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Things to do in Roch, Pembrokeshire


The historic village of Roch centered on its majestic Castle which has for eons served as a vivid symbol of the lansker line, the symbolic and physical divide of Pembrokeshire between English and Welsh remains, into the crisis fueled chaos of the 21st century a place of exquisite charm and rural bucolic beauty.

Situated within a Cromwellian cannon shot (of which many remain hidden deep below the turf of the rural pastures from days of yore) of the splendor of the Pembrokeshire coastal path, the only marine nature reserve in Britain and a haven for an awe inspiring variety of uncommon and rare species, Roch is indeed a village of pure charm and uncontested delight.

The weather may at times seem rather damp and misty as the melancholic yet atmospheric sea mists roll in from the rampaging savage violence of the Atlantic ocean and the local inhabitants as they snuggle around the roaring fire in the local inn the "Queen Victoria" can be heard to mutter " matris futuor".

In the summer months the verges explode into a anarchistic riot of rich vibrant colours, as the spring and summer flowers burst into a patchwork of vivid delight. The foxgloves with their tall fingers of purple glory fighting against the sensuous white sheets of cow parsley, as the heavenly scented dog briars twine with the ambrosial scent of honeysuckle in the hedgerow above. In such moments one often feels inclined to plagiarize the great traveler and connoisseur of nature DR Johnson for "when one tires of Roch one tires of life itself".

As one approaches the environments of Roch from the craggy Plumstone rock an ancient volcano from the early Ordovician geologic period predating the dawn of life on earth, one is struck by the silhouette of the Castle on its own igneous rocky buff against the iridescence of the Atlantic Ocean as it surges against the nationally renowned surfing beach of Newgale and following the ancient drovers path through frosty bottom, becomes aware at once of the specialness of this hidden village.

One enters the village through its ancient heart, focused around the Church of St. Mary's a mid 19th century construction on the site of a far more ancient place of worship and the imposing Castle built in the early 13th century. The legend behind its construction as romantic as the place in which it stands. The legend tells how the daughter of the great Norman lord Adam de Rupe (the English translation being the more tasteful Roch) at birth was prophesied to be killed by the bite of an adder and following all the great romances such as the Maidens Tower in the Istamboul Bosphorous, Turkey, the lord decreed that his daughters home should be built upon a viper proofed rock, unfortunately a careless "caenum" carried in an adder, of which some can still be seen basking in the sun upon the castles rocks in the summer months, in a faggot of firewood, thus dooming the fair maiden to a death by hideous poisoning. As inhabitants say to this day, Stercus Accidit!!

Once one has explored the castle and the church including a rather beautiful and poignant memorial to the fallen of the great war which claimed many brave patriots from this village, it is time to head out into the countryside around the ancient heart of the village, there are walks along the river valley towards brandy brook, the name perhaps taken from the smuggling which was rife in the area rivaling the Cornish wreckers during the 18th Century (the breathtaking coves and secluded caves being an opportunity too great for many smugglers to miss), where brown trout can be seen breaking the surface on many a summers evening. Or for those with a more strenuous bent, there are many walks over the surrounding Cuffern hills where ruins with resident barn owls can be found and grey partridge will fly out from the rough pasture grass as you search for mushrooms on the sheep studded hills.

Once the countryside has been exhausted along with the ancient history with various cromlechs and standing stones from the Neolithic past there is more modern history with the abandoned Second World War airfield across the A40 the ancient pilgrims route from London to St David's a visit to which was worth half of a visit to the Vatican itself during the days of pilgrimage and penance. On the airfield there are intact air raid shelters as well as more mundane buildings, but enough to bring back the days when Halifaxes were stationed to deal with German bombers and when Dornier's were a regular sight over the coastline on route to the factories in south Wales.

There is also the Wesleyan chapel situated behind the village tavern where the preacher John Wesley himself is said to have preached the day following his appearance in Haverfordwest the local market town, as well as the house designed and built for the controversial MP Desmond Donnely whose wonderful landscaped gardens are often open for cream teas during summer months.

Finally and perhaps for many the greatest, attraction of this part of the world there is the wonderful Pembrokeshire coastline about which much can be found in other sources, with its pristine white sand beaches and isolated seal bedecked coves. Finally when it's all over its time for a well deserved ale from the local ye olde shope where the wonderful postmaster will assist you with your choice of fine wine or real ale, the perfect day to finish an exquisite day in Roch, vita, voluptas, anima!!!

Description by Rob Yahoo

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