Walking Pembrokeshire (Part 1)
Updated: Nov 19, 2019
Follow us as we move into the second week of our 600 mile journey. We visit Tenby, beautiful bays and impressive rock formations. Many of these areas used in films for their stunning backdrops, like Freshwater Bay, which Harry Potter fans will enjoy.
REST DAY! This had come at the perfect time as my knee is quite swollen from the gate jump following the bull charge 2 days before. I woke up early which is really your only option when on a campsite full of kids but the sun is shining and the views from Trevayne camp site are hard to beat. I decide to take advantage of their (practically) private Monktstone Beach and go for a morning skinny dip. Well, you only live once! Plus it was deserted at the time.
I spent the rest of the morning and afternoon with my Mum and her partner Nick, where we watched some TV at their Airbnb and had a delicious, late lunch at the quirky Castle Inn in Manorbier. Saying goodbye to them both, I then checked into my own Airbnb with my good friend Jemma who drove from Northampton for a weekend long doggy date. Caroline, our host, was enthusiastic and welcoming, and graciously accepted both our dogs in her home.
The evening was them spent discovering Tenby and it’s pastel coloured houses, many pubs and fantastic views over the Pembrokeshire coast. It was a perfect evening with the weather still sunny and staying warm. We managed to find a beer garden with a table free, enjoying local fish and chips.
So effectively my day was spent eating, drinking, and enjoying time with some of my favourite people. A perfect combination after walking 120 miles in a week!
Like a typical bank holiday weekend, the wind and rain let loose. Easing my way back into week 2, thanks to our 2 night Airbnb stay we made a round trip from Tenby without my heavy bag lugging me down. The weather didn’t stop us though! Barafundle bay is one of Wales’s most iconic and visited beaches but this morning it was deserted except for myself, Jemma, Tegwen and Isla to enjoy.
We moved inland to discover more of the National Trust’s Stockpile Estate where Tegwen, at the thought of walking anymore of the Welsh Coast, decided to jump onto a bridge wall and throw herself 10 meters into the lake below. Fortunately she landed clear of the bridge’s structural base, plunged under water and came out looking pretty shocked as you can imagine.
We moved onto the Green Bridge and Stack Rocks further West down the coast at which time the weather had calmed down a little. It did not disappoint, the limestone rock is formed into a spectacular arch which is seen from a vertigo inducing view point. Further on huge, stalagmite like formations create jaw dropping views. From the knife edge cliffs you can view them and even walk onto them, until you find yourself on the final rock point and you’re surrounded by certain death drops to the turquoise tide below.
Our final stop was Manorbier, a quaint village that holds a quaint church, a Norman castle and dog-friendly beach chock-a-block with surfers. The dogs and ourselves were exhausted battling the forces of nature all day, so we sat in the quiet castle grounds and watched as the sun lowered over the Pembroke cliffs.
The weather is back to a walkable state and I commence my journey on another surfer backed beach called Freshwater West (where Debby dies in Harry Potter). Saying goodbye to my friend Jemma, I don my pack heavy with food for the next two days as supermarkets won’t be on my route.
Climbing up to my first headland, it gives me more classic Pembrokeshire views of a rugged coast with knife edge cliffs and white horses crashing into land. As much as each turn gives me more and more it requires a lot of ups and downs to reach these view points. The steep paths sometimes require great concentration with your feet and poles, with such a heavy backpack it’s easy to lose your balance to what could be fatal consequences.
So, imagine you’re enjoying your day, the views, the fresh air, the friendly walkers who past by and all of a sudden you’re hit by a familiar wave of stench. I look at Tegwen and she has a streak of poo running from her collar to her lower right side, and judging from the smell it can only be fox poop. We’re on a coastal path high from the sea and with another 3 hours of walking ahead of you it’s hard not to get frustrated knowing you’ll be downwind of that. Despite the telling off and cold showers Tegwen gets, she never seems to learn!
We arrive in Angle, a quaint village shadowed by the local oil refinery, and my knee is sore. The campsite (although very basic) is a welcoming sight, and the moment I drop my bag I’m invited in for a cup of tea by the lovely Jenny across the way. This simple act of kindness and welcome, is a highlight of my trip. The friendly, Welsh hospitality I have encountered has touched me from day one of this trip. Despite just being myself and Tegwen, I know that I’m not far from another Jenny and this makes the journey feel so much warmer. It battles and defeats the rain, my aching body and campsite chores, and I always feel at home.
The shower I so desperately needed decided not to work this morning, it sputtered out only freezing cold water. Wet wipes it had to be!
As my walking day wasn’t all that interesting I have decided to touch on the gritty side of this walk around beautiful Wales. Camping is an exhausting and time consuming necessity, showering in the cold communal showers, packing your bag in a tight space, cooking your meals on your small stove, then it’s setting up and packing your tent away. Whether it’s cold, hot, rainy or windy, all your camp chores must be done. I enjoy camping, for me there is something innate and rewarding about making your temporary home, cooking for yourself and using rudimentary facilities to survive. But then if you’re repeating this process every morning and every evening after a 15+ mile hike, it can quickly lose it’s appeal.
I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the day as it was a flat route that followed the estuary round littered with a oil refinery, factories and Milford Haven town. The one shining highlight of the day was Pembroke Castle, I took the 2 hour tour and explored all the halls, viewpoints and ancient history it had to offer. It was absolutely fantastic, it sits on a limestone peninsula which has caves that has human history dating back over 12000 years, the oldest in Europe. It holds layers upon layers of fascinating stories, most notably Henry VII was born here.
The rest of my day was passing through Pembroke Town and Milford Haven, both of which I wouldn’t recommend to walk through if only for your safety. Fortunately my campsite Sandy Haven Camping was a couple miles beyond the town, overlooking a small estuary with small sail boats anchored, it was a relaxing place of tranquility to end the day at.
Walk it yourself?
Rating - 4*
Why? - I dropped one star due to the walk from Angle to Sandy Haven passing through Milford Haven, not a very nice town at all. The rest of the walk was perfection.
Highlights - Tenby, Barafundle Bay, Rock Stacks, The Green Bridge, Freshwater Bay, Pembroke CastleTom’s Tip - Use Tenby as your base and walk the coast West. It’s one of the most dramatic and beautiful coastlines of Wales. Spend half a day at Pembroke castle, for £6 you get a 2 hour walking tour and lots more.
Accommodation - Tenby is full to the brim with guesthouses and Airbnbs.
Travel - Tenby is served by train and local buses will connect you to everywhere else.