Day 085: Carmarthen to Brook
Distance: 26.13 miles
Ascent: 3489 feet
Weather: Light showers, Sunny Spells
Accommodation: Camping Brook Farm (kindly Complimentary)
After a lovely rest day where I was fed so much food it was time to get back on the road (or more literally path.) Over the rest day I had a little rejig with this week’s schedule due partly to the weather forecast and partly to reduce a seriously tough day on Thursday. The weather report is not good for this week with lots of rain, apart from today which other than first thing was forecast to be dry. So, I had decided to extend today whilst the weather was behaving.
It was drizzling when I left Sian & Carmarthen this morning, but I took the slightly risky decision not to put on waterproofs based on the fact it was not too strong and it wasn’t meant to last (it turned out to be a good decision.) So, I was off and heading back down the other side of the River Towy, after heading under a Bascule Bridge and around the back of a school the path reached a road which it was then meant to follow. I could not believe the path took you down this road, it was a 60mph road, with virtually no verge and many cars and lorries passing in both directions. If the official path had not come this direction I would not have attempted this road, but fortunately after a mile with seemingly another mile to go a sign directed the path to the other side of the hedge from the road from where I felt much safer. I think it is the first time I have said this on the 1500 miles of the walk so far, this stretch of ‘path’ is incredibly dangerous and should be shut with immediate effect, I would be very surprised if no hikers or cyclists have been killed on this section! Having read other accounts of walkers along this stretch after doing it they have said the same thing.
Eventually the path leaves the road completely, and the going got much more scenic. I passed a beautiful little church near Llangain, but it appeared to have been condemned surrounded by fencing and signs saying Danger Falling Masonry. From the church the path joins roads again, though much quieter and safer and in fact made for nice walking. Just as I rejoined the main road I came across a peacock crossing the road, presumably semi wild. This was a strange but lovely site.
The path again leaves the road, heading up to the top of the hill before following a lovely track all the way down to Llansteffan, where the magnificent Llansteffan Castle is perched upon the top of the cliffs. The castle ruins date back to 1100 and were built by the Normans as part of their invasion of Wales. Its ownership switched several times between the Normans and the Welsh after skirmishes.
I followed the beach from Llansteffan around to Scott’s Bay where the coast path climbs up onto the cliffs with stunning views over to beyond Laugharne where I would be finishing the day. Unfortunately, my route would be significantly longer than the visual one. The path re-joins the roads and passes several farms, before at a farm near Cwm-celyn the route on the ground appeared to stop, with signs strangely missing, a large bull in field sign on the main visible gate and clearly no attempt to clear a route. After consulting my map, it was clear path did go through here, so climbed gate and carried on. A few hundred meters later I found a path sign chucked in a hedge and then a few hundred meters later the proper signage started again.
After a few more tracks & lanes I made it to the edge of St Clears, I had considered getting food here but on consulting my phone there were not many if any options even with a fairly large walk up to the main road, so decided I would carry on to Laugharne. This would mean leaving proper food till quite late.
My heart dropped when from St Clear it appeared that I would have to follow another busy road with no verge, when just before reaching it, the path diverted just behind a hedge and however muddy was very happy to not have to follow the road. The path then heads back towards the River Taf, and approaches Laugharne by a very scenic route passing Dylan Thomas’s Boathouse on its outskirts. I am no Dylan Thomas expert but know he is a famous poet and the people reading this probably know more of his material than life than I do, but it is not hard to see from a vantage point like this how one could be easily inspired to write or paint, two skills I unfortunately don’t have in abundance.
Laugharne is dominated by a large castle with an impressive amount of the ruins still intact, this is a castle that has been rebuilt and changed since the 12th century and been held by the Welsh, Normans & English. But if I’m honest all I was interested in by the time I reached Laugharne was food, having not eaten enough. There was a little supermarket, with table outside, so I bought some stuff to eat straight away, and a few bits to cook that evening as well as residual stocks.
The walk out of Laugharne follows Dylan Thomas’ 30th Birthday walk about which he wrote a poem, if only I’d been here 4 days ago would have been more apt. This part was absolutely stunning, with stunning views over the military area at East Marsh and the path soon dropped down to the marsh area, before the final couple of kilometres following a road. I was absolutely exhausted by the end and was very happy to see a couple of smiling faces at Brook Farm, whom had offered to let me pitch in there camping field free of charge for the night and were even kinder making me a cup of tea on arrival. This is exactly the sort of campsite I like, small, scenic, flat, nice views and not too fussy with just a couple of clean showers, a sink and just the facilities you need and none of the paraphernalia you get with the larger more commercial sites. My phone had no signal, but the owners let me sit on their garden table and use their Wi-Fi which was rather nice with the sun slowly setting.
A weird day in some ways, which in the end seemed like a nice successful day,even if the above seems a little negative but I am absolutely exhausted and wonder if the stress of the dangerous road walking had added to this.