffee by George and ate bara brith for breakfast (Emma gave me a huge chunk of the cake that was leftover from the cafe). I certainly couldn’t eat any of my porridge as, during the night, a mouse had chewed through my cooking bag and half-eaten 2 packets. I caught him in the act with my head torch during the night; I think he winked at me.
George offered to give me a lift and I gratefully accepted as the next section, after Freshwater West, involved an inland road walk of about 10 miles in order to skirt around Castlemartin Artillery Range.
George drove me down to look at the beach at Freshwater West (the waves looked good and there were a couple of surfers in the sea) and then dropped me at Bosherston Lily Ponds.
Unfortunately, due to the range being closed, it meant I did miss Elegug Stacks (locally known as “the green bridge of Wales”), St Govan’s Chapel and St Govan’s Head. I noted that if I hadn’t been in the car I would have walked a couple of dead ends down to closed gates and would have been very frustrated then at having to turn around.
I think today’s walk should have given me some spectacular views along the coast but, unfortunately, the light was so flat it was not possible to see much of them. Still, at least it wasn’t raining!
I stopped for a refreshment at Stackpole Quay and had the most disgusting Welsh rarebit I’ve ever eaten.
For the first time since Shell Island I walked along a sandy beach at Freshwater East; it made a nice change to the usual up and down the cliffs. Here I saw my first bluebells in the woods behind the beach.
At Manorbier I walked up the hill, past the castle, into the village.
It was almost 4pm and I was intent on an early pub dinner before the last couple of miles to the youth hostel in the middle of nowhere. I was the only one in the Castle Inn (well it was early) and the landlord said that all the houses in the village were second homes or holiday lets.
The sun came out at 5 pm and finally I got some views. I walked past the youth hostel in order to get a good view of Caldey Island and to see the nice rock feature at Skrinkle Haven.
Manorbier Youth Hostel sits on the edge of the Manorbier Air Defence Range and was once the instructional building for the Thunderbird anti aircraft missile system. From 1937-70 the Artillery used to practise firing at towed targets over the Bristol Channel.
There was a big school group staying – there to study the local geology. I was put in a 4-bed dorm with Isobel, a 24 year old American who was hiking around parts of Britain. I was very impressed by what she was doing and we shared stories over tea and more of this morning’s bara brith. A seasoned trail hiker, Isobel has 2 months in the UK and she’s spending it walking parts of various national trails (the South West Coast Path, the Wales Coast Path, the Pennine Way) as well as visiting Bath, Edinburgh and Shetland. I reckon she’ll end up seeing more of Britain than many Brits; good for her.
Joy of joys, the youth hostel had a washing machine. After 15 days of constant wear my clothes finally got properly laundered rather than the usual hand wash. I think everyone was grateful.