Since recently finding myself accidentally retired I’ve been trying to cultivate a more leisurely approach to my leisure. No longer do I have to dash from my workplace to the driving seat of the motor-home, do a marathon dash to a site somewhere lovely to enjoy a few days of blissful relaxation before dashing back home in time for the next week as a wage slave. So, when I looked at the route from East Anglia to St Justinian’s it could have been all day on the road, or we could practise the art of slow travel, and enjoy the journey. Which was it to be?
Days 1 and 2: Bury St Edmunds to Oxford Camping and Caravanning Club site – it’s a little tired and the railway’s rather close, but what a location, especially when you have a bus pass! We have found that staying somewhere for two nights puts us in a mood to enjoy a location, rather than simply being in transit. So we enjoyed walking by the river, walking in the Parks (cricket – but cripes, aren’t they women?), a wander round my old college, and a night at the theatre.
Day 3: Continue westwards – no particular target. Over lunch at the National Trust Westbury Court Garden we took at look at the Britstops guide and selected a shortlist of candidate overnight stops in the Forest of Dean. We had a chance meeting with some amazingly observant friends, as I was lying under the van fixing our entrance step, which had gone on strike and was noisily protesting. Step silenced, we set off towards our targets, and after a couple of rejections we found the Royal Oak near Lydney – a good friendly old-fashioned pub with unpretentious food and good beer.
Day 4: Onward and westward. As the journey progressed we homed in on the CCC site at Rhandirmwyn (Welsh is an unfamiliar language, and I believe “Rhandirmwyn” is pronounced something like “randy women”). No problems in finding a pitch without a booking, and an opportunity to properly fix our recalcitrant step.
Day 5: Finally heading to St Justinian’s, via the magnificent Llyn Brianne reservoir.
Days 6 to 8: A great get-together with friends in fantastic weather, with walks to Whitesands and Porthclais and cycling to Solva, Newgale and St David’s (including an unsuccessful attempt to ride across a ford near the Cathedral). We’d never been to this part of Wales, and the meet was a great introduction to a beautiful part of the world.
Day 9: Fond farewells, and on our way back home – slowly. Britstops listed harbour-side camping at Burry Port, another place I’d never heard of. It was all a bit wild-west free camping, Continental style, in a remarkably pleasant area offering walks and cycle routes.
Day 10: Weather too nice to be wasted motoring, so we walked and I took a cycle ride, mostly off-road, into Pembrey Forest – after all, this was slow travel. Eventually we dragged ourselves away from the sea, heading for a Britstops pub location. It turned out that the pub was closed that day. We were welcome to stay, but decided that parking in a sloping pub car-park without the benefit of the pub itself didn’t make a lot of sense, so I consulted the app Park4Night. Just down the road was a car-park for the Eagle’s Nest viewpoint in the Wye Valley. Overnight we shared the peaceful wild camping spot with four vans – a whole bunch of alternative lifestyle people.
Day 11: A quick excursion up to the Eagle’s Nest for a fantastic view of the Wye and the Severn, and then set off for home.
Slow travel at its best. Feel free to browse our pictures on Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/21184532@N00/albums/72157696469885454