Camper-Van-Camino Edition

I'm an architectural photographer. I travel around Britain interacting with special places. I work from my camper van called Woody and I share my experiences via this digest.

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Self portrait taken in my bedroom during lockdown.


"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning..."

T. S. Eliot, The Four Quartets


'Seeing is everything. Looking is everything….If I had no more speech, hearing or movement, I would still have the active life of looking; and the luxury of its replay in my dreams at night.'

Laura Cummings, Thunderclap

Finding Joy in Confinement.

Every significant period of growth I've experienced has sprouted from the rich humus of solace and setback. My own unravelling started a quest for serenity and wellness, leading me to discover little pearls of wisdom through a profoundly tactile engagement with the world.

One of the most unlikely pearls came from a day of stark vulnerability, where my body and mind simply capitulated after pushing myself to the limit. On that day, I found myself curled up on the floor of my bedroom unable to move. I distinctly remember the odd sensation of my eyelashes scraping against the carpet as I lay face down. I could feel every nuance, twist and fibre of the carpet through my eyelashes as they moved backwards and forwards. This was my orb of existence and I remember thinking that it wasn’t so bad because I was still alive.

It seems laughable now, but at the time, I had no understanding of what was unfolding. Moving from that state of cellular awareness to standing upright felt like conquering the impossible.

But I did rise. And the sheer elation of standing, of seeing beyond the molecular world of the carpet, was transformative. The room expanded into a vast Serengeti; the world outside unravelled like an endless galaxy.

My ordeal taught me joy in confinement—it abolished any sense of being bound, bored, or constrained by my surroundings. Now, every insect, every leaf, every brick seems to pulse with an inherent joy.

If the street outside my door seemed as vast as the universe, imagine the exhilaration of traversing this island in my van. To some, Britain may appear as a confined island, yet it brims with a rich tapestry of material culture. It reminds me of my concertina sketchbook—seemingly small and compact, yet unfolding into an entire universe, rich and layered within its modest confines.


This week, my camper-van journey took me through just a fraction of this island, revealing remarkable buildings, places, and artefacts that could fill a lifetime. After a time where I thought my world was lashed to the bounds of my bedroom, I feel immensely grateful and privileged to be able to explore and share my travels with you.

If you are bound in any way by your circumstances, I hope that my story and my travels will help you expand your horizons and, if you are not: that your view of these isles might be refreshed through my lens, brush and pen.


✨ It's a Kind of Magic, and it's Happening...

Two of the captivating locations featured in this Digest have been graciously supported by Member Powered Photography (MPP).

Through MPP, I offer my services to photograph historic buildings, sites, artists, and more, free of charge. This allows these remarkable places to benefit from a collection of professional-grade photographs and media, enhancing their visibility and preserving their legacy for future generations to appreciate.

This initiative thrives on the generous subscriptions from Members like you, who share a passion for preserving our cultural heritage through the lens of photography. Your support not only helps sustain MPP but also ensures that these cherished landmarks continue to receive the attention they deserve.

Thank you for being a vital part of this journey.

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Welcome to my camper-van camino edition!

From my travels this week.

For those planning a road trip around Pembrokeshire - this is a joy of a journey.

You can follow my journey of discovery on a visual map below:

Polarsteps is the personal travel log in your pocket.

Thursday 18 April


When I head down to Pembrokeshire from the north I always make sure I take the A483 road. That's because there's a treat in store at St. Anno's, Llananno. There's a car park with toilets nearby, but the best spot is just after that, on a small parking spot on the left (heading south) just opposite the church.

There is a particular joy behind pulling over after a dry and dusty drive and finding something that is completely out of this world and unexpected.


Friday 19 April

Freshwater East

I'm lodged at the Caravan and Motorhome site at Freshwater East and awake to much anticipation of my second visit to St. Lawrence Gumfreston - I take breakfast in the bay and start to write the Observation section to today's Digest.

St. Lawrence, Gumfreston

I last visited the church at Gumfreston in May last year and it was in a sorry state.

Friends of Friendless Churches are helping bring the building back to life - renewing the roof and conserving the interior.

Things have changed since I was here last. It feels like I've travelled through time into a future that was only a hope and a vague possibility before the Friends of Friendless Churches took on the task.


I love visiting buildings in their in-between states. It's so rare to see the people that help keep them alive and present. The team from Tree and Sons are warm and welcoming. I tell them that I used to work on roofs and so they let me cut a slate - I'm a bit rusty. The new roof is looking magnificent with the slate sourced from Welsh quarries.

Inside the tower they are also strengthening the bell wheel which holds a medieval bell.

Ever resourceful in medieval times - the inside of the tower is a dovecote.

On this visit - the landscape is less overgrown and I'm able to access the three holy wells that lie to the south of the church. People have been visiting the wells for centuries which are renowned for their healing properties.

The church at Gumfreston is a remarkable place - full of atmosphere and will be open soon. Keep up to date with progress and opening times on the Friends website:

St Lawrence’s, Gumfreston, Pembrokeshire - Friends of Friendless Churches
St Lawrence’s is an almost completely medieval church built at the site of three holy wells. Its bell is possibly the oldest in Pembrokeshire.
The wonderful team from Tree and Sons


I spend the evening in the van. There is no signal here at Freshwater East so I start another sketch from my concertina sketchbook.

This time I'm sketching a most unusual structure (which will be made clearer in a future Digest) from Winchester. I just love the process of watching a blank piece of paper transform before my eyes.


Saturday 20 April

Castell Caeriw, Carew Castle, Pembrokeshire

Oh what a joy Castell Caerew is.

