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A perfectly Pembrokeshire perspective – by Cara Jasmine Bradley

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Budding young travel writer Cara Jasmine Bradley writes about her experience at visiting Pembrokeshire last summer

IT WAS the moment that saw all my childhood dreams come true in a dramatic flurry afore my eyes.

The hoof beats below me intensified, and I laughed as I was showered in a mixture of sand and sea spray. The wind slapped at my face in refreshing fashion as we thundered along, tearing up the surf.

Slicing into the waterfall of rain, I felt overwhelmingly empowered and alive. I wanted the descending coastline to spiral onwards forever.

Towering cliffs doused in pulsating spillages of shrubbery dwarfed the cove on either side, creating an illuminating spotlight to my disposition.

The grey clouds overhead created a quintessential backdrop to the bursts of colour created by the blissful clash of the sea and its surrounding rolling meadows.

Leaning forwards, I embraced the rain and my every spine-tingling sensation, and allowed the horse to pick up his pace another notch. The feeling of sheer freedom was indescribable.
Pembrokeshire: the place that presented me with one of the most invigorating memories of my life.

Galloping along a deserted stretch of Haverfordwest beach truly made up the ingredients for the stuff dreams are made of. The drum of the hooves replicated my bursting heart, and I scarcely recalled a time I had felt more joyous.

It was the promise of horse riding on the beach that had initially enticed me to Pembrokeshire that summer, but it was the treasured alternate elements that sum up the mystical county that have kept my heart alight ever since.

Pembrokeshire quickly enlightened me the depth of its rural charm, showcasing just what the UK does best: nature. We arrived at our caravan that first evening to find that we already had our first visitor ready and waiting for us at the door. In the gathering dusk, the silhouette of a badger made my breath catch in my throat. I had never been in such close proximity to one before! The badger boldly held eye contact for a few seconds, before scuttling off, only to return every night!

Perhaps it was the prime location of our caravan that won me over. An overgrown pathway led us away from the caravan park. We passed by the towering wall of bold foxgloves and followed the aroma of sea salt until we found ourselves in an open field, which boasted astounding views out across the sea via the craggy cliff-side beyond.

Watching the sun set from that very spot became a nightly tradition that never failed to motivate and mesmerize.

The declining sun dropped an explosion of blood orange across the cliffs, sending its rays clambering across the still surface of the sea far into the horizon. It felt as though I was stood on the brink of the eye to the world, gazing at its magnificence through a magnifying glass.

Famed for its paradise perfect beaches that behold the ability to make one believe that they could actually be anywhere in the world, Pembrokeshire also modestly lets fans into its sacred secret of outstanding countryside.

It’s easy to get lost in the endless woodlands and forests spread generously across Pembrokeshire. And by ‘lost,’ I also mean in the metaphorical sense of the word, for it is almost impossible not to abort all of life’s worries and negativities under the protection of the rich canopy of trees.

Enchanted pathways zig-zagging through the heart of dense woodland defines a magical fairytale setting intent on inspiring.

The woods were stunningly silent, aside the therapeutic droplets of rain cascading from the branches. The air was thick with the revitalising smell of nature – that tantalising ambiance that can only truly be appreciated after the rainfall.

The blackberries sat plump on their bushes, squirrels darted across the undergrowth in our wake, and mysterious flora and fauna shimmered in delight amidst the showers.

There was just something about trekking through the superlative forests that made me feel like a child again; uncontrollably wide-eyed with admiration and enthrallment. The scenery that generously enveloped me was so beautiful, so surreal, that I felt as though I was floating through a pleasant day-dream. You almost find yourself checking tree trunks for signs of fairies, resisting the urge to jump in puddles, and making wishes out of dandelions. Even the most cynical of adults would fail to fall victim to the spell.

Sharing my time with this mind-blowing landscape forced me to shrug off my stifling coat of conformity and simply be myself. I was walking hand in hand with the person I had almost forgotten to be. I was awakened, and my soul followed suit.

Quite often during our trip, we would pack our bags with a picnic, which we would relish half way through our lengthy walks, nestled somewhere between the forests and the coast. There is something quite thrilling about a mid-hike picnic. Rain sodden sandwiches tarnished with stray flecks of sand are part of the deal in the UK, and you know what? It only adds to the authenticity! Fleshly picked blackberries enhanced the flavour of the day, their tangy bitterness somewhat ruled out by the pride of souring and picking our own desserts straight from the trees!

