Thursday, May 28, 2009

It rains a lot in Wales

It rains a lot in Wales.  Sometimes we spend days watching the raindrops racing down the windows. Sometimes I wonder what possessed me to buy a cottage that's exposed to the full force of the Atlantic gales. But then sometimes - usually when I've almost forgotten - the weather turns and I'm reminded why.  

This Whitsun was a rare event; sunshine on a bank holiday. Crowds gathered at the popular beaches; 'like bees to honey pot,' I thought as we joined them, queuing to park at  Whitesands Bay. It is curious how people chose to gather quite so close together on one of the wildest stretches of the Welsh Coast.  At Whitesands this Saturday the popular approach was to search for a space between the hundreds of  families either side of the slipway, strategically placing your windbreaks, beach tents and the like to create your own private space - with luck you might just see the waves.  Yet a hundred yards down the beach there was acres of empty space.  

I don't mind honey pots really; there are plenty of days when the beach is empty, days when we walk the dog and pass maybe one or two other families. Sunny days are for crowds and buckets and spades, and children with ice cream on their faces.  I can appreciate too that it's nice to be with others: the kids playing together, people watching, meeting friends - we don't always want the wilderness experience.  And another good thing about honey pots is that by attracting so many people, the leave the best bits for those more inclined to find them.  

Once the kids were settled and Jane was happy with her book, I went for a walk up Carn Llidi. It's a perfect 'miniature mountain' which stands above St. David's Head.  In less than a mile I could have been in a different land; I passed no more than half a dozen walkers; Porth Melgan, the pristine beach on the far side of the cliffs had one lone sunbather; I met a bird watcher who was revelling in the linnets and stonechats - I told him where the choughs were nesting and he was off before I'd finished speaking.  Looking back to Whitesands I could see the crowds, their density thinning in proportion to the distance from the slipway.

On the summit of Carn Llidi was another honey pot of sorts. A photographic club were gingerly balancing tripods on the rocks, exchanging views on meter readings, apertures and shutter speeds.  One chap spent twenty minutes looking through the camera lens without taking a photograph.  And all around him was some of the best coastline in Britain.  They could have gone off in smaller groups, but they wanted to be there together; it was part of the fun I suppose.

I left them to it, climbing down to a ledge beneath the summit to sit on my own.  I like Pembrokeshire in almost all weathers, but it is days like these that remind me why it is so special. Ramsey Sound was as calm as I'd seen it this year, South Bishop lighthouse was clearly visible, memories of kayak trips to the islands returned.  I dug out my camera and took some snaps, wondering if there was any finer place to be on a sunny May afternnon.


  1. Wow....would you look at those views!!! You are certainly lucky to live in such a wonderful place!!

    I have only ever visited Wales once. We're big fans of the tv series 'The Prisoner' so instead of buying Christmas presents for each other, Chris, Myself and our best mate Tom, decided to put the money together and go to Wales for New Year. We hired a cottage near Portmeirion and had an absolute ball!! That was about three years ago and we've not been back since (to be fair we have been in Thailand for two and a half years!!)but now that we're not a million miles away we've talked about doing a bit more exploring of the country. After seeing your photo's I think I'll suggest Whitesands as a good place to visit!!

    C x

    Ps. Thank you for your comment on my last post. It was much appreciated :-)

  2. Somewhere like Crickhowell in the Brecon Beacons is also a good place to go and not too far from Wiltshire. There's a fantastic private hostel near there -not really a hostel at all- it's a converted barn with family rooms and excellent facilities. Good place to stay with little ones.