Sunday, October 28, 2012

Wales Coast Path: Beachcomber's Cut Part 2

The unnamed wreck at Cefn Sidan
 Too much X Factor (far, far too much actually), too much port, too little sleep due to Harri’s terrible cough... thank goodness for today’s return to GMT which meant we still managed to vacate our Travelodge room at a reasonable hour.

As a quick aside, Harri and I are fast becoming Travelodge enthusiasts (where else can you find decent Saturday night accommodation for two for £40?) but he was a little alarmed when he recently spotted an online article  about a couple who liked the chain so much that they moved in for good.  I don’t think we’ll be doing that anytime soon, but low Travelodge prices have enabled us to pursue Harri’s hiking career while I’m not bringing in any money.

What a difference in the weather today. After yesterday’s all-day sunshine and clear, azure skies, it was so disappointing to open the blinds to the usual British mizzle.
Harri looks at a smaller wreck (with Gower in the distance)

Today’s mission was to find an alternative to trudging mile after mile on tarmac and gravel trails through Pembrey Forest (which even in its full autumnal glory isn’t particularly scenic). With the magnificent Cefn Sidan beach just a few hundred metres away, Harri was determined that coast path walkers should have the option of strolling along the water’s edge if possible.

It is possible. At a junction where the official Wales Coast Path waymarking directs you even deeper into the forest, is a unsigned track which meanders down to the beach. Confused? Us too. Who makes these crazy decisions? Why would anyone hiking the only ‘formal walking trail to follow every dramatic twist and turn of a nation’s coastline’ (extract from the Ramblers magazine, Walk) prefer to wander aimlessly through a sparse woodland of conifers and, er, other woody things? (Sorry, trees are not my specialist subject.)

Like Pendine, the far northern end of Cefn Sidan is closed Monday to Friday (the RAF uses it as a bombing range) but there are plenty of safe access points further south so missing it out altogether is a crime – and a seemingly motiveless one at that.

The friendly lady in the tourist information centre thought there might be a problem with shifting sands (the sandbanks in the estuaries are constantly shifting), however we don't understand how this constantly evolving landscape would pose a danger to people walking along the beach.

We kept well clear of this kite buggy
Despite the cold wind, there were plenty of people about, including someone whizzing along the water’s edge on a kite buggy and several people windsurfing with parachute, which looked kinda scary in the rough sea. 

As long as you wrap up warm (and remember the flask of tea), beaches are good places to be in blustery weather. 

We paused to look at what remained of an unnamed shipwreck (only visible when the tide is over a third of the way out). Gradually being subsumed by the sand is a large section of the hull, thought to be constructed of northern European oak and estimated to date from the mid to late 1880s.

My Canon Compact adds colour to the greyest of days
Across the grey waves was the distinctive shape of the north Gower coast and the tapering finger of Worm’s Head.

We left Cefn Sidan on an easy path between the dunes; it was just a short stroll back to the car.

Majestic landscapes like Cefn Sidan and Pendine Sands make the Welsh coastline spectacular; they are the reason holidaymakers return to Wales year after year. 

Would someone please inform the Wales Coast Path officials?

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