It spans 186 miles, passes 58 beaches and 14 harbours, and tracks every cliff and cove between St Dogmaels and Amroth. But who said that Wales’ first national trail has to be an odyssey?
A world renowned long distance path
They used to call Pembrokeshire ‘Gwlad Hud a Lledrith’, the ‘Land of Mystery and Enchantment’. It has certainly worked its magic recently. In 2012 National Geographic magazine named Pembrokeshire the world’s second-best coastal destination. The year before it ranked the Pembrokeshire Coast Path second in a world’s top ten long-distance paths.
Of course, we knew that even before the route opened in 1970. Eighty-five per cent of its 186 miles runs through Britain’s only truly coastal National Park; a landscape built of ragged coast and golden beach, and backed by rolling hill and low mountain.
A walk through history
Yet the coast path is a walk through history as much as scenery. Hike the lot over two weeks and you’ll discover Neolithic tombs on St Davids Head, mighty castles at Manorbier and Pembroke and tiny Celtic chapels near Bosherton. You’ll see splendid small towns like St Davids and Tenby and picture-perfect fishing villages like Solva and Little Haven. You’ll also see wildlife everywhere: astounding birdlife, probably seals, perhaps a dolphin.
4 of our favourite walks
Perhaps the real joy of this coast, however, is that a carefully chosen mile walk will reveal the magic that wowed National Geographic. There are over 200 short walks to select, from one mile to one day, and seasonal shuttle buses solve the logistics of one-way routes. Why not stay overnight and discover new views on your return?
To get you started here are four of our favourite walks on the famous Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
Cemaes Head, 5 miles
The Cemaes Head walk is lovely to do in springtime, you'll see fulmars, cormorants and guillemots nesting on the highest cliffs (550ft) in the National Park. More seals breed here than anywhere else in Wales from mid-summer. And year-round you’re likely to spot chough, ravens, kestrels and buzzards, you may even see bottlenose dolphins in the bay.
Porthgain to Whitesands, 10 miles
Embark on this walk from pretty Porthgain harbour for exhilarating hiking along high cliffs. You’ll see spectacular views to rocky bays, a ruined settlement at Abereiddy beach, with its Neolithic burial chambers and views to Ramsey Island, before a paddle at Whitesands beach.
Stackpole Head, 5-mile circuit
A cliff walk that’s as good as it gets for families: a pretty harbour at Stackpole Quay, beautiful Barafundle Bay and Broad Haven beach, plus Bosherston lily ponds (best in June) as an unexpected bonus.
Deer Park to Dale, 10 miles
This walk near Marloes is a superb half day; a wave-lashed headland with an Iron Age hillfort and views to Skomer Island clouded by seabirds. Or use it to launch a day's walk around the Dale Peninsula: around St Anne’s Head there’s raw Atlantic on one side, calm estuary on the other and a straight walk back to the Griffin Inn in Dale.