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I'm an architectural photographer. I travel around Britain recording and interacting with special places that have a spirit about them. I work from my camper van called Woody and I share my experiences via this digest.

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A slightly different digest today. I've been sharing my process and camper-van-camino live via the digest to subscribers. Here is the full three days of a remarkable journey into the heart of Pembrokeshire. Lots of amazing hidden gems and alternative locations to visit. I hope you enjoy the ride

I am travelling through North Wales and into Pembrokeshire

16 May 2023

0815 Breakfast at Bala

Breakfast in Woody on Lake Bala, Wales

An early start at 0515 saw me heading down the A55 into Wales and on to Lake Bala for breakfast.


This is such a beautiful part of Wales - on the other side of the lake, beyond the hills is Pennant Melangell - a remarkable place that I visited last year. Here, whilst I make breakfast, I can see a cormorant on the lake - dipping beneath the glassy surface and appearing intermittently.

I'm continuing further south now - heading towards my first shoot location in Pembrokeshire - will update this journal later in the day.

0928: Brithdir!

An unexpected stop as I spot the Brithdir sign and make a detour to the church. I photographed this church for Friends of Friendless Churches recently. It is a marvel, set in one of the most beautiful locations - a must see on your visit to Wales.

I put the drone up and took a video of the location.


Check out the Friends Page below for access and visitor information - and also to see some of my photos taken for the commissioned shoot:

St Mark’s, Brithdir, Gwynedd - Friends of Friendless Churches
An Arts & Crafts jewel-box with Italianate influence situated on Cader Idris and designed by Henry Wilson in the late 19th century.
Map courtesy of OS Maps

1221: Coffee break near Llanrhystud

This is a divine drive - out of the morning mists and into the full sun. I'm driving along the pig's snout - the coastal route down to Pembrokeshire. I'm on my way to Llanarth for a hookup campsite. The surprise glimpses of the sea are best as you travel around a corner.

Earlier I called in to Aberystwyth for some provisions. If you're travelling in a camper - top tip is to get some mint or basil to fill the van with a lovely aroma during your trip. Positive vibes.

1820: A good day's work


I'm commissioned to photograph St David's church in Manordeifi, Pembrokeshire. I can't tell you how good for the soul visiting a place like this is. More than a religious pilgrimage, it is a pilgrimage into the self.

These places are virtually unknown and isolated - accesible by single track lanes. As I travel along to the church, and as the roads get narrower, I feel a stripping back of the senses.

St. David's is very special - it's like travelling back in time to the Regency period.

The church has flooded often and was abandoned for a newer church up the hill. It even had its own coracle to ferry worshippers to the church in flood.

The details are exquisite - even down to the original hinges.

If you are looking for solitude and an alternative destination, visiting this church will take you off the beaten track and immerse you in a landscape that is timeless - a real hidden gem.

St David’s, Manordeifi, Pembrokeshire - Friends of Friendless Churches
Medieval church on the Teifi flood meadows, with a 13th century carved font and full set of Georgian box pews

2018: Camper Van Dinner

What a day! The best way to wind down for me is to cook a good evening meal. Here's tonight's nosh lowdown:

Griddled vegetables with mozarella and feta cheese on flatbread.

Cut up cherry tomatoes, spring onions and set aside. Griddle the aubergines, courgettes, peppers until brown. Set aside and mix with the tomatoes and spring onions. Heat up a flatbread in the pan.

Put the mixed vegetables onto the flatbread and tear up some mozarella and crush some feta cheese on top. Add some mint leaves and season. Then add a touch of olive oil. Yum. Perfect vanlife food.

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17 May 2023

0530 Out on the road

Awoke at 5am. It's cold, so I put the diesel heater on and start to prep the van for travel. I fold down the bed and open all the curtains. Wind up the hook-up. There's a frost on the grass outside. Rooks are dancing about. Sun is pale and wan in the sky.

I set off for Castlemartin (today's photo shoot) and the valleys are bottomed out with mist.

0800: Arrive at St. Michael, Castlemartin - stunning location - ancient walls.

The church reveal:


Sometimes I get a bit overwhelmed when I start a photo shoot. I think it's a creative thing. This church is no exception. I just want to get it right - get the light right, photograph it at the best angle and capture some of the aspects of the interior that are personal to me. Usually at the end of the day I feel both physically and mentally exhausted - the process is challenging but extremely rewarding.

0900: Breakfast - Cheesy Egg Bread.

The first exterior shots are done and I'm feeling hungry. Cheesy egg bread is the perfect breakfast for a hard days work. Eggs whipped in milk, cheese sandwiches quartered and dipped into the eggs and then fried in a spot of butter.


1344: St. Michael and All Angels, Castlemartin

The name of this digest is Genius Loci which translates as 'spirit of place'. If ever there was a place that had a particular quality of atmosphere it is this one. I bump into a local and she tells me that, although she is not a believer, she often visits because it is 'restorative'.


