Wales or Cymru, is technically part of the British Isles, but has a devolved parliament and language all of its own, like Scotland. West of Birmingham, north of Somerset (England), and south of the Isle of Man, Wales has 870 miles (1,400 kms) of corrugated coastline, and across the sea, on the way to Canada, is Ireland.
Many still speak Welsh and I can pronounce the place names, but not speak or understand the language.
Twice now I have travelled by Mega Bus to and from London, Victoria. It takes a long time and is full of university students, but cheap. Once I arrived in Wales by boat on the Rosslare (Ireland) – Fishguard ferry and took buses to Cardigan where I was met by a friend. The final trip I made in 2019 was walk, bus, train x 3, and another bus home to Edinburgh which took 11 hours – it is famously slow to travel across!
Green meadows and swathes of grass, golden beaches and perilous cliffs draw me to it.
All the paths are steep and therefore tough on the calf muscles, but the views across fields, towards hills with ancient forts on them, amidst baa-ing and moo-ing of lambs and calves, are rich.
I have visited quite a few times since I stopped living there in 1988, as I am lucky enough to have hospitable friends who have left the south for rural lives in the West.
I have walked small sections of The Wales Coastal Path (opened in 2012) and plan to return and tramp more of it, however there is no handy series of hostels to be found (as there are along the Spanish caminos) so either a tent or a tidy sum will be necessary. I have no doubt that it will be worth it – dolphins, seals and their white pups, wild horses and guillemots are all to be found there.
Wild horse and foal on Welsh hills
Gerda Stevenson wrote a poem called Two Horses against a Hill
Two horses against a hill,
shoulder to shoulder, one faces East, the other west,
and I think of us –
how we can be at our best:
opposites, yet close enough
to cradle each other’s different worlds
in a wide arc of peripheral vision. ”
She has a new book out, Letting Go from Luath Press.
From Pembroke in the south west where I holidayed with my parents when I was wee; to the valleys north of Newport, once the centre of the coal mining industry in the region where I taught dance; from the city of Cardiff where I used to live a long time ago, to the surfing paradise of the Lleyn Peninsula where I stayed with my sister one summer; not to mention Mary Jones and her bible which I read and reread as a child from a religious background, Wales has figured strongly in my life.
As a teenager Dylan Thomas, born in Swansea, was a favourite.
Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rage at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.