I'm on my way to photograph a church at Bayvil and I see its silhouetted crenellations first as I drive down a steep incline. The castle is Norman in origin with delightful Elizabethan filligree additions. What makes this building sing is its setting, surrounded by a tidal, ponded inlet of the River Carew.

The bridge that crosses the inlet is C18th. Northbound, turn left after the bridge to reach a park up with one of the best views in the county. Get there early and you can have breakfast by yourself with a view.

I sit and look at the details and then try and take in the whole view of the castle with the reflection in the river below. Unlike other castles, there is a softness to Carew - it looks as though it is of the place rather than on it - melting into the hill. The filigree windows (from Elizabethan times) add to the equilibrium.

Members can see Carew Castle in a glorious VR (viewable on any device)

Be there: Carew Castle and C18th bridge in glorious VR
The castle has been owned by the Carew family for over 900 years and originates in the C11th with later Elizabethan editions. There is evidence of an iron age defensive site before that.

St. Andrew the Apostles, Bayvil, Pembrokeshire.

The Friends page describes St. Andrew as an 'evocative Georgian time capsule', and they're not wrong.

From the moment I parked up Woody in the deep cut lane next to the church, there was nothing in my view (other than Woody) that might remind me that I was a participant of the C21st.

The interior hasn't changed since it was last painted in Georgian times.

In a bucolic setting above the small coastal village of Newport, this is a simple single cell church that sings of simplicity and solitude.

Newport, Pembrokeshire

This lovely little coastal village isn't far from Bayvil and there's a delightfully situated free car park in the bay.

Driving in and out of Pembrokeshire coastal villages is an experience akin to a rollercoaster, but the views are so much better, expansive, constantly refreshing, and engaging. The drive along the coastal road from Newport through Fishguard and on to St. David's is sublime.

After parking up I'm struck by a small red building on the edge of the sands. Maybe an outbuilding for processing fish back in the day? I stop and stare at it and it seems to stop and stare back. Such beauty in simplicity.

And then I walk along the village road that bleeds intermittently into the sand of the bay. It starts and stops then starts then stops.

Is it the village road or is it the beach? This place is liminal.

Then I see a red dot in the distance driving along the beach and then ramping up onto the concrete road. It's the local postie, skillfully coordinating their deliveries with the ebb and flow of the tide

Newport takes in a wonderful coastal path and there is a lovely cafe right next to the car park.

Sunday 21 April


Pembroke is anchored by the castle and parish church opposite. King Henry VII was born here at the castle.

Once again I get there early and get the best park up next to the castle.

I get the drone up and take a few shots of the castle and town.

Then try and capture the church and castle together.

Members can see Pembroke Castle and town in glorious VR (viewable on all devices)

Be there: Pembroke Castle and Town in glorious VR
Pembroke, Pembrokeshire, Wales is anchored by the castle and parish church opposite. King Henry VII was born here at the castle.

I then take a walk around town - there's a lovely mix of buildings styles and types. A lot of the original railings survive on some of the Georgian houses - which is quite rare.

I walk around the outskirts of the castle and notice another church upon a hill nearby.

I make my way towards it up a delightful street that is bounded by stone walls and a medieval hall.

St. Nicholas and St. John/Monkton Priory

This is a real hidden gem in Pembroke. The church was part of the former Benedictine Priory founded in 1098 and a significant amount of the original fabric survives.

I get a warm welcome from some of the parishioners with a cup of tea and a biscuit.

The church reads like an archaeological record - full of layers of history.

Members can see the inside of Monkton Priory in glorious VR (viewable on any device)

Be there: Monkton Priory Interior, Pembrokeshire in glorious VR
The church reads like an archaeological record - full of layers of history.

One brush stroke at a time...

The weather is balmy, the light is good on the south side of the church, so I decide to add it to my concertine sketchbook. I spend a delightful hour lining up the proportions and sketching in the details.

Flemish Cottage

On the way back to the van I come across a house that reminds me of the Hobbit houses of Bury St. Edmunds. It's built into the former west gate of the town - the defensive walls - and is said to be 400 years old.

St. Elli's, Llanelly, Wales.

I'm booked in to photograph St. Elli's on Monday, but whilst in Pembroke, I check the weather forecast which is showing rain for Monday.

I pack up my brush and sketch book and hurtle over to Monmouthshire in the hope that I might be able to get the externals in the sunshine.

The weather is on my side when I arrive a couple of hours later - and I quickly get to work.

This is such a remarkable place - both church and landscape fusing into each other - genius loci.

The church is surrounded by a protective ring of yew trees, and beyond that, the valley of the River Usk and the Black Mountains.

The yew trees are 800 years old. They are of sinew, contorted, permeable, brooding.

Members will see my full professional photographs of this church soon.

This has been a remarkable journey through Pembrokeshire, where I explored diverse historical landmarks spanning centuries.

From Freshwater East's sandy beaches to Gumfreston's medieval dovecote tower, each stop offered a unique glimpse into Pembrokeshire's past.

At Carew Castle, I enjoyed breakfast by the tranquil waters, then ventured into the Georgian era at Bayvil. Newport's village appeal and the grandeur of Pembroke Castle rounded out the experience, offering a rich tapestry of history to explore firsthand.

And then on to St. Elli's with its ancient charm and mystery.

Thanks for coming along.

I put my heart and soul into the Genius Loci Digest and it takes a day a week to produce. With your support, I’m able to keep this digest free and public facing. 📸🏛🚐

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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.