This Easter, like many others as a child, I travelled from my bustling home-town of Cardiff, to the wild beaches of Pembrokeshire.
Pembrokeshire has and always will have a very homely feel to me. As long as I can remember, I spent a vast majority of my summers here, visiting different parts of this historic coastline; be it sandy beach adventures to Newgale, weekend trips to Britain’s smallest city, St David’s, or, my personal favourite, Newport Sands (aptly named “Traeth Mawr” – ‘Big Beach’ – in Welsh) I love to visit this small corner of the world.
I was lucky enough to return here with my family this Easter. Coming back to places that I’ve visited since childhood and feeling that exact same sense of excitement on the first glimpse of the crystal clear waters, or the sun setting around the cliff tops. It is a feeling that will never leave me.
Driving around the winding, narrow roads and getting caught behind a herd of cattle or a flock of sheep is not uncommon here, and with each bend in the road, you catch a brief glimpse of the heart-stoppingly beautiful coast. As a child, we used to play a game of ‘who can see the sea first’ as we got nearer and nearer. As the youngest, I remember trying my hardest to see out through the window and catch my first glimpse of the sea (and of course, beat my older sisters to it!). This is exactly what Pembrokeshire symbolises to me; spending time with family and leaving all of the stresses of work, uni and life behind. To just live in that moment.
This Easter, we travelled to Newport and stayed in a cottage situated just above one of the most glorious beaches in Britain (though I may be bias...), Newport Sands. During our first few days, we explored the coastal paths and the surrounding estuary. Having only ever visited here in spring and summer, there is a noticeable difference in the scenery and the sounds. Walking around the estuary and towards the neighbouring town of Parrog, the vast display of wildlife was astonishing! From a siege of egrets to a bellowing of bullfinches to little fledgling blue tits, every corner had its own surprise.
This is a fairly easy walk that only takes around three quarters of an hour. Carrying on from Parrog, you reach the start of a cliff path which will take you in the direction of various different little coves. My personal favourite is Aberfforest (the first cove you reach). There is a separate walk up to the glorious waterfall - a real hidden gem. The cove is one of my favourite spots to go swimming, especially early in the morning when it’s so peaceful and the only noise around is the quiet chatter of birds - and the freezing water is definitely the best way to banish any tiredness! With it being such a small, secluded spot, the wildlife here flourishes. From previous trips staying here, I’ve unintentionally swum with two seals and watched a lone gannet swoop in and out of the cove before it finally made the decision to dive about six feet away from me. I was also lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a pod of porpoises elegantly trail across the cove. With quieter, more secluded spots like this only being a mere hour or so walk away, it’s definitely worth the effort!
Back at Newport, with sunset upon us, we ventured down to the beach to take in the breathtaking view. The weather had changed drastically from the day; brilliant sunshine and soft blue skies had swiftly turned to ominous clouds and whistling winds. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy this sort of weather. The feeling of excitement and exhilaration as you battle your way down the coastal path - camera, lenses and flasks in tow - is what makes the coast come alive. As we reached the beach, we perched on a rock facing out to sea and took in the heavenly sunset. Within seconds, the colours changed from stormy greys to pinks, oranges and purples. I really don’t think that there is ever a dull sunset on the Pembrokeshire coast.
For our last morning, I decided to wake early and catch my first sunrise. Settled on some rocks with a mug of steaming coffee, my trusted camera and wearing many jumpers, I watched the sun gently send out its morning greeting to the cliff tops; slowly turning the sky into what could only be described as a Monet painting. I listened as the birds returned the sun’s greeting in their chattering manner, accompanied by the waves’ endless dialogue of the night that had passed and the day that was to come.
To me, this was the perfect way to spend the last morning of such a beautiful trip.
Caitlin Turner is a 20-year-old student from Cardiff, Wales. Currently about to undertake her final year as a BA Textiles: Surface Pattern Design student in Cardiff, she has always had a passion for art and photography. Living within driving distance of the Welsh coast and mountain ranges such as the Brecon Beacons has only made her more passionate about photographing the historic Welsh scenery and landscapes that surround her.