While on a church retreat at Ffald-y-Brenin, Pembrokeshire,
I took the opportunity to look at possible routes near the end/beginning of the Via Beata last week. On the first day, I walked from near Crymych across a moorland that is a site of Special Scientific Interest called Mynydd Preseli. This was an exhilarating walk across open moorland that culminated in a steep climb up Cerrig Lladron where there is an ancient burial mound at the top. Coming down was tricky because the path was not well sign posted, but we found our way through a couple of farm yards, across fields, finally a beautiful woodland path. It was then a short walk along a quiet road to the retreat centre. Day two, saw me walking with two companions, setting out this time from Ffald-y-Brenin. Initially the way was straightforward, walking through sheep pastures. Unfortunately, the blight of picking routes from an OS map meant that the chosen path did not exist. The undignified scramble down a steep hillside will not work for the Via Beata, so the final route will be along quiet roads. The weather deteriorated as the day went on and we finished up walking in a heavy drizzle to Letterston.
My final day’s exploration was on my own and my prayers were almost immediately answered as I found that the Anglican church of St Giles, Letterston was open that lunch time for Food Bank distribution. The new incumbent, Rev Pam Rogers made me very welcome and offered to provide the site of a way station. The church yard is sheltered by trees and would suit our purposes very well if a faculty could be obtained.
The bright start did not continue as once again footpaths were closed frequently and sometimes I had to find my way on the roads. However, there were good stretches where I was able to use well marked bridleways. This route took me to Trefin (Trevine) on the coast. From here we can pick up the Wales Coast Path all the way down to St David’s.
For those who do not know about the Ffald-y-Brenin retreat centre, it’s Directors, Roy and Daphne Godwin, have been influential in reviving the idea of praying blessing prayers. Since following this practice of blessing the people, livestock and land, the area around them has changed economically for the better through the provision of bed and breakfast accommodation with the many guests that come to seek God there. The farmers had to ask them to stop blessing the fecundity of the sheep as it is better to have one or two lambs, rather than threes and fours! If you are interested, do read the story of Ffald-y-Brenin in “A Grace Outpouring”. As the line of the Via Beata goes within a few miles of the centre, it makes it an obvious place for a way station too.