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Wales A Week on the Pembrokeshire Coast


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In early July for the last few years we’ve had a holiday in Brittany. This year traveling for six hours on a ferry and having to quarantine for 10 days on return (UK restrictions) wasn’t appealing so we decided on Wales. Everyone in the UK seems to be traveling to desirable coast locations so places are booked and prices are up. I looked for holiday rentals on the north coast of Devon and on the Pembrokeshire Coast in Wales. When I was about to give up (£300/night for an apartment in Woolacombe!) I saw a nice cottage for rent in Wales near St David’s.

It is a cottage on a non-working farm about 3 miles inland from Solva. They have three cottages and the owners live onsite. I found them on Airbnb but contacted them through their website. It turns out they had a cancellation and relisted their cottage the day before I found it. And their price was reasonable for the time of year - £900/week, 3bed, 1bath.

Driving in England on the weekend is always difficult. The roads are always busy and an accident on the motorway shuts it down. We were unlucky and spent 45 minutes at a standstill on the M5. But once we got into Wales it was smooth sailing. It took us about 6 hours to get there.

The last 10 minutes of the drive is on very narrow lanes but there were no other cars and it was beautiful. The ex-farm we are staying on is lovely. The three cottages are near each other and the owners live in another house on the site. There are several other buildings - it is like a hamlet - and I am not sure what they are. 10 minutes to the nearest town, Solva, and another 10 to St David’s.


Sitting in traffic on the M5 heading north.

Sunday July 4 (Happy 4th!)

Today was predicted to be rain all day. We had very heavy rain in the night, lighter rain in the morning and afternoon, and we were caught in a downpour on our hike.

We drove to St David’s and parked. It was drizzling and we headed off on a short hike from the Cicerone book.

Cicerone, Walking in Pembrokeshire, walk 9, St David’s and St Non’s, 3.5 miles circular.

We parked near the magnificent 12th century cathedral, then walked to the coast to the remains of St Nons which was built in the 6th century. This was a major pilgrimage center in the Middle Ages.

We got onto the coast path and walked about 2 miles of it. The views were incredible. There were other people out walking but it wasn’t that busy. The rain stopped when we started on the coast path and we had a lovely walk but the skies opened for about 30 minutes as we were coming into Porth Clais. This was the main harbour in Roman times. We followed a lane back to St David’s instead of walking through the fields because everything was so wet.

I had brought a picnic lunch for us but we ended up having it in the car in the parking lot at the end of the hike because it was too wet earlier. The forecast is much better for the rest of the week. We will probably spend our time walking as much of the coast path as we can between St David’s and Fishguard.


12th c cathedral in St David’s.


Coast path.


Coast path.


100+ Posts
Glad to read that you've been able to get away for a week! P and I love the Pembroke Coast Path. Back in the 1980s we often went to stay with friends of her family a bit further south from you: the Marloes peninsula, and have walked nearly all of that area's path.

But more recently, we've played a few concerts in St David’s Cathedral, and for one of them we stayed a couple of extra nights in a cottage near Abercastle, and walked round Strumble Head. The cathedral is lovely inside (with a disconcerting downward slope as you walk in from the west end of the nave!) - and Fishguard is picturesque: some nice small pubs near the old harbour. Here's hoping the weather does stay dry for you!


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But more recently, we've played a few concerts in St David’s Cathedral, and for one of them we stayed a couple of extra nights in a cottage near Abercastle, and walked round Strumble Head.
I remember your trip to this area which was one of the reasons I looked into coming here. Plus our neighbors in Bridport love this area. They are in their 80s now and not doing big walks anymore but when they were younger they did a lot of walking. They came here every year to the same hotel for 25 years and the local tourist board had a dinner for them and gave them a statue and a pass for all kinds of things for a year! Their 25th anniversary was in 2000 and they kept coming for another 15 years. John gave me his hiking maps and books for the trip.


