A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,
Well, it wasn't really that long ago, It was only July 2022 (2nd-16th), but it certainly feels like it now it is 2023, and as for being far away it was only about 260 miles. I am of course talking about our return to the holiday cottage in Wales not far from Cardigan bay where we had such a good time in 2021. (see the previous blog)
It was great to return to the rolling Welsh countryside but what would be in store for us over the coming 2 weeks?
After a long journey on Saturday, we decided to stay local on Sunday and get out and about on foot and see what we could find, an enjoyable experience you might think? for the most part, it was but there were parts which made me quite angry.
We started walking out of the village towards the nearby hamlet of Star when we noticed a sign on the grass verge on our left pointing out a public footpath, We both thought lets take the path and go cross country, it looked like the path was going steadily up, so we might get some great views from the top. Well, what an adventure it turned out to be. The Jungle of Pembrokeshire included!
When we started up the path, it wasn't too bad, you could see it was a path but further along past a gate it soon became clear that this was not a well-used path. It was completely overgrown like it hadn't been used for quite some time, with nettles, brambles etc, it really was like a jungle. There was a Public Footpath sign by the gate we passed clearly pointing us in this direction so we were sure we were going the right way, we came across another gate that was difficult to open and the path ahead was even more overgrown. Clearly whoever is responsible for this path has it at the bottom of their to-do list.
Unfortunately, I didn't take photos of the overgrown jungle at the time (grrrrr) The photos below are of the same footpath taken at the end of the week but trampled down by a farmer bringing his cattle through.
Read on for good examples of the problem of footpaths and farmers fields:
When we got through the last gate on this footpath the surrounding view truly was fantastic, rolling green countryside as far as the eye could see. With the help of a few public footpath signs and a footpath website https://footpathmap.co.uk on my phone, we managed to navigate across fields like you see below looking out for gates and stiles but soon things started to become a little difficult.
After a while, the footpaths became less clear but we managed to navigate our way using the footpath website. We came to the edge of a field with no obvious path but the website pointed us in the right direction which meant we had to walk along the edge of a farmer's field in the tramlines, the next field saw us walking through long grass etc by a ditch at the edge of a ploughed field, we then got to a point where there was supposed to be a gate to go through but there was no sign and we thought we would have to go back the way we came, my wife then spotted the gate in the hedge completely overgrown and impassable. Why are these gates and footpaths not kept clear for people to use? We managed to get into the next field another way and followed the hedge line around the edge, according to the footpath website there should have been a gap to walk through but there wasn't and it was all blocked off as it was a farm cottage and private residence, It was at this point I was getting just a bit fed up. My wife walked around the edge of the field and found another exit point with a sign for a public footpath pointing the where we had just come from except there was no obvious path.
We finally got back to the cottage slightly knackered and ever so slightly angry at the lack of clear signs and markers for what was supposed to be a public footpath. I had questions but at the time I didn't know the right people to talk to. Check out these 2 links for guidance and advice on what exactly is a Public Footpath and the laws around them. https://www.ramblers.org.uk/
At the end of the week, we went on another walk following the first bit of the footpath then through a gate (closing it behind us) across a grass field, using the footpath website again to make sure we were going the right way. When we got to the other side we saw a Public Footpath sign between the 2 fields but our way was blocked by an electric fence! The fence did not need to be in that position to still do its job! when we got to the far side near the road there was a gate and another sign. We couldn't open the gate because it was chained and padlocked, why why why, It is a public footpath!
I support the right to roam, It is important to get out in the countryside where Public Footpaths exist to allow people to get fresh air and exercise but often these footpaths go across private land with the permission of the landholder and often there can be legal issues about the right to roam. I appreciate that a small minority of people when going for a walk leave gates open and perhaps walk off the marked path causing damage to crops, It is perhaps for this reason that many farmers or landowners don't maintain the paths or make it difficult to use them.
Management of Public rights of ways lie with the landowner and the local authority's highways team.
There are 6,700 square miles of English and Welsh land currently recognized as allowing free rambling across it. More can and should be done to work with landowners to facilitate the use of footpaths across their land. Locked gates and electric fences are just not right and action should be taken against landowners who block access to Public Footpaths.
