Guest Blog: Wolfscastle Pembrokeshire, Niall Griffiths
Name: Niall Griffiths
Role: Novelist & Travel Writer
Location: Wolfscastle, Pembrokeshire
The Wolfscastle area is Pembrokeshire in miniature, which is itself Wales condensed. Crags, castles, mountains, megaliths, gorges, chasms, high heaths, sea-cliffs, wind-strafed peaks, remote inlets, rivers, lakes, hidden bays which can be reached only by swimming. It’s escape from the human world and absorption in the natural one, or contact and communication with an otherwise distant ancestral past. And it is a violent past; the area has been ferociously fought over many times, as the many castles declare, and human commerce and conflict have marked the area and altered the landscape in tumulus and rill and barrow. Ancient history whispers in your ear, here, in Welsh voices, Saxon, Viking, Roman, Flemish. The Landsker borderland is an imaginary demarcation now, or at least only linguistically distinguishable, but it retains the liminal promise and potential of a borderland; worlds bleed into each other here, knowledge blurs, trust turns to a tar-pit. A truly magical place.
Smack in its centre is the Wolfscastle Country Hotel, itself a repository of legend and history, with stones from an ancient dwelling incorporated into its internal walls and the castle which gives it its name in the grounds. It makes for a central and, in itself, fascinating base from which to set out to explore and return to tired and bedraggled, in need of warmth and food.
For archaeology: take your pick of castles, from motte-and-bailey to stone, or examine the Ogham stones which announce the links between this area and Ireland. Ecclesiastical, take the walk to Llanstinan church, old and swampy due to the holy springs that leak at intervals around the circular walls. Combine the two with a Saints and Stones tour, taking in St Dogwell’s in Wolfscastle (with its Ogham stone).
For geology: see the bizarre dream-scape of Treffgarne Rocks, or the pingos at Hayscastle, or simply climb up to a high heath and turn slowly through a full circle and marvel at what meets your eye. Or, alternatively – apt in this place of hippies and healers and artists and visionaries – dissuade yourself from categorising the world and allow yourself to get lost among the close and high-hedged lanes and open yourself up to surprise and astonishment, to what this unique area offers you. Don’t look at a map. Not knowing what awaits you around the next corner is a tremendous thrill when all you can be sure of is that it will be wonderful and wild. This area insists on a de-centralisation of the self; it is simply to be accepted in its quirks and oddities and ever-changing offerings and moods. Absorb, absorb. Its Otherness is valuable and forgiving and it will allow access.
It’s a place apart and as such it will continually startle. There is no familiarity to be had. Absorb.Activities, Arts and Literature, Pembrokeshire, Regions, Wales. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.