Essex newspaper with article about our neighbors, 2000. Although the article says they started in 1987 and that doesn’t add up so either they went more than once a year or started before 1987. I will ask.
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Monday July 5

We have been to this area once before, renting a cottage for a week in Fishguard, a 45 minute drive north from where we are. In 1988! That was during our “year in Europe”, when we were young and full of energy. I can’t remember much of what we did, but I remember visiting a dolmen (maybe Carreg Samson or Pentre Ifan) and visiting St David’s. And doing a hike.

Walk: Whitesands Beach to St Justinian to Porth Clais, 7 miles.

Today was good weather, the best in the forecast for the week so we did a long coast walk. We drove to Porth Clais where we walked to yesterday and parked in the National Trust car park (free to members and almost full by 11:30). We got the 11:40 Celtic Coaster, a small tourist bus that goes to several spots near St David’s, to Whitesands Beach. It was a 25 minute drive on narrow lanes and fun because most people were local and new the bus driver. They all had fun criticising the drivers pulling over to let the bus go by (“pull up or he will hit you in the bum!”).

The bus costs £1.50 and you can’t use your “old age” bus pass from England which sucks because I just got mine. This was our first time on a bus since the start of the pandemic. Everyone was masked. Getting back to normal!

From Whitesands it is 7 miles on the coast bus to Porth Clais. The walk was magnificent. It was sunny at first, then light cloud. The wind picks up when you are out on the headlands. We could see rain in the distance at one point and drizzle came in so we put on the rain jackets but it didn’t rain so they came off 15 minutes later.

There were a lot of people on the trail. This is almost peak season here. We spoke with many other walkers. There is always a nice camaraderie on the trails, like we all belong to the same club. Two women pointed out where they had been watching a seal and gave us their spot, but we didn’t see him. They also saw porpoises but we didn’t. We did use our binoculars to watch some interesting oystercatcher birds. They are very striking - large, black and white, with big red bills.

The path is good and there is not as much up and down as we have in Dorset, but it was a bit rocky in spots. There is a large island off St Justinian that is very close to the coast and was interesting to watch.

We had our lunch sitting in a field looking at the water. We finished at 4:30, a 4-hour walk and celebrated with a fabulous local ice cream from the National Trust kiosk at Porth Clais. What a lovely day!


We started at Whitesands Beach. There is an archaeological dig here recovering bodies buried in a graveyard right by the water, recent exposed.


Foxgloves line the lanes and trails.


We walked by beautiful bays.


Steve walking ahead on this flower lined part of trail.


A walker looking at the sea and the end of Ramsey Island.


Colourful heather.


We came across horses roaming free.


Three people were swimming in this beautiful small cove. There is no road nearby.


Arriving in Porth Clais. This was a port in Roman times!


The Nogg Cottages where we are staying. Steve is going in our red door. There are two other rental cottages. One with people from Sussex, the other with people from Brighton. The English are invading Wales.


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Tuesday July 6

The forecast was for rain starting mid-afternoon so we planned a short walk for today.

Hike: Pathfinder Guide, walk 7, Porthgain and Abereiddy, 3.5 miles

It was sunny for a few minutes in the morning and that was it. It rained heavily last night. The weather is the same back home in Dorset. It has been a dreadful year for weather, possibly the worst in our 11 years here. Wales suits bad weather though.

We drove to Porthgrain, a popular coastal village only 20 minutes away, but the whole way on lanes. The lanes here are not as narrow as in Dorset but are narrow with room for only one car. Passing places every quarter mile or so make it work. Yesterday a guy on a tandem bicycle, racing towards us down a lane at a curve, screamed at us because we took the curve a bit wide, passing two other bicyclists who had stopped at the side of the road, on the curve. Please! We were going about 5 mph! He wanted us to know that we could have killed him! Who takes a blind curve that fast? Today there was a tractor filling the whole lane at that same curve. But we’ve not seen any other bikers and there are very few cars.

