06-May-2002 -- We were having a long weekend in Pembrokeshire, visiting the offshore islands that are famous for vast numbers of seabirds and climbing on the limestone sea cliffs. It’s a usual early May destination thanks to acres of rock and a very fine climate. Unfortunately the last day was rather cold and damp so I decided to go for a walk on part of the 170 mile coastal path. Of course with 170 miles of superlative coastal scenery to choose from I went to Fishguard to have a look at 52N 5W.
I knew that the spot was in the village of Wdig/Goodwick, so decided to wander the steep streets armed with just the GPS, the map was left in the car. Things get exciting as we headed down the hill towards the railway line, would the spot be reached before the tracks? Would it be in one of the unkempt and overgrown gardens in this part of town?
Eventually the swinging needle and dancing zeros led us to an overgrown patch of 'scrag' land in a gloriously unmanaged state. Clambering over garden rubbish and cut branches we found the appointed spot in a bramble patch next to a telegraph pole and sally tree. A song thrush was singing from a nearby garden along with several species of finch. Everything was that fresh green of newly emerged foliage. There were no witnesses to my demented thrashings about trying to fix those zeros.
Later at home I read the account of the first visit. They had more vegetation to cope with, being August, but the spot was recognisably the same.
Urban confluences are none to common, and this was my first. Its an interesting place, Goodwick being a modern 'suburb' of the old port of Abergwaun/Fishguard across the bay. The presence of English place names in this Welsh speaking area suggests industrialisation, and here it was the construction of a transatlantic liner terminal. In the years leading up to World War One, Goodwick rivaled Liverpool and Southampton in the amount of trade with North America. A hill was quarried away to make flat land half a mile from 52N 5W and the stone used to make a half mile long breakwater. Unfortunately they got greedy, a second breakwater was built, the deepwater port silted up and the big ships never returned. Now the port is busy again as a ferry port linking Southeast Ireland. The confluence is very easy to catch whilst waiting for your ferry.
Unusual for a ferry port, Fishguard and Goodwick are destinations in their own right, and popular with holidaymakers. Fishguard itself is a beautiful old town and the surrounding Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is famed for its rugged cliffs and abundant wildlife.
Nearby at Carregwastad Point a small French invasion force was routed in 1797, the last invasion of the island of Great Britain. This coastline and small rocky peaks, was explored after the visit. The fierce tide races offshore provide good fishing and a large school of porpoises was seen off Strumble Head. Grey Seals inhabit the deep coves. The birdlife and wildflowers were also rather spectacular, and this coast is famed for sightings of lost American migrants stormblown across the Atlantic. Bring your binoculars.
Modern human travellers across the Atlantic now pass over this point. There is a navigation beacon on a nearby hill and many air routes into London make landfall here.
After all this exploring treat yourself to an ice cream in Fishguard Town, The icecream parlour sells locally produced icecream that is currently judged as the best in Britain. Refreshed we headed homewards, along the 52 degrees N and calling in on 52N 4W.