“Oh, that’s a difficult one, don’t you know? It’s four miles with lots of hills.” That was the response we got when we told locals we were taking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path from Saundersfoot to Tenby. We had a bit of trepidation as we set out. But hey, we could always turn back or head inland and find a bus, right? Unless we happen to be looking for the Puffin Shuttle or Poppit Rocket. Two trips to Wales and the buses that cruise the Coast Path continue to elude us like a straight street in Pittsburgh.
No worries, off we went.
The tide was in so we couldn’t trek along the beach, so aimed for the overland trail. An immediate benefit to this route was the great view of Saundersfoot Harbor with multi-colored boats tethered in the placid water.
The Coast Path is defined by signs marked by the infamous upside down (to an American) acorn. There’s also a walking guy—ignore him if you intend to stay on the Coast Trail. He wants to lead you down the wrong garden path.
~I inquired to the National Trails as to why the acorn is their emblem. Their best guess was because the oak is one of their most important trees. I think they flipped the acorn upside down so people like me would ask questions.~
When you get to the top of the hill, you’ll be at St Bride’s Spa. Don’t forget to schedule an afternoon tea. It’s delicious, relaxing and the ocean view is a dinner show.
We got off to a rough start by choosing to take the well-traveled path (always a mistake?) at the first sign. This is one time that the most used trek was misleading and we wound up at an ugly area being logged. An older man happened to be sitting nearby in his truck, we told him where we were heading and he summed it up, “You’ve got a bit lost.”
His directions went something like this: “Go beyond the caravan park, turn left after the bench and you’ll come to where five trails meet.” Uh huh. Since he was on his phone, on hold, while giving these directions, we didn’t want to press for clarity, so we set off to find the acorn.
We only had to hop one fence to get to the path.
At “Allen’s View” we were befuddled again, which allowed us to visit with a couple we had been leap frogging with. Allen’s View is a circle, so take the loop and get a new view of the water. While you’re enjoying the sight of the surf someone is sure to wander by and set you on the proper course—sometimes it’s a young French woman pointing us on the final twenty minutes into Tenby.
The hike took over three hours and consisted of all those ascents and descents we’d been warned about. There were stairs and strange concrete forms embedded on some of the slopes. Jackie fell in love with the Kissing Gates (again) and now has one on her property. We chatted with a hiking group from Manchester and ate snacks on a shaded bench. The skies spent the day staying Montana-blue and the clouds did their best to puff on by without hiding the sun for long.
And throughout I kept asking, “When is this going to get hard?”
A hike, sure, but this is where we learned that the Welsh are conservative when it comes to telling us foreigners when a hike is hard or easy.
Don’t forget to stop and look at all the flowers along the way. They surprise you alongside the path and they burst out in bright colors in the middle of a field.
On the other side of four hilly miles, Caffi Pura beckoned us in for a bite to eat, lovely lattes, and conversation with a delightful proprietor. What a way to finish off a lovely hike.
Next: 7 Ways to be Okay Acting Like a Tourist