10k circular walk via Slebech Park, along the Eastern Cleddau, Blackpool Mill and Canaston Bridge.
A mixed walk on country lanes, footpaths and tracks. OS map Landranger 158, Explorer OL36
Start point: SN038164
Can usually be completed in walking shoes or trainers. Some of the fields can have quite long grass, so be prepared in wetter weather. Can be completed either way, but it’s good to get the boring road bit out of the way at the start. Elevation gain 150m. 2-2.5 hours of steady walking.
A Leave Quarry Park campsite via the front gate and turn left on the lane. Turn left at the cottages and walk along the lane until you meet the A40. Keep dogs on leads for this part!
B The only awkward bit of the walk – crossing the A40. Care as cars do travel fast, but by waiting on the island at the end of the lane, visibility is good. Spot the stile into the field behind the road sign (or if you’ve got a dog, the gate is usually accessible - remember to close it afterwards). Keep to the left of the field towards 2 dog friendly stiles, and a muddy patch, then follow the line of trees to cross the middle of the second field.
C Turn right onto the track after the stile, and follow this, bearing left and downhill towards a farm yard (now a mechanics yard). At the bottom of the track look across the yard and slightly left for the footpath signpost. Follow this passed some pheasant feeders, ducking round to the right of an old tin shed, and walk down the stream/path towards Slebech Park. Slippery when wet.
D Pass the old ‘kennels’ and the slate stile. Admire the view as your reach the Eastern Cleddau (Cleddau Ddu). If you turn right here you can walk around the Slebech Park Estate (hotel and private grounds, plus some public footpaths). Afternoon teas, food and drinks served when open (check opening times, COVID rules currently apply 01437 752000).
To continue on the circular walk take the track to the left at D after the old kennels. A short way along, a detour to the right takes you to 2 partial islands (only in very high tides), with pet graves on one, and the buried hearts of Knights Hospitaller (who died on the crusades) on the other!
E The main track, heading east now, covers a few miles and takes you through the Slebech Park estate grounds, with beautiful wildflowers, rhododendrons, and sneaky peaks of the river. Pretty safe for dogs off leads, though watch out for pheasants and squirrels!
F At the junction, a detour goes right to Blackpool Mill and Bridge. This is the gateway to many other walks in Minwear and Canaston woods, to make your walk longer (including the Knights Way). Blackpool Mill marks the limit of the Eastern Cleddau tidal estuary – above this the river runs down from the Preselis. The Mill is currently not accessible, as the owners (Bluestone Resort) await planning permission to refurbish it, but it can be viewed externally.
To return to the circular walk, from F head uphill into Toch Woods, with plentiful interesting beech trees, and bluebells in May. Once down the other side follow the track along to the right, then left through the underpass under the A40 and up to the small car park.
G Go straight along the wall of the car park to rejoin the track (you can connect to the Landsker Borderlands Trail here). Through a kissing gate at the end, dogs back on leads to pass into a small private yard. In the yard take the left at the garage (through the gate) then walk to the right of the garage, which is a bit brambly.
Through the gate and straight across the small paddock (may contain horses) to another gate. A short brambly footpath – watch your step – then you’ll be back on a track again. Keep the stream on your left and follow the track, heading fairly straight and westwards until your reach some fields. There are some really peaceful spots to stop and enjoy along this part.
H Pass through 3 fields near the bottom of each. After the 3rd field there is a gate into a private garden / orchard, marked with a yellow waymarker. Walk through and use the footpath gate to the left of the main gate onto the driveway. Follow this, turn left across a concrete bridge, then through a gate to the right of a cattle grid.
I Turn right onto ‘Toch Lane’ which will bring you back, gradually uphill, to the entrance of Quarry Park in about a mile. It’s a quiet lane with hardly any traffic, so fairly safe to walk along. Enjoy a well earned drink back at the campsite!