Wales Coast Path Run – Stackpole Quay to Green Bridge of Wales
Coast Path Vital Stats
Stackpole Quay to Green Bridge of Wales
- Distance: 7.92 miles
- Elevation Gain Today: 544m
- Highest Elevation: 58m
- Time: 1:48:19
- Av. Pace: 13:04 mins/mile
- Calories: 1137
Totals to Date
- Total Distance: 907.74 miles
- Total Time: 170:25:21
- Total Elevation Gain: 26967
- Total Calories: 85530
- Distance to go: 177 miles
I made a tentative restart to my Wales Coast Path run last week following a break due to a heart attack. Spurred on by the success we headed back to Pembrokeshire this weekend with a similar plan of action. The idea was to once again drive down on Saturday. I’d then run around 8 miles from point to point along the Coast Path with Anna as support in the car. We’d then have a nice afternoon together and a decent meal in a comfortable hotel. If I felt up to it on Sunday I’d then do a shorter run after breakfast and then drive home.
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t looking as good as last weekend with strong winds and rain forecast. I therefore went prepared with suitable running kit. The drive down was a little damp in places. By the time we pulled into the National Trust car park at Stackpole Quay it was dry, but cloudy and very windy.
Stackpole Quay and Barafundle Bay
Once suitably attired I headed off onto the Coast Path. I took a photo of Stackpole Quay itself then climbed the steps to the top of the cliffs. Anna headed off towards our first meeting point at St Govan’s.
Once at the top of the steps I headed through the gate and out onto an easy grassy field towards Barafundle Bay. The strong headwind buffeted me and would only strengthen throughout the day. The clouds scuttled across the sky with just an occasional break and I jogged across the landscape below. White caps troubled the sea beyond Stackpole Head and behind me I could see the long sweep of cliffs all the way back to Tenby. It looked a long way off. This was quite satisfying as it showed that I’d covered quite a bit of distance last weekend.
I overtook a few people and then approached the picturesque sweep of sand at Barafundle Bay. Inaccessible by car this beach is often voted as one of the best in the UK. Despite the somewhat overcast skies it still looked spectacular today. I stopped to take a few photos and then descended the steps to the soft sands.
I ran across the sands and then up through a small wooded path back onto the cliff tops. Stopping again to take photos along the way.
Stackpole Head to Bosherton Ponds
Back on to cliff tops the wind was howling as I made my way out to and around the exposed headland of Stackpole Head. The cliffs here were impressive so I stopped a few times, bracing myself against the wind to take some photos.
Each time I did I could see someone else in a bright yellow jacket out for a run. He’d catch me a little while I stopped to take a photo and then I’d pull away from him again. Eventually I stopped enough times that he caught me so we exchanged pleasantries and jogged along together for a short while. That was until I stopped again for yet more photos of the cliffs. I could see the route ahead of me across the clifftops.
We made our way along the meandering tracks that hugged the cliff tops. There were other people out walking too. I overtook the runner again as we took slightly different paths. The going was easy as I jogged along. The grassy surface was perfect for running on with a few sandy areas here and there to negotiate. The occasional gate gave a brief pause. The headwind was incessant and occasionally stopped me in my tracks.
As I approached another gate I felt my ankle twist a little on some uneven ground. I rolled into it and fell gently to the ground to minimise any damage. It hurt a little but I jumped back up, took a few tentative steps on it and all felt OK. The other runner wasn’t far behind after my tumble so I held the gate open for him and then jogged alongside him for a while chatting as we went.
Bosherton Ponds and Broadhaven South
After a while we approached the beach of Broadhaven South and Bosherton Ponds. He headed off around the ponds while I continued on along the Coast Path which dropped down the sand dunes towards a little bridge. I crossed the bridge over the river that drained the Bosherton Ponds and then headed across the sands. It was nice here, sheltered from the wind for a while.
The path took me up into the dunes behind the beach of Broadhaven South where the pinnacle of Church Rock stood offshore like a defensive tower.
My ankle was a little sore as I jogged through the dunes and up then onto the concrete track to the car park. I continued onto the cliff top and then doubled back to the car park just to check that This wasn’t the car park where I was supposed to meet Anna. It wasn’t so I retraced my steps out onto the cliff tops and into the wind once again.
Broadhaven South to St Govan’s
The cliffs once again increased in stature as I made my way out towards St Govan’s Head. The path cut off the headland though and took me towards the car park at St Govan’s. My ankle hurt a little whilst on the harder surfaced track so I walked rather than ran as I made my way to the car park where Anna was waiting.
