Home to Great Britain’s only Coastal National Park, Pembrokeshire is a favourite destination for many tourists at all times of the year.
Many come to walk our famous Coastal Path from St Dogmaels in the north of the County to Amroth in the south – covering over 180 miles of spectacular coastline along its length. Others to enjoy our small peaceful Towns and Villages or to enjoy the views from the peaks of the Preseli Hills – home of the bluestones at Stonehenge in Wiltshire.
In the very north of the County you will find St Dogmaels, a medieval Village with narrow winding streets, the remains of an Abbey and some great little pubs with restaurants hidden away along the south bank of the River Teifi. To the west of St Dogmaels is Poppit Sands – home to the start (or finish) of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. From here, you can walk along the cliff tops for some spectacular views and if you are feeling energetic enough continue on through Ceibwr Bay and on to Newport.
Sandwiched between Carningli Mountain and Newport Sands, Newport is of Norman origin and the remains of a castle (private) survive on the lower slopes of Carningli Mountain overlooking the Town. Newport is very popular not only during the summer, but at all times of the year. There are two beaches, a golf course and a good variety of shops, pubs, restaurants and cafe’s to explore.
Heading west from Newport, you will pass through Dinas – a small Village with two beaches. Cwm yr Eglwys is a small sheltered east facing beach and a short walk through a valley brings you to Pwllgwaelod beach and a great little pub/restaurant – The Old Sailors.
Next on this westerly route are the twin Towns of Fishguard and Goodwick. Home to the Last Invasion Tapestry, Fishguard sits on the cliff top above Lower Town Harbour and enjoys weekly markets and is becoming famous for its New Years Eve street party. Goodwick is smaller and quieter by comparison and is the gateway to Strumble Head.
If rural and secluded Pembrokeshire is what you are looking for then Strumble Head is a good place to start. Picture narrow winding lanes traversing around rocky outcrops and ancient field structures intermingled with traditional Welsh Cottages and Farms and you’ll be somewhere near. Then throw in sea views and stunning cliff top walks to complete the picture.
Continuing on this Westerly quest you will pass Abermawr Beach before reaching Trefin and Porthgain – both extremely popular destinations during the summer. Next is the City of St David’s – the smallest City in the UK
A visit to St David’s could well result in you asking a fellow human just exactly where the city is (as it did when my brother in law and his family visited). The City has a population of no more than 2000 people, but its main attraction is the Cathedral. Founded in AD 589 the Cathedral has been attracting Pilgrims to the area ever since. St David’s is also a mecca to surfers who can be seen frequenting Whitesands Beach some 3 miles to the north west.
Bar a visit to St Justinian’s lifeboat station and Ramsey Island this is where the westerly journey ends and a southerly journey begins, on route via the villages of Solva, Newgale, Broadhaven and Dale.
Before heading to Solva, take some time out to visit Caerfai Beach and Porthclais harbour, equally stunning, sheltered and secluded – both are hidden down narrow lanes just to the south of St Davids.
Solva is both picturesque Village and fishing harbour sitting in a deep valley on the banks of the river Solfach. It is small and just a few hundred visitors can make it seem like the busiest of high streets, but it is well worth it for the galleries, shops and beautiful walks along both sides of the river. Head along the south bank of the River over the Gribin to find the hidden beach of Porth y Rhaw – access by foot only.
Next on our southerly journey is Newgale, one of Pembrokeshire’s surfing hotspots. This tiny Village which is no more than a hand full of houses, a pub and a surf shop is fronted by a huge pebble bank which was shifted some 20 meters back engulfing and closing the road during the January 2014 storms. The seaward side of this pebble bank is a splendid sandy (at low tide) beach which is frequented by many at all times of the year. There is plenty of parking, making Newgale one of Pembrokeshire’s most visited beaches.
Heading further south takes you through Nolton Haven – a small quiet Village before reaching Broadhaven. A small resort type Village with a huge sandy beach which is very popular with families during the summer months. Half a mile or so further south takes you to Little Haven, a very picturesque Village again with just a hand full of houses and a few pubs. From here, you can head south west to visit Marloes and Martin’s Haven where you can catch a boat to the Island of Skomer, famous for its puffin population.
From Martin’s Haven, you can follow the coast path or attempt a drive through the lanes to one of Pembrokeshire’s most dramatic beaches – Marloes Sands. Accessible only on foot, jagged rocks rise from the huge sandy expanse and the beach offers one of the best sunset settings in the whole of the County, just remember to take your torch for the return walk!
On from Marloes is the exposed St Anne’s Head guarding the entrance to Milford Harbour and hiding one of Pembrokeshire’s gems – Dale. A small sheltered Village on the east side of St Annes Head and apparently the sunniest place in Pembrokeshire. Popular with boaties, Dale is home to the Griffin Inn where you can enjoy a good pint and some food whilst watching the local fishermen going about their business down on the beach.
