Day 082: Llanrhidian to Pembrey Country Park
Distance: 26.35 miles
Ascent: 1076 feet
Weather: Overcast, Some Sunny Spells
Accommodation: Wild camp Pembrey Forest
It had been nice having Dad and Brigitte around the walk for a couple of days, though this morning I said my goodbyes and set of from Llanrhidian. I was a little apprehensive about the first part of the day as the path is liable to flooding at extreme high tides, it would be high tide as I was walking along it but not a particularly high one so I had assumed I would be okay. It was indeed okay, and to my slight surprise (even if it had been shown as road on OS map) the track heading through the mudflats was a well tarmacked road all the way to Crofty which made for incredibly speedy progress.
At Crofty the path heads out along a roughly gravelled though mostly mud track on the mudflats around the little headland, though it does feel a little bit overtop as I am sure it could follow the lanes instead through and around the little town.
After Crofty the path heads up above the sea defence wall and follows on the pavement alongside the road. This made for quick progress if not the most scenic path. The path turns towards the North to get across the Afon Lliw, before heading back down the other side of the river. The path skirts the edge of Loughor, before heading over the Loughor Bridge.
A short distance after the Loughor Bridge the path became much more scenic and was a well-used cycle path as well. The path followed the sea wall, essentially doing a lap of the National Wetland Centre Wales. The path actually continues like this all the way to Llanelli, though I did a short inland diversion to Lidl to get some much needed supplies, before rejoining the coast path a short distance later.
The path doesn’t actually go into Llanelli, rather it skirts the very edge crossing over a little river at the North Dock. From this point there was a very well laid path/cycle route that was very busy with people cycling and strolling. After bridging the railway line I reached Pwll, your guess is as good as mine for the pronunciation.
I was being met by some friends from London, Sian, Nat & Archie, who I had assumed I would be meeting near Pwll. They had parked at Pembrey Country Park carpark my proposed finish point for the day and were walking towards me. It turns out they had a few issues after taking the beach route and then there being no way to cross the river for a very long distance meaning that in the end they had to take their shoes and socks off and wade across (something I have only had to do once so far on this walk). For this reason we ended up meeting at Burry Port which in fact was a better location as it had a nice pub. We had some food and drinks and it was great to catch up, the pub was very hot so when it came to leaving I had already become very sleepy.
We set of on the well laid path, through the fairly picturesque Pembrey Burrows and were soon at the Pembrey Country Park. This turned out to be one of the strangest parts of the walk, firstly seeing a road steam engine which turned out to be part of Pembrey Steam Rally with a large collection of both rail and road steam locomotives. Then tucked behind a little hill was a dry ski slope and sort of kids toboggan run, definitely a first for the walk. In amongst all this was a frisbee golf course, equestrian cross country course, pitch and putt pretty much anything you could want.
I said goodbye to Nat, Sian & Archie here, whom I would be seeing again tomorrow afternoon. I decided to carry on a little from this my scheduled finish point for two reasons. Firstly my legs were feeling good and there was plenty of daylight left. Secondly the campsite at this point charges the same for a small backpacking tent as a large caravan which I felt was just stupid.
So I set of along the beach, which was lovely though not on the same level as Rhossili or Three Cliffs, and it was over 2 miles till the path turned of the beach again. Where the path left the beach was where I had assumed I would camp but I was confronted by something entirely different. Just 50 meters in front was someone in full camouflage kit lying down with a rifle aimed in my direction, and then I noticed a couple of others. I was very confused and checked my map which confirmed I was on the proper path so I carried on. As I got closer I noticed they looked young so maybe this was a ACF (Army Cadet) thing. None of them said anything or moved as I stepped around them, it was quite surreal.
I obviously couldn’t now pitch there so carried on into Pembrey Forest, which you may have though could be a good place to pitch but it has not been well managed so the ground level is so overgrown that you can hardly see the soil. So I carried on till just after I left the forest and found a lovely little spot to pitch in the corner of a field.
I have done an extra 4 miles which will reduce the mileage tomorrow which helps me have more time to relax tomorrow evening leading into my rest day.
So a successful, at times scenic, at times definitely not scenic day and it was great to be joined by Archie, Nat & Sian.