Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Carew Castle & Coastal Cliffs in Pembrokeshire, Wales

Tenby in Wales

I'm back home in Maine and already feeling nostalgic for our UK Sabbatical. In the last week my husband and I visited Wales. My mother-in-law's family originally came from Pembrokeshire, and since she died of cancer earlier this spring, it was a bittersweet vacation.

Our first stop was Tenby, a medieval walled city, where in 1471 the future King Henry VII supposedly escaped via a tunnel on his way to France. Exploring a back alley, I learned the Welsh word for bookstore: cafion. Most signs in Wales are in both English and Welsh. On a trash bin taught us the Welsh word for litter: sbwriel. Don't ask me how to pronounce it!

Bluebells on the Coastal Path, overlooking Tenby

From the Tenby train station is a free public trail that cuts across a golf course to the Coastal Path. My hometown in Maine is on the other side of the Atlantic, and I'd missed the soothing sound of crashing surf.

Most of the Tenby trail was an easy climb, but I couldn't resist scrambling down a rocky cliff for a photo of...


Another hazard was crossing a military shooting range, but warning flags indicated all was clear that day. Jet fighter practice flights occasionally break the idyllic quiet of rural Wales.

The next day we hiked another section of the Coastal Path, which abbutted a lily pond nature sanctuary,

...and a secluded beach.

You could hike for days on the Coastal Path. What I love the most about the UK is the public access to the coast and countryside with long networks of well maintained trails. We were lucky to have clear weather in Wales; it was the driest spring in 20 years.

Carew Castle in Pembrokeshire, Wales

After the hike, we drove just a few miles to Carew Castle. We arrived late enough in the day to have the castle all to ourselves to explore. It was built in 1270 to fortify the tidal estuary and was in remarkably good shape for a ruin. We were horrified to learn that a lord, upon installing larger windows, had razed the village for a better view.

Admiring the castle as we walked the circular river path, I was struck by how much Carew Castle reminded me of the young adult novel I had revised on sabbatical. A MATCH FOR EVE is a contemporary story about a year abroad at a castle-cum-school in coastal Cornwall, which is to the south of Wales but a similar landscape. Great Britain inspires great stories.

Like Cornwall, the country lanes of Wales are bordered by centuries old blooming hedgerows. The roads are often only wide enough for one car so you need to back up to a pullover spot to let another car pass...or to let me take more photos! I'll save Hay-on-Wye, the Welsh town of books, for another post.

As much as we enjoyed our time abroad, it's lovely to be home, catching up with family and friends.


troutbirder said...

Oh my what a gorgeous coastal setting. And your comments about the pronunciation and presumably the spelling brought to mind my experience reading historical fiction with Welsh setting...Also kudos to them for preserving access to the coast. Increasingly rare in much of North America thinking especially of Vancouver Island...

A Cuban In London said...

Cracking images and post. You went to Wales at the right time. In the summer, when it's meant to be hot, it's actually cold and rainy. It's springtime when the temperatures reach the mid 20s like today. Paths in the UK are under threat, unfortunately. There are many estate owners who want to close public-access areas and the current government is listening to them unfortunately (May even wants to bring back fox hunting!). I'm glad you enjoyed your stay.

Greetings from London.

cynthia said...

Postcard perfect photos. With so much sunlight it doesn't remind me of my one visit to Wales in the spring of 1980--37 years ago--how is it possible it was that long ago. Thanks for sharing.

Jenn Jilks said...

I am enjoying your trip!
How wonderful.

thecuecard said...

Wow thanks for the tour of Wales and the Castle. Wonderful photos and info. I will have to add Wales to our list of places to visit. We have not done much UK traveling yet (woefully behind in this regard), but hope to in the future. Looking forward to your post on the book town in Wales.

Donna said...

Absolutely stunning! I'm in total awe. I must go there someday.

Anonymous said...

How beautiful to see Wales! I'd love to go. Like Sweden, the ocean is for ALL. Maine's coast is so beautiful but so very much of it, as you know, is off limits and private. Thank goodness for my kayak!