The southern zigzag of coast that darts west from Tenby is a strange mix of caravan parks, Ministry of Defence shooting ranges, spectacularly beautiful bays and gull-covered cliffs. From Tenby, the coastal road passes through Penally, with its wonderful beach, and continues past idyllic coves, the lily ponds at Bosherston and the remarkable and ancient St Govan’s Chapel, squeezed into a rock cleft above the crashing waves. The ancient town of Pembroke really only warrants a visit to its impressive castle and the fine Bishop’s Palace in neighbouring Lamphey. Buses to most corners of the peninsula radiate out from Tenby, Pembroke and Haverfordwest.
The Pembrokeshire Coast is Britain’s only predominantly sea-based national park, hugging the rippled coast around the entire southwestern section of Wales. Established in 1952, the park is not one easily identifiable mass, rather a series of occasionally unconnected coastal and inland scenic patches.
Crawling around almost every wriggle of the coastline, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path winds 186 miles from Amroth, just east of Tenby, to its northern terminus at St Dogmael’s near Cardigan. For the vast majority of the way, the path clings precariously to cliff-top routes, overlooking seal-basking rocks, craggy offshore islands, unexpected gashes of sand and shrieking clouds of seabirds. The most popular and ruggedly inspiring segments of the coast path are the stretch along the southern coast from the castle at Manorbier to the tiny cliff chapel at Bosherston; either side of St Bride’s Bay, around St David’s Head and the Marloes Peninsula; and the generally quieter northern coast either side of Fishguard, past undulating contours, massive cliffs, bays and old ports.
Spring is perhaps the finest season for walking: the crowds are yet to arrive and the cliff-top flora is at its most vivid. The best of the numerous publications available about the coast path is Brian John’s National Trail Guide, which includes 1:25,000 maps of the route.