One morning, we took a drive into a nearby town, enjoying the serene sights that walled the country lane ahead of us. We pulled over to catch a better glimpse of the sea from a particularly high spot en-route, and stumbled across a vast orchard adjacent to the cliffs. The lazy morning sun shone through the branches of the trees, the golden rays of its glow making patterns waltz underfoot. The scent of ripe, sweet apples drifted along the breeze, accompanied by the light buzz of the appreciative bees.
The time I spent walking around the orchard, lost in thought, was perhaps not as significant as my spectacular ride across the beach, but it is equally as memorable in terms of unrivalled serenity.

During our time in Pembrokeshire, we frequented a variation of dainty villages and towns, from Broad Haven to Tenby. Doused in a vibrant olde-worlde fishing village charm, Tenby was undeniably as pretty as it was wealthy in culture. With pastel-coloured houses rising above the coast, Tenby is a nostalgia-provoking location that posses the power to escort all of us back to care-free childhood afternoons spent on the timeless beaches of the UK.
A drive through Pembrokeshire will reveal a whole trove of hidden gem villages, quivering with the prospect of being uncovered.

Pembrokeshire ferociously ticks off the credentials for the most desirable trip. Combining pearly sands, twinkling seas, electrifying countryside, adorable towns, and endless adventures to be indulged and shared, this is what makes us so proud of our wondrously versatile United Kingdom.

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Remembering the collapse of the Cleddau Bridge fifty years on

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TODAY, marks the 50th anniversary of the collapse of the Cleddau Bridge, then called the Milford Haven Bridge, a day that would change bridge building forever.

The construction of the bridge was a staple of a then booming economy, with the original project estimated to be around £2m, but the flawed design caused devastation.

On June 2, 1970, disaster struck the small village of Pembroke Ferry, when a 150 tonne section of the part-built Cleddau Bridge collapsed, killing four men and injuring another 5 people.

At 2.16pm BST, as a section of the bridge was lowered onto the supporting structure below, villagers reported hearing a groaning sound followed by an engulfing cloud of red dust.

The first officer on the scene was dad of two, PC Phil Lloyd, having just clocked into his shift at Pembroke Dock Station when the fire siren sounded.

Recalling the day, Phil, 74 said “I presumed it was just another chimney fire.”

Then at 2.20pm Phil received a call from his mother in law, she lived 30 metres below the bridge.

“When I went into the switchboard the fella said ‘your mother-in-law is on the phone’.”

“She shouted, ‘the bridge has come down!’ and i said ‘don’t be so dull’.”

PC Lloyd’s mother-in-law, Ivy Lewis, lived directly under the bridge, in Pembroke Ferry, on the south side of the river.

With the oil refineries, Milford Haven Port, all being developed in the county, the bridge was a much needed asset, which would give better accessibility and cut down the 20-mile round trip for vehicles.

Arriving at the scene, Phil described it as “utter pandemonium”.

At the time of the collapse, the local gas man was attending Mrs Lewis’ property. She originally assumed that he “had blown the house up”.

It was only when stepping into her garden could she fathom the true cause of the commotion. The whole section of the bridge was resting at a 45-degree angle in her garden.

Astonishly the bridge narrowly missed the below properties. Although it had completely demolished Phil’s aunties coal shed and outdoor toilet.

“Luckily there was a gap between her house and her sister’s house which is where the bridge came down.” Phil said.

“One man had been killed at the scene and two others were taken to hospital but died later. Then when the bridge was lifted, we found another man underneath.”

Construction of the box-section bridge was put on halt immediately.

Within 18 month’s bridges in Germany and Australia, both of the same ill-fated design collapsed with fatal consequences.

The cause of the collapse was later revealed that the diaphragm above the pier of the bridge had not been thick enough and buckled as the 230-foot section was cantilevered out.

Following an inquiry, a number of safety recommendations were made, which included the addition of 500ft of extra steel to strengthen the bridge.

