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Wednesday, 11 October 2017

One Week in Wales: Day Five

pembrokeshire, wales, walk
Image: Lorna Holland

What happened on day four? If you aren't up to date with the series, you can get caught up here.

Just as we'd hoped, day five dawned bright, sunny, and vastly different to the dismal downpour of the previous day. After breakfasting and packing up our gear, we decided to make the most of the upturn in weather by sticking around to explore the last remnants of the Pembrokeshire coast before heading inland later that day for the second leg of our trip.

Over breakfast, we had learned from our hosts that there was a pleasant half an hour walk down the coast to Newgale beach below. So, with the sun already high in the sky, we decided to give this walk a shot and take in the sights of picturesque Newgale basking in the summer sun.

After the previous day's greyness, we got lulled into a false sense of security and forgot to bring our suncream out with us. Combined with the warmth, beating sun and my ongoing glandular fever-induced lethargy, it took us a lot longer than half an hour to finally reach the beach. That being said, the walk certainly was a beautiful one. Offering stunning views of the sea, the coastline and the beach below, we followed the footpath first through the outlying fields of National Trust land before passing through an enchanting piece of woodland and eventually finishing the walk along the heather-strewn clifftop.

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We finally got down to the beach about midday, so with the sun at its peak, we indulged in a well-earned drink and ice-cream from the surf shop cafe and sat out on the beach to watch the surfers and take in our last view of the sea.

After a laborious trek back up the hill (why does it always seem so much longer on the way back?) we had a quick look round the conservation exhibition in one of the barns back at Southwood Farm before starting our day's drive.

One of the longest intermediary drives on our trip, our journey took us back around the edge of the coast and through Haverfordwest before turning away from the sea and heading further inland, up towards the Brecon Beacons. With three nights in the Beacons, we intended to cover as much ground as possible, so our first night's stop was the tiny, local village of Abercraf, just on the border of the Brecon Beacons.

henrhyd-falls, brecon-beacons, walk, waterfall
Image: Lorna Holland
Our B&B, the aptly named Hub, is located right in the centre of the village and seemed to be the focal point of goings-on. A unique combination of a B&B, small convenience store, post office and coffee shop, we certainly felt involved during our stay.

After our long drive, we took some time out to relax and recharge in the comfort of our room before heading out in search of dinner. A quick Google search recommended a pub in one of the surrounding villages, so we took a short drive down to The New Tredegar Arms in Upper Cwmtwrch. Our bet paid off, as the food was delicious, the atmosphere welcoming and the staff very friendly and helpful. As we ordered, we got chatting to one member of staff who recommended further walks and attractions in the area to us - a real five-star experience.

Freshly motivated and raring to see the sights of the area, we took a drive a little further into the Beacons after being tipped off about Henrhyd Falls. With the light fading and the day slowly turning to evening, we headed up the narrow track and parked up in the National Trust car park ready to walk down to see the falls.

Unfortunately, at that point, a herd of cows took over the car park. One minute the road was clear, one minute cows were everywhere. As most people who know me will tell you, I am not a fan of cows. Following two-too-many near misses involving being chased by herds of cows in the past, I intended to stay firmly put until they left again. Cue fifteen minutes later and the cows taking over the road as well as the car park, and I was starting to regret my decision. Should we just have made a run for it? Luckily, at that point, the occupants of the only other car in the car park came back. The couple assessed the situation, got in their car, and started approaching the cows, revving noisily. I'd always heard that you should either stop moving or inch forward cautiously in situations like this, but they clearly didn't want to hang around and luckily, it got the herd on the move again. Within another few minutes, the disgruntled cows had disappeared back up the lane, presumably heading back to their field or wherever they escaped from.

With the coast clear, we took our chances and headed off down to the falls.

couple, love, waterfall, henrhyd-falls, brecon-beacons
Image: Lorna Holland
The path leads you down a steep hillside into trees. Despite constant checks over our shoulders just in case of any stray cows appearing, we enjoyed the shady walk, with the cooler temperatures soothing our burned skin. You can hear the waterfall before you see it. The chattering, babbling sound of the rushing water takes over the other woodland sounds, dominating the atmosphere and making its presence known immediately. Then, when you turn the final corner and see the waterfall itself, it takes your breath away. 

The tallest waterfall in South Wales, Henrhyd Falls has been seen in many movies and TV shows, including the Dark Night, and it isn't hard to see why. As it was so late in the evening we were the only visitors, a fact which gave the whole experience a more magical, almost otherworldly feel. Scrambling along the slippery rocks and following the ledge around, you can stand beneath the waterfall's overhang - walking behind a waterfall. Standing there beneath the waterfall with the man I love is one of the stand-out memories of the trip for me; one which will stay with me forever.

From beneath a waterfall to hiding deep underground - don't forget to come back and check out the next instalment of One Week in Wales!

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