For a remote and relatively inaccessible beach, Abermawr has a surprising history of near industrial development. Brunel proposed a harbour and railway terminus to capture the Irish trade for the South Wales railway.
In 1849, Samuel Lewis reported that Fishguard had been replaced by Abermawr as result of a survey:
“in 1847, Capt. Claxton was employed to survey the Irish Channel minutely, for the purpose of ascertaining the best route across to Ireland, and the elaborate survey then made appears to have led to the abandonment of Fishguard, and the substitution of Abermawr, a few miles distant from it in a western direction. The distance to Abermawr does not differ materially from that to Fishguard, the line in this part running northward.”
Luckily, for the peace & quiet of Abermawr, the Great Western Railway took over the project and Neyland was nominated for transformation into a new ocean terminus (Samuel Lewis again):
“Neyland was a small fishing village in the parish of Llanstadwell, but in 1856 it became the site for the western terminus of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Great Western Railway with a transatlantic terminal for the largest ships of the time”
That, believe it or not, was not the end of industrial development at Abermawr:
(Extract from Basil H. J. Hughes notes)
“The First Cables were laid in 1862 by the Cable Ship Berwick. It was over 60 miles long and ran from Abermawr to Wexford. A second cable was laid in 1880 from Abermawr to Blackwater in Ireland.
There was a corrugated iron hut at Abermawr with benches for the telegraphs. It also had bunks as sleeping quarters for the operators. Messages were retransmitted from here to the London Office.
During the first World War, the station provided and important link with North America and so was guarded by a small number of soldiers. In the early twenties a storm damaged the cables and the site was abandoned”.
At high tide all you can see is shingle, but at low tide not only is there a nice sandy beach, but also evidence of a pre-historic forest.
“On 25th October 1859 a devastating storm hammered the coastline of Britain. While it raged, over 800 lives were lost and over 200 vessels wrecked” (Tom Parry) Including in the tool that night off the coast of Anglesey was the Royal Charter en-route from Australia. St Brynach’s church at Cwm yr Eglwys was ruined and a huge shingle bank deposited on Abermawr beach.
Abermawr’s main attribute is isolation. Walking to it via coastal path is the first option. By car, taking the coast road from Mathry to St Davids, the turning to Abermawr is barely signposted and it soon becomes a small winding lane with parking space for a very few cars. It is owned by the National Trust and access requires you to cross a meadow and then take a fairly long woodland walk.
A word of caution. The lower path gets very waterlogged – as I found out to my cost! My suggestion would be to take the higher path through the woodland as soon as you are able.
There are no amenities at Abermawr – no toilets, no lifeguards, no ice cream stalls or shops of any sort – just a wonderful beach.
The nearest place to grab a bite to eat is the Farmers Arms in Mathry or head to Porthgain where you have the choice of two places – The Shed or The Sloop.
Footpath to Abermawr
Smooth pebble beach at Abermawr
Thatched cottage near Abermawr
Gorse covered cliffs at Abermawr
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