Walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path with a harp! Welsh folk musician's crazy adventure

In the summer of 2012 musician Delyth Jenkins walked the 186 miles of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path over a period of 17 days. With her she carried her Welsh harp and hoped to give a series of impromptu path-side concerts. That Would Be Telyn (Y Lolfa) is an inspiring account of her adventures and the people she met and played for along the way.

Delyth set out to challenge herself both physically and creatively and combined three things that she loved: walking, playing the harp and the Pembrokeshire coast.

“The walk itself was a creative process. I had no idea when I started the walk that I would end up writing a book. I have also composed new music inspired by the walk – one of the pieces, Cofio, is on DnA [her instrumental duo with daughter Angharad]’s album Llinyn Aur,” said the Delyth, adding:

“People seemed genuinely moved to hear my music. A couple from Spain felt that my music had magically  managed to dispel the mist and bring out the sun. I played ‘Happy Birthday’ to someone who was absolutely delighted to be able to celebrate his birthday with the expected song but in the most unexpected of locations!”.

That Would Be Telyn  is an account of the journey, but also a memoir. As she walked, she thought and remembered and the text is interwoven with autobiographical flashbacks including memories of her childhood, her life with her late former husband, the poet Nigel Jenkins, and her career in the world of theatre and Welsh traditional music. The book also includes a hitherto unpublished poem by Adrian Mitchell.

“What I discovered was that my music was not merely a form of expressing myself, but it also gave me the extraordinary privilege of having an insight into other people’s thoughts and emotions, and brought home to me that music is not just about the performer but just as much about the audience,” said Delyth of her experience.

Since completing the walk, Delyth has given several performances about the journey, including a show in collaboration with the poet Emily Hinshelwood called Salt On Our Boots. The overwhelming response from audiences has been that they would like to read about what was described during performances.

“I realised with some force that I don’t want to let life pass me by, and I am keen to take on more physical and creative challenges whilst there is still time. But probably my main reason for writing the book was that I wanted to write it. I felt very much that I had a story to tell, which I wanted to share,” says Delyth.