Pembrokeshire Lanes.

For a wonderfully green and pleasant land, Pembrokeshire has a lot of roads. But apart from the big, fast main ones, most of them are minor – and many of those could be described as mini-minor.

The latter tend not to have road numbers, and some are not over-encumbered with signposts. But armed with an OS map – rather than a cheap road atlas or a satnav (the last thing you want when you’re exploring) – you can follow some wonderful little lanes, often taking you on “as the crow flies” routes from one place to another.

You just have to remember that they’re narrow. That word again is: narrow. But don’t be put off. The back roads are fun and can take you into the real heart of the county. Just make sure you pay attention. One part of your brain needs to be used to remember where the last passing place or marginally wider bit of road was, while another concentrates on negotiating the twists and bends, and another watches for the approach of a vehicle from the opposite direction.

narrow lanes

One of the most testing roads I ventured down recently was one leaving the south-east corner of St Florence, out past the ruined mill toward West Tarr Farm and Tenby. You know you’re on a lesser-used lane when you notice grass and flowers sprouting through the tarmac down the centre of it. Another sign is that birds in the road tend not to move – either because they’re just not used to the idea of vehicles using these lanes, or because they’re arrogant enough to have a “this is my territory and you can wait till I’m ready to move” kind of attitude.

I only met one other car on this back road to Tenby and fortunately the encounter coincided with a slight and momentary widening.

Sometimes you can do the whole length of a narrow road and meet nothing coming the other way. It’s a kind of relief. – but you can also feel cheated, since you haven’t had to hastily back up or push your car into an almost non-existent indentation in the hedgerow to enable two cars to pass each other in a space that looks barely wide enough for one. The successful completion of such manoeuvres always engenders a certain satisfaction, as well as being a minor social event, accompanied by mutual nods, waves and smiles.

The skinny lane known as Flygate, from Lawrenny towards Lawrenny Newton and Creswell Quay, was as nailbitingly narrow as the one out of St Florence, but a totally enjoyable immersion in greenest Pembrokeshire.

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Nigel Summerley

Nigel Summerley is a journalist who recently retired from working at The Oldie magazine. A Fleet Street veteran, he held staff jobs at the London Evening Standard, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Express before freelancing for twenty years for newspapers including The Times, The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Guardian and the ‘i’ paper, plus a wide range of magazines. He continues to write about music, travel and health