Ok, so I am cheating a little with the title here as Pembrokeshire for me is not so much an adventure, as a second home. Located on the south-west tip of Wales, Pembrokeshire is a truly stunning county. Accolades to its name include being home to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the only coastal national park of its kind in the UK, and its many beaches which have been awarded numerous blue flag awards.
My Dad’s family herald from this part of Wales, and as I visit this many times a year, I thought I should share some of the gems that you can experience just a few hours down the motorway for most. If I were to try and cover all of Pembrokeshire in one post it would go on forever, so here are just a few highlights.
Fishguard may not be the most beautiful, or most busy of Pembrokeshire towns, but one particular story makes it a must for me. Fishguard was the site of the last invasion of Britian in 1797, when a force of more than 1000 French soliders landed, but surrendered just two days later. Jemima Nicholas is a name known by many Welsh people for her role in the battle; she led local women against the invasion with a pitchfork and captured 12 French soldiers! A tapestry created to celebrate the 200th anniversary documents the invasion, and can be seen in the town hall.
If you have seen the film ‘Under Milk Wood’ , then the Lower Town and its harbour will also look very familiar to you as the fictional Llareggub.
The Blue Lagoon
If you are a fan of the Red Bull extreme challenges, the ‘Blue Lagoon’ at Abereiddy might ring a bell for you. This flooded slate quality with its green hue (despite the name!) hosted a stage in the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series this year. It is also very popular for coasteering – working your way around the coast by swimming, climbing and diving. Access to the Blue Lagoon is via a pathway past ruined quarry buildings and slate workers’ cottages, and is easily accessible.
I love Tenby for its traditional seaside town feel with the twist of having a medieval town wall! Pedestrianised in the summer, the streets are always packed with holiday makers, and there are great beaches to enjoy. The pastel coloured Victorian buildings house many hotels, guest houses and lovely little cafes to sit and people watch from.
You may well have heard of St Davids, as its claim to fame is being the smallest city in the UK. Realistically, it is a very pretty town with a large cathedral. The 6th century Norman cathedral dominates the city, and was an important pilgrimage destination. The cathedral is also the final resting place of St David, the patron saint of Wales. St Davids is a great place to wander and wile away some time. If you are hungry, I recommend stopping by The Bench restaurant for delicious ice cream made from local milk.
My personal favourite Pembrokeshire destination however? Tucked away on a quiet coastal road not far from St Davids is the tiny village of Porthgain, a stop on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. Translated as ‘fair or beautiful port’, it really lives up to its name!
Porthgain never used to be as sleepy as it is now. In fact, it has a rich industrial history as a slate quarry and later as a site for brickmaking. The remains of these industrial buildings still cling to the cliffs around the harbour. Seal-watching trips also leave from Porthgain, and are a great activity for children. You might stumble across Porthgain if you follow the Pembrokeshire coast path, so I would recommend taking a break from walking at the Sloop Inn. A bit of a tardis, this small restaurant/pub is always full of cheery locals and hearty food – well worth a visit.
My top tips for Pembrokeshire:
- Put aside some time to walk a section of the 186 mile long Pembrokeshire Coastal Path which offers some truly amazing views. Its 35,000 feet of ascent and descent is said to be equivalent to climbing Everest!
- Do not leave Pembrokeshire without visiting at least one of its 50+ beaches. My top spots include Newgale, Whitesands and Solva. A complete guide can be found here.
- If you are looking for an authentic taste of Wales, keep an eye out for the following – try cawl (lamb and leek stew), laverbread (made from seaweed) or welsh cakes (best described as a welsh spin on a scone!)
- For some good holiday snaps, stop by Strumble Head light house which stands on a rocky outcrop five miles from Fishguard. This has proven to be a great spot for some atmospheric wild Welsh weather photos!