In 1995, on the 25th anniversary of the disaster a memorial plaque to the four men who died, William Baxendale, George Hamilton, James Thompson and local man Evan Phillips.was unveiled.

Unfortunately the plaque was later stolen and has not yet been replaced.

The completed Cleddau Bridge reopened in 1975, making it the largest unsupported span in Europe although costs had escalated to £12m upon completion.

The disaster which shook the small village, laid the foundations for which a new standard was developed in the box girder bridge design.

The Cleddau collapse was regarded as the last major bridge disaster in the UK.

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Lottery win for local neighbours

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Ten people in Pembroke Dock are celebrating today after winning £1,000 each thanks to their lucky postcode.

The Milton Terrace neighbours netted the windfall when SA72 6BJ was announced as a Daily Prize winner with People’s Postcode Lottery on Saturday 18th April 2020.

People’s Postcode Lottery ambassador Judie McCourt sent her well-wishes to the winners. She said: “What lovely news to start off your weekend. Congratulations to our winners!”

A minimum of 32% of ticket sales goes directly to charities and players of People’s Postcode Lottery have raised over £500 million to date for thousands of good causes in Britain and beyond.

This draw was promoted by the Wildlife Trusts which have received over £12.6 million in funding from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery. The Wildlife Trusts look after more than 2,300 nature reserves and operate more than 100 visitor and education centres across the country. The Trusts work to make life better for wildlife, people and future generations.

Many good causes close to the winners have also benefitted from players’ support, and local charities can next apply for funding in August.

For more information on People’s Postcode Lottery, please visit www.postcodelottery.co.uk or Facebook  and Twitter.

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Call to stay safe and respect the countryside

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With more people using countryside paths and walks for exercise
during coronavirus restrictions, a call has gone out for walkers to stay
safe and respect landowners’ privacy and business.

The joint message comes from Pembrokeshire County Council and
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Pembrokeshire has some of the most beautiful countryside in Wales
and is fantastic to explore on foot.

And with exercise close to home part of the permitted reasons to
leave lockdown, paths and walks are increasingly busy.

Walkers are advised to only access footpaths from their doorstep and
be aware that when using Countryside Rights of Way that you are
crossing private land.

At this time of year the countryside is a busy place, lambing is in full
swing and field preparation for new crops is underway.
Those using the paths are asked to follow and observe any advisory
signs or temporary diversions you may come across.

Please note that routes are normally unrestricted, but under the
present situation there may be some routes that aren’t available, such
as closures to part of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.

Please be particularly vigilant and respectful when using paths that
are in the curtilage of private residences or pass through Farm Yards
and adhere with “social distancing” at all times.

Please follow this advice:

Wherever possible restrict use to footpaths accessible within
your neighbourhood – if possible do not drive to the
countryside to walk.

Follow any diversion signs provided by landowner.

• Remember social distancing. Keep 2m distance from anyone
and use wide areas to pass each other safely.

• Plan your walk – try to avoid busy times of day when many
other people may be walking, and if possible, don`t use the
same route every day.

• Respect landowners as they may be self-isolating or have
vulnerable people living with them.

• Ensure dogs are kept on a short lead, but beware of livestock
as they may chase your dog.

• Do not let your dog come in contact with other people.

• Clean up after your dog – do not leave dog fouling bags
behind.

• Ensure gates are not left open allowing livestock to escape.

• Keep to the line of the path, do not allow your dog to run free.

• Respect the property and business you are passing through.

• Keep away from livestock

• As part of good personal hygiene always wash your hands
after visiting the countryside.

It is also worth remembering that when walking or running on roads
where there is no pavement, you should face on-coming traffic and
wear highly visible clothing.

Tegryn Jones, Chief Executive of the Park Authority said: “This
guidance will protect the public and any livestock they may encounter
while out walking. It will also prevent additional calls upon emergency
services, who are already working at capacity, from having to respond
to issues such as trespass, lost dogs, sheep worrying and livestock
escaping from fields.

“We are encouraged by the response of the vast majority of the public
in following Government advice to stay at home and only access the
outdoors from their doorsteps. It is important for those people who do
have walking opportunities on their doorsteps to take note of the
advice provided when out walking.”

Full details of the Coast Path closures can be found on the Authority’s
website at www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales.

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