Fishguard (Welsh: Abergwaun) is located in Pembrokeshire on the west coast of Wales between Strumble Head to the west and Dinas Head to the east. The town is famous as the ferry port to Ireland but it also occupies an important place in British history being the location of the last invasion of Britain in February 1797. Tourists arriving in Fishguard have an abundance of attractions to visit both in the town and further afield throughout the county of Pembrokeshire.
The town of Fishguard consists of three parts, the Lower town, Fishguard proper, and Goodwick.
The old town, or as it is known the Lower town (y Cwm), sits where the River Gwaun meets the sea in a deep valley. It is the original fishing village with a small beach, seafarers' cottages, a short tidal quay, fishing boats and pleasure crafts. It is one of the most beautiful harbours in Wales and indeed was the location for the film of 'Under Milk Wood' starring Richard Burton. A short walk up the hill to the site of the old fort delivers fantastic views of the harbour.
Fishguard proper or Upper Fishguard sits on the cliff-top in the centre of Fishguard Bay commanding superb views of the bay and harbour. It contains the parish church and the High Street and is joined to the old town by a steep and winding hill. There are a number of hotels, pubs, and restaurants and a new Leisure Centre provides facilities for the young and old especially appreciated in wet weather. The 19th Century Church of St Mary's contains a memorial stone that was erected in 1897 to remember the heroic figure of Jemima Nicholas renowned for her part in the "Last invasion of Britain.”
On the western side of Fishguard Bay is the third part, the village of Goodwick, home to the railway and the modern ferry port. Seals and dolphins are sometimes seen in the bay and boat trips to view the wildlife of the Pembrokeshire coast are becoming ever more popular. There is a fine sand and shingle beach overlooking the Harbour, and being in the shelter of the breakwater Goodwick beach offers a safe bathing environment that is popular with families.
There are plenty of parking spaces, toilets, shops, and pubs in Goodwick.
With it's harbour side position it is not surprising that the business of Fishguard is dependent on the sea. Fishguard Harbour maintains a fishing industry particularly famous for the herring fishing. The roll-on roll-off ferries bring both employment for the locals, and visitors to fill the beds in the hotels and guesthouses of Fishguard and the surrounding area.
When I say that Fishguard occupies an important place in British history perhaps I should say it occupies an important place in the history of British farce as the goings on would have made an excellent "Carry On" film!
It seems the French had planned a two pronged attack on that cold February day with one force landing in Ireland and another in West Wales. The invasion of Ireland failed to materialise but, unfortunately (for the French), the invasion of Wales was initially more successful in as much as they made landfall.
The French arrived in Fishguard Bay in four men o' war but were forced westward when fired upon by the canon from Fishguard fort. The motley crew that included 600 convicts and were led by an elderly American, Mr William Tate, were forced to land below the cliffs of Carregwasted.
The locals, meanwhile, hurriedly mobilised squads of volunteers.
Legend has it that the French mistook the Welsh women, dressed in tall black hats and red cloaks, for British grenadiers. Indeed one woman, Hattie Jacques ..er sorry Jemima Nicholas, is said to have single-handedly captured 12 Frenchmen armed only with her pitchfork.
Eventually in the best tradition of the "Carry on" films an ignominious surrender of the French was arranged in the local Pub! Moreover, to this day memorabilia of this French farce can be seen on display in the bar of the Royal Oak Inn in Fishguard town centre.
Getting back to the modern day, travellers still arrive by sea but more usually on the Irish ferries than French men o' war ! Tourists, including the French and elderly American gentlemen, receive a warm welcome in Fishguard and have an abundance of attractions to visit both in the town and further afield throughout the county of Pembrokeshire.
Walks, Cycle Trails and Other Activities
There are many walks criss-crossing the landscape in this beautiful area of Pembrokeshire, and of course the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. If that is not enough walking for you then how about the all new “Wales Coastal Path,” soon to be incorporated into Wales' list of great walks. The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path passes through the very heart of Fishguard with beautiful walks from Dinas through Fishguard and Carregwasted to Strumble Head.
Castles and Forts
As with many parts of Wales there are a great number of ancient and historic sites around Fishguard including Castell Henllys (12 miles), a popular attraction and the site of an iron age fort. The site has been excavated and huts have been rebuilt to represent the living conditions of the times as accurately as possible.
In the village of Nevern (11 miles, 15 km) is the ancient church of St Brynach's. The tower is post Norman and there are many outstanding early stones including a 10th-early 11th century Celtic Cross. There is a also a bleeding Yew tree that periodically weeps a thick blood red sap.
Close to the village of Nevern is one of Wales outstanding ancient monuments the Pentre Ifan Burial Chamber, a group of standing stones that support a massive capstone that clearly represent a burial chamber of some importance.
The Ocean Lab at the Fishguard Harbour Information Centre features 'Ollie the Octopus', a cyber cafe, ocean quest, coffee shop, and soft play area for under fives.
A hodgepodge of stuff imported from our original Fishguard page:
You will find yachts at sail and boats in the harbour at Fishguard.
Walking the coastal path such as near Ceibwr Bay, Fishguard in Pembrokeshire is one of Wales most popular attractions. Walking the coastal path West Wales and coasteering on the Pembrokeshire cliffs is another popular activity. Many stay in traditional Pembrokeshire country cottages, and have fun in the sea off west Wales. Castell Henlys is a popular attraction in Pembrokeshire.