Wales Coast Path Run – Llansteffan to Laugharne
Coast Path Vital Stats
Llansteffan to Laugharne
- Distance: 15.16 miles
- Elevation Gain Today: 480m
- Highest Elevation: 89m
- Time: 3:09:15
- Av. Pace: 12:29 mins/mile
- Calories: 1674
Totals to Date
- Total Distance: 866 miles
- Total Time: 161:07:21
- Total Elevation Gain: 24575
- Total Calories: 80199
- Distance to go: 217 miles
This weeks Coast Path run saw me running from Castle to Castle, Llansteffan to Laugharne, around another estuary. This meant heading quite a way inland once again to a bridge across the River Taf. I then ran back along the other side of the river. I did see a little more coastal scenery this week though.
The day started with the usual logistics. A nice easy drive to Laugharne where I pulled up in the car park. The day was still young. The tall walls of the castle loomed over me as the low sun burnt off the early morning clouds.
I headed off in search of the toilets, only to find that I needed a 20p to gain entry. I don’t tend to carry cash with me these days as I pay for things contactless with my phone. Waiting until I got to Carmarthen was my only option. I wandered under the castle walls for a while and then headed to the sleepy square in Laugharne. Everything except the convenience store was of course closed and all was quiet. The only sound was wood pigeons cooing from the trees and the squawks of crows circling the castle ramparts. Things did start to wake up while I waited. A few cars drove by and then a few pulled up into the square. These all seemed to be occupied by overweight middle aged men. They clambered out of their cars, huffing and puffing as they did so and then shuffled off to the shop in slippers and baggy shorts. Each one then emerged carrying a pint of milk and a newspaper before squeezing themselves back into their cars and heading off.
The bus arrived on time at 7:32am and I was soon on board. It wasn’t long before I was getting off in Carmarthen. Here I had 30 minutes to get myself from Bay 7 of the bus station to Bay 6. Plenty of time and time to visit the toilets as well. The bus to Llansteffan was already waiting in bay 6 so I got on and sat there until it left at 8:35am. I was the only one onboard for the whole journey to Llansteffan. It was now just before 9am, 4 hours after setting off from home.
Llansteffan to the River Taf
In Llansteffan, I started my watch and then ran along the road, overlapping with the last few hundred yards of last weeks run. I turned onto the beachside path and headed off towards Llansteffan Castle perched on the hill.
I ran through the car park and then started a short climb up the hill out of the village. Rather than take me all the way to the castle the path headed back towards the coast through a little woodland of towering trees. The temperature was already in the 20’s so the shade of the trees was welcome relief. The bluebells that have dominated the woodlands through Spring were now being replaced by the feathery fronds of ferns.
The trees didn’t last that long though and I was soon out onto a low cliff that took me around the point between the River Towy and the River Taf. There were some lovely views out over the estuaries as the sun glistened on the sea. There was barely a breeze and all was calm.
Up the River Taf
I now stared to leave the coast behind as I weaved my way along tracks and narrow country roads. First I had views out over the point beyond Laugharne where dunes and tidal marshes dominated the low-lying spit of land. I then climbed up away from the coast through various fields and lanes. As I dropped back down towards the river I could see the Castle of Laugharne on the far side of the river – my final destination for the day. It wasn’t far as the crow flies but I still had 12 miles or so of running to get there.
This side of the River Taf was now a series of field crossings and roads. Farmers were out making hay (literally) as the sun shone.
I have to say that none of them seemed particularly friendly despite the lovely weather. They all seemed quite reluctant to have the footpath going through their land. There were number of fields with signs saying ‘Beware of the Bull’ as well. I never did see a bull and never really know what to do with such information if I do. Here I had the feeling it was just an attempt to discourage people from following the path across their land.
Sometimes I was on roads but they were very quiet with barely a car in sight. There were of course a few climbs and descents to contend with, along with the searing heat. Other obstacles included waist high, wet grass, numerous gates and of course stinging nettles which seem to be growing well at the moment. Shorts and ‘T’-shirt were more than enough in this weather, but they were no match for the nettles. I passed fields of sweetcorn and had glimpsing views of the river below.
A few of the larger fields had cattle confined to certain areas with electric fences. There was no choice but to go through the fields trying to give the cows a wide berth and then roll under the fences here and there. The cows looked on and occasionally got a little frisky but I got through unscathed. Next was a farm were a whole pack of dogs came out to greet me. I think they were actually channeling the ‘Get off my Land’ feelings of their owners but again I survived and continued on my way.
Eventually I came down off the rolling hills, through another field with a ‘beware of the bull’ sign and then out onto a little rusty bridge across the River Dewi Fawr and then across a nicer looking bridge over the River Taf
Down the River Taf
Having crossed the river I now had to make my way along it’s other bank to Laugharne. It was really hot now and the sun was beating down on me. The route on this side of the river was a little shorter. The signs took me up and down a few hills along muddy tracks and then through a series of fields. These were impossible to run on due to the pocked marked surface where cattle had been grazing during the wettest May on record. The mud had now dried hard and the surface was a minefield of ankle breaking holes. My ankles aren’t the strongest at the best of times so I walked through these fields rather than risk an injury.
The path did drop down closer to the river from time to time. It then crossed some more fields and a nice looking pond where someone was out mowing the grass. There was also a little apiary just beyond this. Now and then I could see out across the river to the fields I had run through earlier. I could even pick out the various herds of cattle that I had passed, each segregated to certain areas of the fields by electric fences. No doubt the still had their eye on me!
At one point the nettles really made their presence felt. chest high and without much choice to push through them. I had stings in places you don’t want to know about, including a particularly nasty one on my left nipple!
Next was more climbing through hot, pocked marked fields before a climb along a road where I could at least break into a run again. The path then descended a rocky track where the shade of the trees came in handy. I was now approaching Laugharne and there were other people on the path out for a stroll. I was still quite a way above the river running through a shady woodland, jumping over tree roots and making good progress once again. As I got closer to Laugharne there were some nice views of the estuary once again and I passed the Dylan Thomas Boathouse.
I was nearly there now as I weaved my way through a couple of lanes and then dropped down onto the path below the towering walls of Laugharne Castle. Laugharne was now alive. There were people everywhere, eating ice creams, walking dogs, sunbathing on the grass and paddling in the stream. I ran to the car, stopped my watch and got changed. Not a massive run today but another 15 closer to my goal. Next time I should be back on the coast proper and heading towards Pembrokeshire.
I then walked over to the shop to by a turkey roll which I ate sitting on a bench in the sun. I couldn’t stay there all day though as I had to head back and had errands to run in Aberystwyth.