Day three dawned bright – in fact it was probably brighter outside than in because of disturbed sleep last night. Staying at a pub is great when it comes to getting food and drink as you don’t have to go far, but it is not always good as far as sleep goes. Last night a group of people were sat chatting and laughing outside the pub right below our windows. They had been to the pub in the evening but clearly weren’t ready to go home when the pub closed so they stayed long into the night.
An early cup of tea soon put that right though and we set off walking after breakfast, making our way out of the quiet village and back down to the coast. Our way down was via a delightful path that criss-crossed a series of lily ponds that looked beautiful in the early morning light. The ponds are man made, dating back to the late 18th century, and were once part of the landscaped grounds of Stackpole Court, the seat of Lord Cawdor. The estate was extremely wide spreading and at one time included the Castlemartin Firing Range land that we had walked through yesterday. In fact it was the requisitioning of that land by the military that rendered the estate no longer viable, leading to the family leaving and returning to their Scottish estate in Nairnshire in the 1940’s. The house itself was subsequently demolished but a large part of the grounds still form a tourist attraction, being looked after by the National Trust.
We reached the end of the lakes and came out onto the beach at Broad Haven, another of those beautifully wide, sandy Welsh beaches, and we climbed up onto the headland beyond.
The coast continued to be as rugged as ever, with many coves, crags and caves, as well as inaccessible beaches. We passed one beach and then came across a huge pit with what looked like a cave at the bottom. Thinking that this might give access to the beach, we climbed down into the pit only to discover that the ‘cave’ didn’t in fact go anywhere. We climbed back out again!
We continued on our way, crossing Stackpole Head, a wonderfully open and expansive headland, once part of the estate that gave it its name. In fact, the name came from the Stackpole family who originally owned the estate and the previous fortified manor house that was destroyed during the English Civil War. This was a fated estate with a chequered history.
Very soon, we reached another part of that estate, Barafundle Bay. This was at one time the private beach of the Stackpole Estate and it was the Cawdors who built the arch and steps down to aid access to the beach. You could just imagine them entertaining their guests on the beach all dressed in suits and crinoline.
Now part of the National Trust land, this beach has received a number of accolades over the years, including being voted in the top ten beaches in the whole world. Perhaps its main charm is the fact that it has no road access and can only be reached by walking along the coast path.
Another mile or so of walking and we were still on Stackpole land, reaching Stackpole Quay. This tiny harbour was originally built by the Cawdors to serve the local limestone quarries and to allow coal to be imported to heat their substantial mansion but now it serves kayakers and tourists. The good news for us was that there is a cafe there so we stopped for an early lunch in the company of lots of chaffinches who were after our left overs.
After lunch, we continued to follow the winding and dipping path, dropping down into Freshwater East, another wide sandy beach with golden sand. The day was extremely hot, especially when we were out of the breeze that at least gave some relief on the headlands. We made our way around the beach and climbed up through the sand dunes to reach the high coast the other side.
Along this section, we came across another ‘inaccessible to cars’ beach that went by the delightful name of Swanlake Bay. All around this part of the coast, the heather was in beautiful, bright bloom and it really was wonderful to walk.
A little further on, we reached Manorbier Bay with rugged, red rocks and white water standing out brightly against the blues of sea and sky. Manorbier itself, with castle standing proud, sits in a narrow cove tucked below a headland known as Priest’s Nose. We debated whether to go inland to reach the town itself but elected to continue along the coast, skirting round the beach and passing the King’s Quoit Neolithic burial chamber on our way out to the nasal headland.
Rock formations are a feature of the whole of the Pembrokeshire coast and this section is no exception, with deep fissures and chasms being crossed by bridges.
Having crossed the headland, we dropped down to pass another feature, a rock arch that has been given the unusual name of Church Doors because of its high, square frame. I would love to have taken a closer picture of this but sadly it is only really possible to do it justice at low tide. Steps have been built down to the beach but at times other than low tide, there is not much beach available. There are actually three small coves separated by rocky peninsulas but on this day, there was no chance of accessing two of these. Even the tunnel that connects the two main coves was under water. It was a good opportunity though to sit above the door and have a snack 🙂 !
One of the attractions of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path is that most of it is unspoilt but there is one part on this day that I would have to exclude from that description and that is Lydstep Haven. This is one huge caravan park – we passed through and moved on swiftly!
We were now on the last section of the walk for today and we climbed up onto the headland that leads to Giltar Point. The day was clouding over rapidly, and there was now a chill breeze blowing as we made our way along the ridge and eventually dropped down into Penally, our stopping point for the night.
What a great day! 18 miles of awesome walking, great weather apart from the last mile or two, amazing views, and lots to see on the way. Tomorrow was to be our last day and it was to be a shorter one because we would be driving home afterwards. For now though, we could enjoy spending the evening reminiscing over our days walking.
If you have missed the previous days, there are links below:
Thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings, and I hope you enjoy exploring with me.
Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler
If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@– comments and feedback are always welcomed.
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