Thursday 25th May
We set off early – but not so early that we’d get tangled with rush hour traffic. We aimed for 09:00 and achieved 09:05, which is pretty good for us. We had done all but hooking-up the night before and thus all that needed to be done this morning was make widgies for the journey, hook up and go. Whoop!
It was a beautiful day and we had a very smooth trip up, stopping at Membury for coffee and Swansea for a post lunch drink and comfort break. Our destination was Hasguard Cross, about seven miles south-west of Haverfordwest, the County town of Sir Benfro (as Pembrokeshire is known, in Welsh). We arrived on site – Redlands Touring Park – by about 3 o’clock to find that it was pretty much empty. We were offered our pick of pitches and selected one with the best view of the sea. It was gloriously warm and sunny and we set up and got the kettle on in record time. Once we had got ourselves comfy and shipshape, we decided to make the most of the weather and go out for an explore and dinner somewhere.
We set off along the twisty roads that seem to characterise this part of the world to our first port of call – Little Haven. I should explain here, that my Aunty Vera and Uncle Roy had a holiday cottage in Little Haven and I spent many happy times there as a child with them and with my parents. We also came to the area when George was young in the caravan that we had at the time, so we both have lovely memories of the place.
As we drove down the romantically named Strawberry Hill and on to St Brides Road I felt absurdly excited. It was such a joy to be back and I have to admit to a few tears of happiness as we passed through and up very the steep turn towards Broad Haven. We hadn’t been back for over 25 years and it hadn’t really changed that much. Sadly the shop where we used to buy shrimping nets and mackerel spinners and ice-cream was gone. Long gone I suspect, but all three pubs seem to be thriving – no mean feat for a village with a population of not much above 1,000 – and that’s combined with the neighbouring village (larger) of Broad Haven! Obviously tourism is the key to their survival. There was a lot of work going on – repairing (or upgrading?) the little sea wall area where George is sitting in the third picture above. Good to see but a little disappointing to look at. There also seems to be work going on at the site of the old shop. Exciting!
We arrived at Broad Haven and this has undergone more change but is still as charming as ever. By now we had decided to pop in at each of the bays along the coast, calling at Druidstone Haven, Nolton Haven, Newgale (with its long stretch of beach creating a surfer’s paradise) and culminating in beautiful Solva. It was a beautiful evening for a drive and we relished revisiting all these familiar places.
We had dinner at the Harbour Inn, which was doing brisk trade on this sunny evening. We both chose steak and mine was great, whilst Paul’s was tough – to Archie’s delight as he got most of it – so we shared. Not sure we’d hurry back to eat there but the location is unbeatable and it’s very dog friendly.
After dinner and a short walk around the harbour we retraced our steps back along the coast and returned to Redlands. And on the way home we hatched a cunning plan! Solva was the perfect place to launch our little boat and try out the new electric outboard we had bought. It has a slipway and is sheltered – it’s also very lovely. A check of the tide table showed that the tide would be high at 07:20, so it would mean an early start but the weather was looking good so – game on!
We stopped off at Haroldston Chins (between Broad Haven and Druidstone) for an evening photo opportunity. The car park here allows access for wheelchair users – what a great idea and lovely that everyone can enjoy the stunning views across St Brides Bay.
We had had an early start and tomorrow would be even earlier, so it was no hardship to go to bed early. As the campsite was very quiet and it was hot – we went to sleep with the window and blinds at the foot of our bed open. Such a beautiful sight before we happily nodded off. Coming here was such a great choice.
Friday 26th May
The alarm went off at 06:00 and we sprang out of bed and threw our clothes on, had a quick spot of brekker (cereal) and were out of the door. We had packed everything we needed the night before so we tiptoed out of the site so as not to disturb the few people who were there and set off. Another cracking day and the hedgerows looked their best. Our half-hour journey took a little longer than planned as there was a road closure but we soon arrived at Solva. It was so early, the parking pay booth wasn’t even open. We picked the perfect space right next to the slipway. We use a pump to blow up the boat and it takes about 15 minutes. It buzzes like an angry little bee and we were worried about disturbing people slumbering nearby but it couldn’t be heard even from a very short distance away so it was fine. I blew up the seats manually (orally?) and we soon were ready to attach the outboard. We lifted the boat down to the slipway and popped it in the water. It felt pretty chilly (around 14 degrees actually)!
