Weekend 3: 9th & 10th April 2016

DAY 1: Angle to Manorbier (27 miles)

DAY 1 – decent weather – hooray – blue skies & sunshine, albeit a tad blustery. My initial attempt to start in Angle was defeated by the high-tide, which meant that I had to run circa 1.0 / 1.5 miles to get to the start! Then to Freshwater West (Cafe Mor http://www.beachfood.co.uk/cafemor.php – 10 minute stop – coffee & brownie, where I met Jackie & Alasdair); onward to CastleMartin and (because it was open at the weekend) the artillery range, through to Broad Haven (National Trust car park), where I had a sandwich lunch & soup. Then crossed glorious Broadhaven beach onward to the quiet and secluded Barafundle Bay (beach). Then Stackpole Quay, Freshwater East through to the carpark below Manorbier castle. The stretch from Stackpole Quay to Manorbier was undulating: up and down, up and down, but at least the weather had been kinder!

looking out towards Freshwater west Sat April 9th

DAY 2: Manorbier to Laugharne (26 miles)

I had spotted on the weather forecast the night before that forceful winds would be travelling south-north from the channel, through the South-West and up into South Wales. Little did I realise that I would be running into full-on, head-winds for the entire day.

Steep walk up Lydstep cliffs in very blustery weather. Sunday April 10th Manorbier to Laugharne

At Lydstep point I was literally being blown backwards! It was good to get to Tenby and have some respite from the constant, constant forceful winds. This meant getting into Jackie’s “team Clio” car for 15 minutes to have some soup, whilst the car itself was being buffeted. The coastal footpath terrain out of Tenby was pretty aggressive. It was poignant, pausing for a moment on the coastal footpath and looking out towards Monkstone Point. Lynne had mentioned the night before that this was one of Tony’s (TJ) favourite spots for fishing.

Because of the constant battering of the wind, I grabbed a coffee in Saundersfoot. A lady in the coffee shop noticed the #MoonShadowWales yellow cover and asked (via her daughter) what I was doing. I explained that I was running around the entire perimeter of Wales (circa 1,030 miles) to raise money for #MND research. Purely accidentally, she commented that her late mother had succumbed to MND and subsequently texted a donation – thank you so much. Post coffee, I ran on to Amroth via Wiseman’s Bridge. My son Alasdair reminded me that Amroth is the official end of the  #Pembrokeshirecoastalfootpath – some 186 miles – and congratulated me on reaching this milestone after 6.5 weekend days running (in all weathers!).

end of the Pembrokeshire Coastal path from Poppit Sands to Amroth.

To the east of Amroth, I ran across the wind swept beach of Marros Sands. Such was the ferocity of the wind passing my ears that I could not hear the music I was playing on my nano. I had one idle thought that the ferocity of the winds hour after hour might cause deafness because it was so loud and thunderous. Anyway, onward rounding Ragwen Point & Gilman Point to Pendine. I had to go indoors into the shelter for a moment to read my map, out of the wind. The footpath then moved inland to bypass the coastal MOD land (Pendine Sands & Laugharne Burrows), passing through Llanmiloe & Plashett to Laugharne. I cannot tell you what a joy it was to arrive in Laugharne carpark adjacent to the castle, greeted by Jackie, Alasdair and Lynne. The attritional nature of the windy weather today had got to me so I was pleased & relieved & glad to finish.

 

Weekend 2: 1st, 2nd, 3rd April 2016

DAY 1: Little Haven to (east of) Monk Haven (22 miles)

Starting in Little Haven, Pembrokeshire on Saturday 3rd April, I was confronted with another wet, windy, rainy start – evidenced by some of the video clips – which continued more-or-less throughout the day. Here are some other memories: sight of the castle from the coastline, near St Brides Cross; the flooded footpath trail for large parts of the path leading to Martin’s Haven; passing through Martin’s Haven (and the ‘old deer park’) reminded me of my time as a Managing Agent for The National Trust; sight of Gateholm Island from the coastal footpath; Marloes Sands, and just inland, remnants of the Second World War airfield.

