UKC

Crag Notes: A Place of Perfect Memories

© Rob Greenwood - UKC

When you can't climb within the present moment you have one of two options: think towards the future and of routes you'd wish to climb, or look towards the past and reflect on routes you've done. Within this month's Crag Notes Rob Greenwood takes a slightly different angle by looking at other memorable aspects of visiting an area that means a lot to you.


Pembroke is a place of perfect memories, but the crags themselves are just a part of that - the peripheries are just as important.

The sun setting over Pen y Holt Stack at Range West  © Rob Greenwood - UKC
The sun setting over Pen y Holt Stack at Range West
© Rob Greenwood - UKC

Simon's Field is a good example; on the one hand it's just a field, but on the other it's something of a safe haven, unchanging from year-to-year, constant and reliable. It is free from the trappings of more commercial campsites, where booking is essential and fees are racked up to the point that a B&B suddenly seems like the cheap option. It is simple, supplying only the very basics, the highlight of which is undoubtedly the ceramic toilet, all properly plumbed in, housed within a plastic portaloo shell - the contrast of which surprises me every time. The sound of Simon's quad coming early each morning brings with it a warm welcome, several dogs, an exchange of £3 and friendly conversation. Last time I saw him he mentioned the possibility of a shower being installed and seemed genuinely excited about this. He's someone that seems to care.

Just a short stumble away, on past the Lily Ponds and their luxurious bog blocks, lies another august institution - Ma Weston's Ye Olde Worlde Cafe. Curiously it was never a part of my own Pembroke ritual, having only been there only once, but it is important to appreciate what these places mean to people, and what the people mean to people. Ma Weston represented continuity, living to the age of 94 she was awarded an MBE in 2009 for services to the Hospitality and Tourist Industries in Pembrokeshire, having served tea since she was 17. She was the embodiment of the word 'character', with all the idiosyncrasies that the inverted commas come along with. Whilst she may have passed on in 2016, the memories - and the cafe - remain as something of a shrine.

Happy times at Simon's Field  © Rob Greenwood - UKC
Happy times at Simon's Field
© Rob Greenwood - UKC

Hazy times at The St. Govan's Inn  © Rob Greenwood - UKC
Hazy times at The St. Govan's Inn
© Rob Greenwood - UKC

What Ma Weston's is to the morning, the St. Govan's Inn is to the night. Cold evenings spent wrapped within its warm walls, whilst huddling around guidebooks wondering what to do next; sunny evenings savouring the taste of that first post-climb pint, grateful for both the clamour and the company. In the 15 years I've been coming here the pub has hardly changed, with each table, chair and corner reassuringly familiar. The predictability of both the bar and menu provides further comfort, as does the speed at which they process orders. Even the bull's head brings back memories, as do Carl Ryan's photographs mounted on the wall, which made an impression on me as a young climber (did Barry Durston really solo down climb The Butcher?!?).

Since then so much has changed: I am older, I am married, I have a family. There's a richness that comes from having visited an area a lot, a depth of experience and appreciation that is far from fleeting - it has a permanent affect. The same could be said for living a full life. I am unable to climb quite as much as I might have previously, but when I do I have come to appreciate these places, these rituals, these moments as much as the climbing itself.

Were there to be one positive to the current set of circumstances it is that it forces each and every one of us to pause for a moment's thought and realise just how lucky we are to be able to do this.

20-something: belaying on top of (what I think is) One Step in the Clouds at Tremadog during a 'BUMS' University Meet  © Rob Greenwood - UKC
20-something: belaying on top of (what I think is) One Step in the Clouds at Tremadog during a 'BUMS' University Meet
© Rob Greenwood - UKC

30-something: standing on top of Thunderbird Zawn, Gogarth about to boldly go where nobody else can be bothered to  © Rob Greenwood - UKC
30-something: standing on top of Thunderbird Zawn, Gogarth about to boldly go where nobody else can be bothered to
© Rob Greenwood - UKC



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21 Apr, 2020
Ohhhhh the memories. Got a lot of love for Pembroke! Nice one Robbie
21 Apr, 2020

Some friends gifted us a guidebook, a weekend stay in a B&B and some cash at Pembroke for our anniversary. We didn't know much about the place but after extending the trip to a week we were planning our next visit.

The dancing at the Rugby club to the local ska band was quite a night. You wouldn't think a place like St Davids would know how to party but turns out they know more about that than the city dwellers. Oh yes, the climbing, that was rather good too. Going to a place with no expectation can lead to great adventures.

I've heard nothing but good things about the St. Davids Rugby Club, although have to confess I've never been. Remember a few friends heading down there for New Year's Eve a fair few years ago and coming back saying it was the best night out they'd ever had.

21 Apr, 2020

We got lucky, the bloke in the B&B plays in the band and gave us free tickets when we told him it was our anniversary. I've never seen a dance floor at a live gig like it in all my life. So much love for Pembrokeshire.

Absolutely amazing :-)

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