138. Pentywyn (Pendine) – Talacharn (Laugharne)

138. Pentywyn (Pendine) – Talacharn (Laugharne)

Distance: 8.13 miles

Max Altitude: 51 m

Min Altitude: 5 m

Height Gain: 130 m

Height Loss: 130 m

I was keen to put in some decent miles today in spite of my feet.

Pentywyn (Pendine) boasts ‘seven miles of golden sands’. You see it everywhere on signage and whatnot. It was on those sands that Malcolm Campbell set the world land speed record in his car, Blue Bird. Since then it’s been used for all sorts of speed-related records and escapades.

During the Second World War, the Ministry of Defence got hold of Pendine Sands for use as a firing range, and they still own those seven miles of golden sands to this day. For this reason, the Wales Coast Path detours far inland to avoid the range. What a crying shame.

What followed thereafter was a dull and uninspiring trudge along the side of the road, mainly, and in rain showers. The weather wasn’t as bad as yesterday, which was something.

I walked for ages until I could turn off the road in order to walk along farmland. Some familiar sights were there to greet me.

In fact, this lot started to follow me. Maybe they realised that I needed some moral support.

As did this pair.

I started looking around for different things to photograph. A barbed wire gate was the best I could come up with.

But then, after climbing a series of steps, I was given the most awesome view and vantage point.

I hadn’t realised it at the time but I had stumbled onto ‘Dylan’s Birthday Walk’. In 1944, the poet had written ‘Poem in October’ about a walk he took on his birthday, to the shoulder of Sir John’s hill (which was where I was standing). The poem is simply about his love of Laugharne and getting older. The poem was set on the 27th of October, 1944, his 30th birthday. Not the exact date that I was walking, but close enough and the right month besides anything else! I smiled at the almost coincidence.

Each bench I encountered featured a different verse from the poem.

Here is the poem in question, in case you’re wondering –

‘Poem in October’ by Dylan Thomas

It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
And the mussel pooled and the heron
Priested shore
The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall
Myself to set foot
That second
In the still sleeping town and set forth.

My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
Over the border
And the gates
Of the town closed as the town awoke.

A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling
Blackbirds and the sun of October
Summery
On the hill’s shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened
To the rain wringing
Wind blow cold
In the wood faraway under me.

Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
With its horns through mist and the castle
Brown as owls
But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.
There could I marvel
My birthday
Away but the weather turned around.

It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky
Streamed again a wonder of summer
With apples
Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
Through the parables
Of sun light
And the legends of the green chapels

And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.
These were the woods the river and sea
Where a boy
In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
And the mystery
Sang alive
Still in the water and singingbirds.

And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true
Joy of the long dead child sang burning
In the sun.
It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.
O may my heart’s truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year’s turning.

I walked along reading the benches and the little bits and bobs of Dylan Thomas along the way. With that I was opposite Castell Talacharn (Laugharne Castle).

And of course, the world famous, Dylan Thomas’ Boathouse, photographed below in the centre of frame close to the water. His writing shed is a little to the left of the Boathouse.

My walk finished in the shadow of the castle.

 I would wait for tomorrow until I actually walked past Dylan Thomas’ Boathouse, and I would hope for better weather too.

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