National Geographic ranked The Pembrokeshire Coast Path 2nd place in its World’s Top Ten long distance paths and The Pembrokeshire National Park is the only coastal National Park in the UK.
Beauty abounds in our corner of west Wales. All, if not almost all visitors to Pembrokeshire will take in part of one section of the 186-mile coastal path walking route intentionally or not, visiting one of it’s many breathtaking beaches or hidden coves.
Abundant in wildlife and rare flora and fauna, the coastal path has numerous monuments and sites of historic interest along the way and sea life is extra special. Some locations are known for seal spotting including baby pups at certain times of year and sightings of dolphins and are actually not so rare.
Birdlife makes it a key destination for ornithologists and the rich waters and diverse habitats attract seasonal flocks of seabirds from around the world. Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire’s puffin paradise and home to the world’s largest Manx seawater colony the world renowned observatory at Strumble Head the top seabird watching site in Wales, points around Cardigan Bay are perfect to see flocks of Canada geese and as for birds of prey particularly red kites, peregrine falcons, sparrow hawks and buzzards.
‘The quality of light here is magical and transforming… ’
Drawn to this corner of Southwest Wales by the landscape and light, this staggering and sensuous coastline has been inspiring many acclaimed artistsincluding Graham Sutherland, Kyffin Williams, John Piper, John Knapp-Fisher and Ceri Richards for years. Today, Pembrokeshire independent art galleries in and around the county exhibit a wealth of work with a vitality that arguably matches that on show in places such as St Ives and Brecon. Contemporary artists working with our landscape including David Tress, James MacKeown, Sian McGill, Adam Buick, to name a few.
Some of the best art collections to view and buy art, including sculpture locally can be found at larger galleries such as The West Wales Art Centre here in Fishguard, Harbour Lights Gallery in Porthgain, Goat Street Gallery in St David’s and The Gallery Yr Oriel in Newport.
One of the best ways to get a taste of local art is to visit the North Pembrokeshire Open studios event held this year from August 19th to
September 2nd. Expect to find glassware, textiles, sculpture, photography and ceramics as well as paintings from names such as Alice Tennant, David Arthur Light, Beth Robinson and Elizabeth Haines. Artists and makers open the doors to their studio’s over set open trail dates, although visitors are welcome to make private appointments all year round.
For free public art exhibitions places to visit are Oriel y Parc and the gallery inside Haverfordwest Library, both of which have been lent iconic works from leading London galleries in recent years.
Skies and seascapes are vast while sunsets draw breath…
Find a path that winds down to the coast or climb up a hill off the Pembrokeshire Coast Path to take in a breathtaking view. A seascape which
never ceases to amaze, come rain or shine, is the panoramic view at Newgale. Facing the direction of Solva and St Davids away from Roch and Broadhaven direction it’s nestled in a corner of St Brides Bay. Well known as
Pembrokeshire’s answer to a surfers paradise, it’s popular destination for water-sports lovers, especially high-adrenaline seekers. Expect year-roundspectacles of crashing waves far out to sea, a vast horizon and an expanse of golden beach which stretches to an incredible 2.5 miles at low tide, backed by a high tide pebble bank. Breathtaking in every way.
For those that want to find their own favourite spot to watch a sunset in Pembrokeshire, bear in mind that the direction of the sunset changes
throughout the course of the year. As the days get longer the path of the sun moves northwards, setting in the west at the Spring equinox (March 21st ) until the Summer solstice (June 21st) when it sets in the north West.
The tip of St David’s, Strumblehead and The Blue Lagoon at Abereiddy, all within 30mins drive from here, are tipped as being top spots to watch. One evening in late April this year we sat in a far corner of the beach at Pwllgwaelod here in far North Pembrokeshire, where we shared a magical evening watching a flame orange sun change shape as it met the horizon, before slowly disappearing out of sight.
It’s worth adding that even in Spring, many beaches are practically deserted particularly late afternoon. In high season too, it’s mind-boggling how quiet and easy to get around Pembrokeshire is. Regular guests become regulars often for that reason. Apart from when it comes to ice cream, queuing and even traffic jams are not something you will find in North Pembrokeshire.