Where will you roam? Support the right-to-roam campaign, check out this website for details. https://www.righttoroam.org.uk/
On Monday we visited the Welsh Wildlife Centre and Teifi Marshes not far from Cardigan near the village of Cilgerran. The Centre itself was closed but the rest of the surrounding reserve was open. The Wildlife was around you as soon as you entered the car park with a huge Otter by the entrance and a Deer opposite the centre.
To start with we just walked near the centre and the river Teifi. We came across this memorial bench to a young girl by the centre, The inscription read as follows: Sit on my bench, look at a tree and if you see a Robin, think of me. No sooner had Michelle sat down on the bench when a Robin appeared and grabbed a quick bite of food from her. Our thoughts turned to the little girl who had sadly died and we hoped she was looking down on us with a smile as we sat there with the Robin.
The Teifi Marshes reserve is 107 hectares and features a variety of habitats including freshwater marshes, trees, hedgerows, reedbeds and open pastures. The reserve supports a huge variety of wildlife esp. birds such as the Kingfisher, it is particularly important for large numbers of wintering wildfowl and the reedbeds are full of song in the summer with the sound of Warblers such as Reed or Cetti's but it's not just birds, the watery habitats give a home to many Dragonfly species, mammals such as Otter and reptiles like the Grass Snake. Water Buffalo are used for grazing at certain times of the year as you can see from one of the photos below.
Check out this link for more information on the reserve:
We went for a walk around the reserve popping into a few bird hides to see what we could find. Take a look at some of the photos below which show some of the different habitats.
1 hide in particular is especially good to watch Kingfisher from and I managed to get some of the best photos I have ever taken of the bird. It sat on a branch just in front of the hide.
On Tuesday we started with a visit to Strumble Head in the hope of seeing some Dolphins or Harbour porpoises like we did last year but on this occasion, we didn't see any despite me scanning the sea with my telescope. On the way back we stopped off at Goodwick Sands https://www.thebeachguide.co.uk/south-wales/pembrokeshire/goodwick-sands.htm
where you can catch the Fishguard to Rosslare Ferry and we looked at the old harbour in Fishguard for a walk and to take a few photos.
On Wednesday we paid a return visit to Cardigan Farm Park where we had such a good time last year. As you see from the photos, Michelle was having a great time feeding some of the animals, It was a lovely walk through the farm and along the cliffs taking in some stunning views and we even saw a Seal.
On the lookout in the photo above for Seals
When we were here in 2021 one of the places we wanted to visit was a local waterfall https://www.chimptrips.com/visit-ffynone-waterfall-pembrokeshire/ but we couldn't find where we needed to go by car. This time we were determined to get there so we consulted maps and the footpath website and decided that we could walk from the cottage but it would be a long one!
It was a fantastic walk, It started along rough overgrown paths before it eventually opened up into a huge woodland known as Ffynone & Cilgwyn woods https://www.growingheart.co.uk/ffynone-woodland/ (see the sign in the photos below) We saw quite a lot of Fireweed along the track in the woodland and also some Lanceolated Aster (see the white flowers below) https://www.gardenia.net/plant/symphyotrichum-lanceolatum. We also spotted the beautiful Comma Butterfly that had settled perfectly for a photo. When we got to the waterfall It was the most beautiful spot, quiet and the perfect spot to just chill out. A little oasis of Tranquillity in the middle of a woodland. Hope you like the photos of the woodland and the waterfall below.
It wasn't such a great walk back to the cottage as a lot of it was uphill. My knees do not like walking uphill! I would recommend a good comfortable pair of walking boots if you are thinking of doing this walk. The walk was roughly 4.5-5miles in total. Needless to say once we were back at the cottage I did not move much for the rest of the day. If asked would I do it again, the answer would most definitely be yes! Below is a map of the route we took from the cottage.
