A Walk with a Few Surprises
I am more than ready to support a walk of which I am familiar with, if it provides an excellent day in the countryside. I have little time for people who say ‘ We’ve done that one, can’t we go somewhere new’. So when it comes to the annual visit of the South Wales Group to the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, I am always up for the event, which provides a varied mix of cliffs and beaches in its 8 mile linear route from St Donat's to St Brides. However, this year’s ramble at the end of September had a few surprises in store when seven keen GOC members and two dogs assembled on a rather windswept Sunday morning.
First up, the landmark Nash Point Lighthouse, one of the last in the UK to be automated, was open to visitors. So up we climbed to the light at the top of the tower from where a panoramic view of the Exmoor coast across the Bristol Channel was available. Surprise 2: a little further on the ‘hole in the wall’ basic refreshment stop has morphed into a small tea room with a range of hot drinks available, which would not disgrace a bohemian high street in west London.
There was however a price to pay for these dalliances. It was known this year that the tide timetable was not particularly in our favour and on descending to the beach at Monknash - where we normally begin a 2 mile trot across the sands and rocks including a secluded picnic spot - after walking a few hundred metres over the pebbles at the top of the beach, to our dismay the route ahead was just disappearing under the advancing waves, which were being driven in from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean by the remnants of a hurricane, which shall remain nameless.
Leader Ian took decisive action and beat a retreat. On previous walks this would have presented a major challenge as the only way along this section of coast was to walk along the beach; however, the Wales Coast Path came to the rescue, as this major achievement of coastal recreation has led to a recent establishment of a new cliff top right of way. The seven gratefully climbed higher and higher to eventually gaze down on the surf crashing onto the shore below with the space between wave and cliff base appearing to be very narrow. We were definitely in the better place on that afternoon.
And so to the final anticipated highlight of the walk - the wet suit clad lifeguards at Southerndown - but alas, the weather had put paid to their regular appearance ajnd they were nowhere to be seen. Ian tried to compensate for this with an interesting visit to a small local history exhibition, again a new attraction, but the focus was to cover the final mile to the Farmers Arms pub in St Brides, which was closed! All was not lost however, as a suitable alternative was found at the end of the village where the satisfied seven retreated to reflect on quite an eventful day.