No sense of direction, no Satnav, I’m the lost and clueless sort.

I was chatting to a man in Aberaeron and he asked where I was headed from there. I’m off to a place called Mwnt, I said, where there is a remote little church upon the cliffs above Cardigan. I got married in that little church, he said, surprising me. It was a long time ago, mind, there was nothing else there back then. No caravans, no National Trust shop selling ice cream. I’m making a detour first, I said, to the National Wool museum. What a detour that turned out to be!

I have a reputation for having no sense of direction and hence, for getting lost. I missed a few turns I should have taken but got to my destination, eventually. Along the way, I passed through some beautiful scenery and there was one stretch of the road which for miles was edged on either side with hedgerows bedecked with flowering laburnums. It was a breathtakingly beautiful stretch of road but sadly I couldn’t find a safe place to pull over to take photographs.

The museum was interesting, filled with old machinery which took the processing of wool from fleece to finished cloth. It was on leaving here that I took a major wrong turn and ended up at a crossroads on the top of some remote hill. Not one of the remote places on the finger-posts could I find on my map so I turned around and headed back to the museum. Now back on the right road, I passed through Cenarth, over a narrow, humped back bridge which traversed the river Teifi. The view upstream was spectacular with the river tumbling down over falls where salmon can be seen leaping in the season.

As I headed north out of Cardigan, I stopped at a petrol station and asked the genial, young man at the till if I was very far from my destination of Mwnt.

“Ah, well, now then, that depends!” says he.

“On what?”

“On how far you want to go. If you carry up to Aberporth then double back, now, that is the long way round and will take about half an hour. But if you take the right turn just as you go out of here, then you’ll be there in five minutes.”

I begin to wonder if he is slightly unhinged because it seems like a no-brainer to me and I tell him I will take the short route.

“Ah, but, you see, if you go that way, well, it’s a bit tricky, see. It’s a very narrow lane, like, and you might come upon a tractor and then where will you be? Which one of you is going to reverse, isn’t it? There aren’t many passing places, see?”

Indeed, I did see, and ask what he would do if he were me, given that I am driving a large motor home.

“I’d give it a go, isn’t it? It’s raining, see, so you should be alright. If it was sunny, though, well there’d be tractors all up and down that lane, see, cutting the silage, isn’t it?”

He shows me in a map book; which turns to take, and where, along this little lane. I thank him, explaining I have already got lost once today. “Perhaps I should get myself a Satnav!” I exclaim, thinking I certainly should.

“Oh, dear,  no, you don’t want to be using one of those around here, it’ll likely lead you over the nearest cliff!” he says, with manic glee.

I buy his map book. It is a Navigator map book and shows all the little lanes I might get lost in. Just the thing I need.

I thank him again and make to leave.

“No worries! We get lots of your sort around here!” he says.

I assume that by ‘my sort’, he means clueless and lost. He then begins to relate a tale about a man who staggered into his garage, one evening, eyelids drooping with fatigue, and asking if, pray to God, he was anywhere near Swansea.

“And I broke it to him gently, like, isn’t it? I said, well, no, not exactly. You have a while to go, yet. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he had another hour and a half to go! He’d been up over some mountains, somewhere, after taking a wrong turn off the motorway. Pitiful sight, he was.”

Duly warned of the dangers of taking wrong turns, I follow his directions to Mwnt along a web of narrow criss-crossing lanes to a farm overlooking the sea. Not that I could see the sea as it was shrouded behind a veil of torrential rain. I arrived here at 3pm and it was still raining seven hours later. A strong wind picked up, too, towards night. I know this because I made the mistake of unwinding the awning so my route in and out of the door would be sheltered from the rain. Having unwound it, I was unable to reel it in again when the wind picked up. So, I went to bed to the sound of the thwack and slam of the awning knocking against its supports. I was surprised to find it still there in the morning, and a little brute force from the helpful proprietor got it reeled in again.

As the rain had passed, I sat on my step to eat my breakfast toast and these beady-eyed little chaps turned up to share it with me;WP_20140525_07_06_12_Pro__highres

Today, we climbed to the top of the conical hill of Mwnt; a precarious climb for one such as me, as I have a dizzy head for heights. It was worth the effort and the terror, though. The slopes were smothered in wild flowers…


and the whitewashed church was beautiful in its simplicity…


… the view from the coastal path across the bay was lovely…


…if you use binoculars, you might just see the little church perched above the cliffs!

Mwnt was invaded, unsuccessfully, by the Flemings in 1155. It is said that the site of the church dates to the Age of the Saints, though the present church is possibly 14th century. It has a font cut from the stone of the Preseli mountains (as is Stone Henge).

