Training for the trek is stepping up now. I have to take advantage of every opportunity to get the hours in. The training plan calls for 3-4hr hikes at the moment. I’m happy, having done several 4-5hrs walks with Rufus on our lads week but I have to make sure that I keep up the pace and don’t become over confident. So the prospect of rain this morning wasn’t going to put me off getting out.
I went to see if Rufus wanted to come out and, surprise surprise, he did! We set off for Whiteford again. As we drove, the rain started. It wasn’t heavy but it was constant. It wasn’t cold either which would make the rain easier to cope with. We parked up and I got all my waterproofs on. Rufus waited impatiently, hurrying me up with little yaps and whines. Then we were off.
Last week, we explored a new route and I decided to try a slight detour along another new route. Not knowing where it would lead, we set off along a sunken lane signposted ‘Betty Church. There was no Betty and no church, but we soon got to a flat clearing in the woods. There was no obvious path but when I looked over the edge of the clearing, I saw that we were about 20 feet above the Cwm Ivy wood path that we used last week. There seemed to be an easy bit leading down so we went for it. Rufus charged off and I followed. But as soon as we got down the level of the path, we saw the thing wire fence topped with barbed wire. Rufus was all for jumping it but I stopped him. Instead, we went looking for a gap, or a part of the fence that was down.
Rufus was bounding up and down along the fence, while I was slipping and sliding as the ground was sloping and muddy. Inevitably, I went flying after stepping on a slippery tree root. As I lay on my side, Rufus bounded up and I swear that if he had been able to laugh, he would have been hysterical. Instead, he poked his nose in my face, backed off and as soon as I got up, he wagged his tail and jumped up to give my face a lick. Then we went looking for the gap in the fence again and he was bouncing around. Eventually, I found part of the fence flattened where a tree had fallen on it. I called Rufus and looked up, to see him vaulting the fence a little further off. We finally made it to the path.
From there, we followed a familiar route along the boundary wall by the estuary. Rufus desperately wanted to paddle in the water but it was thick with mud and he was good enough to listen to me and not wander off. We negotiated a solitary cow near the path (the others were behind a fence) and we made our way out onto the dune system and along to Whiteford Point. Today the tide was further in but on its way out. Fortunately for me, the big pool Rufus played in last week was still there, so I spent some time throwing stones for Rufus to retrieve.
By now the rain was getting a little heavier and it was quite miserable out, so we turned for home. I decided to walk along the beach on the way back – something we hadn;t down for a while. There was a wind blowing in from the sea and the rain continued to dampen our clothes, but not our spirits. The receding tide left lots of scents and aromas for Rufus to investigate. I just stuck my head down and trudged.
At the exit tot he beach, I put Rufus on the lead as there was a sign warning dog owners of ground nesting birds. Most of Whiteford is a nature reserve and we’ve seen lots of Lapwings and Sandmartins. Today, we also spotted several Common Shelduck on the marshland of the estuary. There were also some horses that appeared to be fighting – they might have been playing as there were foals around of various ages.
Walking back up towards Cwm Ivy, both of us could hear cows and they sounded perturbed. After our encounter with cows at Pembrey, I was a bit wary of what we’d see when we came over the hill. Sure enough, near the junction with the coastal path there were a lot of cows milling about and calling. A farmer was herding them out of the field to take them up through the village and who knows where. We backed off; the presence of Rufus may have made it harder for them to control the herd. The sounds uf mildly annoyed bovines slowly faded as they made their way along the path that we would shortly be following.
I gave them five minutes, then we set off. They stayed ahead of us but they left behind them the most awful stench and almost constant stream of dung; it took concentration to avoid every drop! But we did it and finally made the car.
Our route today.