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Wales: Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

David Cross (DavidX) from England

These notes cover places in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park on the coast in south-west Wales. I have stayed in this area for a number of weeks but not for a long time now so some information may well be out of date. This set of notes is biased in favour of North Pembrokeshire because I know that area best; however I have found it generally less crowded and commercialised than the area around Tenby and Saundersfoot.

ST Google Map - Pembrokeshire Coast National Park: Detailed Google Map by DavidX for Pembrokeshire Coast in Wales

Location and Name

The County of Pembrokeshire has not existed since about 1974 when it was absorbed into the newly created county of Dyfed. The National Park, which retained the county name, is situated in the far south-west of Wales.

There is a coastal path around the area with an amazing variety of beaches, having red, yellow or black sand in different parts. The beaches face in all directions so that it is always possible to avoid the main force of the wind.

The town of St David's is worth a special mention, being Britain's smallest city and possessing a wonderful cathedral.

St David's and Nearby

St David's is a city the size of a village, built low down with rises between itself and the coast. The aim of the location was to hide the cathedral from the sea and its raiders. The cathedral is made of red stones and both it and the adjacent Bishop's Palace are very evocative and well worth a visit.

The city makes an ideal base for visiting many different and varied beaches. There is a lifeboat station at St Justinian less than three miles away. St David's Head, a lovely headland with a burial chamber on the beginning of it, is some way from the city but is easily reached from the car park at Whitesands Bay.

Whitesands

Whitesands is a large beach with a car park and some commercialism but great sand and a wonderful view. Some parts are a bit dodgy for swimming but it is made clear which these are. The path to St David's Head makes a great walk and passes two smaller beaches which are, in their own ways, as appealing as the main one.

St Non's and Caerfai

St Non's and Caerfai are connected by separate roads from St David's but are so near it and so near each other that they can well be seen together. Caerfai Bay is in a very picturesque cove and its sand is a distinct red colour. St Non's has a small chapel and an historical well above it.

Porthlysgi Bay

Porthlysgi Bay is only reachable by footpath but is very scenic with headlands on each side and an island in the bay. It should not be missed.

Solva

On the road from St David's to Haverfordwest, Solva is a delightful village with a beautiful estuary beside it, much used by artists and with quite a few boats.

North Coast between St David's and Goodwick/Fishguard

Abereiddy

Abereiddy is a favourite beach, but not good for unsupervised small children - great fun if supervised. The road runs down to the beach of black sand (it is NOT mud). The fossils in the slate-like stone nearby have probably been exhausted by now, but the short walks around to a harbour-like area and across to a semi-island with a metal object on the top have an appeal as strong as when I was last there, I feel sure.

Porthgain

An old harbour at Porthgain, with evocative factory remains, is reachable by road or by the coast path from Abereiddy.

Abercastle

Abercastle is an attractive little bay with an easy walk to the Longhouse cromlech (pre-historic remain).

Trevine

Trevine is another favourite beach. It has a good cave, easy for anyone to enter, and an arch in rock. This is a fine place to take the children and used not to be as crowded as some beaches.

Pwllderi and Strumble Head

I would want to see Pwllderi and Strumble Head any time I was going into the area. It's a fine piece of seascape and the lighthouse at the headland is an added attraction. We have been lucky with seeing seals in the area around there.

Coast from Solva to Skomer Island

Newgale

Newgale is a huge beach which we found too windy at most times. The coast path to Solva passes some smaller and more peaceful beaches. Newgale is missable if time limited.

Nolton Haven, Broad Haven and Little Haven

These were the most commercialised beaches in the area. Not really my scene but the place to find a donkey ride if you want one.

Drewidston Haven

I much fear that something may have been done to facilitate the appalling access and parking with the result of making Drewidston Haven more crowded, but it was a real beauty and well worth the necessary early arrival if you want to park. Quite good late evening as well.

Musselwick Sands

I have only been to Musselwick Sands once a really long time ago but I think it is pretty good. More people go south from Marloes village to Marloes Sands which is certainly a delightful beach with lovely rock stacks and pools. (Not much fun with a pushcart!)

St Martin's Haven

I have only been on the headland above St Martin's Haven, which is a superb view point. As far as I remember there is not much beach and the steep way down is only useful for access to the boat for Skomer Island.

Skomer Island

Skomer Island is the only place that I have not been to in this area. The reason for not going was financial, as there were too many of us. I believe the bird life here in May, June and the beginning of July is outstanding.

St Anne's Head to Angle

If you object to seeing oil tankers it is best to skip this section, other than Pembroke.

St Anne's Head and Dale Point

St Anne's Head and Dale Point are both excellent for views. St Anne's Head has a lighthouse which is an added attraction (though if you are only going to one lighthouse, let it be Strumbles Head). Dale Point gives the best views over Milford Haven, if you like watching oil tankers come into dock. It is a lovely stretch of water anyway.

Sandy Haven

Sandy Haven is near Herbrandston - but look at map first! The name is a misnomer because it is the only place mentioned here that is more mud than sand, but it used to be intriguing with crabs crawling around and boats tied up. I am sure the occasional oil spills will not have improved the wildlife!

Pembroke

If castles do not appeal, forget it. If they do, there is a top quality one in Pembroke.

Angle and West Angle Bay

Angle and West Angle Bay are very pleasant in themselves and allow a different view of some areas already mentioned.

East of Fishguard

The only sea area in these parts which comes up to the standard of the area west of Fishguard is, in my opinion, Dinas Island, although Newport is very popular. On the other hand, the inland area to the south of the coast becomes far more interesting.

Dinas Island

Dinas Island is no longer anything like an island, however a wonderful circular walk can be done round the headland quite easily and Needle Point provides a stack covered in sea birds. The upland area south of Dinas is easy to walk and offers excellent views.

Cwm Gwaun

This valley to the south of the above upland area is very attractive and reminiscent of earlier times.

Mynydd Prescelly

The Mynydd Prescelly hills are best known as the source of the rock used far away at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England. This has to make them interesting, but one walk with great views will probably be sufficient time away from the coast and if time is very short, forget it.

Summary

If you are limited in time in this area, concentrate on the area from Solva to Strumbles Head by the Coast.

Guidebooks and Maps

Sorry, can not help with guidebooks except to say that the Official Guide to the National Park is very good and it will compensate a bit for my fairly unforgivable omission of mention of the splendid cromlechs.

Use Ordnance Survey Landranger 157 for most of the area covered here. 145 covers the two final headings and 158 the South Coast of the Park (some fine cliffs but too crowded for my taste).

Google Maps

ST Google Map - Snowdonia National Park, Wales: Detailed Google Map by DavidX for Northern Wales

ST Google Map - Pembrokeshire Coast National Park: Detailed Google Map by DavidX for Pembrokeshire Coast in Wales

Resources

www.pcnpa.org.uk: Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority

www.stdavids.co.uk: St David's Online

www.stdavidscathedral.org.uk: St David's Cathedral

www.solva.net: Solva Online


David Cross was born in Plymouth but is now a "happily naturalized" Yorkshireman. He has grand-children in Wales and Scotland. David is a moderator on the World Travel Experience forums - groups.yahoo.com/group/worldtravelexp/. See David's Slow Travel Member page.

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