I'm a bit out of my depth with churches from the south of Wales - they all look so timeless. St. Michael is built from quarried limestone and is largely medieval, dating back to Norman times.

When I look at the details, I get a powerful sense of the 'layering up' of peoples' hopes, likes and fears caught and frozen in time within the material remains of the church.

I follow my lens, work my process and then there's a moment. The heavenly saints have detached themselves from the coloured glass and have started to move down the chamfered reveals. I stop and breath in - and time seems to slow down - I can see the coloured light moving ever so slowly. It's a trick I learnt at Billesley where I sat and watched the light move across a Saxon stone.


I lost a friend recently - he was a mentor and an inspiration, and I've promised myself that I will stop and look afresh at the things around me, as if I were a conduit for him. Photography and its process helps garner different perspectives and alternative ways of seeing - it was David who taught me that.

1416: Lunch at Jacks, Freshwater East.

I've travelled down along the coast and am at the southern tip of the Pembrokeshire peninsula. Lodging in Freshwater East CAMC - it's the perfect location for my photo locations and is right next to the beach.

1915: Freshwater East


The bay at Freshwater East is right next to my campsite. Lovely stretches of coastal path. The path from here leads to the Stakpole Estate and Barafundle Bay.

18 May 2023

0730: Van Changeover -

Every morning, before I set off for a photo shoot I have to get the van ready - it takes around 30 minutes to get it into ship shape. I have to remember to switch the gas off, close the top roof light, and make sure the exterior hook-up is unplugged.


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0900: St. Lawrence, Gumfreston, Pembrokeshire

The C13th Saint Lawrence reveals itself slowly as you drive (or walk) down the single track lane - its countenance is monumental, with its battered tower of rough quarried stone, appearing first.

I leave the van and pull out my photography equipment. Immediately I can sense that this is a special place. There are holy wells here to the south of the churchyard and I'm told that this church was on the pilgrimage route to St. David's.

But there's something not quite right. Slates are missing and gutters are blocked with fauna. When I enter the church I'm met with a strong smell of damp. The inside is in a sorry state.

As I walk along the nave, adjusting my eyes to the darkness, I catch somebody's eye. Shrouded beneath chunks of plaster and limewash - is a face from the past - part of a larger scheme of medieval painting that might survive beneath the later surfaces.

If we lose places like this, we lose access to the whispers of the past and we also lose the human connection via the material culture that survives.

This place is very special and shouldn't be allowed to moulder and decay. Friends of Friendless Churches (who do not currently look after the church) are trying to raise funds to save and conserve St. Lawrence and to bring it under their wing. Friends of Friendless Churches have the patience and skills to save this church.

If you have a link to this church or are able to help, please help them by making a donation or becoming a friend:

Friends of Friendless Churches - Rescuing places of worship in England & Wales
Welcome to Friends of Friendless Churches. A charity dedicated to rescuing and protecting historic places of worship in England & Wales since 1957.

1730: St. Govan's Chapel

It's always been on my bucket list - this C13th chapel (which may have foundations dating back to the C6th) sits cockled to the limestone cliffs of St. Govan's Head in Pembrokeshire. It's difficult to access - not just because of the steep cliff steps that lead directly into the chapel, but also because it is at the heart of the Castlemartin firing range. Access is limited.

The interior is simple - as if it were hollowed out of the rock face itself.


If you do visit, I recommend that you (carefully) climb down to the rocks at the bottom - the best views are from here.


This is the end of our road trip into Pembrokeshire. Thank you for coming along. I hope that you have enjoyed it. There are many things that I will take away from this trip including: Breakfast at Bala, the interior at Manordeifi, the coloured light at Castlemartin and the spirit of place at Gumfraston.

Tomorrow, I'm off to Frome in Somerset to photograph a ribbon cutting event at a community centre. On the way there I'll be thinking of St. Govan's Head and the sound of the sea.


See where I am on a map:

Camper-Van-Camino Pembrokeshire: Live Map
See my location live

Go back to the Camper-van-camino: Pembrokeshire Project Page here:

Camper Van Camino Pembrokeshire May 2023 - Andy Marshall’s Genius Loci Digest
Stuck inside? Working indoors? Bookmark this link and try a bit of pocket travel as I continue my camper-van-camino into Pembrokeshire to photograph some remarkable places. Bookmark this page and check back for regular updates.

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Virtual tour of Woody my camper van - #vanlife
I’ve travelled over 50,000 miles on my camper-van-camino - and sent out hundreds of posts from my Genius Loci Digest about my travels and adventures across the British Isles.

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Photographs and words by Andy Marshall (unless otherwise stated). Most photographs are taken with Iphone 14 Pro and DJI Mini 3 Pro.