Jenny Lloyd is the author of the Megan Jones trilogy of novels, historical suspense set in early 19th century, rural Wales.

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20 thoughts on “No sense of direction, no Satnav, I’m the lost and clueless sort.

  1. Morning Jenny,

    Since meeting you a few days ago on the tail end of our misdirected adventure, we too have been meandering across the breadth of west wales, like a wounded butterfly. You see Paul is the one with the ‘plan’, (remind me to ask him for a definition of that term one day), and I’m the one that pipes up and says ,.. ‘oh look, candle making … let’s go there’.

    Only to find after some time navigating the charming hedgerows, reversing for tractor traffic etc, the venue  could not cope with the passing motorhome traffic  …thefact that we were the only motorhome were saw on our travells that day should have flagged the possibility a few hours earlier.

    Don’t be too disheartened about the lack of sat nav. Even with the ‘ trusty’ (another loose term), we ended up in Cenarth the day before yesterday, and spent an enjoyable morning schlepping around the nature trail along the river Teiffie before we left.

    Today we find ourselves following the footsteps of George Burrows in the Rheidol Gorge at Devil’s Bridge … wrll Paul is doing that, I’m taking in the beauty of the bluebells of the surroundind woodlands. The hills are smothered in a carpet of blue … just stunning!

    Well chin up and onward Jenny. You never know, we seem to travel in a similar fashion, we could meet again.

    Cheers Kirsten and Paul.

    Ps. Your book is fabulous!  Xx

    Sent from Samsung tablet

    • Wow! I’m so glad you found my wordpress site, and it is great to hear from you, again. I’ve thought about you, since we left that magical village of Myddfai. I’ve had quite a few adventures since then and been in some remote places. Have a couple of new blogs to post today. I’ve been without internet or phone all week so have a lot of catching up to do! I’m delighted you enjoyed Leap the Wild Water, the sequel will be out VERY soon! I’m north of Lake Vyrnwy now. I hope we will catch up again. Perhaps we could arrange to be in the same place before you return to Oz?

  2. Been there, done that! Laughed a lot at this piece, so evocative of very rural West Wales (Jones used to live in Blaencelyn, nr. Llangrannog). Glad you found your way out to write another day!

    • Hi, girls, it is a small world, indeed! I once spent a week at Llangrannog with a school trip (as every child in Wales has done at some point, I think). Lovely part of the world.

  3. Lovely post, Jenny. While I was reading it, I was imagining what it must be like to be lost in charge of a huge vehicle like a motorhome. I think that would send me into a panic of ever increasing circles, as I’d never want to reverse or do a three point turn. The lanes and hills of wales are not designed for easy manoeuvring are they? Your photos and words fill me with a longing to see Wales again (spent every holiday there as a child – for ten years in a row). Your conversation with the helpful garage lad was lovely 🙂

    • Just read Val’s comments on your post and it amused me to read that she couldn’t handle being lost in a motorhome. Being lost on a boat is infinitely worse, I think, at least land vehicles move when and where you want them too. I love to drive and have spent time on a boat; but I know which one behaved more or less nicely…

    • The biggest problem, I’ve found, comes when I miss a turn (which happens quite frequently!) because it can mean a drive for miles in the wrong direction before I will find a place big enough to turn around. I’m growing more confident in the driving and turning of ‘the beast’, though, with practice and am resigned to gathering vegetation along the narrow lanes! You will have to return again for a holiday, Val.
      The garage lad was an unforgettable gem!

    • I’m coming round to the idea rapidly! The dogs are hopeless navigators, they just sit there watching the scenery whizz by, and looking at me with what seems like avid interest when I make the occasional comment about the passing landscape. I never seem to see the signposts until I am upon them, so some advance warning of when I need to turn off a road would be very welcome.

  4. Hilarious blog; really resonated as I’m a bit challenged in the direction-finding department too. Mind you, I’m an old geezer, so that’s my excuse. Know all the places you mention, including the museum, and have lived in or near the Teifi valley since 2001. Have to admit (sorry) that I’m not a Cymro, but I’ve been here since 1992, so feel myself to be one spiritually, anyway. Sorry I mis-spelled Cymraig in my tweet. You got Ceredigion wrong though, so we’re quits!

    • It’s the spirit that counts! Can’t believe I mis-spelled Ceredigion! It’s a beautiful county. Some of my ancestors hailed from the Strata Florida area. I’m 57 tomorrow, so not exactly spring’s young chick, either!

      • A mere babe. I’m 70! Happy Birthday for tomorrow, and a bark from my sprocker spaniel Sali to your two.

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