Part 1 of A June Jaunt. Wales to Northumberland! Pembrokeshire
Updated: Jul 12
Off to Wales! Neither of us had been for a number of years, and we had one week before we needed to be in Northumberland! Rain was forecast for the eastern half of Britain, so we headed west. It was half term holidays, and the Queen’s Jubilee weekend so we needed to find quieter spots where we could get onto a campsite.
We usually like to make up our itinerary as we go, but this time we decided to book in advance. We were glad that we did, as many sites were full, although there seemed less people around than we expected.
After entertaining the family for Sunday lunch at home, we threw the last bits into Buzzbee and set off just after 5pm. We had booked a stop at Dryslwyn, near Pencoed, as they were happy for us to arrive between 9pm and 10pm. We arrived at 9.20. Lovely little CL in the middle of nature, with a toilet and ehu for £16 . Perfect, and just 5 minutes from the M4 so we could continue our journey the next morning.
Next day, first stop, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust site near Llanelli. WWT sites are a combination of captive birds from around the world – including their lovely flamingos, and areas of wetlands which attract wild birds.
We started our holiday bird list here, and had a nice walk around the reserve before continuing to pretty Laugharne on the Taf estuary. Probably most famous because Dylan Thomas lived here. You can visit his modest home, where he even left his washing out, and see the writing shed where he wrote many of his great works, looking out over the ever changing estuary.
My favourite snippets about Dylan Thomas. Firstly he spent so much time in the bar at Brown's Hotel in the town, that he would give people that phone number instead of his own. Secondly, Laugharne is thought to be the inspiration for Llareggub village in Under Milk Wood. Try reading it backwards!
Laugharne is a lovely stop, as there is also a castle to explore, and a grass foreshore where we parked our campervan, and had our picnic.
Next we drove to Stackpole Quay and parked at the National Trust (NT) car park, free as we are members. We did the super 5 mile circular walk past the Bosherton lakes and around the gorgeous cliffs. Barafundle Bay beach is a true hidden gem. Our birdlist got a boost on the cliffs as we saw Chough, a bird which 20 years ago had almost died out in Britain.
Finally we drove on to Druidston Home Farm near St Brides Bay in far west Pembrokeshire, our home for 3 nights. Friendly little site on a slight slope, with simple but perfectly adequate loos and shower, always very clean, and ehu for £21 per night.
Next morning we walked a mile along a quiet lane to the coast path, and then walked a few miles along the coast. A gorgeous early summer morning, and we saw Bullfinch on the lane, and Peregrine on the cliffs. And hardly another person.
Back to Buzzbee and then a drive to Picton Castle (Free for Historic House Association members), for an interesting tour of the house. A 13th Century Castle which was transformed into a stately home in the 18th Century, there were some quirky features, like unusually shaped doors and beautifully hand painted shutters. The guides had lots of interesting stories, including the Picton Renoir which featured on the TV programme 'Fake or Fortune'. The jury is still out! In the dining room there was a glaring gap in the centre of the ceiling. The guide told us that the most beautiful chandelier usually hangs there, but staff had come in one morning and found it smashed on the floor. One of the chain links had perished with age. Ooops!
The little bird and owl zoo there is interesting, and the RHS partner gardens were stunning. Add in free Birds of Prey flying sessions, and it makes a great day out.
Next we drove on to gorgeous Marloes beach – a 15 minute walk from the NT car park, and had a picnic tea, before driving a few miles further to Martin’s Haven for an evening Seabird Safari with Dale Sea safaris. We headed out on a calm sea around Skokholm Island where Puffins, Guillemots and Razorbills were all around us.
Then out to see Manx Shearwater beginning to gather in rafts, before they fly ashore in the dark to avoid predation by the bigger gulls. Only a few had arrived, as dusk was not until after 10pm, but it was still great to see this elusive bird. The boat had it's very own hitch hiking seagull! This stone is a 7th century Celtic burial stone, found in the base of a Victorian wall!
Another lovely sunset and a peaceful night was followed by a drive to St Davids, the smallest city in Great Britain (good pub quiz knowledge), and, more importantly, the home of the amazing St Davids food and wine shop and their black pudding scotch egg! Delicious. We did, of course, visit the Cathedral and the Bishop’s Palace. The Cathedral ceiling is incredible, constructed in the 1530’s from Welsh Oak, with 22 ornate carved oak pendants hanging below. Just incredible to see. A very beautiful Cathedral which contains the tomb of Edmund tudor, father of King Henry VII. The Bishop’s Palace next door is part of Cadw, the Welsh equivalent of English Heritage (EH), and EH members get into Cadw properties free. It was once a magnificent mediaeval palace, but fell into ruin after the Reformation in 1538.
A few miles from St Davids, a dead end road takes you to a small car park at St Non’s Head. Just below the car park are the remains of St Non’s chapel, where, tradition says, St Non gave birth to St David. It is a peaceful spot, and the start for some nice walks along the cliffs. Leaving here, we drove up the coast to Porthgain, a favourite place of ours, where we enjoyed a fish and chip lunch before setting off on the super walk along the cliffs to Abereiddi Bay and the impressive Blue Lagoon. Left over from the area’s industrial past, the lagoon is a flooded slate quarry 25 metres deep, and is now a popular place for coasteering, and jumping in, from platforms ranging from 4ft to 30 feet high. We watched, without being in the slightest bit tempted to join in, as lots of jumpers were there, it being the first of the 4 bank holidays for the Queen’s 70th Jubilee.
A gorgeous sunset view from our pitch, and next morning we set off to the Preseli Mountains, a lovely small range that are often bypassed, but merit some exploring. The bank holiday traffic here was….. non existent! The hills are lovely for walking. We chose to climb Foeldrygarn, with remnants of an iron age hill fort and burial cairns at the summit. The views were superb, out to the Irish sea. This is one end of the 7 mile Golden Road footpath along the top of the Preseli Hills, thought to have been a path 5,000 years ago!
The Preseli Hills are now known to be the source of the Blue Stones that were taken to Wiltshire about 4,500 years ago…. somehow! They weigh between 2 and 5 tons each and were used to build Stonehenge. There are remnants of bluestone circles in the Preseli hills, and in Mynachlogdda is a bluestone monument. It is one of a pair of stones donated by the landowner. One was erected here, and the other carried by chinook helicopter to Stonehenge, where it stands as a monument marking the Silver Jubilee of the Cystic Fibrosis Research Trust. A highlight of the Preseli Hills is Rosebush, a small village which was once the hub of this area’s slate quarrying industry. There was even a railway that ran here. A hotel was built out of zinc, and it remains as the Tafarn sinc, or the Zinc Inn. It is a super pub, now owned by the community after a worldwide campaign to save it raised enough money by selling £2 shares! The ceiling is hung with washing, drying hams and other memorabilia… and the beer is good so it is worth a stop.
From here, we drove to pretty Newport, walking along the shore to Parrog, before heading to Dinas Head and our campsite for the night. The hill up to the Dinas Island campsite is pretty steep, but the site is nice, with a lovely view. We had planned to do another walk, but were too tired! Loos were clean, basic but adequate, and with EHU it was £20 per night. Pretty good for bank holiday weekend!