Day 4 – Under Milk Wood

I stayed last night at Sessile Oak, a Marston’s inn. I’ve no idea why they’ve chosen the name but it is a typical Marston’s hotel and restaurant: however there appear to be differences between different links in the chain. In Chepstow on Monday I booked dinner and breakfast to my room and settled up when I left, although they had taken payment for the room in advance. In Llanelli I paid for the room when I arrived and then charged the evening meal to my room but had to pay for breakfast on the nail when I had it in the morning. The strange and fortuitous thing for me was that the evening meal of tomato soup (very good) and beef lasagne (ok but not great) and a chocolate pudding (unctuous) had disappeared into the ether and when I tried to pay for it at breakfast time there was no record, so I got myself a free meal and a couple of pints of Pedigree to boot!

I set off at about 9.15 and immediately lost my way so spent about 20 minutes going round in circles before I decided to make for Carmarthen on the main road. After a couple of miles I saw a sign to National Cycle Route 4 and followed it onto the front. The weather was gloriously sunny and I had taken the precaution of wearing long sleeves against sunburn. The well paved and wide route follows the estuary to Burry Port, about 7 miles into the journey, and is part of the Millennium coast path. I followed a girl on a skateboard at one point and she lost control on a bend and skilfully stepped off and ran, returning to pick up the board without falling over – impressive.

At Burry Port I skirted round the harbour and picked up good old NCR 4 which followed the line of the old Burry Port and Gwendraeth railway to Kidwelly. There were a few walkers and cyclists on the route but it was easy cycling. At Kidwelly the route followed back roads across the marsh towards Ferryside where I faced the first big climb of the day, two miles of up to 10% which had me blowing before I reached the summit and looked down on Carmarthen town

after a couple of wrong turns I joined the main A40 for about 9 miles. The traffic wasn’t heavy but with only a small hard shoulder it was unpleasant with large lorries passing at speed and I was glad to get off at St Clears and turn down towards Laugharne, my main objective for the day.

Laugharne is probably best known as the home of Dylan Thomas for the last four years of his life. The Boathouse, where he lived has been preserved as a museum, sadly closed due to Covid and the writing shed that sits on a narrow pathway high above the River Taf estuary is closed but has a glass window through which I was able to take a picture

The centre of the town was a busy mass of pubs and restaurants which still seemed to be doing good trade in the late summer sunshine and I bought myself a ham roll and a bottle of Tango to keep me going.

….the hunched, courters’-and-rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea.

Unfortunately the tide was out but my mind’s eye brought Thomas’s words to life for me and I sat in the sun for a while drinking in the surroundings before continuing up the steepish hill over to Pendine famous for its 7 mile long sandy beach that was used by Malcolm Campbell and J.G Parry-Thomas to successively break the land speed record in the 1920s. Sadly the latter died attempting to raise Campbell’s record of 174.22 miles per hour and no further attempts were made at Pendine. It was quiet but there were several people lunching.

Pendine Sands

The hill out of Pendine is steep and with my heavy load I only got about half way before GOAPing, making my way about 400 feet above the sea to Amroth with families enjoying the sandy beach, at the end of which I was faced with a puzzle as my navigators showed there was a path to Wiseman’s Bridge which did not seem to exist. However part way up another very steep hill I spotted the NCR4 sign and followed it up a rough track before it emerged on top of the cliff for a bumpy ride along and down to Wiseman’s Bridge. Between Wisman’s Bridge at Saundersfoot is a well paved and flat path that has been cut into the side of the cliff and goes through a couple of tunnels before emerging in the busy town of Saundersfoot.

My final objective was Tenby where I had thought about spending the night but decided I should get a bit further. The town was busy and I had to slow down to walking pace to get through the crowds and take a couple of pictures of the harbour

I now had about 10 miles to go to Lamphey with a few ups and downs and I arrived at the hotel about 6pm after another gruelling day which has been exhausting but satisfying. More of the same tomorrow.

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