Pembrokeshire Coast Path 2001

Author: George Tod

This walk is illustrated with photographs. Click on small photo to enlarge in situ, or click caption to enlarge into new window.
Part 2 - Newport to Whitesands Bay

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Day 2 - Friday 7th September - 15.5 miles + 1.5 miles to B&B

Newport to Llanwnda near Goodwick via Cwm Felin

I had a very good Welsh breakfast at 8 a.m. but I did decline the stewed prunes that the owner tried to tempt me with. The guest-house had been put on the market because of the financial setback from drastic reduction in tourism due to the foot and mouth outbreak. They suffered about four months on half income and were complaining that the hardship fund only compensated them at 15 pence to the pound whereas the farmers were getting three times the cost of a lamb and all of the public's sympathy.

By the time I had sorted out everything and sent off a postcard it was 9.30 and rather dull as I made my way back down the road to Parrog, where I rejoined the coast path. The cliffs along this part of the coast are not as high those of the previous section, which makes it less strenuous, and there are far more coves, inlets and rocky outcrops to enhance the scenery. The dull weather gave the scenery less sparkle but it was still very pleasant.

I stopped for a rest at Cwm-yr-Eglwys, a lovely little bay with the ruins of a church destroyed by a storm in 1859. Whilst I was there I managed to get a little hazy sunshine and there were a few small patches of blue in the sky.

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Ruins of church by the sea
towards Fishguard
Carreg Pen-las
from Penrhyn Mawr
Towards Dinas Head

The path round Dinas Head, which is owned by the National Trust, gives some good views of the coast around Newport Bay and, upon reaching the trig point at the summit, a good view of Fishguard Bay and Strumble Head. My lunchtime destination was Pwllgwaelod where there is a small pub with reportedly the best crab sandwiches in Pembrokeshire. I reached there at 12.15 and sampled them along with a pint of bitter. Whether they were the best in Pembrokeshire or not I cannot say but they tasted very good.

The coast towards Fishguard is very interesting with numerous rocky outcrops and coves. The cliffs are not very high but this is more than compensated for by the ruggedness of the coastline. The promise of sunshine had not materialised apart from a few brief moments and there was a fresh SW wind and overcast sky but at least it was not raining. Nearer to Fishguard the cliffs are somewhat lower but, at last, the sun came through to brighten up the scenery and made it much more pleasant. At Castle Point, with its cannons and ruined fortifications, there are good views across the bay and the Irish Ferries could be seen coming into the harbour including the Lynx trimaran.

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Cwm in Welsh
Lower Town (Fishguard)
looking eastwards towards Newport
North Breakwater, Goodwick

My B&B for the night was at Llanwnda, which is about a mile inland, up the hill from Goodwick. However, I had planned on doing a few more miles around the headland and approaching Llanwnda from the north in order to reduce the length of the next day's walk. The walk through Lower Town, Fishguard and Goodwick was interesting, as the there are cliffs all the way round Fishguard, but this also meant that there was quite a bit of climbing to do to get round the town. From Goodwick, the route follows the road a little way inland up to Harbour Heights, which is a steady slog, until the road ends and the path levels off to a stretch of easy walking over heath land. It is still a little way from the coast but has fine, long distance views of the coast right back to Cemaes Head near the start of the walk. Round the headland, however, the going got much harder again with steep ups and downs that are characteristic of this coastal path. Around here I spotted a grey seal swimming in one of the sheltered coves.

Eventually, after passing the impressive cove of Aber Felin, I reached the path to Llanwnda which was, of course, uphill most of the way. Although it is only a small village, Llanwnda spreads out over a considerable area and my B&B was at the far side, almost back into Goodwick. I arrived there at 6 p.m. and was welcomed with a refreshing pot of tea. As I suspected, the only places to eat were in Goodwick, which is only about half a mile away but over 400 ft below. After showering and changing, I headed down into town and had a pork chop followed by pancakes and ice cream in the Hope and Anchor. It was dark when I left but the route back up the hill was lit by the glow from Fishguard and a starry sky. Despite my reservations, the walk back up felt quite easy after having a rest and with no pack to carry.

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Day 3 - Saturday 8th September - 15 miles + 2 miles to and from B&Bs

Llanwnda (Goodwick) to Trefin

It was rather wet and miserable outside as I went down at 8 a.m. to an enormous breakfast and I chatted to another guest there who organised touring and walking holidays. His customers were generally elderly and he took them to and fro by minibus. By 9 a.m. it had stopped raining and the sky looked a lot brighter as I started to retrace my steps of the previous evening to regain the path by Cwm Felin. From there I headed up to Garreg Goffa, which has a memorial stone to mark the site of the last invasion of Britain by the French in 1797. The coastline is less dramatic along this stretch but still gives some good views and makes for a pleasant walk, which is not too strenuous.

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site of last invasion of Britain in 1797
Carreg Goffa Memorial
Strumble Head Lighthouse
Strumble Head Lighthouse
Youth Hostel is just out of picture to right
Pwll Deri

By 11.00 I had reached Strumble Head and the weather was gradually brightening with a few patches of sunshine but still with a cool wind. Strumble Head was the farthest point I had been able to see on the first day as I rounded Cemaes Head and I now had a clear view back the other way with Cardigan Island, which was clearly visible. Rounding the headland by the lighthouse revealed the coast to the south with a clear view of St David's Head. For all the wealth of natural scenery it is always good to see it enhanced by some sympathetically designed man-made feature such as a lighthouse and such is the case at Strumble Head. Further along the path, more of the coastline towards St David's Head is revealed.