If the coastal footpath from Little Haven to Martin’s Haven was wet and windy, the section from Martin’s Haven was incredibly exposed evidenced once again by forceful winds, rain and cold: I decided that too many such clips would be boring, but they reflect the reality of the conditions on the day.

I arrived at St Anne’s Head. Stupidly, I thought there might be a place to shelter…..and have a hot drink. I must have been dreaming!! I was wet through and very cold at this point. All that I could do was shelter behind one of the buildings adjoining the cottages. Thank goodness Jackie (my wife and essential supporter) had given me a flask of hot tomato soup. That really made the difference, as well as the sandwiches.

Onward then to Dale along the indented coastline. At the yacht club, I had a hot chocolate and sent Jackie an e-mail (the club has wifi and it’s a good ‘stopping place’) to say that I was not far now from the meeting point in St Ismaels. Leaving the club, despite the suggestion that I should take the high tide route, I took the low tide route and crossed the boarded walk without any bother. What I’ve discovered on this journey so far is that I need to follow my own instincts, including my own powers of observation.

I passed through the small beach of Monk Haven, having agreed to run to Longberry Point on the coastal footpath and then take the footpath inland to St Ismaels (east-side). Subsequently heard on BBC weather news that Pembrokeshire had had 30mm of rain on Saturday 2nd April – and didn’t I know it!!

DAY 2: Monk Haven to Angle (31 miles)

I will remember Sunday 3rd April for some time to come. This was the day that running over aggressive coastline caught up with me. My knees were in great pain. In particular my knee caps (patellas). I am sure there is a more technical explanation but I was running in pain for 5 hours today. No sympathy required, just a fact.

I crossed the stepping stones at Sandy Haven (low tide mark), moved around South Hook oil refinery Gellawick Bay…….and then had my first experience (following the acorns) of running through urban landscape via Hakin to Milford Haven, over the bridge, marina on my right, Main Street, Pill to Black Bridge, up the river mouth for a while and round to Venn Farm and then to the coast to the left of the oil refinery. Passing through Hazelbeach, Llanstadwell, Neyland to Great Honeyborough over the bridge and then over the second bridge into Pembroke Dock. I was glad to catch up with Jackie and Lynne John (my supporters for the weekend) for hot drinks and something to eat. Lynne was able to give me 2 ibuprofen tablets. Within minutes, the constant pain was gone and I was able to move easier for the rest of the afternoon. Jackie reminded me that you have to be careful taking such tablets. A fair point….and I took them having ‘refuelled’ with food.

Leaving Lynne and Jackie, I passed through the urban landscape of Pembroke Dock to Pembroke taking time to enjoy the castle and moat. Then, along the coastline south of Hundleton, passing the Power Station, following the path south of the oil refinery to the beach directly west of Rhoscrowther. Took 5 mins at this point. Sunshine and blue skies – the FIRST time for the entire weekend!! Enjoyed just watching the vista before me whilst having a sip of hot soup. Finally, onward to Angle. Enjoying running WITHOUT PAIN whilst enjoying the first sunshine of the entire weekend ANOTHER BIG WEEKEND.

WEEKEND 1 – Moon Shadow Wales Challenge


 

Well, what a weekend!!! How was I to know that it would coincide with storm Katie. Saturday and Sunday were particularly challenging in the face of a full-on gale.

Good Friday 25th March – travelled down to Cardigan mid-afternoon, staying with Alex Jungmayr & family (Plas-y-Wern Cottages, Tresaith) http://www.plasywern.co.uk/

DAY 1 (27m): Started 26th March – Poppit Sands (Cardigan), Cemaes Head, Ynys Fach, Newport – tried to cross the river but quickly up to my waist and fast flowing, so went round (managed to get a hot chocolate in the local pub {Golden Lion} on the estuary), Dinas Head (Dinas Island), called into The Old Sailors, Dinas Cross (wet through and cold, it was good to have some lamb cawl on the house http://tinyurl.com/jqaudsv – thank you, it was excellent); Fishguard, Goodwich (finish of day 1).

