Pembrokeshire is one of those places that has managed to remain off my radar for many years. I do love coastal walking but much prefer to get this fix from the Scottish Highlands and Islands. It is remoteness and ruggedness that really floats my boat. I did nearly managed to persuade my partner to spend a week on the Isle of Canna, but in the end the idea of a long and rough ferry crossing after an epic drive put us both off.
I have to admit that when we arrived in Pembrokeshire I was a little underwhelmed by the scenery. The campsite we booked into was absolutely superb but the surrounding landscape a little uninspiring. It was the drive to the coast the following day that allowed me to map out the landscape in my mind. We drove along twisting narrow lanes next to windswept fields, the area having little tree cover. Overall it was a bit bleak but not in a wild sort of way. However reaching the coast, the mundane suddenly became the dramatic, every stretch of the coast we saw was as wild as I could have wished for. That is not to say that the interior should be written off, there were some lovely little valleys that we passed through, full of moss laden trees. The northern horizon when it was not raining was dominated by the Preseli Hills which unfortunately I did not get a chance to explore. I have to admit that we often played ‘Fantasy house buying’ whilst driving those narrow lanes, wishing that we could live in some of the lovely little cottages tucked into secretive hollows. However for both of us, the rugged coast was the star of the show.
As this was not primarily a hiking or backpacking trip I have not done one of my usual trip reports. Instead here are some photos with a few words about each of the areas that we explored.
Porthgain to Abereiddy
Porthgain is a lovely little village tucked into a valley with a sheltered harbour. It was a Sunday when we arrived and although the weather was very windy and rather grey, the place was packed with vehicles and tourists. The coastal path to Abereiddy was a delight to walk and level once we had climbed on to the cliff tops.
On the harbour wall
Looking down on Porthgain from the coastal path
The walk along the cliff tops to Traeth Llyfn was spectacular with its inlets and the heavy swell crashing upon on the rocks. The wind was so strong that foam from the sea was blown up and fell around us like large dirty snow flakes.
Looking towards Strumble head in the far distance
Suddenly the sandy expanse of beach of Traeth Llyfn was below us. The way down was via steps which soon turned into a suspended metal staircase. There were gaps in the floor of the staircase which were too wide for Reubens paws so he had to be carried down, 20kg of squirming dog soon got pretty heavy! It was Reubens first time on a sandy beach and a switch flicked in his brain. He was soon tearing up and down the beach, a huge doggy grin on his face. He absolutely loved it. This would be a great place to spend a hot sunny day with a good book, simply taking in the scenery whilst the waves pound on the shore.
Reuben was even heavier on the way back up where we joined the coastal path back to the beach at Abereiddi via the Blue lagoon.
Garn Fawr (Near Strumble Head)
On the Porthgain walk I spotted the hill of Garn Fawr dominating the Strumble peninsula on the horizon. A high level car park at the base of the hill gives access to a footpath, it only took about ten minutes to reach the 213 metre summit. Although a low hill, because it was so close to the sea it gave a much greater sense of height.
Marloes Sands and the Deer Park
The tide was out when we visited this beach, giving a huge expanse of sand for Reuben to run about on. It was great to walk along its windswept length before climbing back up to the coastal path and walking to the peninsula known as the Deer park.
Gateholm Island which is accessible during low tide
The Deer park was full of these mushrooms, anyone know what they are and if they are edible?
It was misty and drizzly on the peninsula but there were still impressive views along the cliffs to Skomer Island
A natural rock arch
Skomer Island in the distance
St David’s Head and Carn Llidi
The rugged landscape around St David’s head was my favourite, it had a real sense of grandeur. We parked up at Whitesands which unfortunately excludes dogs, instead we took straight to the coastal path.
The deserted beach of Porthmelgan was a good excuse to let Reuben off the lead so that he could have a quick race up and down along the water’s edge.
Reuben posing on St David’s head
Looking back to St David’s Head
Coetan Arthur with Carn Llidi in the background
The next stretch of coastal path was quiet after the bustle around Whitesands bay and St David’s head, and had a good wild quality about it. The rugged coast here has a backdrop of steep mini mountains rather than agricultural fields. Carn Llidi is one of these mini mountains and dominates the area despite its lowly height.
On the ascent of Carn Llidi with Penberry in the distance
The final summit cone of Carn Llidi
The final few metres to the summit is a proper little scramble and was totally unexpected. A couple ahead of me retreated after searching around for an easier route to the top. There is not one and I was glad that Reuben was wearing a harness so that I could help him up the more difficult sections.
Someone recommended that we walk through the National Trust woods to this beach. Unfortunately we were on our way home and decided on a quick walk before the long drive. Parking at the end of a narrow lane it was only a couple of minutes walk to this wild spot. We were even lucky enough to spot a seal lazing around in the surf.
I found that the areas we visited in Pembrokeshire pretty busy (by Backpackingbongo standards) even though the school holidays had finished. However, our campsite owner said that come October the place shuts down for the winter. If I returned I would come during the off-season and do a few days of the coastal path, wild camping along the way. I spotted a couple of areas that looked like they would make cracking camp spots, wind permitting!