Whilst we were sat in The Old Mill yesterday chucking a Waen Beer each down our necks we called up Celtic Quest Coasteering and booked ourselves in for a couple of hours frolicking in waves because we weren’t piss wet through and cold enough already. As it turned out though the weather wasn’t that bad this morning which was hilariously typical. The one time it wasn’t actually raining and we decide to go jumping around in the sea. So we rocked up to the beach at Abereiddy and waited in the car, wondering if we should go through with this or go and find an activity which involved being a bit drier and warmer such as drinking more beer, but coasteering does look like a metric fuck tonne of fun so when the Celtic Quest van showed up we duly shuffled up to meet the guides, Rhi, Gaz, Gabe and Ali, and part with the rest of the fee plus an extra tenner for photos.
I tucked all of my flabby bits into the wetsuit provided, slipped on a pair of bright yellow shorts, donned a helmet and a pair of trainers I didn’t mind getting soaked through (or even more soaked through), then off we shuffled to a little bay known as the Blue Lagoon. Tarrant was sporting bright pink shorts, we figured the colours would help us stand out in the photos amongst all the other helmeted, semi drowned humans. They weren’t just a fashion statement Milan would be envious of.
Everything looked pretty chill so far. One by one we belly flopped into the water and moved aside and, as the water gushed into my wetsuit, all of my nerve endings went into shock and I made that involuntary monkey noise you make when your entire body is suddenly and unceremoniously introduced to a liquid substance that’s a significantly lower temperature than your flesh. You don’t stay any manner of cold for long though. Once we were all in the water we made our way to a hole in the rocks where you had to wait for the right moment for a wave to help carry you through it, and I must have forgotten what my lower body was meant to be doing in all of this because I smacked my knee good and proper on the way through. Ouch. Yeah. Glad we got that out of the way at the start.
Then we had to run a gauntlet. So the idea was to get from one rock to another with waves crashing over the rocks in between, and if you couldn’t make it it was ok to allow the waves to carry you over to the left where you’d be thrown around in a washing machine of fun and hilarity. Tarrant managed to make it all the way over first time. Right then! Challenge accepted! Just because I have the balance of a three legged giraffe on ketamine it doesn’t mean I can’t… oh wait… no, there I go. I lost my balance and was swept off to the right which wasn’t the correct way to go, possibly on account of the massive, rotting seal carcass that was being tossed around in the waves. I hauled myself over to the other side and eventually made it over to join Tarrant and the others as we waited for a couple of our group who were washed away to be retrieved by our attentive, and actually really fucking strong, guides.
The next part involved a tiny jump into the sea, swimming to the next rocks and climbing out. I legit thought I was never going to make it onto those bastard rocks though, I clung on and dragged myself around the corner again and again but every single time wave after wave knocked me right back as sea water gushed from all of my head holes. Coasteering is well sexy. Eventually I was pulled from the water, already totally fucking exhausted, and promptly cracked the same knee on the rocks. Oh. My. God.
You know that bit of the knee that’s kinda soft? The reflex bit? Yeah. That. It was fucking agony. I sat down and genuinely had to try not to cry and I think the only reason I didn’t was because it really wouldn’t have stopped my knee from hurting. The pain subsided enough to traverse the rocks, jump back into the sea , climb up some more rocks and slide back into the Blue Lagoon. Some of the group chose to run down the slope but I’m a massive pussy even when it doesn’t feel like my knee is trying to leave me for someone who spends more time sitting down. I slid down, slid down again, then swam over to the final jumps. There was already enough salt in my sinuses to season my chips for a week but bugger me, coasteering is fun! It’s massive fun, despite the injury.
These final jumps then. There are three heights to choose from and we all had to do them in order, if we wanted to do them at all. The first one is nice and easy. The second one, I must have been leaning slightly forward because it felt like I hit the water tits first, which is quite feasible given the size of them. I wanted to try the second one again before attempting the big one, but as I stood at the edge as the guide told me what I’d done wrong last time and explained what I could do to stop it from happening my common sense finally kicked in and went, “Erm… what the fuck do you think you’re doing??” So I bottled it. I backed down and didn’t even go for the big jump but guys, it’s huge, you’d have way too much time to think whilst plummeting from that one.
You should definitely do this if you’re in Pembrokeshire. Y’know, providing you’re at least vaguely capable of remaining afloat in water. We headed back to the car park and did that thing where you have to try and get changed without exposing yourself to day trippers or taking out tourists with a nipple. There’s no easy way to get a bra on whilst leaning as far into a car as possible to preserve what ever dignity you have left, when you’re a bit wet and your tits are basically visible from space. Add to that joy of getting your knickers back on with an awkward one handed grasp on a towel around your waist that suddenly seems too small, hiking your undies up your still damp legs with the other. It’s a good job I used up all of my shame in my late twenties when I discovered Jägerbombs. It’s more amusing than mortifying these days when a complete stranger accidentally cops a load of my bare arse. They’ll be bleaching their eyeballs for days, bless them.
