Reflections of riding the Irish Sea Cycle Route.
Although this route is described with St Davids as the start, this summer saw me here when I regarded this place as a finish – here I completed the Irish Sea Cycle Route in Wales – from Connahs Quay to St Davids, a ride undertaken to authenticate the Wales section of the Irish Sea Cycle Route. Here’s what I wrote in my journal:
‘I turn right and descend to Whitesands Bay, to a wonderful sandy beach, pebbles line the shore and small sea cliffs tumble into the surf. And the rhythm of the crashing waves, oh the wonderful sound of crashing waves. I sit among the pebbles enjoying the moment. I’m not elated, but I do have an inner sense of achievement. This is a personal moment. I can’t express how I feel. In fact there probably isn’t anybody remotely interested! The moment is a milestone for me. It’s a personal journey and a personal moment, almost a treasure. I cant ever remember a moment like this’.
Whitesands Bay - the start/finish of the ISCR in Wales
I enjoy quiet roads almost exclusively on the NCN 4 route to Fishguard. After Fishguard there is little option but to follow the A487 to Newport.
Penmaen Dewi landscape occupies the south-west tip of Pembrokeshire. The rocky landscape is around 40m above sea level apart from the pointy peak of Carn Llidi that reaches 181m. It dominates the landscape and remains with us for the first few miles before we start to think about Abercastle.
Crossing the high ground through small remote villages, steep descents followed by steep short climbs flanking the small bay typify this landscape.
descent into Abercastle
These rocky inlets occupied by small villages over the past few hundred years are quaint and delightful. They appear to represent an idyll, a way of life so peaceful and perfect. It probably isn’t quite like that but as I climb slowly up the steep short climbs, sometimes weaving across the road, such thoughts cross my mind. But that soon changes as my progress uphill slows, I now concentrate on the job in hand. Any such thoughts of idyllic lifestyles are replaced with a more personal demeanour of a fast, pounding heartbeat accompanied by a purposeful rhythmic breathing, in an attempt to control my heart rate. I am now focussed on propelling my bicycle up the said hill. This terrain is typical of coastal Pembrokeshire, it is sometimes testing but it is a joy to ride amongst this wonderful landscape.
Trefin and Abercastle are soon passed. I see the signs for a Woollen Mill. Now I enjoy a bit of handloom weaving and am interested in this short detour to Melin Tregwynt.
Loom: Louet Spring; - Yarn: wool from Farfield Mill; - Design: mine
The mill dates back to the 18th century when it was a fulling mill. The stream powered the fulling of the wool cloth, to soften it, part of the finishing process. Today the mill represents all that is good about small local businesses producing quality products for today’s marketplace. I hope this tradition continues, it appears to represent a more sustainable future rather than buying cheap imports from mass-production factories where owners get richer whilst the proletariat are kept in relative poverty.
Approaching Fishguard, the route follows cycle-ways into the town. There’s a steep descent to the Old Town and harbour followed by the customary steep climb out of the town. I now follow the main road all the way to Newport, taking advantage of sections of cycle-way for safety. Progress is good and I am soon into the quaint town of Newport.
Main Street, Newport
Places of Interest along the way
St Davids Head St Davids City and cathedral Pembrokeshire Coast Path Melin Tregwynt Woolen Mill, SA62 5UX Strumble Head Dinas Head Pembrokeshire Coast National Park