The roads are not busy here except when they go through the villages. But the car parks are full and the villages busy. We got the last spot yesterday at 11am in Porth Clais, and the last spot today at the same time in Porthgrain (but when the free lot is full people park along the lane into the village so it wasn’t the last spot).

Portgain has 2 restaurants and a few galleries. The Shed is famous for its fish and chips. People come to do a walk and have lunch. It has a beautiful old port and interesting ruins from the quarry industry that closed about 100 years ago.

We climbed out of town to the cliff tops and walked 2 miles to the next village to the south, Abereiddy. This village is very small with a pub and an ice cream van, and a good beach. There is an interesting swimming area which was a quarry but when it closed they blasted an opening to the ocean so it filled with water. We watched 5 people jumping into it from the remains of a quarry building - from very high up.

There were a lot of people on the trail. It was very cold and windy in the exposed spots but the walk was beautiful. We went back on an old farm track a rossthe fields to get back quicker. As we left Abereiddy, climbing back up, a herd of cows blocked the trail. There was no getting around them, and they were close together and we could not walk through them, so we gently herded them along the trail for about 15 minutes when their friends in the valley below all started running and our group decided to run down the hill and join them. Some of the young males liked to turn around and almost threaten us, but we held our ground and they turned back. Exciting!

We had thought about fish and chips in Porthgrain but there was a long line. We drove into St David’s to get a few things. This is not a great area for interesting food shops, but St David’s has a good vegetable shop. They also have a pasty shop, also with a long line. We had a late lunch back at the cottage. The rain started and we’ve spent the rest of the day reading. Better weather ahead!


Porthgain harbour.


On the coast path.


Steps down to a secluded beach. I read that Italian prisoners of war built these steps originally.


The secluded beach.


The blue lagoon created from a slate quarry. People are jumping into it from the other side.


Another view of the blue lagoon.


Herding cows on the trail ahead of us. We kept our distance!


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This always ranked as one of our favourite walks along the coastal path - but we were always lucky with sunshine!


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Wednesday July 7

Today we had great weather! Sunny and warm, high of 64F, no rain. We drove north to a village just south of Fishguard and did a walk on the coast near Strumble Head. @jonathan suggested this area in a post earlier.

Walk: Pathfinder Guide, walk 14, Goodwick and Carregwastad Point, 5 miles.

The walk starts in Harbour View, a village up above the water. We parked right at the start of the hike in a small parking area with 4 spots. There is another lot in the village to accommodate hikers if this one is full. There is a tourist shuttle here but it runs only 3 times a day. I had hoped to walk the whole coast and take the shuttle between the end and the start but this wouldn’t work out.

We walked on the coast path, on top of the cliffs, with beautiful views. The area was not as open and windswept as other places we walked this week. It was overgrown and full of flowers.

We finally saw a seal! I thought it was a rock on top of a rock at first, but then it moved. It was a huge seal sunning himself. There were not many people on the trail today but a couple was coming towards us and I told them about the seal. They laughed and said “wait until you get to the next cove, they are 2 for a penny there!”

They were right! There must have been a dozen at least, on rocks or swimming. And they were calling out to each other. The calls echoed around us as we walked around the cove. We were high up above them but we could see them clearly with our binoculars.

We turned inland at the point of the last invasion of Britain. In 1797 French troops landed at Carregwastad Point. After two days of looting and drunkenness they were captured by the local military.

We had our lunch sitting in a field with a view to the coast.

After lunch we continued on. A couple was stopped in the field looking out to the fields. We asked if they were seeing something. She said “It is just so beautiful. We are from Birmingham and not used to this.” We told them about the seals.

We continued across fields, through a hamlet and a couple of farms. One of the farms had their sign out and I realised that I order their organic butter from Ocado! Calon Wen. I liked that it was from Wales.

It was a great walk but it was only 3pm when we were done so we drove into Fishguard where we stayed 30+ years ago. I recognised nothing. We spent a week there! I’ll have to go through my old photos, my notes and my box of postcards from that trip. We drove down to the harbour and walked around a bit.

