From the outset June was not a good month for walking. There seemed to be so many things going on, many of which stopped me walking. Things like RR10’s, family events, hacking scares, spa days, storms, floods, phone and internet issues… Some walking did get done but I knew from the outset it wasn’t going to be enough.
In week one I only managed to fit in 32.95 miles with a windmill walk and a visit to Old Redbridge along with lots of little incidental walks. The miles took me to Llangennith, or almost. I actually ended on the dunes above Broughton Bay. Ruth was there in April but she walked along the sand and saw a kite surfer and a lighthouse.
Llangennith nestles between three red sandstone hills, Llanmadoc Hill, Rhossili Down and Hardingsdown. The latter has Iron Age earthworks on its slopes and I should like to have seen them for real. These days the village is known for surfing but, once it was synonymous with shipwrecks and smugglers. How romantic. There’s an historic church too, believed to have begun life as St Cenydd’s Oriory in the sixth century. It would be hard to tear myself away from a place like that if I was there for real.
Week two was slightly better, but not much, with 36.82 miles courtesy of Skyride and a walk to town for my spa day. This was enough to get me to Briton Ferry, known in Welsh as Llansawel. In fact I ended up at the end of the bridge over the River Neath. It was Easter Monday when Ruth walked across the bridge and she took a photograph from almost the exact spot where my miles took me. On the beach I’m heading for she saw sand blackened by coal from the Port Talbot steelworks.
Briton a Ferry village sits at the mouth of the River Neath where it enters Swansea Bay and, as the name suggests, there was once a ferry crossing here. There are also stepping stones across the river but these are only accessible at low tide. In the hills above the village there are the remains of ancient stone age settlements and two hill forts. This is another place it would be hard to leave.
The miles in week three came mostly from a walk to Mansbridge Resevoir, getting lost in West Wood, climbing up and down the Itchen Bridge and a visit to South Stoneham Cemetery. It was surprising all that only totalled 33.40 miles. The week ended in Ogmore-by-Sea or Aberogwr in Welsh, meaning the mouth of the River Ogmore which is exactly where it is.
Ruth stood on these rocky cliffs looking down on the strangely sculpted rocky beach on Good Friday. The views look breath taking. She could see Somerset on the horizon and the Nash Sandbank, the cause of numerous wrecks. Apparently there are large caves at the shore line. This looks like to sort of place I’d be glad of the new fancy pants camera.
Week four brought storms, floods, a 10k race and a little walking. Mostly this was fairly close to home because of the ever present threat of rain but I fit in 44.45 miles. Not enough to hit my target by a long chalk but better than nothing. The month ended in Peterstone Wentloog, almost half way between Newport and Cardiff.
Ruth ended her November 2015 walk here and picked up in the same place in February 2016 having sensibly spent the winter not walking the coast. She was surprised to see keep out signs plastered all over the entrance to the pretty church and a locked gate. Later she discovered the church is now a private house. It seems a shame not to be able to visit.
The tiny hamlet was built on land reclaimed from the Bristol Channel and that land was the subject of some controversy back in 2004. A man called Mark Roberts bought the title of Lord of the Manor and decided to charge villages to cross what had, until then, been their own land. Obviously the villagers weren’t pleased about this, especially as the fees were high. The matter was raised in parliament and the law was changed, abolishing charges for access across common land.
So, June ended with me wondering if I’d been over ambitious with my pledge to walk two thousand miles in 2016. Of the 166 miles I needed to walk I’d managed a measly 148.02. Will I ever catch up and will July be any better? Find out this time next month.