From Dale head east for Milford Haven – the largest port in Wales and one of the deepest natural harbours in the world. Here you can visit the Milford Haven Museum for a dose of the ports Maritime history and Heritage. Visit during the end of June to early July to experience the Pembrokeshire Fish Week when the Port hosts a great week long fish festival.
South of Milford you will find Pembroke, which is home to the only linear development castle in Pembrokeshire. Built on a rocky promontory overlooking the Cleddau Estuary the castle is one of the finest examples of a Norman Castle in south Wales. Pembroke is a colourful and vibrant hub and well worth a visit just to explore its shops, cafe’s, pubs and restaurants.
Heading west from Pembroke brings you to the little Village of Angle with its Pele Tower Castle. Continue west to reach West Angle Bay and keep your eyes peeled whilst searching in the rock pools here for the small green starfish that have made this beach their home.
South east of West Angle Bay is a beach made famous by two films – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt1 & pt2 and the 2010 rendition of Robin Hood. The beach in question is Freshwater West which is also a frequent venue for the Welsh National Surfing Championships. Due to the nature of the swells and currents, it is not suitable as a bathing beach.
Heading east now will take you across this southern most part of Pembrokeshire to Bosherston and the well documented and photographed Bosherston Lily Ponds. Owned by the National Trust, these ponds are well worth a visit, not just to enjoy the beauty of the lilies when in flower but keep walking and you will discover one of the prettiest beaches Pembrokeshire has to offer. Broad Haven South can only be accessed by foot and is well known for Church Rock which sits some 130 metres off shore. Just 20 minutes on foot to the north along the coastal path brings you to Barafundle Beach, equally as beautiful as Broad Haven South. A short walk beyond Barafundle brings you to Stackpole Quay, a small harbour with a pebble beach at low tide.
From Stackpole Quay on a north easterly heading will bring you to Freshwater East, a small seaside Village perched on the cliff overlooking the pretty sandy beach.
On the route to Tenby, you will pass through Manorbier, another small coastal Village with a beach overlooked by a Norman Castle – making for quite a dramatic setting. Tenby by comparison is something quite different to most of the Villages scattered across the south of Pembrokeshire.
The most popular seaside resort in Pembrokeshire, Tenby is what I would describe as a classic example of a bucket and spade Town. There are four beaches and during the summer the beaches are very busy and dotted with ice cream vans. Inside the walled Town, you will find a large shopping district selling all the usual beach sundries, cafe’s, restaurants and pubs etc.. – everything you would expect to find in such a popular resort.
The next stop along the coast is Saundersfoot, much akin to Tenby but on a more miniature scale. It has a pretty harbour and a nice beach situated below the Village.
Just east of Saundersfoot is Amroth, the end of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path (if you have walked it north to south). Another pretty coastal village with a long sandy beach which is enjoyed by many during the summer.
Inland Pembrokeshire is a mix of rolling countryside, hidden valleys and to the north – the Preseli Hills dominate the landscape.
You will find gems such as Picton Castle, Llawhaden Castle and Castell Henllys Iron Age Village to explore.
Just south west of Crymych along the Mynachlog-ddu road you will find Foel Drygarn – one of the largest Bronze/Iron age features in Pembrokeshire’s landscape. Originally a series of burial cairns atop the mountain and later populated during the Iron Age – some 300 hut circles/platforms have been discovered surrounding the summit. About a mile south west of Foel Drygarn is Carn Menyn – believed to be one of the sources of the Stonehenge Bluestones.
View Larger Map of Foel Drygarn
Hidden on the westerly slopes of the Preseli Hills you will find a small Village by the name of Rosebush, once a hard working slate quarrying Village with a railway. Today it is now quite sleepy but is well worth a visit just to try the local pub – Tafarn Sinc.
Head north west from Rosebush to discover the Gwaun Valley, a beautiful wooded valley hidden from view by Carningli Mountain on one side and the lower slopes of the Preseli Range on the other. There are many walks through the wooded valley sides and a visit to the famous ‘Bessie’s‘ public house (also know as the Dyffryn Arms) is a must – but do not expect food!
Heading to the inland south you will find Narberth – a great little bustling Town with some good shops, pubs, restaurants and cafe’s to explore. There are also the ruins of a Castle, a museum and also the Queen’s hall – which put on some great music nights.
West of Narberth is Haverfordwest – the principal Town of Pembrokeshire. There is a regular market, shopping in the Town Centre plus along the river front and at the top of Town. There are also supermarkets, a cinema and a leisure centre.
Follow the western branch of the River Cleddau downstream to find little gems such as Lawrenny, Creswell Quay and Carew Mill & Castle – hidden away up other branches of the Cleddau.
St Davids Cathedral
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