From there we drove south to Abercastle, just north of where we were yesterday, parked and walked on the coast path for 1/2 mile to see a dolmen. It was fabulous. Quite large with a huge capstone resting on only 3 of the 6 standing stones. On the way we passed a group of young girls and their teachers/guides. They had helmets and half wet suits on. They all pulled off to the side to let us pass and I asked what they had been doing. They had been kayaking and exploring the coast. What a wonderful thing for young girls to . They were about 10 years old.

Abercastle is a delightful small village. As we were walking back down a steep path with steps I was being careful but also looking at a small bay where several people were swimming in their shorts or underclothes and dreaming about swimming when I slipped and fell. No real harm done but I wrenched my back. I am laying on the sofa typing this. Healthwise my back is my weak spot. All those years sitting at a computer.

From Abercastle we drove on to Porthgrain, where we were yesterday, and got fish and chips to take out and sat on a bench at the harbour eating them. The lane was shorter this time and it was perfect timing, around 6pm. I don’t eat fish so had chips, salad and onion rings! Steve had monkfish and chips. I had a beer. My first pub beer since forever. The food was excellent.

What a blissful day. This is why I love travel. Explore new places, get bumped out of your routine, empty your mind of daily concerns, meet new people, spend quality time with Steve.


Beautiful views down the coast.


The seals are on those grey rocks.


A closeup of the seals.


Butter farm!




Prehistoric dolmen Carreg Samson.


Dinner in the evening sunshine.


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Thursday July 8

Another warm and sunny day! My back was a bit sore but mostly okay this morning so we continued with our walking. Today we walked from Solva, the closest coastal village.

Walk: Pathfinders walk 15, Solva and Pointz Castle, 5 miles (but it was 6)

Solva is only a few miles from where we are staying and we got to the car park at 10:30. There were lots of parking spots. All the villages fill up early, so it is best to arrive before 11am during the busy season. I was talking to my vacation rental neighbor and she thinks that we are at peak capacity here in north Pembrokeshire, that their infrastructure can’t hold any more people. It is not as bad as Cornwall in high season, when you can’t even drive into the villages, but I think she is right. It may get a bit more crowded in a couple of weeks when school holidays start and the caravan parks and camping sites fill up, but right now I think all holiday cottages, B&Bs and hotels are full. It doesn’t make it unworkable here, but you can see it is busy.

The walk started up from the river to a high ridge with lovely views up and down the coast. We walked inland first, instead of on the coast path. This was more than half of the hike, and the only way to make it circular, but wasn’t super interesting. We passed a small dolmen (St Elvis Cromlech, made in the Neolithic period but named for a medieval saint), a few farms and ended up at Pointz Castle which has an ice cream shop (too early for us) and the remains of a medieval motte-and-bailey castle from Norman times. All you saw was a moat surrounding a small hill.

From there we headed to the coast and returned on the coast path. We had lunch in a small bay where a few people were swimming, some in wet suits. No seals. The walk back was beautiful.

Back in Solva around 3pm and we walked the town. There is one block along the main road with two pubs, one cafe, a few tourist shops, and a few galleries. Off the main road we walked back on a lane the was along the river with nice old attached cottages. There were paths down to the river that a sign said were historic right of ways so people could get to the river to wash clothes, get water for the garden or dump their slops!!

We drove back to Pointz Castle for ice cream but alas there were too many people and a long line. We went back to the cottage to have the local Welsh Cakes (picked some up in town) with clotted cream (the neighbor was checking out today and gave us her fridge leftovers) and jam. Perhaps not traditional but it tasted good with a mug of tea.

Warm and sunny. A lovely day. We are going home tomorrow, a day early, because it is going to be overcast, we have done a lot of hiking and we want to avoid the heavy Saturday traffic.


Looking back at lower Solva.


Solva harbour and upper Solva.


St Elvis Cromlech, Neolithic dolmen.


Cove near Solva.


Cove where we had lunch.

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