Around South Wales to Pembroke

It was raining when we left Sennybridge in the morning and the day looked very dismal.

Just up the road at the little village of Defynnog is the church of St Cynog, and in its churchyard is a pair of old Yew trees that are reputed to be around 5000 years old. Apparently these trees die from the inside and this tree, or pair of trees now, are meant to be the remains of one very old tree. There is some doubt as to whether this is true, but it’s a good story. I braved a quick walk in the continuous rain but retreated back to the car quickly.

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Near the city of Neath is the village of Aberdulais. There is a gorge where the power of the water has been harnessed for centuries. The latest use was for he mAking of tin in the 18th ad 19th centuries. A torrent of water running through the Dulais Valley has been the driving force for over 400 years of industrial innovation.

The rain had reduced to a drizzle by now and I went to look at the ruins of these tin works and the rather beautiful waterfalls that cascades through the valley. This area is very interesting and is now preserved by the National Trust.

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The gorge in which the river and waterfall now lie was formed about 20,000 years ago. As a glacier further up the valley melted, the resulting melt water slowly cut its way down through the 300-million-year-old rock. This can be seen on the west side of the gorge today. Beneath it is a layer of coal, that has been gradually eroded by the flowing water allowing the rock above to collapse and form the Falls as they can be seen today.

We then drove on to the Gower Peninsula to see some of the sights. It was still very wet and we took quick look at Oxwich Castle from the carpark and decided that was all we need to see.

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It is a rather impressive Tudor mansion which stands on a headland above the wide sweep of Oxwich Bay. However, the remains we see today are best regarded as those of a mock-fortified manor house, with clear evidence of sumptuous accommodation, and raised during the peaceful and prosperous years of the 16th century.

Rhossili at the end of the peninsula is reported to have Wales’ best beach. The guide book says that there are three miles of sandy shore, encompassing one of Gower’s most famous landmarks, Worms Head. The views are meant to be incomparable and are best enjoyed from one of the many walking routes, which feature the beach, Worm’s Head and the cliffs. That sounded pretty good except the whole area was covered in thick fog and we couldn’t see a darn thing!

We then headed around some of the rural roads towards some more beaches near Tenby.

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One of the beaches that we saw would pass as a half decent beach, except that the only way to access it was, after finding a car park in a very congested area,  was down a series of steps from a very high concrete breakwater. The weather had cleared by now and it was bright and sunny.

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Further towards Pembroke, where we are staying for the night, are the little seaside towns of Llamillo and Pendine. We took a detour to see what these towns may look like and came across what must be a true British seaside experience. Every field around these towns was covered in caravan parks and camping areas. Some went on for acres with their rows of cabins. Every person in Wales must be here. Why you would leave home to come and stay in a crowded field with neighbours living closer to you than they do at home, really beats me!

This weekend is a bank holiday and long weekends certainly do draw a crowd at a seaside resort. Every little seaside town around here is chock-a-block with people. Traffic on the narrow little streets in and out of the town is reduced to a crawl. Finding a parking spot is like winning a lottery. Every eatery in town is full and hordes of people sit outside in the sun drinking beer at the pub and eating hot chips out of a box.

I’ll just wait until the crowd goes away before getting my hopes up of being able to stop and see anything in one of these towns