The Adventurer's Guide to Britain

Tuesday, 20 December 2011, 7:30PM – 8:00PM

In the fifth episode of the series Gethin Jones and Charlotte Uhlenbroek explore the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, rich with wildlife, shipwrecks and smugglers’ caves. 

The adventurers are determined to explore as much of the rugged coastline as they can, so on day one they begin their adventure with a hunt for creatures of the deep. 

“The waters here are warmed by the Gulf Stream – direct from the West Indies and if you know where to look you can find exotic creatures you’d normally associate with the Med,” explains Charlotte. 

Their guide, Karen Flannery, has some exciting news for them; a pod of dolphins has been spotted in the bay, so they set off in a speedboat to try and track them down. 

Dolphins love to play in the wake made by powerful boats so Karen opens up the throttle hoping to entice them to the surface; however, it soon becomes clear the dolphins have moved on and all they manage to spot in the water is an old barrel! 

Putting the disappointment behind them, Gethin and Charlotte decide to split up to explore different aspects of an exceptional local snorkelling spot called Stack Rocks, a haven for marine life. 

Gethin tries his hand at free diving for one of Britain’s largest crustaceans, the spiny spider crab. Pembrokeshire plays host to thousands of spider crabs each year as they migrate there to mate in the shallow waters. 

“There should be loads around and I’ve heard they’re very tasty so I’m going to try and grab a couple for tonight’s dinner, although we’re giving the crabs a fighting chance by not using scuba gear,” says Gethin. 

After an hour of diving Gethin manages to catch one but soon identifies it as a juvenile and puts it back in the water. 

Meanwhile, Charlotte heads to the north end of Stack Rocks and begins to snorkel in the hope of spotting exotic sponges, sea fans or colourful trigger fish but something totally expected happens and Charlotte comes face to face with one of Pembrokeshire’s 5,000 grey seals. 

“I don’t want to chase her, I’d much rather she comes over to check me out as then she’ll feel comfortable but she’s definitely circling me,” explains Charlotte. 

Charlotte’s tactic soon pays off and the inquisitive young seal swims up to greet her. “That was wonderful, I’ve made a friend,” Charlotte says of the priceless encounter. 

Back on dry land, Gethin and Charlotte meet up and journey north to the coast around St. David’s where they find the perfect wild camping spot. With only an hour of sunlight left, Charlotte starts to pitch the tents while Gethin heads off to try and catch some mackerel for their dinner. 

“I may have slightly exaggerated my fishing credentials to Charlotte,” admits Gethin. 

Once the tents are set up, Charlotte moves on to lighting a fire. “I love camping and for me no night under the stars is complete without a roaring fire,” says Charlotte. 

It’s dark when Gethin returns to the camp with their dinner. “I didn’t catch any fish but I managed to buy some,” confesses Gethin. 

On day two the adventurers make their way to St. Nons Bay, a dangerous coastline famous for its shipwrecks and smugglers’ caves, to try their hand at coasteering, an adventure sport in which you make your way along the coastline on foot or by swimming and without the aid of boats or other crafts. 

Once they’re kitted out with wetsuits and the necessary safety gear, they set off to explore with their guide, Tom Luddington, and after a full morning of jumping and swimming they reach the famous caves. 

Not content with their morning’s adventures they begin to climb up to the higher rocks in search of the ultimate adrenaline rush. 

“I think we may regret getting out of the water because in a few minutes we’re going to be climbing up this rock and launching ourselves from the height of a two storey building,” says Gethin. “I may look pretty calm but I’m putting on a brave face, we’re heading for a ledge which is way out of my comfort zone and beyond – I daren’t think how Charlotte must be feeling,” admits Gethin. 

Once at the top they manage to put their fears to one side and on the count of three they both jump into the waters below. 

“It took just a second to complete but that one jump was absolutely the highlight of the day and a really fitting way to cap off two brilliant days on the Pembrokeshire coast,” enthuses Charlotte. 

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