Friday saw us make a return visit to one of our favourite spots in Wales, Mwnt. A gorgeous secluded bay with a very old church and a massive big hill to climb. As you can see from the photos below it was a long way up to the top but great views when you got there. Notice the pic of me utilizing my tripod as a walking stick to help me on my way. https://www.chimptrips.com/guide-to-mwnt-beach-and-foel-y-mwnt/
The Common Spotted Orchid along the coast footpath at Mwnt. Check the link for more information:
I bought 2 Moth Traps with me to see what I could find in the garden. In 2021 I recorded around 100 species of Moth which was pretty good over 2 weeks. 2022 was even better, I recorded 115 species. It was fantastic for Moths with many species I don't see very often . On one night I recorded a total of 78 species and 242 Moths, It took me ages to sort through them. I even persuaded Michelle to hold a couple of Moths (if you can't beat them join them!) I'm not going to list them all but I will just add photos and a few video clips below. The most surprising moth of the week was a Rosy Rustic which is normally an Autumn visitor and the first recorded in Wales in 2022.
From the top: Rosy Rustic, Angle Barred Pug, Plain Golden Y, Elephant Hawk, Drinker, Catoptria pinella, Garden Tiger, Bordered Beauty, Scallopshell, Swallowtail, Common Emerald and Peach Blossom and my wife Michelle holding a Poplar Hawk Moth.
After a pretty awful weekend when I wasn't well we decided on Monday to just take it easy and spend some time on the beach just chilling out. We drove to Tenby, (somewhere I hadn't been since I was much younger) and headed for the North Beach, parked up and took the short walk, and steep steps! down to the beach. Check out this website for more info on Tenby: https://www.visitwales.com/destinations/west-wales/pembrokeshire/things-do-tenby
I'm not normally a beachy person but it was a hot sunny day and it was nice just to relax by the sea for a while. I even had a paddle! Take a look at some of the photos of the day below:
Below is a short video clip of a Hermit Crab on the beach.
On Tues we drove over to the delightful market town of Haverfordwest. Neither of us had ever visited it before, we had a good walk round the shops and the town in general. A lot of the shops and restaurants are situated right by the river as you can see from the photos below. Take a read of the inscription that is on the bridge which connects 2 parts of the town. It is a great town to visit with a huge variety of shops. Take a look at the link below for more info.
When we had finished in the town, we thought where are we going to go next so I check google maps to see what was nearby and saw that there was a Reservoir/nature reserve not far away so we headed over there to take a look. The water levels were quite low which wasn't surprising given the hot weather the UK was experiencing but there was still enough water for people to enjoy some water sports/canoeing. We decided to go for a walk and headed for the dam and also checked out the old church. Check out these links for more details on the reservoir and th church https://llys-y-fran.co.uk/ https://llysyfranchurch.co.uk/ After the walk we stopped at the café for refreshments before we headed back to the cottage.
Some photos of the Reservoir below:
Wednesday was the day for a boat trip and looking for Dolphins but when we arrived in Newquay ready to sail the sea was a little choppy so Michelle decided against it and stayed on shore and explored the town. I saw a few Dolphins and managed to get a photo.
This is the company we used: https://newquayboattrips.co.uk/
Earlier in the holiday we had visited the Welsh Wildlife Centre and the Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve driving past the village of Cilgerran to get there. Today (Thursday) we headed back to Cilgerran to visit the castle. https://cadw.gov.wales/visit/places-to-visit/cilgerran-castle
If you visit then please do climb to the top, you will not be disappointed by the spectacular amazing views all around. If you look to the woods on the other side of the river you will spot the rather impressive looking Coedmore mansion. What an amazing place that would be to live. http://www.glen-johnson.co.uk/coedmore-mansion/ After we had explored the castle we walked down to the river Teifi and along the riverbank through the woods, It was a really nice walk. I took some nice photos of reflections in the river and you will notice the last photo of sunlight coming through trees and other plants/grasses at the rivers edge.
On our last full day in Wales we took it easy and didn't venture out too far with a long drive ahead of us the next day. We went into Cardigan town and explored the town a bit inc some shops! Once the packing was sorted we headed out for an evening stroll. This was our 2nd time in this cottage and we loved it. The location is fabulous in a quiet village not too far from lots of different places to visit like the beach at Tenby or the Dolphins at New Quay and lots of walks to be done all around the area, just bring a strimmer!
Hope you all enjoyed this Blog, please let me know what you thought, all contact details are on the website homepage.