June 14, 2013
After leaving Merthyr Tydfil we headed over to Broad Haven, a village far out on the western coast of Wales. We arrived at about 4:30 pm and checked in to the youth hostel, which appeared to be empty. Neil had booked us a four-bunk room which turned out to be quite a spacious room, complete with ensuite bathroom.
The weather was still cloudy, with occasional rain showers, and it was quite windy. The two of us decided to walk down to the beach, but no sooner had we got there than the rain started in earnest. We walked up to the headland for a look, and in this light the countryside looked green like Ireland. But there was no point in getting drenched, so we headed back to the hostel.
It was now 6 pm so we decided to make dinner. Neil carved the pre-cooked chicken we had purchased from Morrison’s yesterday, Paul peeled potatoes, and Rosemary organized the pots and dishes and cooked the carrots. It was a very good dinner, and for dessert we had tea cakes and Bournville chocolate to round out the meal. The weather was still very blustery, and we hoped it would calm down overnight so that we could get to the island of Skomer tomorrow.
June 15, 2013
We woke up to patchy blue sky, which was a good sign, but there were still strong winds, which was a bad sign. After breakfast we heard that the boats to Skomer would probably not be running today, which was a shame. Nevertheless we headed over to the boat landing at Martin’s Haven to check for ourselves.
The roads on the way were very narrow, and meeting an oncoming car meant pulling as far as possible to the side of the road or backing up to a place where there was room for two cars to pass each other. When we reached the car park, sure enough there was a sign saying “No boats today”. But it wasn’t raining, so we parked the car and went for a walk up to the headland and along the cliff tops. The view towards Skomer was good and when we found a sheltered spot to sit in, it was very pleasant. There was quite a rip tide running in the channel between the island and the mainland, where there were a lot of birds feeding. We sat for quite a while scanning the birds, but they were mostly gulls and unfortunately there were no puffins to be seen.
We continued walking along the cliff tops until we came to the coastal path, then headed back towards the car. Before leaving we made a short stop in the shop, where we bought some melanine place mats with puffins and a pretty tea towel, also with puffins. By now the rain had started, so we made a dash to the car and headed back to the hostel for lunch. The weather was a mixed bag, so by the time we had finished our lunch the sun was back out. The highlight of our lunch was seeing a fox which came out into the grassy garden area outside the window.
We decided to head over to St. David’s for the afternoon, so off we went, driving on roads just as narrow as this morning’s roads. Some of the villages we passed through were very picturesque. In St. David’s we found a good parking spot and then the first place we came to was an ice cream shop. So we got lured in there. They had a lot of flavours, but Paul’s choice of Christmas Pudding was unanimously voted the best. As we headed down towards the cathedral we heard the bells chiming and saw a wedding party coming out. So while we were waiting for that to finish we went around behind the cathedral, to the ruins of the Bishop’s Palace. It was a lovely sheltered location so we sat on the benches for a short while. We looked in the gift shop, but didn’t see anything of real interest.
By now the wedding had dispersed, so we went into the cathedral to look around. It was immense inside with a high, finely-engraved wooden ceiling, which we found unusual. The other cathedrals we had seen had all had painted plaster ceilings. It was also a bit disconcerting to see the stone pillars around the nave leaning outwards as they got higher, but the cathedral dated from the 12th century so it must not have been a problem. The side arches were all differently carved, some with floral motifs and others with Celtic designs.
On the way back to the youth hostel we decided to stop at the small village of Solva for a walk. On our way to St. David’s the boats in Solva harbour had been floating, but two hours later the tide was out and the boats were on the ground. We walked along the sandy shore to the harbour entrance, passing some structures which we thought might have been lime kilns, and then back via village streets. The sun was still shining and the wind was still blowing strongly, but it was an enjoyable stroll along the beach.