DAY 2 (29m): 27th March – Goodwich, Strumble Head, Pwll Deri (YHA), Tregwynt, Abercastle (was offered tea & ham sandwich from Paul & family {from Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire} who were staying in a holiday cottage adjacent to the slipway to the beach – thank you), Porthgain (coffee at The Shed), Abereiddy, St David’s Head, Whitesands. I was literally spent when I arrived at Whitesands beach: a very long day which started at 8.30am and ended at 7.00pm at night. Good to be met by Lynne John, and my wife Jackie with a warm blanket and chocolate protein drink. Then whisked away to stay with a friend in the St David’s area – Andy Middleton.

DAY 3 (24m): An altogether different day. Yes, still windy but blue skies and sunshine. Whitesands, St Justinian’s Lifeboat station, Lower Treginnis, Portclais, Solva (hot chocolate and sandwich at cafe 35, Solva), Newgale (met Jackie & Lynne and had a coke), Nolton Haven, Druidston (passing the hotel), Broad Haven, Little Haven…….. then ‘long’ drive home back to Cardiff.

This was a ‘big weekend’. Glad to have started……..the end of the beginning. One weekend down, 19 (or thereabouts) to go! People have heard me say that this run is a metaphor. I am eating away at the distance, just as MND http://tinyurl.com/gr3ujq4 in devastating fashion eats away at human beings when diagnosed.

Moon Shadow Wales Challenge

This is the first of a number of blogs that will appear over forthcoming months.

On Saturday 26th March 2016, I embark on the Moon Shadow Wales Challenge. This requires me to run around the entire perimeter of Wales. Why? A simple and facetious answer would be to say “why not”! The longer answer points to a story and hence this blog.

So how did this crazy idea come about? I suppose the one word answer is serendipity. If I had not bumped into Andy Middleton www.tyf.com I would not have attended the DO Lectures http://www.thedolectures.com/ in West Wales in June 2015.

With the DO slogan of “ideas + energy = change” in my mind, if I had not bumped into Alex Jungmayr www.plasywern.co.uk on an early morning estuary run (someone who had attempted to run around the entire perimeter of Wales), I would not have come up with the idea of running around Wales. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, if I had not gone to the DO Lectures with the subliminal thought (concern) about a client and friend Tony John who had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease http://www.mndassociation.org/ (MND) in December 2013, then this challenge would not be happening today. Tony passed away on 30th July 2015. I attended the funeral service. I am sure he would have smiled to hear his favourite song being played: Moon Shadow by Cat Stevens, hence the title of this challenge. His eldest daughter spoke on behalf of the family at the funeral and recalled one of his sayings: ‘‘It’s not what you do, but who you are that matters’’. So typical of the man and so profound.

What was my link with Tony? Again by way of serendipity, I was introduced to Tony John (by the then Planning Officer of Bridgend CBC Sue Jones) and his fellow partners in the late Spring of 2004. One of the partners of Shepherds The Vets in Bridgend, Tony and fellow partners Bob and Clive had a vision to create and deliver a veterinary animal hospital, the best in Wales (the UK). Over a period of 5 years, my professional services (strategic property advice) helped the practice to deliver their vision. It was officially opened in late Summer 2009. During the 5 year period, Tony was my constant point of contact and became a good friend. We had empathy because I came from a farming background and wanted to be a vet but did not achieve the grades. Tony lived in Bridgend and trained at Bristol University. He was a thoroughly decent and thoughtful family man. I last saw him with his wife Lynne on 25th June 2015 at a time when (as I remember it) because of the devastating impact of MND he could hardly move any part of his body, other than his eyes. I broached my mad idea to run around the perimeter of Wales to raise £25,000 for MND research. He said “yes” verbally………….and with his eyes. His wife Lynne contacted me on 31st July 2015 to say: “I am afraid the news is not good, Tony died yesterday evening [30th July 2015], but at least there will be no more suffering.”

Other blogs will follow this one but if anyone is moved to support me in raising £25,000 to support research into this insidious and devastating disease, then visit JustGiving or JustTexting via the web site http://www.moonshadow.wales/ and / or share with others.

Thank you for showing your interest.

Robert