Pilgrims

A weekend away in one of my favourite parts of the world, the Pembrokeshire coast. This part, around Newport, on the long distance coastal path I know relatively well and experiencing it in every season (outside of Winter) down the years only adds to its charm and natural beauty. Our autumn ramble this Sunday took us from the road bridge crossing the upper tidal limits of the River Nevern, whose short and rapid course takes it from the Preseli Mountains to Newport Bay. Mercifully free of industrial or agricultural run off it’s a clear and healthy stream running through ancient woodland and bog for most of its length. Our route picks up the old pilgrim track linking sea to the ancient church at Nevern village. Forage as we go; windfall apples in a box in the church porch and blackberries in the bank hedge. (Have for supper later with custard – divine!) Features of the walk: an abandoned cottage that every visit claws further back into the grip of nature; inviting pools you want to go swimming with brown trout; rusted wreck of long abandoned grass cutter; greenlane with stone banks bursting with harts tongue fern while other higher stretches support a line of dense packed beech trees; late cut of silage all black bagged up in steep meadow; surprising paired yellows of toadflax in the lane along with flashes of pink campion. Insects on tiny balls of ivy flowers for the season’s best nectar. Most striking, stated in slate, the Pilgrims Cross and below another gashed in the smoothed rock. Saint Brynach’s church by the pretty tributary stream with its famous Celtic cross & bleeding yews still a place for the modern pilgrim to visit, more likely by car than on foot, and justly famed at that. The hat and cheery invite to support a relatively new feature to greet the visitor!

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