As I said, this was the first proper outing for the outboard. Of course we had tested it all before we left home so we knew it worked – but how good would it be? Nervous anticipation! I got in and Paul handed me Arch who settled down like the good boy he is. Paul joined us and off we went. It was eerily silent – there is a just a barely discernible hum. We were happy to find that it worked very well indeed. In case anyone is interested in a similar set-up, I have put the details of our kit and costs in a note here.
We had such a lovely time pottering around the harbour. Solva has a fascinating history. In the early 20th century, it was a thriving port with over 30 boats and 9 warehouses for cargo and you can still see the remains of the lime-kilns, where imported limestone was burnt. This was used largely as a fertiliser. You could also get a passage to America from Solva – for the princely sum of £4 (in 1840)!
There is quite a small window for the tide as the harbour dries almost completely. We had sought advice from the locals and were told an hour either side of high water should be fine. All too soon we made our way back to the slip way and got the boat out and reversed the process Such fun though and well worth all the effort!
We packed up, paid for our parking as the booth was now open and were back in Broad Haven by about 9.30, where we had 2nd breakfast – a bacon butty. Yum! We then went back to the caravan for showers and to dry out the boat and pack it away properly. Once we were clean and showered we set off exploring again. We wanted to research other potential slipways and made our way along the coast, via Sandy Haven – as recommended by the camp-site owner, who had spotted our boat drying. It was beautiful but not ideal as you could not park at the actual slipway. We had a nice walk along the coastal path and then pressed on towards Dale, where I recalled much boating activity from my time here long ago.
Time had now passed, as it does, and it was now around 2ish. We had a very pleasant lunch at the Griffin Inn. I must admit that this was our second choice. We had tried the Boathouse Cafe as they were promoting a dressed crab lunch which had rather tickled our fancy. We had ordered our food and drinks there but they only took cash and we had need of a cashpoint. Oh calamity! We retreated, rather embarrassed and made our way to the Griffin Inn. It was lovely though, with a sunny upper deck overlooking the bay and dog friendly. We very happily fell upon a shared pint of prawns and some smoked mackerel pate. Delish!
We made our way back to the van and, after our early morning exertions, a beepy (or siesta) was in order. I fell asleep in a chair initially and then moved to the comfort of the bed. Once refreshed, having awoken and had a restorative cuppa, we set out again for an early evening drive and explore.
Here are pictures of our pitch by the way:
We called in at St Brides Haven and had a walk on the rocky beach. Loads of people there, all taking advantage of the evening sunshine. Kayaking, diving and some even swimming. Lovely. I had a little fantasy moment of living in the cottage in the picture below.
The next port of call was Marloes , where the beach disappears at high tide – beware! And finally Martins Haven, where you can catch a boat to Skomer Island, a haven for puffins and Manx Shearwaters. All aboard the Dale Princess – although not at this time of day. One for another visit, I think?
Then it was back to the van for our supper of Mushroom Stroganoff. We have got into the habit of taking Gousto meals away with is in the caravan. We are big fans. You get all the fresh ingredients and a step by step recipe to cook from scratch.All delivered to the house. And they are always delicious! And the beauty is, if you like them, you can buy the ingredients and make them again and again using your own ingredients. We use it to try out new things and introduce new dishes to our weekly routine. Highly recommended.
We had another early night as it had been a long and action-packed day.
Saturday 27th May
The forecast rain started with a vengeance in the early hours of the morning. And it thundered and lightning-ed like it was going out of fashion! Poor Arch was terrified and we did not get a lot of sleep. My back was a bit troublesome too. Eventually the storm passed and we were left with the rain, which had knocked a full 10 degrees off yesterday’s max temperature! It rained all morning but finally – around lunchtime – it eased off. We had passed the morning relaxing, reading and snoozing but were glad to go out.
We stopped off quickly – well that was the plan – as Paul wanted to get some screws for a quick repair on one of the drawers in the van and I needed some flour for tonight’s sauce (which I had omitted to pack. Tsk). It was gridlocked. We queued to get into the the supermarket car-park and then queued to get out and then we queued to get into B&Q and then we queued to get out. Saturday madness! Arrggghh!
We had decided to go to Angle, following the course of the Cleddau and across it to the Milford Haven side on the “new” bridge, thence to Angle. Well the first part was not too successful as the Cleddau is well hidden from the road, but we eventually arrived in Neyland, where the Cleddau King plied its trade until the Cleddau Bridge opened in 1975. I remember it well. It could carry 24 cars and 250 passengers and was always a bit of an adventure. The bridge crosses from Neyland to Pembroke Dock. I wonder how much the ferry was? The bridge is now 75p to cross – each way.