Pwllgwaelod Beach leading to the hamlet of Cwm-yr-Eglwys both with carparks are within 10 mins drive from us. Linked by a short path around the side of The Old Sailors pub with it’s superbly located sea view picnic benches, (opening hours somewhat sporadic), you can walk from Pwllgwaelod below Dinas Head to Cwm-yr-Eglwys, church ruins within 10 mins. Alternatively, you may prefer to walk the stunning coastal path route around the headland, in which case it’s going to take a well-worth-it hour and a half. Cwm-yr-Eglwys is a windbreaker-walled cove of rock pools, sandy white beach and waters for all sorts. Usually only properly busy at the height of the school summer holidays, it’s one of North Pembrokeshire’s most attractive and restful places. Pitch up with a flask and a blanket and let the wall shelter
you any dry day, maybe join the year-round wild swimmers. Between April to October, if it’s an okay weather day, the friendly lady in the ice cream van at the boat yard will help you choose your flavour, vegan options now included, (of course).
Neither Aberbach and Aberfforest, heading in the same direction towards Newport Sands, are easy to access. Without parking or facilities, you need to park and walk, preferably with a hamper for Aberbach and a back pack (you will need to be hands-free at some points of the walk), but the reward is high. Arguably, the best thing about Aberfforest is probably the approach through a lush green fragrant, fairytale forest, especially in Spring. There is a waterfall which adds for a dramatic scene with added sounds effects after water has fallen and the verdant vegetation is another Pembrokeshire paradise that could be another Cornwall rival for The Lost Gardens of Heligan.
Popular with photographers, pro’s and Instagrammers alike, Pembrokeshire is a feast for the eyes. Spoilt for choice, any walk on the Pembrokeshire Coast National trail is a photogenic feast, but if you need a bit of inspiration,you might like to check out a few of our favourites, combining surf and turf on your next visit.
Discover your own epic scene to shoot and better still, tag us in using our instagram handle: @manortownhouse – We love to share!
Carn Llidi is on the St David’s peninsula and once you take the hike to the top, the panorama unfolds with a view of Ramsay Island beyond the stretch of popular Whitesands beach of white sand. If you want to do a shorter stretch, the view across from the rocks on the far right of the beach is still incredible.
Beyond basin view between Newport and Dinas Head from Mynydd Dinas on the edge of the Preseli’s, is the long rugged stretch of West Wales Way coastline. Look south towards Fishguard and northwards to Cardigan and Ceredigion, north west wales coastline is instantly mapped out before you as it curves around the Irish Sea in Cardigan Bay, the largest bay in Wales.
Strumble Head west of Fishguard is a unique landmark. The lighthouse was built in 1908 is still operational and is an imposing white beacon. It is joined to land by a thin iron bridge, below which waves crash in stormy weather and seal pups shelter in the spring. Head away in the direction of Abermawr to get the best perspective of the lighthouse.
On our Doorstep
Fishguard Lower Town has pretty pastel coloured buildings to the right of the harbour and faces Fishguard old town across a beach at lowest tide. When the boats are out, there’s that nostalgic noise of boat bits clanging and hulls swishing in the sea. From The Manor Town House the harbour is super easy to reach. Take the short walk down the hill before crossing over the bridge,then just follow the stream. Often still as a millpond at spring and summer high tide times, a gentle hive of activity develops into a shallow swell on special-event days occasionally arranged by the Cafe on the Quay or Fishguard Yacht Club. It is a popular place for sailing, kayaking and paddle- boarding as well as paddling near the bottom of the steps off the slip.
Children and families enjoy the harbour for crabbing, while older kids have fun jumping off the quay into the sea at high tide. In the summer many locals go there for an evening stroll or to meet up with friends. However, due to its somewhat secluded setting, Lower Town, arguably one of the most beautiful sights in Pembrokeshire, is still something of a hidden secret. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing?
And finally, boast-alert, our absolute top of the pile of Pembrokeshire panoramic pics, has to be the one from the back of our house.
The panorama from the top floor spans from old Fishguard on the left, over Fishguard Lower Town and Fishguard Bay, over Cardigan Bay, over the Preseli’s and Dinas Head, and we can often see the Llyn peninsula on a very clear day. At night the view watching the ferry coming in from Rosslaire and lit up like a Christmas tree against dark skies is a great way to end the day.
The sea view has won the 4 rooms with that view the Editors Choice ‘Best Room with a View’ award from The Good Hotel Guide. In addition, Visit Wales ranks Fishguard Harbour in 1st place for ‘Most Glorious Coastal Views’, so with that winning combination, perhaps you don’t need to take our word for it.
But if you haven’t visited already, you might want to see it for yourself, just to double check.