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Tuesday 27th September - Friday 30th September - The Celtic Trail Part One
At last a well earned holiday! Except when Rob & Sarah go on holiday, it's normally even more exerting than "normal days"! We are intending to cycle the whole of National Cycle Route 4 which, in Wales, is known as The Celtic Trail. It runs from the Irish Sea port of Fishguard all the way to Greenwich in London. We have now cycled the first four days as far as Swansea.
Day 1 Fishguard - Newgale. Great cycling along the fabulous north Pembrokeshire coast. We enjoyed a stop at the tiny fishing cove of Abercastle and had a great elevenses (bacon buttey) break at The Mill cafe in Trevine. From there we quickly achieved the morning's goal of St Davids - the smallest city in Great Britain and home to the magnificent St Davids Cathedral, the spiritual capital of Wales. After a tour of the Bishop's Palace and a leisurely coffee in the square we headed out of town east with the strong breeze finally on our backs. We spent our first night at Southwood Farm, above the surfing beach of Newgale. We're happy to commend it as a house full of character and an excellent breakfast, full of home made treats. We had a standard but adequate dinner at The Anchor in Solva.
Day 2 Newgale - Saundersfoot. An overcast day bt one that revealed lovely glimpses of southern Pembrokeshire. We started on a roller coaster coastal lane along to the rather characterless village of Broad Haven. next, it was inland to the outskirts of the county town, Haverfordwest. We dropped down to the enigmatic Merlin's Bridge before reaching the delightful cycle path that runs alongside the railway to Johnston and then on the old trackbed down to Neyland. The "Brunel Trail" is a superb example of a shared use cycle / footpath that is used by visitors and locals alight. We discovered it back in April and now it was great as we zoomed downhill to reach the Cleddau estuary. Once over the bridge we zigzagged our way around Pembroke Dock, a once-thriving planned town based on a grid-iron street plan. Over the hill to Pembroke and the magificent castle, the birthplace of Henry VII and a bastion of Norman control over the region.
Having restocked our food supplies we took The Ridgeway east over to Penally and Tenby. Unfortunately low cloud and strong winds rather took the fun out of the ride so we were very glad to eventually reach that jewel; in the crown of Welsh resorts - Tenby. Nestling below its castle, with two beaches, a bustling harbour and a labyrinth of narrow streets, Tenby is a fascinating town to explore. Sadly, with yet another climb ahead of us, we all too quickly were heading out of town for a final, literal, push on to Saundersfoot, Tenby's little sister. The Malin Hotel proved an excellent choice and we'd heartedly recommend it!
Day 3 Saundersfoot - Carmarthen
Tuesday 20th September - The Beacons Grand Circle
Carolyn came down from Teesside to enjoy the luxuries of Nant Ddu Lodge and to tackle the full Grand Circle of the Brecon Beacons, but not in that order! We started at the Neuadd reservoir in the Taf Fechan valley and headed anti-clockwise, heading to the quieter eastern Beacons, reaching Fan y Big for lunch. The national park ranger team were using a helicopter to ferry stone in order to strengthen the peaty paths over Waun Rhyd. En route we came across the Google Trekker being carried around by two guys who were following the Beacons Way. Trekker is the off-road equivalent to Street View. Two major descents and climbs faced us before reaching Pen Y Fan, the top of the Beacons. After over 8 hours in the hills we descended to the valley and the luxuries of of a well-earned rest. In the new year Carolyn will return to Wales and will climb the third Welsh peak on her 3 peaks list - Plynlimon.
11th September Black & White Trail Herefordshire
Dorothy and Michael joined Rob on a tour of the historical villages of Herefordshire today. Inspired by The One Show coming from Weobley, the Cumbrian couple were keen to explore the so-called Black & White villages in the north west of the county. It was a lovely day and eight villages were visited, culminating in the picture-perfect settlement of Eardisland. We had at a tea at The Bells Inn, Almeley; an excellent Sunday lunch at The New Strand, Eardisley and a fine coffee and brownies at the new Cafe on Bridge Streeet, Pembridge.
6th September Brecon Beacons Tour
Joining Miranda and family again, this time we headed from Talgarth to the beautiful Llangors Lake. Enjoying the quiet, sunny weather and the term-time relaxed atmosphere, we lingered long at southern Wales' largest natural lake. Next we visited Talybont-on-Usk, a canal-side village that bristles with walkers and mountain bikers, boaters and cycle tourers on most fine days. We followed a route to the Blaen y Glyn waterfalls, fully replenished by recent rains and then by way of contrast, crossed the national park to reach the former industrial town of Merthyr Tydfil. This half day tour was completed at the Coach & Horses Inn, Llangynidr where great Illy coffee and oodles of cake, much of it "on the house" made for a fine conclusion to this exploration of the Brecon Beacons National Park
Miranda and her family have been staying at Caepost cottage in Talgarth. They are joining Exploring Mid Wales for two half day tours around the area. Today we explored the area north of Talgarth, visiting the commons of Llandefalle and Brechfa pond. We decended to the Wye valley and had a tea break at Erwood Station art gallery before heading up the picturesque Edw valley before heading for the hills once more. Far reaching views of the Black Mountains and neighbouring Herefordshire. A great introduction to some of the hidden secrets of Mid Wales.