For the last few months I have been trying to locate a ruined church near the sea, having seen a photograph last year I was determined to find it. I knew it was within an hour of us and I knew I had previously been told where it was but for the live of me couldn’t remember. Last night I finally found it and was determined that after a busy week we would all get out and enjoy some fresh air. So this morning after we were all fed and dressed I coaxed everyone into the car and promised them we weren’t going far but they would be learning something new.
Driving some half an hour into Pembrokeshire enroute to Fishguard we turned off at the sign to Cwm-yr-Eglwys ( Valley of the Church) and wound our way down the mile long country road towards a little hamlet. As we wound our way down the road we took in the scenery around us and the children’s excitement grew. At the bottom of the road just inside Cwm-yr-Eglwys we quickly found the public car park and a sign indicated there was no parking fee today. At the far end of the car park we could see a huddle of caravans and at the front of the car park a number of boats.
Once out of the car we followed the footpath alongside the boats and crossed the road into the churchyard. The boys quickly realised that the church only had one wall and asked what had happened. I directed them to a bench over looking the sea alongside the ruin of the Church and explained what had happened. St Brynach’s church had been damaged in a storm in 1850 but then in the great storm of 1859 the roof and walls were badly damaged. The church was then left until the ruins were removed leaving the church in it’s present state in 1880. At the same time a wall was built to defend the graveyard from the sea. The boys were quite taken aback that the sea could have caused so much damage and I explained that the sea is unpredictable and although can bring great enjoyment it can also bring damage and sadness which is why we should always treat it with respect.
We sat for ten minutes watching the waves and taking in the scenery before following the path passed the church ruins and through the gate to make our way down onto the beach. As we passed through the gate I turned and noticed a model boat and a plaque. Reading the plaque to find out the model is a scale model of a Cwm Trader which is a type of coastal trading ship which would have been used in this area at the time of the great storm.
By this time Erin and the boys were anxious to explore the beach so we continued along the path down onto the beach. We had seen there was a cove to the west of the beach but the tide would not allow us to pass to it today ( when we returned home I discovered you can access the cove via the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, something for another day). We walked along towards the rock pools to explore them and Erin enjoyed splashing in the waves, she was the only one who wanted her wellies on when we arrived!
After half an hour more people where joining us on the beach and we decided to head back towards the car and make our way home. We all agreed that a trip back on a sunny day to Cwm-yr-Eglwys would be needed. Back at the car I asked dad of 3 if he would like to stop at a Burial Chamber which was on our way home. Agreeing we wound our way back up the steep country lane stopping to let several cars pass on the way.
Just outside Newport we turned off the main road following signs to Pentre Ifan Burial Chamber and again followed country lanes towards our destination. I visited Pentre Ifan last as a teenager with my siblings and my parents and was looking forward to seeing the burial chamber again. Five minutes later we reached our destination and parked by the side of the road, something I couldn’t remember having to do from my visit years ago.
We climbed out of the car and made our way through a gate and along a path towards another gate. As we approached the second gate the stones of the burial chamber came into view.
Pentre Ifan dates from approximately 3,500 B.C and is carried for by CADW (The Welsh Historic Monument Agency) The stones that are visible form the main chamber and portal of the chamber and would have been covered by a large stone mound. I think Erin was more taken with the sheep in the fields around the monument but enjoyed chasing her brothers around. The older two were more thoughtful and spent some time reading the information plaque to learn more about the burial chamber.
The setting for the burial chamber really is picturesque and on a sunny day probably a delightful spot with the Preseli mountains and a view of the coast.
We took the opportunity to take some photographs too and had some fun trying to capture daffodils, one of the ones I captured can be found in this week’s Silent Sunday.
Back at the car the boys agreed they had learnt a lot on our trip out this morning and I explained that we are so lucky to live were we do with a wealth of history on our doorstep. We’ve discovered new places, learnt new things and all while getting fresh air what more can you ask for on a Sunday morning!