Tuesday, 25 May 2021

A few days in Pembrokeshire

Friday 21 May 2021

Nido's parked up at the Llandigige Fawr CL in Pembrokeshire. It's a nice quiet spot, with the pitches spread out in an L-shape around a wildflower meadow.  We have electric and it's reasonably level, although we could have used the levellers to even it up a bit.

We left home yesterday in decreasingly deteriorating weather, with heavy rain and winds gusting 60mph. We've stayed at the Forge CL near Machynlleth before, in August 2017.  It was also a bit wet underfoot that time and we had to park on the tarmac track rather than a grass pitch, to avoid getting stuck.  This time we parked parallel to the track and, this morning, the water was covering the grass, but we were on the level and able to pull away safely. Forge is a lovely little campsite, deep in the countryside, surrounded by steep hills, forest and a fast flowing river alongside.  The owner feeds the red kites at 3pm every afternoon and they normally start circling an hour before, then swoop down to grab the meat scraps he gets from the local butchers. We watched it the last time we stayed here and it was an amazing sight (video below).  We were too late this time and the owner said they're nesting at the moment, so numbers are down a bit on normal.  The rain didn't give up, so the evening was spent in the van, with Salty and I venturing out (I'm so glad I packed my wellies!) was his walks.  Overnight the winds seemed to peak and at one point I thought we'd lose a skylight, but all was still secure and watertight in the morning.

Our journey down to Llandigige Fawr was a wet one; the winds didn't seem as gusty, although still blowing hard.  It's a bit showery now, but not really worth the risk of a walk and ending up with soaking wet kit again.  One of the downsides of being in a small van in this weather is drying out coats and towels.  We use the bathroom as a drying room sometimes - heating on and skylight cracked open - and stuff dries quite quickly. 

I had a mammoth meal cooking session before we left home, making up four meals and freezing two of them to bring with us.  I enjoy cooking in the van, but I prefer it when the van door's open or the BBQ is going outside.  Last night we had fried chicken and salad.  Today it's Thai green curry with naan...with a bottle of beer of course! 

We had no phone signal at Forge, so switched our phones off to save battery.  When we arrived here, I had a DM on Twitter from the Campervan Magazine to say I (actually Salty!) had been picked as this month's competition winner - an Outdoor Revolution sleeping bag!  This is the second prize we've won in this magazine; the first was a big box of dog treats and toys.  I've won a few competitions over the years, the most expensive being a Tracker system and Dashcam for the van.  I don't go hunting for them, but if I seem them pop up in my timeline, I'll usually have a go, even if we don't need the item they're offering as a prize.....someone will be grateful for it.

So a bit of a lazy afternoon and evening, waiting for the weather to improve.  We have a plan to drive down to Abereiddi Beach tomorrow and park up for the day, with a coastal walk if weather allows.  Tonight we'll perhaps watch some TV on the laptop, downloaded on on a hard-drive - movie night!



Saturday 22 May 2021

Nido's spent the day with a great view of the sea at Abereiddi Beach.  We drove here first thing - all of 2 minutes - and were one of the first parked up.  It's £4 for the day and we had the pick of the best spots.  Breakfast was a bacon butty and a cup of tea watching the waves.

We took the coastal path heading north and within a few hundred metres were at the blue lagoon.  This is in fact an old slate quarry, flooded by the sea after a dam was smashed by fishermen looking for a safe haven to shelter their boats from the winter storms. It's now a mecca for wild swimmers and coasteering groups brave enough to plunge into its cold, sapphire waters.  A stag group were the first ones to take to the sea, the groom easily identified by the pink tutu he was wearing on top of his wet suit!  The path took us along the steep cliff edges and we took the steep, metal steps down to Traeth Llyfn.  It's only accessible at low water, the large sandy beach interspersed with rocks and pools.  We were the only ones down there, so Salty had plenty of zoom time off the lead.

Back on the coastal path, we walked for another half and hour to the old harbour village of Porthgain. It grew up around a brickworks, with many of the old buildings still in place.  The village was starting to open to visitors again after what must have been a long lockdown.  We sat at a picnic bench for our lunch before reversing our route back to Abereiddi Beach.  The rest of the afternoon was spent 'sun-pooling' in the van, side door open, watching people enjoy what turned out to be a sunny but fresh day.  The sunshine was welcome after two days of gales and heavy rain, although more is forecast tomorrow.  We really chilled in the van and it reminded us of what we should be doing in retirement.  Salty was tired after his zooming and clifftop walks and spent the afternoon snoozing on the van floor.

Back at the campsite, after showers I warmed up the vegetable chilli I made at home and boiled some rice.  I 'found' a bottle of red wine in the cupboard which was enjoyed as the  sun slowly dropped into the sea.  This has been a good day.

