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 5 - Angle to Amroth (Finish)


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Day 11 - Sunday 16th September - 14.5 miles + 0.6 miles from B&B

Angle to Bosherton

I got up at 8 a.m. to a huge breakfast that would set me up for the day, and set off at 8.45. The forecast was good for this area and, as I regained the coast path at West Angle Bay, there was a good view of Thorn Island in the sunshine. Back on the exposed coast, where the cliffs are battered by the full force of storms from the Atlantic, the scenery became more spectacular as it had been in the earlier parts of the walk.

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The white coastguard buildings can just be seen in the distance
Sheep Island and St Ann's Head

This section of the walk is where considerable areas of land are owned by the Ministry of Defence and used for training, and this became apparent by the 'Keep Out' signs by the side of the path. More rocky coastline with numerous switchbacks lead on to the large sandy beach at Freshwater West, which is backed by a large area of sand dunes called Brownhill Burrows. This was a convenient place for a rest and a spot of sunbathing overlooking the bay, as there followed a long stretch of road walking. I had carefully planned my walk so that this section through the military firing ranges would be at the weekend and, therefore, likely to be open to the public. The live firing ranges, however, are permanently out of bounds, except for a number of guided walks, as there is a danger of encountering unexploded ammunition, hence the long stretch of road walking.

My intention was to look for a pint and a sandwich in the pub at Castlemartin, but The Welcome Inn held no welcome for me, as its doors were firmly locked, so I pressed on as quickly as I could along the road towards Stack Rocks. It was a tedious walk of about five miles on the road in total with little to see other than a number of army personnel performing various training activities on tanks etc., but not firing anything. At least it was possible to make good speed along the road, and I reached the coast and Stack Rocks by 1.30 p.m.

After looking at the marvellous Green Bridge of Wales, a natural limestone arch, I found a quiet spot to sunbathe and admire the view down the coast. Fortunately, I still had a few things left for lunch - Welsh cakes, a brownie and a chocolate biscuit, so I didn't go without, although the breakfast I had that morning would have seen me through the day anyway. Having got all of the road walking out of the way, I then had the rest of the afternoon to cover about five miles, including the walk around St Govan's Head.

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A natural limestone arch.
The Green Bridge of Wales
Home to many nesting birds
Stack Rocks
Bullslaughter Bay
Bullslaughter Bay

I found that it was possible to walk right over the natural arch, the narrowest part being about two or three feet wide, although I didn't stop to measure it! Stack Rocks nearby are also quite an amazing sight - tall limestone pillars standing a short distance from the cliffs and a safe haven for nesting birds. There are numerous other spectacular features created by the action of the sea and rain on the limestone including many sea caves and potholes. I came across one huge pothole with water at the bottom connected to the sea by a couple of narrow arches in the rocks. There were sheer vertical rock faces on all sides dropping down what I estimated to be over a hundred feet. All along there were many more spectacular features making this the highlight of the whole walk. Deep fissures in the rocks appear in many places, one of these forming an incredibly narrow inlet that is not noticeable until you are almost on top of it. It is aptly called the Huntsman's Leap - woe betides any that didn't quite make it.

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Huntsman's Leap
Huntsman's Leap
Nestled in the cliffs near the sea
St Govan's Chapel
This Broad Haven is near Bosherton
Broad Haven and Church Rock

It would have been a great shame to have missed this part of the coast because of firing range activities, and it was well worth allowing extra time to explore many of the headlands as, by just following the main path, many of the best features would be missed.

Towards the end of the walk it started to cloud over, but I couldn't complain because it had been beautiful for most of the day. My farmhouse B&B for the night was very close to the coast path and I was given a very warm welcome. The couple who run it obviously love the area and all of the walks around. They told me that the next day's walk was, if anything, even better, so I had more to look forward to. Bosherton is about a mile away and I was offered a lift to the pub there, as the couple were going themselves. I decided, however, to take a walk via the Lily Ponds nature reserve, which is owned by the National Trust, as it was a pleasant evening and still light. The walk was very peaceful and tranquil, the wind having dropped, so that the only sound was that of the wildfowl on the ponds.

The pub - I think it was called the St Govan's Inn - was convivial and I had cawl followed by lamb chops and a couple of pints of Bass until it was time to get a lift back with the couple from the B&B.


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Day 12 - Monday 17th September - 14.5 miles

Bosherton to Manorbier Youth Hostel, Skrinkle Haven

I had breakfast at 8.30 and got a packed lunch from the farmhouse. As well as bed and breakfast, the couple there have holiday cottages and camping, and also rent out 50 acres of farmland to a local farmer. For two months after the outbreak of foot and mouth the road down to the farm was closed, so they suffered quite an impact, although they did not complain about it.

By 9.30 I was ready to set off into the beautiful morning, passing Broad Haven (the smaller one) with its golden sands, over the sand dunes with a view across to the Lily Ponds, and on to the next small bay with its impressive cliffs and caves. On the way I passed another of the many potholes, presumably formed by the collapse of the roof of a sea cave; there are many of these along this part of the coast. Stackpole Head was now prominent and, in the distance, was some land that I took to be Devon, but was actually the Gower peninsula.

