Gumfreston Church is a must — not least because it was one of the ports of call on the sea route to St David’s.
If you are in a great hurry, you could walk out of Tenby along St John’s Road and past St John’s Well, on the site of the medieval leper hospital and until the last century the main water supply to the town. This takes you up the B4318, which is busy but wide enough to be safe and has a good grass verge. We did this in 1998.
Or you could take the coast path through the dunes to Penally (Celtic carved stones in the church and a holy well), follow the Ritec Valley Walk (Palaeolithic caves, medieval farmsteads and an old mill) to St Florence’s Church, then walk across the fields to Gumfreston. Really, no-one should be in that much of a hurry. The three parishes of Tenby, Gumfreston and Penally are linked now and the parishioners would like to negotiate a permissive footpath out to Gumfreston for their annual walk linking the three churches, so there may eventually be a shorter way to walk from Tenby to Gumfreston, but the Ritec Valley is always worth a visit.
Walk down to the South Beach car park. Follow the coast path across the sand dunes for just under 2 km. At SS 12234 98887 turn up to the right towards Penally church and village. (When the firing range on the dunes is in use there is an alternative route at the side of the railway line.)
From the churchyard gate, walk up the lane past the Penally Abbey Hotel (signposted Penally Nature Trail). In the wall to your left is St Deiniol’s Well. Across the road, behind the hotel car park, are the ruins of a medieval farmstead with one of the characteristic round chimneystacks known locally as ‘Flemish chimneys’. These were built on to local farmhouses in the 16th and 17th centuries. There were a lot of Flemish settlers in this area in the 12th century but it is difficult to see how this is connected with the chimneys.
At SS 11644 99407 take the lane through the woods to the right of Penally Manor (not waymarked in 2003). The lane is overgrown but passable. When you emerge from the woods, continue on the same line across the first field. At SS 11452 99551, ignore the signpost to the left for the Ritec Way and continue on the same line to cross a stile.
At SS 11334 99614 turn right on the back road around Penally. After about 0.5 km, at SS 11601 99947, turn left onto the main road out of Penally. Take the first left at SN 11614 00099 into Trefloyne Lane. Above you to your left, in the woods above the golf course, archaeologists found the remains of an important early medieval residence. Nothing can be seen there now, but what the archaeologists found suggested it was the seasonal home of an important local family, possibly the local rulers who endowed the church community at Penally.
In about 0.3 km, at SN 11349 00149, a track goes up through the woods to your left to Hoyle’s Mouth Cave. (The track can be difficult to find - keep trying until you get a path that goes clearly uphill.) The lower cave is visible from the road. DO NOT GO INTO THE CAVE - it is the home of a community of bats and they should not be disturbed.
Return to the road and walk past the pools and marshland at Penhoyle. This area is open to the public. There are several species of duck on the ponds and you may see a kingfisher.
At SN 10714 00324 the road bears left. Take the waymarked footpath straight on through the woods. The path is overgrown but passable. Follow the waymarks across the fields above Penhoyle Farm and straight through the newly-planted woodland. Cross the stile and follow the waymarks round Roberts Wall Farm.
At SN 10146 00482 the path turns right and follows the buggy trail down hill - which at least keeps the path clear. At SN 09554 00829 turn right on the track to Carswell Farm and turn right to explore the medieval farmstead of East Carswell.
Walk back down the farm lane. At SN 09409 00827 the lane bears left. Take the waymarked stile to the right and walk across the fields (stiles and waymarks all the way). Bear left across the field before East Tarr Farm. At SN 08956 00892 cross the stile into the lane. Turn right and pass to the left of the main farm buildings, between the famyard and the caravan park. The farm down the lane to the left, West Tarr, has the ruins of another medieval farmstead, but it is on private land and access is by permission from the farm. It is worth asking, though, as it is an intriguing building, more complex than Carswell.
There are two medieval buildings at West Tarr. One is single storey and may have been an outhouse. The other has a vaulted first floor instead of a timber roof. According to Sian Rees’s book, the building was once bigger than it is now. Near the staircase there are signs of a low roof and the footings of a larger building.
Opposite the farm entrance, take the waymarked footpath down the lane to your left. Walk across the field and into the trees, round the ruins of a little building, over a stile and along the track through the trees to the metalled road at SN 08429 00889. The building ahead of you is the Old Mill.
Turn left along the bridleway and walk across the marshy area called the Course (probably from the Welsh cors, meaning marsh) then turn right to cross the bridge to the village of St Florence and its church.
At SN 08264 01214, just past the church, take the waymarked footpath to your right. Pass to the left of Elm Grove farm and keep on the same line acrross a series of stiles. From the far side of the fourth field at SN 08784 01344 the path is waymarked across some rough ground and a little footbridge and up to join an old green lane through the woods.
At SN 08924 01407 turn right along the lane - it is overgrown but passable. It takes you along the other bank of the Ritec, out of the woods to your left and back in, then out into the fields and across to join the road above Gumfreston at SN 10539 01227. There are waymarks and stiles all the way along. Turn right on the metalled road and walk down the hill, then take the signposted lane to the right for Gumfreston Church.
Cross the road from the church at SN 10896 01219 and walk straight ahead along the surfaced lane past the old vicarage. The lane rapidly becomes a rough track, and it can be very muddy. After about 1.6 km, at SN 10721 02629, turn left onto the metalled road by Astridge Farm.
At SN 10679 02932 the metalled road bends to the left. Go straight on along another track. Go past Daisyback Farm, through the gate and down the lane. The path has been waymarked and there is a footbridge across the stream. At SN 11559 03629 turn left and follow the railway line then bear left to the road at SN 11554 03837.
Turn right on the metalled road, go straight across the A78 and along a side road with a view of the old colliery. At SN 12866 04732, just after Incline Cottage, take the footpath to the right (on the track of an old tramroad) into Saundersfoot. Follow the coast path through the tunnels to Amroth.
|Tenby to Gumfreston and Amroth|