The first day of the hike and at 15 miles the longest hike of the trip. It was a cold and gloomy start from Tenby S.Beach at 7:45 am. The Giltar point MoD range was open allowing me to hike the PCP the entire way.
The first acorn symbol of the Pembrokeshire coast path is on the post just before the ramp down to Tenby S.Beach and that was a good sign at the start of the hike.
While the start and end of the beach walk are a bit pebbly, the rest of it is on hard packed sand and this makes the 20 min beach walk easy.
The coast path beyond S.Beach has a few moderately steep stretches before the MoD range.
It is a easy walk through the Giltar point MoD range. On a clear day, the beautiful view of the ocean adds to this pleasant hike.
There are warning signs in the range and also a helpful map of the trail through the range.
You can see Lydstep from the range but it is an hour and 15 min hike away; do not judge distance by sight as you cannot see all the ups and downs and the villages are always a good bit of hike away.
It was fun to look back and see the trail that I had hiked and view of the coast line and see the trail yet to be hiked up front.
The early start meant breakfast was on the trail. The spot I picked was safe to sit and have a picnic with the ocean view in the front. The breakfast sandwich of bacon and sausage was a much needed nourishment at the start of this long hike and it also doubled as lunch.
The approach to Lydstep beach was lined with wildflowers and vegetation that completly covered the narrow trail. It was wild hiking this stretch as I had to watch my step, take care of my camera hanging on the side, things in my pockets and watch out for bugs and gnats [lots when it is sunny]. The sun gloves worked out well in such sections as some of the vegetation is not easy on the hands.
Lydstep - There is a helpful high tide alternate route map at the entrance of Lydstep beach. Best to get here during low tide as the beach walk is short and easy.
To get back on the trail, turn left to go past the car park. You get to this steep road that leads you to a gate beyond which the PCP picks up again.
Once of the PCP, the first thing you get to tackle is a set of steep stairs going down and then a steep uphill.
Once you get through this, it is fairly easy hiking till Manorbier.
Manorbier - I got to Manorbier just before noon. The sun was out in full force and there was no trace of the cold temperature of the morning.
Manorbier Castle is a short walk from the beach. The toilets are near the parking lot which is about a 1/4 mile walk from the beach on a sandy trail. There is absolutely no shade so it was not a relaxing stop.
Skrinkle Haven - There are steps leading down to it which are easy going down but are a lot of work coming back up. It was not worth the effort for me to go all the way to the beach as I was not taking a break here and because of all the miles that I still needed to hike.
And then the PCP becomes truly the coast path...the trail starts to hug the cliff and you get a sense of how remote it can get. The weather changed again and it got cloudy and windy when hiking this stretch.
The trail snaking along in front of me hugging the cliff.
After a fair bit of hiking on the remote stretch, you start to see signs of civilization again with Freshwater East visible from the coast path.
The approach to Freshwater East is the above sandy trail which was tiring on the legs after the long days hike. And then I had to walk up a steep road to get to the accommodation.
There were several important lessons learnt on this first day of hiking the PCP
The weather can change on the hour.
Hiking the trail that hugs the cliff is fun however you have to stay focused as the trail is narrow and windy conditions can be uncomfortable. You have to stay focused to stay safe and enjoy the hiking.
Being prepared with food and water means a relaxed fun hike.
On a sunny day, you feel the sun every bit as there is no shade on the trail.
It is just as important to wear the right hiking socks as wearing the right hiking boots that your feet love as your feet will feel the pebbles and rocks on the trail and the mid-weight cushioning of the socks helped my feet stay comfortable.
Today had a little bit of everything - beach walk, steep sections, easy sections, sandy stretches, rocky sections and cold/sunny, hot/cloudy and windy weather....this stretch turned out to be a fantastic start of my Pembrokeshire Coast Path hiking trip.
I was happy that I started early as it gave me time to take it slow and to settle in and to get to my accommodation early and avoid the later afternoon heat. This is what I planned to do for the rest of the trip.
Early dinner and early to bed eagerly looking forward to tomorrow.