Newport to St. Dogmaels
What a beautiful day – the weather has been perfect for completing the most difficult and longest section of the path. Sunny with a cool breeze. Set off from the campsite just before 8 this morning aiming to get the 4.30 bus back from St. Dogmaels and in the end managed to get the 3.30 bus and had a drink in the pub first!
The walk round from the campsite through Parrog and then through a park by the estuary to meet the bridge was straight forward enough and flat then there is a short walk through the golf course to Newport Sands. They seem to be putting in a pipeline or something across the sands to Parrog as there were pile drivers and lots of workmen at the car park. After this you start to climb up, eventually reaching about 160 metres. The path then undulates quite a but but does tend to stay over the 100 metres for the next 5 to 6 miles. The cliffs are high up and I'm sure they are quite spectacular but when you're on top of them you can't really see them. The next place of note is what they call the Witches Cauldron it is a large blow whole – big enough to have its own beach, and the path actually goes over the archway to it. Around this area and until Caemas Point the rock formations are beautiful – lots of strata that have been folded and uplifted to give curved patterns to the cliffs.
Soon after the Witches Cauldron you come right down to the coast in the access to Moylgrove (although you don't actually go to Moylgrove unless you want to cut this section short). Right from Newport Sands to this point we didn't meet a single other person but as soon as we reached here there were dozens of people about. We stopped here for an early picnic lunch then continued onto the next section. The path starts again with a steep up hill section and then there are some undulations (one or two of them quite steep) that follow the cliff line all the way along to Caemas Point. We met quite a few people on this second half of the path. At Caemas Point you turn the corner and see Poppit Sands as you gradually loose high as you go down to it. You hit a farm and go through the centre of it, in fact today they had actually cordoned off part of the path and had a herd of sheep (complete with their lambs) that they were shearing. We were let into the enclosure and then had to walk a short distance up the lane to get to the gate. They had a small sausage dog with them who was herding the sheep – and quite efficient it was at it as well – never seen a sausage dog masquerading as a sheep dog before! Just round the corner from here was a camping site and it had some yurts on it. This was also part of the farm.
From here you descended to Poppit Sands on the farm road, on reaching here we found the sign announcing the coastal path saying it is 180 miles to Amroth – presumably this was the original start/finish but this has now been moved back to St. Dogmaels. We had an enjoyable ice cream here and then walked along the road to St. Dogmaels. The path starts off in a field by the side of the road but not for long and then just after the Webley Hotel there is quite a steep incline when you were thinking you would just be walking along the side of the estuary which is flat! About a mile and a half after Poppit Sands you reach St. Dogmaels and very soon afterwards a slipway with a slate plinth and mosaic mat which commemorate the start/finish line. A challenging walk (because of the ups and downs and the precipitous nature of the path) but not as bad as I had anticipated; wasn't that keen on the final road walking alongside the cars. Looking ahead of you to where the path was on the cliffs it seemed to be quite precarious but once you had arrived at what you had seen the path was not as bad as anticipated. At times the path was very narrow but it wasn't really very lumpy or had lots of rough rocks to go over (like at St. Davids Head), and it was a lot straighter than expected.
Once again we came across 2 or 3 small groups of ponies. There was even a pair that had foals which were interesting to watch. At half a dozen places on the path there were mounds of shale that had been dug out from a hole on the edge of the path – we can only assume these are probably badgers. We also saw jellyfish just offshore.