The Coast Path was opened in 1970 after 17 years in construction. It was originally 167 miles but has been altered to 186 miles, and it is 200 miles if you take all the detours marked in the National Trail Guide book. It passes through some of the most beautiful coastline in Europe most of which is in the National Park, it is recommended to visit in Spring of Autumn when the Birds are nesting or the seals puping. Take care as the cliffs can be dangerous.
The details here are from walking the path south to north in August / September 1998.
Picture of Us at the Start.
The start or finish depending on which way round you attempt the walk is just to the east of Amroth village, at the mouth of the stream which once separated Pembrokeshire from Carmarthenshire. Amroth is a pleasant village with a few shops and pubs. From the start the path leads along the front of the village past Amroth castle and leads up the cliffs. The path heads inland a little but back to the coast to Wiseman's Bridge. The path again climbs from here on its way to Saundersfoot, to which you have to pass through a tunnel. Saundersfoot is a reasonable size, and has supermarkets etc. The route is pleasant to Tenby past Monkstone point which is quite impressive and a taste of the scenery to come later. Tenby itself is the typical tourist town although there is a large influx of youngsters to the pubs from all over south wales at the weekend and smart dress is essential. The path leads up the steps to the castle and along the sandy beach and across the bay and up the steep cliff to Giltar point and along the clifftop a few miles to Manorbier YH which is just slightly inland, and a strange building.
The clifftops from Manorbier are very exposed and undulating making it hardgoing to Freshwater East where the shelter of the cove is welcoming, as are the shop and pub. The next encounter with civilisation is Stackpole Quay a 18th Century construction for the export of limestone. It is a short walk tothe unspoilt Barafundle bay with some natural arches just round the small headland toward stackpole head and its excellent viewpoint. The bay of Broad Haven protects the liley ponds of Bosherton. The path follows a route through these ponds and into Bosherton itself which has a pub and a shop.
This section passes through the firing ranges of Bosherton and the MOD regularly close this impressive section of the coast, check this out before you start the walk, an alternative route is available during firing. The route goes to St Govans Head with its large number of caves and impressive views. A short distance is the the tiny St Govans Chapel which has to be reached via a steep set of steps. There are ruined target vehicles, an abandoned tramway and several natural arches and impressive geological features. Just before the route heads inland there is a viewing platform to see the very impressive natural arch - The Green Bridge of Wales. The next section is a long road section and the pub is infrequently open in Castlemartin and the road section continues to Freshwater West. This road section offers views to the north of the oil depots at Milford Haven. The long section around the headland of Angle is well worth the exertion and when Angle is reaches a good pint can be had in one of the pubs.
The route from Pembroke is pleasant although not very well signposted when you enter Pembroke Dock. The Martello Tower must not be missed (entry is free) and just around the corner is a parked army tank. From here to Neyland there is a sligh detour under the Cleddau bridge to Pembroke Ferry village and the pub serves a great pint and has an excellent view. Cross over the Cleddau bridge which is quite high and into Neyland. You pass another good pub here as well. The route passes another oil refinery on the way into Milford Haven, which is not as bad as its reputation might suggest. The view is not particularly great unless you like oil tankers and refinerys.
The path follows the coastline littered with pipelines, and oil related technology, but as you reach Sandy Haven it has passed and the coastline begins to become more dramatic. There is a potential problem at Sandy Haven, the stepping stones can only be crossed at low tide or a long detour has to be taken. So check tide tables in Milford Haven. The route into dale and the pub was well received, again the bay cannot be crossed at high tide so check tides. The Dale headland can be skipped but the sunset on this section was spectacular and the coastguard station well worth a visit. Then across the disused airport and past the stacks and Gateholm island before the short walk inland to Marloes Sands YH.