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with its horizontal limestone strata
Stackpole Head
from Stackpole Head
Barafundle Bay

The rock strata of the cliffs were near horizontal, in contrast to the near vertical strata around Stack Rocks. There were still numerous sea caves and secluded bays, some of them only accessible by a tortuous climb down the rocks. I stopped for a rest at Stackpole Head and watched a grey seal swimming right beneath me round the head. I got an even better close-up view of it through my binoculars. It was an extremely clear day and I could see Caldey Island very clearly with its sandy beach and lighthouse, as well as Manorbier Castle. The cliffs further along change from limestone to red sandstone and become less sheer towards Manorbier with some sandy bays visible. I stopped for lunch at Greenala Point and to the east, could see the Gower Peninsula and, through the binoculars, could just make out Worm's Head. To the south were Exmoor and the North Devon coast as well as Lundy Island.

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with its wide sandy beach and dunes
Freshwater East
with its red sandstone cliffs
Old Castle Head

There were quite a few people out walking and also families with young children heading for some of the excellent beaches that I passed, such as Barafundle Bay. I didn't see quite as many as yesterday, however, when I met coach parties stopping off to see the Green Bridge of Wales. The limestone cliffs made for a lot of easy walking, as the cliff tops tend to be fairly flat. However, the red sandstone cliffs that came next involved a roller coaster of ups and downs; not quite as strenuous as some of the early parts of the walk, but still quite tiring. A bitter northerly wind had sprung up, but where there was shelter from it was very pleasant, so I stopped for a spot of sunbathing on West Moor Cliff with only four miles left to go at 2.30 p.m.

More ups and downs took me to Manorbier Bay where I made a short detour up to the church on the hill from where I could get a good view of the castle. Manorbier Youth Hostel is actually at Skrinkle Haven, about two miles further along the coast path, in an old army building with a very modernistic design. Manorbier Camp occupies the headland so the coast path has to go inland around the perimeter fence for about half a mile.

In the hostel I was sharing a dormitory with a Dutchman who had started walking in Snowdonia but, having found the weather too bad, came down to Pembrokeshire to do some sections of the coast path. He was not feeling very well and was probably suffering from overexertion, so was spending a few days at the hostel recuperating. His problem had been that there was nowhere in Holland where he could get any practice at hill walking.

The two of us were the only ones having dinner; the other hostellers were self catering. I had soup, chicken curry and treacle sponge.

This had been another excellent day's walking, particularly the earlier part along the limestone cliffs. It didn't quite match up to the spectacular sights of the previous afternoon, but there was a good mixture of cliffs and sandy bays and, of course, there was not the long stretch of road walking as there was the day before. After dinner I walked into Manorbier to the Castle Inn for a few pints and walked back under a beautiful starry sky looking up at the Milky Way. In many parts of the country the Milky Way is hardly visible because of the level of background light in the sky, but around Pembrokeshire it was wonderfully clear.


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Day 13 - Tuesday 18th September - 14 miles

Skrinkle Haven to Amroth, then home

I had breakfast at 8.15 and set off at 9.00 in fine weather with plenty of blue sky. I decided to take the optional detour round Lydstep Point, feeling that if there are any significant headlands offering good views, they should be included to make the walk complete. This does not, however, mean walking in and out of every little twist in the coastline, which would add a lot of extra distance without much gain in scenery. Rounding Lydstep Point opened up a fine view over Lydstep Haven, which was completely engulfed in mobile homes. I suppose that it is only to be expected, as this is a popular part of the coast for holidaymakers and it is better to have them concentrated in one place than spread out round every cove.

Further along is another firing range, but the red flag was not flying so I could proceed to Giltar Point, which overlooks Caldey Island on one side, and Penally and Tenby on the other. I stopped for a rest, as I was making good time, and thought I would have no problems in reaching Amroth by 4 p.m. which was the time I had arranged to be picked up by my daughter Jen.

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with all the caravans and mobile homes
Lydstep Haven
view from Castle Hill showing Fort St Catherine
St Catherine's Island, Tenby
from Castle Hill
North Beach, Tenby

From Lydstep Haven the coastal rocks changed back to limestone, and there were again numerous caves, arches and potholes. There is a fine view of Tenby and Fort St Catherine from Giltar Point and a walk along the wide sandy South Beach brought me to the town itself. It is a lovely town with many interesting old buildings, a ruined castle, harbour, good beaches and fine views across to Caldey Island and the Gower Peninsula, where Worm's Head could be seen more clearly in profile rather than end-on view I saw from Stackpole Head. I reached Tenby by 11.30, as there had been a lot of easy walking, so I was able to spare some time to look around the town and walk up to Castle Hill.

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Harbour at Saundersfoot
Harbour at Saundersfoot
with the finish at Amroth in sight
Wiseman's Bridge

I stopped for lunch at Waterwynch, a couple of miles past Tenby after walking through some very peaceful woodland with not a sound, other than that of birdsong. The weather was again good enough for a spot of sunbathing before making my way along the final leg through Saundersfoot with its pleasant little harbour, then through the series of disused railway tunnels built to transport coal to the harbour on a narrow gauge railway. From Wiseman's Bridge, the path mainly follows the coast road to the finish at Amroth, which I reached at about 3.20 p.m.

The map shows Amroth Castle and a pub near the finish and I had pointed these out as landmarks for my daughter to look out for, saying that I would meet her in the pub. However, all that I could see of the castle was a gateway, which is the entrance to a caravan park, and the pub, where I hoped to have a celebration drink, was closed, so the finish turned out to be a bit of an anticlimax. However, I generally find that the finish of any walk is an anticlimax - I always maintain that it is not the finishing that matters so much as the enjoyment of the walk itself. If you look forward to the finish too much then it probably means that you have not really enjoyed the walk.

Despite the confusion over landmarks, my daughter managed to find me without too many problems and, after taking a few photographs to mark the completion, we made our way back home.


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