Bimbling around Pembrokeshire

by backpackingbongos

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.

Aber Mawr

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!


29 Comments to “Bimbling around Pembrokeshire”

  1. Reuben looks very calm on the beach. I can never let Dixie loose on a beach as she runs around like a lunatic trying to drink the sea water, which then gives her violent diarrhoea!

    • That was Reuben being calm after the storm as he had been running round like an idiot! Shame that Dixie takes it upon herself to drink sea water, can’t be good for her.

  2. Looks like the weather wasn’t too kind – but perhaps the scenery was all the better for that?

    Reuben is really coming along fine! What a grand little fellow – all 20kg of him!

    • The weather was a bit pants Alan, too much wind and drizzly rain. We would have been much happier with some nice sunshine on our faces. For a small dog, Reuben is heavy!

  3. Lovely post with some sublime pics, Mr B. I’ve walked the PCP twice, once in October and once in November (not the same year mind!). Dead quiet once you’re away from car parks at the honey pots. i think that the bongomeister would very much enjoy himself out of season…
    Reuben is just going to loooooove Jura!

    • Thank you Dr E. Yeah Reuben does like to be besides the seaside, so walking the west coast of Jura will be just the thing for him. Not sure if I would want to walk all of the PCP in one go, although the coast is lovely there is the possibilty that I could get a little bored with the sea on my left for two weeks.

  4. Some great photos here (as always) James and really convey the weather and atmosphere. I love Pembrokeshire for my own reasons and particularly the rugged, bleak beauty of Haverford West and Milford Haven from the old ruins of the lifeboat station. Right out if sn Enid Blyton book! I urge you to check it out for yourself from Castle Farm in Angle.

  5. Lovely pics, really gave me the desire for a nice coastal walk and enjoy the sea air! Right now where I am, that would be difficult mind… 😉

  6. Looks great, a part of the world I am yet to discover. Love Rueben’s daft way of lying down 🙂

  7. looks quite wild in that weather, the blue lagoon looks really nice.
    Canna is a beautiful wee island btw. Spent a week there several years ago.

    • Canna is on my to do list of places to visit, it looked lovely from the ferry when I passed it earlier on this year. I bet that you had a great visit.

      • I sure did, thankfully the weather was really good apart from the crossing. Do need to return one day though as that first trip was way before I became interested in photography so I have no pics of it at all 😦

  8. Some great photos there even if the weather wasn’t kind to you. I need to explore the northern coast more having been to the south side a few times. As Pete says, you can always find a quiet walk once you’re away from the main places. The Preseli Hills are somewhere I need to try, It’s within reach for a day out from where I live

    • If the Preseli hills are within reach for a day out Andy, I suggest that you go and let me know what they are like! It was a shame that the weather was unkind on our visit to Pemrokeshire, it would have been a very different trip if the sun had been out.

  9. Wow… Amazing place, your dog is so cute.

  10. Damn it, James! I love your dog!! 🙂 Even by doggy standards, I bet he has the life of Riley, eh? 😉 Outdoors, good company….

    • Thanks Terry, we picked a good’n at the rescue centre – he has a blast on the hills and it is a pleasure to take him.

  11. Cracking coast to visit. Carn Llidi looked a good spot James. One place my wife wants me to take her and based on that I must sort her wish out.

    • If its wild coastal scenery Martin, I think that this is the closest you are going to get outside of Scotland. A lovely area for you to take your wife.

  12. Nice one James – that’s a lovely section of coastline. Suitable for backpacking or a B&B/hostel trip with fairly modest days.
    Easy to plan using public transport, and there’s a good Trailblazer guide which some people may find helpful.

    • Thanks Martin. I wish that I had researched public transport in the area as it looks like there is a good bus network allowing linear walks along the coast.

  13. love your blogs. they are so descriptive, makes me want to pack my bags and go…… 🙂 lovely photos

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