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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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Controversial windfarm on edge of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park refused

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YET again, the ill-sited Rhoscrowther windfarm on edge of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park has been refused consent, much to the joy of campaigners

The Chair of Pembrokeshire Branch of The Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW), Mary Sinclair, has responded with relief to the decision by Julie James, the Welsh Government Minister for Climate Change, to refuse planning permission for the Rhoscrowther windfarm on the Angle Peninsula, on the edge of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

The Branch’s detailed objection (below) catalogued a 25-year sequence of 15 various proposals, appeals and decisions on or near the site, every one of which ultimately resulted in refusal of consent.

Mrs Sinclair said: “This must surely now be the end of developers’ misplaced attempts to industrialise this cherished landscape, and to desecrate the setting of the Angle Conservation Area, whose inhabitants can now look forward to freedom from such schemes.

“The decision justifies CPRW’s persistent argument that wind turbines are out of character with the landscape and visual qualities within and adjacent to this narrow National Park – which needs – and has – the highest level of protection.”

She added: “Nevertheless, we support the development of far-offshore wind resources in the Celtic Sea as a more realistic way to address the impacts of Climate Change – it is now high time that developers transferred their efforts to this purpose”.

Following an online Hearing under the new procedure by Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (PEDW) the Inspector’s Report also agreed with CPRW’s Hearing Statement (below) that industrial scale (126m = 413ft) turbines could not be justified in this location because of the nearby oil refinery.

The applicants’ attempt to down-play the adverse impact of the rotating blades on the Grade 1 listed St Decumanus church was also countered by the Inspector who concluded that ‘the visual change in the tranquil and peaceful setting of the church would result in a substantial level of harm’.

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Fflecsi Pembrokeshire bus service is set to expand

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TRANSPORT FOR WALES (TfW) is expanding the fflecsi service in Pembrokeshire, allowing more communities across the county to benefit from demand responsive transport.

Working in partnership with Pembrokeshire County Council, the new fflecsi zone replaces the current 315 bus service and will connect villages and hamlets in the Dale Peninsula to Milford Haven and Haverfordwest – integrating with wider public transport routes.

The expansion begins on Monday 30 January and will link up with the highly successful fflecsi service in north-west Pembrokeshire, which has seen an increase in passenger demand since it began operating in September 2020.

Together, the two zones will cover a large portion of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, offering visitors to the area an accessible, environmentally friendly transport alternative to some of the county’s most popular destinations, including the Wales Coastal Path.

TfW also supports the operation of the fflecsi Bwcabus service, which connects rural villages in central Pembrokeshire to Haverfordwest, Fishguard and its ferry port, as well as operating zones which serve parts of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.

fflecsi Pembrokeshire is a demand responsive bus service which does not have a fixed route and timetable but an operating zone which enables passengers to be picked up and dropped off anywhere within that fflecsi zone.

Rather than passengers waiting at a bus stop for a bus to turn up, they can book a journey in advance using the fflecsi app, or by calling 0300 234 0300.

Passengers are informed where to catch the bus and at what time it will be arriving – the pick-up point will be near as possible to the location of the passenger.

Andrew Sherrington, Head of Bus Network and Service Development, said: “fflecsi has grown to become a dependable public transport choice in rural Pembrokeshire and its expansion will now allow more people across the county to access the service for everyday journeys and to make important travel connections.

“Passenger numbers continue to grow and in August and September of this year, figures were more than double what they were for those months in 2021.

“We know that fflecsi is highly valued by the rural communities it serves across Pembrokeshire, and it is a vital part of TfW’s commitment to providing a multi-modal transport network that encourages more people to make use of public transport.”

Rhys Sinnett, Cabinet Member for Residents’ Services for Pembrokeshire County Council said: “This is a really positive intervention by the County Council in order to protect a service for rural passengers in this part of the county and ensure that they continue to have access to key urban areas.

“The fflecsi Pembrokeshire scheme has proved extremely popular in the north of the county both for tourists and local people and we hope to see this success maintained when the new zone is introduced.”

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Grant to renovate a community swimming pool in Cardigan

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CARDIGAN Memorial Swimming Pool and Hall have received a Capital Grant to undertake much needed renovation work.

The Sport Wales Capital Grant of £207,000 from Welsh Government was secured by Ceredigion County Council to fund essential capital works at Cardigan Memorial Swimming Pool and Hall.

The grant will enable the Swimming Pool to upgrade its Pool Plant Equipment and Air Handling Unit, insulate the roof above the toddler pool and purchase new Pool covers.

Matt Newland, Chairman of Cardigan Memorial Swimming Pool and Hall Trustees, said: “The swimming pool and hall trustees are delighted to announce that we have received a grant from Sports Wales to carry out much needed works to the pool to enable it to continue running. The trustees would like to thank Ceredigion County Council for their assistance and support. Cardigan Swimming pool and hall is run by the trustees committee for the benefit of the community. It is an essential resource and this grant will help secure our future.”

Katie Proven, the newly appointed manager of the centre also welcomed the news: “This investment will help us make much needed efficiency savings, reducing our energy costs and environmental footprint. This is excellent news for the people of Cardigan”

Councillor Catrin M.S Davies, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Customer Services, said: “Ceredigion’s leisure facilities which are run by the community are an important part of the opportunities available for our residents to be active and have fun as a family, group of friends or individually. By working together, Cardigan Memorial Swimming Pool and Hall and the Council have secured a significant investment that will enable the pool to continue to contribute to improve the health and wellbeing of the residents in the county.”

More information on the plans can be seen on Ceredigion County Council’s website: https://council.ceredigion.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=148&MId=291&LLL=1

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