The Sunday of the BMW Club Oxford weekend in Cardigan proved to be the absolute best for both weather and riding conditions. Tim Read led a marvellous circular tour of Pembrokeshire. Tim had lived and worked in the region during his career in the Power Generation Industry. He had apparently driven the area by car but not by motorbike.
The assembled team for the day in addition to Tim were Ian Hartley, (one of the famed “Three Amigos”), Dave Shanks and me. We joined the A487 heading via Fishguard to St David’s. Since it was a Sunday morning, we decided not to visit the Cathedral during a service. Still on the A487, we carried on along the coast road through Solva before stopping at Newgale Beach.
Newgale Beach is aptly named. Despite the sunny photo and stunning background, the wind was blowing hard. Rather like Chesil Beach in Dorset, there is a long mound of shingle protecting the shoreline. The local website describes it as almost 2 miles of sand backed by a huge pebble bank formed after a BIG storm in 1859. Popular with kite surfers as well as traditional surfers. The tide was in; so not much sand in evidence in my photo.
Having stretched our legs and inhaled the bracing sea air we carried on along the coast road heading for several “Havens”. Nolton was the first followed by Broad and then Little Haven. Tim remembered a great café at an arts and crafts centre nearby, where we stopped for our first refreshment break of the ride. “Cracking!” as Nessa would say (with apologies to Gavin and Stacey).
Cutting inland to bypass Milford Haven, we crossed the former toll bridge across the estuary and into Pembroke. The Castle looked splendid as we carried on through Lamphey and Jameston to Manorbier. We parked up on the cliffs near Old Castle Head and strolled along the cliff path searching ever more spectacular photo opportunities.
We travelled back to Lamphey past Manorbier Castle, shrouded in trees, then on to Carew Castle.
We had a closer look than the photo suggests, but apart from the small shop / ice cream stall there wasn’t much to see. Across the road from the medieval castle next to the river, the Carew Inn is one of Wales’s best kept secrets (allegedly). This family run pub and has built a reputation in Pembrokeshire for quality real ales and home cooked food. They were extremely busy, so food was out of the question. Having had a very full welsh breakfast and with an equally calorific dinner to look forward to, we made do with some liquid refreshment supplemented by bags of crisps and chocolate bars.
Back “on the road again” (there is a song there somewhere – Canned Heat possibly?) heading north we crossed the end of the estuary following the A4075 passing such exotic sounding places as Cresselly, Cross Hands, Blue Lagoon and Blackpool. A quick sprint along the A40 towards Haverford West, right on the ring road then onto the B4329. This amazing road took us over the Preseli Hills past such immortal names as Wallis, Woodstock, Henry’s Moat and with amazing scenery (and sheep!). We joined the A487 before forking right via Boncath and Newchapel (where are all the old chapels, I wonder?) to Cenarth.
Cenarth Falls are not remarkably high, but they force the River Teifi into a narrow channel causing the water to churn and boil before it emerges from under the bridge into a wider and much calmer stretch of the river.
We stopped by the riverside for a cream tea before heading back to the Gwbert Hotel for the evening frivolities, anodyne tincture of barley (or grape) and a cracking meal.
With many thanks to Rosemary and David Hicks for arranging the hotel booking and to my fellow members for making the weekend such a success despite damp weather going there on Friday and returning home on Monday.