The All Wales weekend for those who don't know, is a weekend away every September, organised in turn, by each the three groups in Wales, North Wales, South Wales and West Wales.
The three year turn around, comes around, really quickly and this year it was the turn of my group West Wales and we chose the very beautiful and (in my opinion) spiritual St David's.
The Hostel we'd chosen was right in the middle of the main street in St David's and had been booked for over a year.I must admit I had forgotten exactly what it looked like inside, having viewed it such a long time ago and was pleasantly surprised that when I arrived on the Friday, it felt so homely straight away with, in the main, large light airy rooms, a large and well equipped kitchen and a comfy lounge where you could sit and observe the hustle and bustle going on in the main street.
Normally the Hostels are perched on a clifftop and/or in the middle of nowhere but this was ideally situated so that people, over the weekend, could explore the Cathedral at their leisure and use the nearby cafes for teas/coffees and breakfast if they didn't want to prepare their own
After welcoming the individual arrivals and sending them off to explore the Hostel and choose their rooms most of us "retired" to the local pub The Farmers for an evening meal.Our party turned into around 26!!! but Liz who had been there before assured me that they were really good at handling large groups and indeed that turned out to be the case with the food arriving very promptly even though we hadn't ordered in advance.
The meal was delicious and it was really nice that Jamie, Lecky and Sian all decided to join us for the meal even though they couldn't participate in the walks on the weekend for various different reasons.
Some people were camping or staying in nearby b and b's so after a lovely sociable evening we all disappeared into our various temporary homes for some well earned beauty sleep ready for a full on weekend.
Saturday dawned dry and got sunnier as the day wore on.
31 assembled outside The Hostel ready for Neil's 10 miler on the nearby Pembrokeshire coastal path.
I was backmarker, and whenever chosen for this role I always feel like a little sheepdog scurrying around at the back trying to keep everyone together--quite a task with such a large group.
I mention this particularly, as this is the reason for the backs of people heads being in a lot of my photo's--who said thats their best side??!!
We started off in the direction of St Nonn's with its retreat and very small but perfectly formed chapel.
Here we briefly met Jamie and Lecky and their respective dogs having a little wander.Then we proceeded along the very beautiful coastal path with its ups and downs and coves and very lovely rugged coastline giving us some fine views.
After a brief stop at a little cove, Clive and I were convinced we'd left one person behind, and kept looking back to see if he would catch us up but luckily about 10 minutes or so later and to our immense relief, we could see him up ahead--PHEW!!
As we approached our lunch stop on a lovely beach there was a loud whoopee from Luis who streaked, fully clothed I might add, passed everyone to be first on the beach and first one (and ONLY one) to strip off and venture into the (perishing??!!) sea.
After a leisurely lunch we were soon off again making our way towards St Justinians-- Ramsey Island had come into view at one point and people were surprised it was so big. Neil pointed out the Bitches--no, no-one in the group but a tidal race and set of rocks between Ramsey and the mainland.
People did lean precariously over the cliffs at times as there were indeed some seals in the sea way down below.
At St Justinians where there is a lot of work going on to construct a new Lifeboat station, Alastair and John decided to stay a while and make their own way back and Robert set off to catch a bus back to meet up with Dafydd--this turned into a little adventure in itself, you must ask him about it sometime!!!
After another leisurely stop on a clifftop, we then turned inland to make our way back to St David's for a quick cuppa or something stronger before getting all spruced up for our shared meal at The Hostel.
Regulars to this event are always amazed as to how the shared meal just evolves into a fine banquet with lots of various scrummy dishes on offer.Everyone tucked in and later it was open house and GOC 'ers staying elsewhere joined us for a very sociable and thoroughly enjoyable evening.
My bed beckoned at a reasonable hour and I did glance around with a smug smile observing everyone really enjoying themselves as I took my leave--surely that wasn't two sinks full of dirty dishes was it??!!
Luis and I were up at 6am, beavering around with the aforementioned dishes and recycling, to clear up the backlog from the night before.
Most had a bit of a lay in after all the excesses but all played their part in leaving the Hostel very clean and tidy, in readiness for a short drive to join Liz at Solva for our Sunday walk of 6 miles or so.
We started off without John who had cycled from the Hostel before us but hadn't arrived, but he soon caught us up, together with a new member Boyd, who was warmly welcomed and seemed to settle in as if he'd always known us.
We walked inland to St Elvis burial ground where Liz got us "all shook up" on the history of the immediate area.Onwards we went to Pointz Castle.We had warned anyone looking for high walls and a moat that there was only a Motte, ie grassy bank, remaining, but even then people were a bit disappointed, like Liz and I had been when sussing the walk, that even that, was quite overgrown.
We ventured onto the coastal path heading back to the start and stopped at a lovely high lookout point looking out to sea and back along the beautiful coastline, for our lunch.
Then with the sun still shining bright we made our way back to the start point where everyone gathered at the cafe there for coffee, cake and ice-cream--I don't think anyone went for all three???!!!
All too soon it seemed it was time to depart so one by one we said our fond farewells and set off for the short or longer journey home.
I think it fair to say that everyone had a thoroughly good time, helped in small part by the lovely warm sunshine we had which was very welcome.It was nice to meet up with the very supportive regulars and also the one or two from other groups we hadn't met before, who I hope make a return journey to Wales really soon.
Thanks to John, Jon and Max for their lovely card and for the lovely appreciative thanks and emails I received in the days afterwards.
Many thanks too to Neil and Liz for finding and sussing two lovely walks for us.
Next years event will be in North Wales--so handing the baton over to you Clive!!!