The section starts with a slight detour to Wooltack point, to the natural arch and the good views from the coastguard lookout. In Martin's haven is an inscribed stone, the path climbs up and this part has some high cliffs, which seal and seal pubs can be seen on the secluded beaches below. Little haven has an old lifeboat station. The Beach of Broad Haven is very sandy and popular with holiday makers. The village has pubs, shops etc.
This section huggs the cliff top as if leaves Broad Haven with lots of interesting things to see on route, many caves and disused mineshafts and some interesting rock formations. Before the path drops down to Newgale sands a large pebbly beach, although sand on the lower beach. From here the path climbs to the high cliffs and upto Dinas Fawr an impressive peninsula well worh exploring, with traces of an iron age fort. The descent is then steep into Solva Harbour, a very impressive village with several pubs and good B&Bs. The village itself is built on the far side of the harbour up the hill.
The rest day was spent in St Davids, as the walk does not actually pass through this city, and it is well worth a visit. There are a few buses from Solva to St Davids even on a Sunday. We also took a boat ride to the islands to see the seals and seabirds.
As mentioned the walk misses out St Davids but does go past the YH which is a few miles from St Davids itself. The last few days are the most spectacular and the cliffs are the highest. The walk is all clifftop and spectacular with views to the islands of Ramsey and the Bishops and Clerks. Geological features dominate this section. The lifeboat station at St Justinians is worth a visit and boat rides leave here although have to be booked in St Davids. Round St Johns point the path drops down into Whitesands Bay. Here we headed inland for St Davids YH.
From the YH a detour to Highwinds Hill and the burial chambers there is recommended, and then bcak to the route, around St Davids Head where there are more burial chambers on this rugged and exposed section of cliff. The whole area has been altered by prehistoric man and many things still remain, such as the fort at Castell Coch and the forts at Careau. The path drops into Aber Eidy a small bay which was once an important slate quarry, not much remains but some buildings are there and information boards are around. The manmade rock formations and the enclosed lagoon are worth a short detour. Before once again heading up the cliffs and onto Porthgain and a rather good pub. Before the short walk into Trevine, which you go past the collection of standing stones.
Again impressive scenery on this section and a castle (Castell Coch) and Carreg Simpson Burial chamber both short distances from the route, before the small harbour of Abercastle. There are some excellent viewpoints on this section the YH at Pwll Deri is impressive in its local and the view get no more impressive than strumble head and its lighthouse. Keep an eye out for the iron age fort and memorial stone by Pwll Deri YH. Carreg Goffa has a monument erected to commemorate the last invasion of Britain in 1797. There are some burial chambers on thecliffs overlooking Goodwick and Fishguard Harbour before the walk into Fishguard. Keep to the route as there are many interesting viewpoints and information boards. Fishguard particularly the Lower town is very interesting to visit and the Backpacker lodge is well worth staying in. Pubs, shops and public transport are plentiful.
The penultimate day and one of the most varied terrain wise. Leaving Fishguard via some good viewpoints and the Castle and onto some large cliffs which go up and down a lot, before dropping into Pwllgwaelod, a little sandy bay with a pub. Ahead is the highest point of the walk Pen-y-Fan on Dinas Head. The view is excellent and there are some earthworks worth a look before entering the village of Cwm-yr-Eglwys with its tiny ruined church and beautiful setting. The terrain from here is more lowland farming, with low cliffs before entering Newport with its sandy river mouth.
The last day is very exposed and there is no civilisation before the finish, the terrain is entirely exposed clifftops, again with impressive views and rock formations, natural arches, caves and the witches cauldron at Pwll y Wrach, a collapsed cave. The cliffs are some of the largest on the route and Strumble Head can be seen from Cemas Head which is the last part of the cliffs befor the path heads inland for the final few miles. The path passes the YH and into St Dogmaels, the path is marked to finish in Poppit Sands itself but it actually ends at the landing stage in St Dogmaels which is unmarked. This is the boundary between Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire. St Dogmaels has some good pubs.
Picture of Me at the Finish.
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