Freshwater West to Castlemartin

Need to be careful here because I don’t want this to become a big moan. This short walk was yet another filling in section, but it must be one of the most uninspiring short walks we’ve done so far. Now I’ve mentioned before trying to find a bus here in South Pembrokeshire on an Easter weekend can be challenging. But this turned out to be even more than we anticipated. The original plan was to get a bus from Freshwater West through to the bus stop at the Green Bridge of Wales. But that route only runs twice week, on a Tuesday and Thursday. Now what on earth is the point of having a bus route that only has buses running twice a week? Back to plan B. We parked at Freshwater West and then walked towards Castlemartin.

The beach at high tide in Freshwater West. The wind certainly make it a little fresher than I would have liked.

The beach at Freshwater West is a very popular surfing beach and the narrow road down to the bay was lined with camper vans and surfers waiting for the the tide to change. Now comes my second main of the day. The weather forecast was for sunny periods accompanied by a moderate breeze. Well they got that wrong! It was more like a blooming gale as we got out of the car in the car park. And it was blooming cold. But I didn’t moan too much really. After a short bimble along the beach to collect a few stones so that Aunty could be creative with some stone sculptures when we get home, the walk started in earnest. 

Believe it or not this is the road at Freshwater West. I love it!

Now on to my third moan. Because Freshwater West is on the edge of the Castlemartin Army Ranges the path doesn’t go along the coast, but takes you inland up the hill and follows the road past the impromptu camper van car park and turns inland. At the top of the hill there is no real path but a permissive path along the wide road verge running alongside the perimeter fence of the tank practice range. This verge is apparently now part of a managed area for bumble bees and is being managed to encourage pollinating flowers, that will in turn “encourage and enhance the environment for bumble bees”. Well, on the 2 mile section we walked all I saw was a grass verge, with only a very few flowers and not a single bumble bee. OK it may be a little early, but I was expecting to see some evidence of flowers and management. It seems that a grant has been given, been spent but not much achieved. I hope I’m being a little ungracious here and wish it success, but I’m sure that there is going to be much more bee activity on the unmanaged side of the perimeter fence within the tank range itself.

All along the path there are warning signs, but not perhaps the most useful. The image on the left is what you see as you follow the path, but the warning is in fact on the other side of the sign. Not sure of the logic here.

The only redeeming interest in the whole short walk was an odd looking round structure at Castlemartin. Stuck right in the centre of the road is what looks like a huge walled roundabout where 4 single track roads meet. Sure there isn’t enough traffic in this small difficult to reach outpost of civilisation. No it’s not a roundabout but a circular pound for stray cattle, originally built in 1780. The walls are 1.8m high, 13m in diameter and built with uncoursed rubble masonry walls, No longer used as a cattle pound, the inside is now laid out as a garden, but the benches inside need some loving care. That said it did offer a respite from the wind for a while. Did I mention it was windy?

Look carefully and you’ll see Aunty in the cattle pound.

By the time we got to Castlemartin I was throughly demoralised and this grumpy old man demanded that we stop and head back to the car. If it wasn’t for the fact that Aunty is determined to walk every foot of the path this section of the Coastal Path could so easily have been missed out and it would have made no difference to me what so ever. My moan is now finished.

22nd April 2019.

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