Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 3 Wet everything (Carmarthen-Kidwelly)

Leaving Carmarthen on a dull, wet summer's day
It was clear from the moment we parked in Carmarthen that the weather was not going to be kind to us.

First, which boots to wear? Both pairs were damp, uninviting and distinctively whiffy so I opted for the slightly larger size to allow my fast-disintegrating feet some extra toe room. Only 13 miles today, a stroll in the park compared to yesterday’s 18+ miles.

Harri had warned me in advance that the walk out of Carmarthen might be a bit ‘boring’ – nothing new there then. Actually, for once boring was good because it meant we walked quickly in the rain and had several miles under our belts before an official coast path sign sadistically directed us into a field.

If anyone's listening, I don't mind walking along roads...
On the whole, there was less mud around today but at the edge of one field, several feet of thick, brown, gunge lay between me and the stile. Harri tiptoed across, getting very muddy in the process, but every time I put my foot down, it sunk deeper and deeper into the mud.

At this point, I tend to do my ‘I’ve had enough of this’ speech, accompanied by a little stomping and some reminiscing about ‘perfect’ places for hiking, like Madeira, Portugal, Spain... anywhere that's not wet and muddy. I then peruse said field’s perimeter to see if there’s another way to cross (climbing an oak and dropping from its highest branch, wading through a waist-high river, cutting through barbed wire with my cheese knife) but, unfortunately, on this occasion, there was no obvious alternative.

Now Harri isn’t an overly-romantic man but even he can see when a small amount of chivalry might be a good idea. ‘Stand back’ I heard him shouting, before he proceeded to lift several large stones and hurl them into the mud. A few sank into the brown abyss without trace but two of the larger ones stuck firm and, choosing my route carefully, I was able to wobble my way precariously to the stile. Oh, the joys of coast path walking!

I was excited about reaching Ferryside. A few months ago, my writer friend Marilyn and I went house hunting (for her) in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire and, out of curiosity, we visited Ferryside to look at a dilapidated terraced house in Horton View, up for auction with a price guide of between £15-20,000. The house ultimately sold for £42,000 and I was curious to see what, if any, progress had been made on its redevelopment.

I had no trouble finding the house, but was sad to find it in the same sorry state as months earlier (hopefully its new owner will bring it back into use in the near future).
Finally, we're back on the blustery, grey coast

We hadn’t passed any suitable seating for hours, but we were spoilt for choice in Ferryside, where four empty benches graced the windy, grey estuary and provided great views of Llansteffan.  All these estuary circulars were getting us down a bit; in Cornwall, ferries still run between Falmouth and St Mawes, Padstow and Roche, cutting down on miles of dreary, unnecessary walking. Hopefully, one day, when the Wales Coast Path is bringing in thousands of foreign tourists, it might become financially viable to resurrect Carmarthenshire’s ferries; until then, there’s no choice but to trek upstream until you reach a bridge.

The Swansea train leaving Ferryside
The route from Ferryside to Kidwelly was unnotable; more paths without views, more trekking through fields and woodland. Fewer cows, slightly less mud.

We entered Kidwelly on the cycle path, but, with the weather noticeably windier than on previous days, there were no cyclists to dodge.

Cold, wet and shivering, the 45-minute wait at the deserted Kidwelly station and the over-inflated single ticket price to Carmarthen (£4.20) did nothing to lift our spirits.

The next section takes us to Burry Port and beyond. It simply has to get better. . .

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