Watching the world go by at Abereiddi Beach

Blue Lagood

Entrance marker to Porthgain harbour (sheltering from the wind)

The old fishermen's hut and the new electric car - Porthgain

'Snake's Wedding'

Traeth Llyfn

Just chillin'

Just watchin'

Just brewin'
Sunday 23 May 2021

Nido's parked up outside the entrance to Longhouse CL in Mathry. Yes, you read that right, outside! With more heavy rain today, we hit the road and headed towards Fishguard, mainly to find somewhere flat and solid to ride out the worst of the storm.  There's a free parking area in Fishguard, behind a garage (which sells LPG by the way) where motorhomes and lorries wait to catch the ferry to Ireland.  We stayed there a while then moved to another small parking area higher up and overlooking the ferry port.  Tea and cake was had (it being Cathy's birthday) then we drove off to visit the beach at Newgale.  Unfortunately the sea view is hidden by a high bank of stones, so we turned around and drove to our next stop, a CL not far from Strumble Lighthouse.  This CL mentions it's on a slight slope but open all year round.  But on arrival, I only managed to get about 20m in before the tyres lost their grip in the mud and foot long grass.  It took 15 minutes of backwards and forwards to gain enough traction to return to the tarmac entrance.  I called the owner, explained the problem and said we'd therefore be unable to stay.  He sort of 'shrugged his shoulders' over the phone (or so I imagine) and we returned to the safety of the Fishguard parking area to work out a plan.

The number of motorhomes and campervans are increasing and, in some cases, we've outnumbered caravans on Camping and Motorhome Club (CAMC) CLs.  The problem with motorhomes is they weigh a lot more.  Some CLs are good and have gravelled or tarmac tracks and pitches.  But many are still just sloping fields of long grass, entirely unsuitable for the thriving numbers of motorhomes looking for somewhere to stay. Perhaps the CAMC need to review some of the CLs' suitability for motorhomes and maybe suggest the owners create hardstanding for one or two.  This would also help extend their season.

I had a reserved list of CLs from my research at home, so rang this one to see if they had any space. The owner said yes, but explained that their field was also soft and we might struggle.  But he offered parking just outside the CL entrance, on much firmer ground, but still with access to the electric hook up over the fence.  Half an hour later I was knocking on the farmhouse door.  The owner was very helpful, suggesting I take a look before deciding.  The area was flat and dry enough (although we are on a bit of a wonk!). But it has a great view of the sea and the neolithic burial chamber called Careg Sampson, with the coastal path running alongside, down to the sea.

The rain finally stopped and we took a walk along the clifftop coastal path, with sapphire sea, caves, arches and jagged rocks. The path runs quite close to the cliff edge in parts and I'm not great with heights!  But we made it back safely and enjoyed watching the sky clear (and the sun appear for a short while) whilst having our meal - and a bottle of Cava to celebrate Cathy's birthday.  Tomorrow we'll take a walk in the opposite direction, first stopping off at the tiny harbour of Abercastell, which we could see from the path.

Careg Sampson - burial chamber next to the CL


Salty protecting me from the sheer cliff face

Monday 24 May 2021

We woke to some sunshine this morning at Marthy so risked a walk with Salty to run off some of his steam and get some fresh air.  On the loop back up the lane the heavens opened and we spent a few hours in the van drying off and steaming!

But later in the afternoon the skies cleared and we headed out again, walking back down the steep coastal path to Abercastell harbour, then back up the other side and along the cliff tops.  About an hour in we turned left, away from the coast and up a footpath, to join a rarely used road track, returning to Abercastell and back up to the CL.  By now the weather had greatly improved and we all sat outside the van on our little grass area by the entrance to the CL.  It was like camping on a village green!  It's right next to the coastal path and we waved and said hello to a few walkers passing by, as well chatting to campers as they returned to the CL.  It was hard for them to miss us to be honest!  The owner came over too and Cathy had a long conversation completely in Welsh - I'm very proud of her!  After some time sat out with a panad and a book, we eventually moved back into the van as the breeze cooled, although the sun was still shining.  Dinner tonight was omelettes and salad; Salty had his first taste of omelette and approved!

Once cleared away we had tea and cake whilst watching a couple of YouTube videos from Camper Vibe and John & Mandy.  The sun's setting over the sea and it's very quiet here.  Time to take the doggo for his final walk of the night.  A relaxing - if sometimes soggy - day.

Abercastell





Our lovely, little pitch just outside the CL entrance

Tuesday 25 May 2021

Our plan was to make our way slowly north and stop at a pub near Machynlleth for a meal and to stay overnight in their car park.  After leaving the CL this morning and, as we drove up, we decided instead to get some fish and chips around lunch time then head home.  We stopped off at New Quay and bought some lovely fish and chips from the Lime Crab on the seafront, taking them back to the car park to eat in the van.

After that it was a couple of hours to get home to unload, clean the van and empty the loo.... that's Van Life!

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