Apples, Sugar Loaf and our Pembrokeshire holiday part 1.
Quiet week at work. VWW and Family Zoom Wednesday and Thursday. Felt a bit sluggish – didn’t manage to get out for a walk at all, spending most of Tuesday morning doing last week’s photos and weeknotes. Gloomy weather made for similar spirits.
Dad and Jean came for morning coffee on Tuesday and we had a stroll around the grounds checking out the apples and plums, and on Thursday afternoon we had an unexpected visitor with Su calling round on her way to meet with friends who were spending a couple of nights Up On A Hill.
A good long walk Friday morning, after coffee in the conservatory – our summer (and late spring / early Autumn) lounge. It’s warm enough even on cloudy days. The walk took me to Kerrys Gate, Black Bush to check out the results of the road closure (“tree removal and bridge repairs”), on to Bacton and up to Tremorithic. Low cloud slumped along the top of Hatterall Ridge. Coming down Cwm Hill, I saw the three fields there are up for sale. I wonder why. Through Abbey Dore, turning left to take the footpath along the river to Riverdale, back up to Kerrys Gate and home for lunch. I mapped the route using Strava on B’s old phone and my Fitbit – Distance: 9.84 miles; Elevation Gain: 999 ft; Time: 2h 37m.
Phil and I spent the afternoon picking apples and wild plums, mainly in the orchard where the Golden Delicious apple tree and the wild plum are prolific producers this year. The Worcester Pearmain has a small crop of its beautiful crimson red apples, but the Discovery has hardly any, and the young dwarf Bramley none at all.
Given we’d had the two apple trees down by the (ex) railway track pruned at the start of this year, we weren’t expecting much of a crop from them this year, and although the Laxton’s Superb has hardly any, we did get a half bucketful from the other one (not named on dad’s Tree Map). The wasps had munched a lot already.
Once picked, we washed the apples and left the good ones to dry before settling them carefully in the apple racks, hoping to avoid too many bad apples this year. The ones with bruises, bites or burrowings, and any windfalls or fallers we’d collected, I chopped and either froze ready for crumbles and chutneys or stewed and froze for puddings. No room in the freezers for any more! We shall have to eat up some of the other contents as the Golden Delicious has a lot more fruit left on its branches and we haven’t even tackled the neighbouring apple tree (uh oh) in the orchard or any of the apple trees on the lower path. We did take a quick look, and picked a few apples off the Bramley. The Egremont Russet isn’t quite there yet, and there don’t seem to be that many apples on it.
Pizza for dinner, watching Nomadland.
Saturday was the start of our holiday week and the morning’s plan was Sugar Loaf with the GVWC, Phil coming along too. Whilst I’ve walked up Sugar Loaf from two different directions within recent memory, the GVWC route promised a third alternative, from Fro Car Park. The roads off the A465 signposted Bettws and Forest Coal Pit were easier than the steep single track up to the main Sugar Loaf car park, and we arrived at an empty car park at 9.45.
A much bigger group than on my previous pair of outings and slower pace, plus a small porky pie about the distance meant the 4 mile / 2 hour walk ended up being 5.5 mile / 3 hr 20 min. Normally not a problem, but a pain given we’d planned to have lunch at home to to drive to Pembs in the early-mid afternoon.
Still, I’m glad we went – it’s an easy route and we had much better weather than of late, with the morning cloud burning off to leave a sunny and hot day. Busy at the top, and the views were a bit hazy.
The return section through Parc Lodge woods was particularly lovely, as were the red berried rowan trees and hawthorn bushes amidst the green, green bracken.
A good route for future ref.
Back at base around 1.30pm, Phil rustled up lunch while I packed the car. Passing by on his tractor with a trailer of hay bales, Ray stopped for a chat. A fox took all bar one of their chickens this week.
Finally set off on the drive West, taking the usual Hay – Brecon – Llandovery route. All was going swimmingly until, just outside Sennybridge the traffic came to a standstill, and 6 or so cars ahead we could see why – a sheep trailer had overturned and the occupants had escaped – a flock of (unscathed) sheep were running hither and thither across the A40. We waited for a bit, but there didn’t seem much of a plan for corralling the creatures, so we turned tail and took the back roads to Sennybridge. Thank heavens for mobile maps.
Shopped in Haverfordwest – flagging by then (7pm) – and arrived at the van around 8pm. Lovely and quiet and so, so good to be back by the sea. We both miss it. Unpacked and demolished a speedy posh pasta dinner, with M&S garlic bread plus wine and beer. Well, we are on holiday!
Sunday was a beautiful day, just right for the first proper day of our hols. A slow start, then a stroll on Newgale Beach, end to end. Low tide meant we got all the way to the rocks at the southern end. By the time we were back at the van the skies were clear and the sun was out in splendour. So hot I had to change into a lighter T shirt, and wished I’d brought my swimming costume….
Late afternoon, once the heat had started to wane, I set off to walk the footpaths around the Southwood Estate, and back along the beach, the sun glinting on the gentle waves. Beautiful. I’d not taken my phone so no podcasts to distract me from the scenery, the flowers and the birds – I watched a hawk hovering, diving and being buffeted by a trio of small birds, presumably protecting their young. A little later, pairs of russet breasted birds periodically settled on the gorse and grasses, and I attempted a few photos in the hope that I could work out what they are.
Back at base, I persuaded Phil to come back to the beach to see the sunset, and we sat on the stones watching the sun and the waves, the people and the birds, until the sun disappeared into the bank of hazy cloud that’d been hiding the coastline for most of the afternoon. Not quite a sunset, but lovely all the same.
Quiche and salad for tea, watching Grand Designs – a new series.
Up early on Monday at 7am (I’ve been sleeping in later at home in recent weeks, not sure why), left P sleeping and settled on the sofa with tea and muesli to start Underland. I’d found I was reluctant to read it, bringing it with me more out of a sense of “I ought to” rather than “I want to”. I’m not sure what was putting me off – perhaps the title and the theme, but as ever with Robert Macfarlane’s writing, it’s drawn me in from page 1.
It turned into another lovely day and, once P was up, we spent the day walking along the coast path to Solva and back.
Lunch was burger and chips, sat outside at The Cambrian Inn. Lovely.
Plus a Pint of Bitter Shandy – Heaven!
Hot and sunny. Blue skies above. A bit too hot on the return leg to be honest. I really should have brought my swimming costume!
A smashing day.
Photos: Herefordshire week 88 on Flickr.
Phil: f/e 2021-09-12