is a peninsula in the far south west of Wales that juts out towards the
Atlantic Ocean and Ireland. Renowned for it's rocky coastline, beautiful
beaches and clean seas. The county is a favourite for activity holidays,
climbing, fishing, bird watching, golfing,
horse riding, kayaking,
many other water sports including canoeing,
surfing and windsurfing,
or just plain walking and traditional seaside holidays. The Pembrokeshire
Coast National Park covers a narrow strip of land alongside the coastline
of Pembrokeshire and an area in the north of the county around the Preseli
The Coastal Path and the National Park could be said to take in the best
of Pembrokeshire. They extend from one end of the county to the other
and in describing the Path we can help to describe the county as a holiday
destination. Traveling anticlockwise the Path starts in the very northern
tip of Pembrokeshire near St Dogmael's and circumvents the coastline until
Pembrokeshire merges with Carmarthenshire near Amroth in the south east
of the county.
The first section of the Path from Cemaes Head to Newport Bay is one of
the most spectacular and also one of the loneliest. Heading southwest
over Pen yr Afar the Path stays high on the cliff top for most of the
section enabling fantastic views on a clear day. On reaching Newport Bay
it is well worth a diversion to visit the small 6th Century Church of
St Brynach in the village of Nevern. Here in the churchyard there
is a superbly carved Celtic Cross of the C10th, an Ogham Stone and a bleeding
Yew tree. You could say that there are loads of bleeding trees all over
the place so what's so special about this tree? Well this Yew tree bleeds
a blood red sap and has many legends associated with it.
Newport itself is a delightful little town with an interesting collection
of shops, cafes and inns and offers accommodation to the traveller. Once
a fishing port, the town is now turned over to pleasure boats and holiday
makers, and the Bay has a wide expanse of sand with a backdrop of dunes.
The National Park continues into the hinterland and takes in the Preseli
Hills, the source of the famous blue stones of Stonehenge, and the whole
area is full of ancient forts and burial chambers,
Leaving Newport we head off on the next section to St David's (approx
50 miles) over Dinas Head that separates Newport Bay from Fishguard Bay.
Fishguard, or to be more exact the village of Goodwick nearby is the home
port for the Ferry service to Ireland. It is also the landing place for
the French invasion of Britain in 1797. Four men o'war disembarked the
motley band of Frenchmen on Carregwasted Cliffs but they swiftly surrendered
after encountering the women of Pembrokeshire, as legend says, under the
leadership of one Jemima Nicholas.
Leaving the French fighters behind and getting back on to the Path it
heads out via Carregwasted Point, Strumble Head, Abercastle and Abereiddy,
culminating in the clifftop location of St David's Head overlooking St
George's Channel and the beautiful Whitesands Bay. ( Whitesands Bay is
a sandy beach facing westward making it popular with surfers. )
The City of St David's, set back from the Coastal
Path, is as attractive to visitors today as it ever was to medieval pilgrims
visiting the shrine of St David. The City is named after the patron Saint
of Wales who according to tradition was born on the clifftops nearby.
He later founded a monastery where today the magnificent Cathedral stands.
David's Cathedral has been a site of pilgrimage and worship for many
hundreds of years and must be visited if only for the stunning architecture
of the Nave and its unique sixteenth century Irish oak ceiling. The town
itself though small has more facilities than might be expected and offers
a Marine Life Centre and the national trust's St
David's Visitor Centre with information on National Trust properties
throughout the county. The whole of the St David's peninsula is steeped
in history and the area is dotted with Neolithic tombs, Bronze Age stones,
wells of healing and tiny chapels.
Continuing round the Peninsula the Path leads to Ramsey Sound (and the
end of this section) with Ramsey Island across the treacherous waters.
an RSPB Reserve, is the home to countless seabirds and a breeding ground
for Atlantic Grey Seals.
The next section is St Brides Bay from Ramsey to the Dale peninsula and
St Annes Head. There are several towns and resorts en route including
Solva, Newgale, Nolton Haven, Broad Haven and Little Haven. Solva is an
attractive and picturesque little village in a long deep inlet which forms
a small sheltered harbour. In the past the harbour would have been used
for trading ships but today, apart from a few local fishermen, the harbour
is used only by pleasure craft. Newgale meanwhile with a long sandy beach
and a high bank of storm shingle is a favourite with surfers. Nolton Haven
and Broad Haven too have sandy beaches but further south and rounding
the Bay toward the horn Little Haven is hemmed in by cliffs. The walk
continues through St Brides village and on to the Marloes peninsula with
views of Skomer and Skokholm Islands( Skomer Island is the most important
seabird breeding site in southern Britain and the waters around the Island
are a Marine Nature Reserve and harbour one of the largest colonies of
grey seals in Wales. ) before finally finishing the section on the Dale
peninsula at St Annes Head near the start of the next section of the Path.......
the Milford Haven.
Milford Haven is the deep gash in the landscape that forms the estuary
of the Carew, Cresswell, and the two Cleddau Rivers. It makes what would
have been a two mile walk from St Annes head to Angle become a massive
hike around the banks of the inlet through St Ishmaels, Sandy Haven, Milford
Haven, Pembroke Dock, Pembroke itself, and Angle
Bay. Milford Haven once a busy whaling Port has reshaped the docks into
a superb 150-berth marina and now hosts many visitor attractions including
a nature trail, 9-hole golf course, pleasure boat trips, and an impressive
Dockside Gallery and museum. Pembroke is renowned for one of the most
magnificent castles in Wales that dominates this walled town with its
spectacular location. And each year the Castle and town are host to many
productions, medieval banquets, military tattoos and themed re-creations
of Pembroke's history by the Sealed Knot Society. Pembroke Dock, which
and watersports facilities is an important ferry port, operating daily
sailings to Ireland.
The last leg of the Coastal Path takes us from Angle to Amroth and the
border with Carmarthenshire. This final section of the Path starts at
the small village of Angle at the tip of the lower of the two peninsulas
forming the entrance to Milford Haven. It quickly reaches the sandy beaches
of Freshwater West before coming to the problematic area of Castlemartin
and the M.O.D. firing ranges. (The firing ranges are good for
the wildlife but not so good for walkers.) Here we can see the Stack Rocks
and the Green Bridge of Wales, possibly the most spectacular sites on
the Coastal Path. But unfortunately access times are limited so it seems
advisable to check
here to plan your holiday visit to coincide with permitted
times of access. Likewise the next attraction along the route suffers
from the same problem. St Govan's Chapel is a perfect example of early
Christian monastic life, built in an isolated location almost part of
the cliff face. As well disguised as a slate built house in Blaenau
Ffestiniog ! Again if you wish to pay a visit it is best to check
here for times of access.
This rather barren landscape quickly changes to lush sheltered leafy valleys
in nearby Bosherton, before again returning to the usual clifftop scenery
and the dramatic jagged rocks at Stackpole Headland.
And on via Manorbier Castle, Lydstep and Pennaly to the harbour town and
holiday resort of Tenby. A
fantastic holiday destination in itself and well worth a page
of its own >.
The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path reaches its conclusion at Amroth near Saundersfoot,
Saundersfoot itself although a small resort is well worth a visit with
pleasant beaches and rocky pools where children can spend many happy hours
if not days.