Anyway. Once we’d drained the sea from our orifices we drove to Pentre Ifan, an ancient burial chamber dating back to something like 3500BC. It’s the oldest and best preserved Neolithic structure in Wales. Yeah okay, so it doesn’t look like much of a burial chamber these days, you’ve got to use a bit of imagination. Orrrr just refer to the information board as you come in. That massive rock balancing precariously on top would have been a cap stone laid on top of some manner of stone wall. All that’s gone now leaving just what you see today. I like it. But I like broken shit which explains in part some of my ex girlfriends.
Then it was onward to the south coast of Pembrokeshire to check out a couple of things I’d read about. We’d planned to do a walk. You could walk along the coast from Stack Rocks all the way to St Govan’s Chapel, taking in some stunning, rugged coastline along the way, but on account of the dubious weather we’d decided to just drive to them one after the other. Add to that the fact my knee was unsure about whether it fancied bearing my weight today after the bashing it got earlier, this seemed like a much saner plan.
Turned out there was a micro brewery called Bluestone on the drive down which we accidentally stumbled upon. Well, it’d be rude not to have a little look and add to our growing beer collection wouldn’t it? The woman there was lovely. I asked her if I could have a peek inside the barn where they do their brewing and she explained the process to us. The water is pure Pembrokeshire water, straight from a well on their property which is full of pure mountain water, no dicking about with it required. So this is heated and put in a massive barrel known as a mash tun with a load of malted barley and given a proper good stir, then it’s left for a bit.
After about an hour and a half you can draw off this liquid and put it in a kettle. I wish I owned a kettle this big. Imagine all the tea I could drink. I’d need planning permission to build a shed big enough to store my bladder. But anyway, as the liquid, called wort, is boiled in this kettle for an hour they add hops and it’s the hops that provide the flavour. Then the liquid is cooled and transferred to fermentation tanks with the yeast for about a week and that’s where it becomes the beer we know and love applying liberally to our faceholes. So we bought some beer and headed on to the south Pembrokeshire coast and the road to Stack Rocks.
What we didn’t realise was that this road goes through military land, it’s Castlemartin Range. We joined a small queue of cars without any idea of how long we’d be sat there, why we were sat there, or even if we were allowed to be sat there. There were tanks, and not the nice tanks we’d just seen at Bluestone that contained lots of lovely beer. Fuck off great big killing machines. It was then I realised that I was really quite intimidated by tanks. I felt very small in our tiny car. We waited for what seemed like forever, deciding that it was probably okay to be there because the cars in front clearly weren’t military, and eventually we all moved forwards and made it to a car park by the coast.
And what a coastline! Stack Rocks is full of birds, just like at South Stack on Anglesey. There were a couple of blokes there with binoculars and everyone knows that blokes with binoculars know stuff about birds so we asked them what the birds were. They’re mainly guillemots. There would apparently be some razorbills knocking around somewhere too but generally the squawking mass of feathers over there were guillemots. I think the rest of the animal kingdom banishes birds to these stacks because they’re noisier than a hen party after a bottle of tequila and they stink worse than my morning breath.
A few metres west and we found the Green Bridge of Wales which is another rock formation, this time joined to the mainland thus forming a bridge. Not any manner of bridge I’d walk on, mind. I’m not a fucking mentalist. It’s stunning though, so we took a load of photos and walked back to the car. Turned out we were lucky that we were able to get here at all, the road is often closed and had been so quite a lot recently. If you want to find out if you can get down there without being shot at or arrested you can call Pembroke Visitor Centre on 01437 776499, or Castlemartin Range on 01646 662367.
Our final stop of the day was St Govan’s Chapel. Worth it. It’s literally just this tiny little house at the bottom of some steep steps which my knee was less than impressed with, built into the cliffs. Legend has it that St Govan was being chased by pirates and the rocks here opened up for him to lie in and closed around him to conceal him until the pirates fucked off. Yeeaahhh… I don’t think that’s how rocks work, guys. Not without the appropriate amount of hallucinogens anyway. But this chapel was built in the 6th century by his followers. They probably didn’t intend for it to be so photogenic on account of photography not being a thing back then but it’s certainly one for the Instagram gallery.
We drove back to Tir Bach via a farm shop to pick up some locally sourced Welsh beef mince because we’re all ethical like that when we’re on holiday and there isn’t an Asda nearby, and spent the evening all nice and dry because we’d discovered a barn at the campsite with a woodburner in it. We asked at reception if we were allowed to use it, they told us yes and sold us a crate of logs. Perfect. Tarrant knocked up a decent chilli and we kicked back, burnt shit, and enjoyed our new beers from Bluestone. Fuck yes, Pembrokeshire. We’re glad we didn’t abandon you for Lanzarote.
Stayed at: Tir Bach Farm Campsite, Llanycefn, Pembrokeshire
Activity: Coasteering with Celtic Quest Coasteering