Pwll Deri made a convenient place to stop for lunch. The path climbs up the high cliffs with the Youth Hostel in a prominent position overlooking the bay. This would have been a good hostel to stay at were it not for the fact that it would have meant two rather short walking days on either side. St David's peninsula was enjoying good sunshine but there was still a lot of cloud at Pwll Deri with only occasional patches of sunshine. It was still quite cool with a fresh northerly wind, so I didn't stay for too long.

The ridge along from Pwll Deri was particularly colourful with all the gorse and heather, the latter being towards the end of its flowering. There had been many stretches of gorse and heather along the way but this was the most colourful and there was a fine view back across the bay with, at times, Strumble Head lighthouse just visible. From the headland at Penbwchdy, the coast towards Trevin came fully into view, some of it having been hidden previously. It was mostly much lower and gentler than the last few miles with a number of large coves and bays.

Coming down off the headland it was pleasantly sheltered from the wind so I stopped to have a more leisurely rest than I had managed at lunch time. I set off again at 2.25 p.m. with about eight miles left to Trevin. The walking was certainly a lot easier for the most part although there were the inevitable few steep descents and ascents along the way. The sun began to shine making the beach at Aber Mawr look magnificent with deep blue sea and white breakers rolling into the bay. There were only one or two people around even though it was a Saturday and it is accessible by car. The coastline towards Trevin looked quite spectacular with numerous outcrops, cliffs, coves etc. and I spotted another grey seal near the rocks.

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looking west
Coast towards Abercastle
one of several in Pembrokeshire
Carreg Sampson Burial Chamber
Strumble Head is in the distance
Natural arch near Pen Castell-coch

I took a short detour of a few hundred yards to the Garreg Sampson burial chamber, which has a stone measuring 16 ft by 10 ft balancing on top. The rest of the way to Trevin had some excellent coastal scenery and I then made my way up the road to find my B&B for the night. My original booking had been cancelled because the owners were going away for the weekend, so they had arranged for me to at another one, which I eventually found at the top end of the village. I couldn't get any reception on my mobile phone in the village - I had expected that coverage would be rather patchy on the walk - so I used the payphone to report back home.

After a pot of tea at the B&B, I made my way down to the Ship Inn where I had lasagne followed by apple pie. There is no shop in the village, but the pub made me a packed lunch for the following day. In many remote areas, pubs act as general suppliers of all sorts of things for the community; there are even some that have become the local Post Office. Afterwards I went back for another early night, not so much because I needed the sleep, but more that I wanted a good rest.

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Day 4 - Sunday 9th September - 11 miles + 1 mile to and from accommodation

Trevin to St David's Youth Hostel, Whitesands Bay

I had breakfast at 8.15. The only others staying were a German couple, as Mrs. James has limited the numbers since her operation for cancer a few years ago. I set off into an even stronger wind than the day before with a grey sky. There were white caps on the waves and the sea was crashing in over the rocks throwing up spume and making quite a dramatic scene. Again there was some splendid scenery and the walking was relatively easy apart from the battle against the wind. Strumble Head lighthouse came back into view again, having been hidden by headlands for a time. At Porthgain there was much evidence of former industry, mainly quarrying and brick works. I stopped for a rest in the relative shelter of Abereiddi Bay, where there was also evidence of quarrying, this time for slate.

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Trefin is on far right
Ynys-fach from Trwyn Elen
showing the once busy harbour
towards St David's Head
Porth Egr

By midday, the sun had started to shine although the wind was still very strong and the waves were crashing over the rocks creating masses of white foam. Near Penberry, I met a couple of chaps coming the other way and heading for Trevin for the night. They were walking the coast path in the opposite direction and were the first people I had met so far to be doing the whole walk.

I stopped for lunch in a sheltered place a little further on and did a spot of sunbathing until the wind got the better of me and the sun went in for a while. Suddenly, the temperature of the wind seemed to drop by several degrees and, instead of feeling reasonably warm without a shirt, I had to resort to putting on my fleece for the first time on the walk, and I still felt very cold.

As I still had plenty of time to reach my destination, which was only about four or five miles away, I decided to climb Penberry (175 metres). It was quite close to the route and not much of a climb from my existing height on the coast path at that point. It was well worth the effort as it gave a superb view of the coast round St David's Head, Ramsay Island and right across St Brides Bay to Skomer Island. The chimneys of the oil refineries around Milford Haven were also now in view. Another benefit of the climb was that it warmed me up a little and I was also provided with shelter from the wind just over the summit.

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the peak is Carn Llidi
St David's Head from Penberry
looking across Whitesands Bay
Ramsay Island from Carn Llidi

Further along, at St David's Head, there is a fine view of Whitesands Bay and Ramsay Island at closer quarters. There were many more people around than I had been used to, as the historic city of St David's brings in large numbers of tourists, many of whom also visit St David's Head. I made my way up to the Youth Hostel and, as it was too early to check in, I dropped off my rucksack and then climbed Carn Llidi, which commands a fine panoramic view of the surrounding area. These two small climbs reaffirmed my feelings that the best views, as far as I am concerned, are from higher up. Even these relatively small hills give a whole new dimension to the landscape than that obtained from the coast path.

The hostel is self-catering so, as it was a pleasant evening, I decided to walk the two miles into St David's to have a look around and to find something to eat. The following day's walk would be quite a long one and would not allow time for a detour into St David's, not even via the shorter route from St Non's Bay to the south. First, however, I took advantage of the spin dryer at the hostel to get all my washing done.

St David's is the smallest city in Britain with a magnificent cathedral, which was holding a service as I passed. The city was rather quiet as it was a Sunday evening and many of the visitors would have gone home. I eventually found somewhere serving food, the Farmer's Arms, where I had ham, egg and chips. It was dark by the time I started making my way back to the Youth Hostel, but I could still manage to see the route most of the way, only needing to use my torch in a few places where there were overhanging trees.

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