Pembrey Country Park – 18/08/21

I’ve skipped ahead a bit in our holiday blogging because you don’t *actually* want to know about every trip to the chip shop and fight over Netflix, do you? But here we were, in a very nice apartment in Llanelli with a manmade lake on one side, that was lovely for swimming, and an estuary-beach the other side that was only a beach for a couple of hours a day. There was a lot of wet sand most of the time but the actual water was pretty far out. That’s why the lake was my preferred swimming spot. This is me, in the red hat, though you only have my word for it.

After a day or so of pootling around lake and estuary-beach, we decided to go for a Proper Day Out at Pembrey Country Park. I packed sandwiches and everything. It was only a few miles away as the crow flies but the crows weren’t flying that day, so it was about a 20 minute drive. The country park was free to get into but we had to pay for parking in advance, which was £6 for the day. There were paystations around the park but it seemed easier to just do it online before we went. I also booked bike hire for me and Roo online and we needed to pick the bikes up at 12:30. So far, so smooth.

We parked somewhere in the middle of the park, near the crazy golf, and set off towards the Ski and Adventure Centre, where we’d be picking the bikes up from in an hour or so. I lose my bearings very easily in The Countryside and this was no exception. I thought we could just amble through the forest but there didn’t seem to be many paths in the right direction so we wandered along a road that didn’t have any pavements. That road went on for a long way, past several signs to the beach, and the children started to complain.

So we took a sharp left into some grassy bit of land and tried to find a path. At one point, we found a spooky tunnel but it was fenced off and didn’t go anywhere:

And then we found these chainy-beacons, which are apparently for some kind of disc-golf. I don’t know exactly what disc golf is but there were signs around warning us of low-flying discs so I imagine it involves flinging some discs at these chain things?

It took us a while but eventually we spotted a ski slope in the distance, which we assumed belonged to the Ski and Adventure Centre. We were right! We had found civilisation and there were toilets and the promise of ice cream later. I was very relieved.

We still had a while to go before picking up the bikes so we sat down to have a picnic in a pine needle-strewn clearing.

I’ll skim over the bit where we lost Eva because none of us want to relive that. But we found a child who resembled her, so I think we got her back. And it used up a bit of time before the bike pick up.

The bike pick up was a bit protracted but I didn’t mind too much because we had them for two hours and I wasn’t sure I could cope with two full hours on a bike. Procrastination was good. I last cycled in  September 2010, which is another experience I don’t particularly want to relive. But as a kid I did enjoy cycling and this would be better than Waterloo Bridge in rush hour….right?

Yes, yes it was. I was a bit wobbly at first and I caused at least one crash with Roo when I lost my nerve on a very narrow path but most of the time, I managed to power two wheels with my two legs. Result! I am still feeling it in my knees, nearly a week later but still… Roo and I did several circuits of foresty paths while Nathan and Eva went on a wander up some hills and found a bicycle that was even bigger than the one I was riding:

Roo also had a go at the BMX track, though the bike he was riding wasn’t designed for it so the bumps were tricky. After a sit down and a drink, we were ready to go again and this time we were aiming for the playground at the other end of the park. Handily, we spotted Nathan and Eva just as we were taking our break so shared our plan with them and, when we set off again, they were in hot pursuit on foot. Well, kinda lukewarm pursuit.

We took a few wrong turns (again) but made a right at the miniature railway, and here we were at the playground! It was also gloriously sunny by this point, in contrast to the slightly grudging grey skies we’d seen while wandering lost on those never-ending roads.

We didn’t have too long to play before having to take the bikes back but that was fine because we also didn’t have anything to chain the bikes up with. So I kinda squatted by the bike racks while the kids played and then Roo and I cycled back over to the Ski centre.

We made great time on the way there but walking back to the playground afterwards, with bike-sore legs, was a bit of a slow trudge. We did find a golf course in the middle of the forest, which Nathan had told me about earlier but I just thought he was confused and meant the crazy golf. No, there is a proper golf course tucked into those trees too. Ski slopes, multiple golf courses, spooky tunnels…this park had it all.

Including a beach! Which I’d almost forgotten about in all the foresty frenzy. It was boiling by this point, so we peeled Reuben off his second round of playgrounding with the promise of an ice cream as we walked back to the car to get our beach stuff.

Of course, as soon as we sat down to eat our ice creams the sun went behind a cloud and a cold wind started to blow. Would this deter us from going to the beach? Nah, don’t be silly.

The beach was very sandy and gorgeous, which made me wish we’d gone a bit earlier when it wasn’t so cold. Roo and I went straight into the sea though, because I’ve never seen the point in hanging around cold beaches when you could be warming up in the water. I have no idea how that works but it does, as long as you’re properly immersed. When Eva wanted me to go back in later, we were just paddling and not swimming so that bit – in a wet cossie and with a harsh wind blowing – was verging on unpleasantly cold. Half an hour wave jumping with Reuben was perfectly nice and warm tho, as long as we kept moving.

Then Nathan buried Reuben in the sand. Standard.

If we were to go to Pembrey again, I’d probably do everything a bit earlier and book the bikes online a few days in advance so there were more time slots. We probably rushed a bit towards the end and missed the best of the sun to boot. Still, a lovely day out though.

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