We gathered by Whitesands beach, just outside St David’s in Pembrokeshire… a small group of people from all walks of life, putting aside the cares and pressures of the daily grind to explore the sacred landscape of Wales. A time out of time. A weekend is too short to see enough of anywhere… and an area such as this, so rich in natural beauty, history and legend deserves all the time you can give. We had only the weekend, but our guide and Companion had carefully planned the days to share as much as she could of a place that is very dear to her heart.
For myself, the time in such a landscape was much needed. It had been a busy several weeks. Ever since the April workshop in Derbyshire it seemed as if I had been on my feet or cursing them, especially after the incident with the spider bites. With an unexpectedly rapid house move thrown in for good measure, I was wound up tight and the healing of stone, sun and sea was a balm that I craved.
Few places could have been better than where we began the weekend. A curve of pale sand nestles between limestone cliffs and is bounded by the bluest sea and a profusion of wildflowers. Carn Llidi rises against the azure sky; its name may mean either the ‘Cairn of Wrath’ or the ‘Cairn of the Gates’. The former may refer to the storms that can batter this headland, but I prefer the idea of the Gates. Walking in its shadow we began a journey through the ancient past.
The first living field of wildflowers that we crossed hides a secret. This place was once the site of a chapel dedicated to St Patrick, as it is told that it was from here at Porth Mawr that the saint took ship for Ireland some fifteen hundred years ago, after being granted a vision. The chapel was already in ruins four hundred years ago and only a small mound now marks where it once stood.
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