A caravanning holiday in Pembrokeshire
A guide to secluded beaches, good eats and great walks in this much-lauded coastal area
Exploring the coastline of Wales has never been more timely – or wise. As established holiday parks operators such as Park Resorts put up new caravans for sale in their three Wales sites of western Brynowen, northern Ty Mawr and south-western Carmarthen Bay, this is a great period to begin a love affair with the Welsh coast.
In May of this year, the Wales Coast Path was officially opened, giving open access to over 870 miles of coastline from the northern reaches near Porthmadog to the southern bays and Neolithic cliffs near Llantwit Major. What is more, the BBC recently reported that Wales enjoyed an 11.9% increase in visitors in 2011, with 9.7 million people staying at least one night.
The Pembrokeshire coast has long been one of the most celebrated stretches of coastline in Wales – and the UK. Tenby, located just off the A478 and on one of Pembrokeshire’s southerly hooks, has long been a holiday favourite.
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When Wales was a booming force in the coal and steel industries, Tenby was drawing families from industrial ports of Cardiff and Swansea in the 1940s and 1950s, offering a lovely, classic British seaside experience, including donkey rides, fairgrounds and sticks of rock.
These days, you can have the taste of old-time Tenby – or equally catch a flavour of a more contemporary Wales. It’s still fair to say that things revolve around the coast. This is why caravanning or camping is such a great idea. Taking a caravan to Tenby, or pitching up further south in Carmarthen and using the site as a base to explore, is a wonderful way to enjoy the coastal path.
Pembroke has more Blue Flag beaches than anywhere in Britain. Pembrokeshire has protected coastline in the form of the Pembrokeshire National Park to the north and west. It is also a great place for watersports. There are huge surfing beaches such as St Ishmaels and Wiseman’s Bridge.
Most celebrated – and an absolute must-see for kids and adults alike – is Barafundle Bay, which has often been acknowledged as one of the world’s most beautiful and secluded beaches. Only reachable by foot – it’s about half a mile walk towards the bay – this gentle curve of white sand nestled in gorse and wild foliage-flecked cliffs is an extraordinary find!
To reach the bay, you can base yourselves at Stackpole Quay where there is a lovely place for a cup of tea and a snack. This isn’t the best idea with really small kids, because of the steps and the steepness of the path down to the bay, but for anyone over the age of 5 or 6 it’s very manageable and worth the effort.
For food, you’ll find it hard pressed to get round to seeing St Dogmael’s impressive abbey, as the area also boasts some great places to grub up. Right next door to the abbey is The Coach House, where local cheeses, chutneys and great breads are order of the day alongside homemade soups and cakes. You can even buy some of the produce to take back for picnics and lunches in the caravan!