National Walking Day – A day to get outside, leave all phones behind and enjoy the physical benefits of nature!
I have been very excited to blog about this day for Coastal Cottages! Living and working in one of Britain’s most beautiful breathing spaces, it only seemed right to get out there and explore part of the stunning National Park that I’m lucky to have on my door step.
With 186 miles of gorgeous coastline and National Park I didn’t quite know where to start! Coastal Cottages teamed up with ‘Friends of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park’ (FPCNP) – A fantastic voluntary body and registered charity established to protect, conserve and enhance the Park for residents, visitors and future generations. The FPCNP organise great group events to experience the very best of Pembrokeshire’s Coast National Park. I couldn’t wait to join them on the ‘last invasion’ anniversary walk around North Pembrokeshire, an area I hadn’t yet explored! (The French invaded Pembrokeshire in February 1797 – the last time anyone did! – not a lot of people know that!)
Full of optimism I arrived in a village I had never heard of ‘Llanwnda’. Being the only car in sight in this tiny rural village I decided I was probably lost and in the wrong place. Within 5 minutes the small space we used as a car parked was bustling with walkers that made me stand out as the amateur I was! While everyone was pulling on their walking boots, gloves, adjusting walking sticks and sipping warm coffee, I awkwardly stood in my Nike trainers fiddling with my camera. Never the less I was excited to get going! First on the agenda was a meet and greet in the old church where Ian our guide for the day, set the scene for the 5 K circular walk from Llanwnda village to the French landing grounds at Carregwasted and back via Trehowel Farm, the French headquarters.
I was immediately made to feel welcome in this little group, lots of warm faces introduced themselves and joked that it was great to have a member join them that would bring the average age group down a few years!
As we began walking through the farmland towards Carregwasted, Ian stopped to tell us more history about the French invasion. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the scenery at this point and that I had never experienced this part of Pembrokeshire after living here for 22 years! The rolling green hills seemed to go on forever, the peaceful idyllic setting just seemed like paradise away from a busy office. While strolling up to our next point there was lots of friendly chit chat amongst the group giving me a chance to get to know the ladies more. Before I knew it I was standing at the top of Carreg Goffa Mon looking down into the stunning bay.
Just wow! We were able to see right across Cardigan Bay in one direction and to Strumble Head lighthouse in the other from this point. The sun was shining and it was simply beautiful, I couldn’t think of a better day to be exploring Pembrokeshire. Anne kindly leant me her binoculars to take a look at the seal pups on a beach below! A fantastic photo stop, we snapped away before heading back round to Trehowel farm, the French headquarters.
A running joke throughout the day (at my expense) was that wearing a pair of Nike trainers on a muddy hike wasn’t the best choice of footwear (Yes they had the last laugh!!) By now believe it or not – my trainers were pretty soaked through and I had lost feeling in my toes! Usually I would find this rather uncomfortable – but the sunshine and beautiful views couldn’t dampen my mood!
Another friendly group we met along the way – at Trehowel farm.
After returning to the car park, we made a short drive to our next destination; Goodwick Sands where the French surrendered. By now all stomachs were rumbling – a large table was booked in The Royal Oak, Fishguard for all 17 of us walkers (here is where the surrender was negotiated)! A quick stop for the most amazing cream and onion soup and delicious sandwiches was just what we needed to refuel. The Royal Oak had a cosy feel with great friendly staff (I will definitely be retuning for their quiz nights!)
Once our bellies were full, we had a short stroll to Jemima Nicholas’ headstone in St Mary’s churchyard next door where we were told about Jemima’s heroics in capturing 12 Frenchmen single handily and locking them up in the church we were stood next to!
Our next stop was at Fishguard library to see the commemorative tapestry, this was really special to see. The Last Invasion Embroidered Tapestry is 30 metres / 100 feet long by 53cm / 21 inches deep and took four years to complete! It was amazing to see what happened when the British mainland was invaded in such a creative way.
Our final stop of the day was one of my favourites. A short drive up to Fishguard fort to see where the first shot was fired! Views were breath taking and it rounded off the day perfectly. I left the group feeling fantastic and that I had learnt so much amazing history I would have never known about my own home county! With lots of new friends made I knew this would be the first of many brilliant days out with the Friends of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
(In fact I have already been on another adventure up to the Preselis hills with them – keep an eye out for next week’s blog).
If you would like to join in with the fun please come along – the more the merrier! For more information about The Friends of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park check out their website and Facebook page for all the upcoming events!
See you there!