I said hello, told her I’d fallen over and briefly thought about stopping here. I looked at my watch and only had 3 miles to go so decided I may as well just carry on. I could walk it if needed and the weather was better than expected so I may as well make the most of it while it wasn’t raining. I therefore left Anna and continued as planned.
St Govan’s to The Green Bridge of Wales.
Before heading back to the coast path I took a little detour down the steps to St Govan’s Chapel where I took a few photos.
Back up the steps onto the cliff tops and I headed off onto the gravel track through the military firing range. It was flat and easy going so I jogged on the slightly softer grass in the middle of the track. I passed some impressive bays and inlets surrounded by towering cliffs, including Huntsman Leap. To my right was the occasional bit of discarded military hardware and plenty of keep out signs.
From time to time I got glimpses of the huge cliffs ahead and the impressive arch of The Green Bridge of Wales. Despite the immensity of the rock arch it was still too far away to photograph on my phone. I’d save that for later. There was no one else around out here, just me, the never-ending gravel track and some noisy crows. My ankle was beginning to hurt a little more now so I soon started walking rather than jogging. After a while the pain was getting worse so I resorted to kind of skipping along without putting too much weight on my right leg. This became hopping from time to time. Eventually my walk, hop and skip was reduced to a kind of limping hobble. Fortunately I only had about half a mile to go by now. I was counting every step. If it had been much further I think my ‘limping hobble’ might have become a crawl on my hands and knees!!
I did eventually make it to the car park. I took a few photos of the cliffs but it was too painful to go looking for a decent vantage point for the Green Bridge of Wales itself. The best views are actually looking back at it from a little further along the coast so that will have to wait until next time.
I’d covered almost 8 miles today as planned so that was good.
I got changed by the car and then realised just how swollen my ankle was. My feet are usually extremely skinny and skeletal looking. When really swollen they look almost normal. Now my right ankle looked huge and deformed. It certainly didn’t look normal.
I tried to drive but it was just too painful so Anna took over. We had planned to do something together for the afternoon but as I couldn’t walk we decided to find somewhere for lunch. There wasn’t much open so in the end we headed to Trefloyne Manor where we were booked for the night.
On arrival the staff at Trefloyne Manor were lovely once again. We were quite a lot earlier than the 3pm check in time but our room was ready so we were given the key and told we could go up to it whenever we wanted. They asked what I’d done as by now I was struggling to get about. They then immediately tried everything they could to help. We sat on a sofa in one of their comfy lounges. They pushed a large table closer to me and gave me some cushions so that I could elevate my foot. They got me a huge bag of ice to put on my foot too. Lunch was brought to us on our sofa. Perfect. The rugby was on the TV so we relaxed there for a while before heading to our room for a shower and a snooze before dinner. Funnily enough I had a memory on Facebook from 11 years ago mentioning a bag of peas for an injured foot!
Dinner was delicious again and we then had a quiet, comfortable night in the hotel.
After a big breakfast the following morning it was time to head home. The plan to run some more coast path was obviously abandoned. I could barely make it to the car. Anna would also have to drive which she wasn’t looking forward to. We therefore planned a little stop in Carmarthen to break it up. We also gave the car a quick top up here as we had a coffee and cookie.
There was an accident in Llanarth so we had a little detour up to Cross Inn but eventually made it back to Aberystwyth.
The swelling on my ankle and foot was only getting worse. There was also some bruising, some pooling of blood and it was looking quite red and angry.
We decided it would make sense to have another stop at Bronglais A&E to get it X-rayed. I was fairly certain I hadn’t broken any bones but its always best to check as it was looking pretty bad by now.
The X-rays confirmed there were no broken bones but did show quite a few torn ligaments. They reckon I somehow sheared my entire foot sideways in relation to my leg so stretched and tore the ligaments and tendons on both sides of the ankle. They were impressed that I’d managed to move 6 feet from where I did it, let alone continue on along the coast path for 6 miles!! The fact that I’m on various blood thinners and anti-clotting drugs won’t have helped as far as internal bleeding, bruising and swelling is concerned.
It doesn’t actually hurt too much and the advice is the usual RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. I was sent home with a brace that included ice packs and some crutches. My instructions were to keep all weight off it for at least a week, get an appointment with physiotherapy and then gradually start using it once the swelling and bruising has reduced. It’s likely to be 2-3 months before I can walk properly on it and quite a while before I’ll be running again.
So, after an enforced break from the Coast Path due to a heart attack, I finally restarted it last week. I managed to cover a total of just over 20 miles before having to stop again. At this rate I might never finish it.