A Catalog of Europe's Highlights - June 2017 - 50
OUT & ABOUT
"If you have limited path
time and want a destination that
overflows with natural beauty, solitude, and tranquillity, my pick is
the Pembrokeshire Coast National
Park. You could walk for miles here
and your footprints quite possibly
might be the only ones in sight."
in the fissure of shadowy cliffs above ceaseless
crashing waves. Saint Govan, an Irish monkturned-hermit, lived here in religious devotion
until his death in ad 586. According to Dugmore, legend says the saint escaped from his
enemies by hiding in a narrow crack in the cliff
behind the altar - you can still see his rib prints
on the rock face.
PEMBROKE CASTLE AND
By day four I had seen endless jutting peninsulas with crumbling ramparts tumbling into the
sea and acres of quilted pasturelands grazed
by wild Welsh ponies with overgrown manes.
I caught sight of seals, dolphins, puffins, and
seabirds around practically every turn. And
then there were the castles: Wales claims
the densest concentration of medieval fortresses (more than 600) in Europe. I favored
A C ATA L O G O F E U R O P E ' S H I G H L I G H T S
Pembroke Castle, dating back to 1093 and the
During off-trail time, I explored thatchedroofed hamlets, cobblestone villages, and
fourteenth-century walled towns with
restored historic buildings. And like most
tired walkers, I proudly frequented the pubs
and cafés with Atlantic views. As I learned in
Milford Haven, the malted Welsh beverage of
choice is Brains, a local beer usually served
warm and with little carbonation - much like
classic English pub ales. "Remember, Brits
don't drink to be refreshed," Dugmore said, as
we toasted our journey.
My final days presented a pleasant blur of narrow dirt paths, tiny villages, and sheep pastures
along Saint Brides Bay. The rhythm of my walk
came to an almost wistful conclusion at Saint
David's, known as "Britain's Smallest City" and
the final resting place of Wales' patron saint.
The community, which draws artists, travelers, and walkers, overlooks some of the most
breathtaking coastline in the UK.
Inside the ornate Saint David's Cathedral,
tombs of bishops rested beneath the prismed
light of stained-glass windows. Centuries
seeped from every crack and crevice in the
stone walls. It reminded me of the way Wales'
complex history had unfolded, mile after mile,
and how for many, the simple act of walking
provides the best way to engage with it all.
(PEMBROKESHIRE) RICHARDMORGAN147/GETTY IMAGES
- Christopher Koch, Virtuoso