Portsmouth’s own HMS Warrior once used to lie at Pembroke Dock, where she was rather ignominiously used as a floating oil-pontoon and re-christened “Oil Fuel Hulk C77”. She was there for nearly 50 years until she was donated to the Maritime Trust for restoration in 1979. Lucky Portsmouth. Interesting fact – George was invested into the Sea Scouts aboard HMS Warrior! Sadly she is in a bit of a pickle again and needs funds to ensure her continued survival.
We then made our way to Angle, which I recalled as a lovely beach, and my recollections were correct. We had a very nice cuppa and cake from the smart Wavecrest Cafe before a spot of rock-climbing and rock-pooling on the beach.
It was then home. It’s odd how, when you poddle about, calling in here and there, you just don’t notice the time. But straight back took nearly an hour. Tonight’s dinner was another Gousto meal – a smoked fish gratin with champ. The green cabbage was sauteed in butter and garlic rather than boiled. We will definitely be doing that again!! Great work Gousto! And then we had another early night to catch up on our broken sleep from the night before!
Sunday 28th May
The threat of rain seems to have passed us by and the day looks set fair. Today would have been Mum’s 85th birthday and I took some time, as we drove to our destination for the day, to think about her. I know she loved it down here too. I miss her. We stopped at Newgale for a picture opportunity, as the tide was out. Archie enjoyed drinking the freshwater stream that runs onto the beach!
We were bound for St Davids – famous for being Britain’s smallest city and a little gem. It is famous for the Cathedral and the ruins of the Bishop’s Palace – despoiled by one Bishop William Barlow, who sold the lead from the roof to pay for the weddings of his five daughters! That started its decline and by 1678 it was considered as being “beyond economic repair. Well worth a look, though.
St Davids seems to have been overtaken by yarn-bombing as you will see from the pictures below. I approve! We met a 17 year old border terrier whilst wandering around there. He was really showing his age, bless him but he gave us hope. Archie is 15 in July and we do begin to wonder how much longer we shall have him for. 😦
We had a big Sunday roast lunch (to save cooking tonight) at the Grove Hotel. They do a very reasonable Sunday sharing platter for two £21.95
“A trio of roasts including Welsh topside of beef, loin of pork and roast turkey with Yorkshire puddings, sage and onion stuffing, pigs in blankets, goose fat roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables and rich gravy”. It was rather too much, but I luckily had a plastic box in the car and we turned it into a meal for 2 + dog. He loves his veg, does Archie and there was a fair bit of meat left too. Lucky boy!
After lunch, we popped down to Caerfai Bay – just can’t get enough of this truly stunning coastline! It was heaving so we didn’t stay long. Glad we popped in though. There is a caravan site there but I’m not sure I’d fancy going, as it’s a very narrow approach and we had to stop and squeeze past quite a few times. It’s another lovely beach though and very popular.
We turned for home and spotted the sign for the Solva Woollen Mill. We had a lot od Welsh tapestry articles (blankets, handbags, spectacle cases, purses, waistcoats – even a cape) and so I fancied a nose round. We took the turn, which told us it was only one and a half miles. Hmm. I think it may have been a shade further! Or maybe that was just the way it seemed? Anyway we arrived. To find that it was closed on Sundays!! Grrrr. But we did see some lovely alpacas (I want one) on the road back. Photo opportunity!!
We stopped off in Broad Haven for an ice-cream and then it was back to the van for the last time before we leave tomorrow. Sadly.
We need an early start again, as it is a long trip, so we spent the evening packing up and preparing to up steadies and set off at a good hour tomorrow.
Monday 29th May
Up early and at it. Breakfast and final clearing up. Boo. Our preparations yesterday stood us in good stead though, and we were away just after 08:30. A couple of stops and we were home by about 2pm. We have had such a lovely time in this beautiful part of the world. We will definitely be back – hopefully for longer next time and hopefully it won’t be such a long gap. Not sure I actually have another 25 years in me! We highly recommend a visit. Great for families. Evie and Lenny would love it. I wonder if we can borrow them for a whole week?
For our next trip, we are off to the Cotswold for the Cotswolds Show, with our dear friends Bob & Barb. Can’t wait. As usual! I love this caravanning lark.