Church Rock off Broad Haven, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Wales Coast Path: Bosherston to Angle

June 16, 2013 · 16 comments

Date Walked:  28th April 2013

Approximate Distance: 17.8 miles (heroic, considering I was carrying my camping gear)

OS Map required: OL36- South Pembrokeshire

Suggested walking guide book: Pembrokeshire Coast Path by Jim Manthorpe

This section of the path is within Pembrokeshire. Their Coast path Officer is Dave MacLachlan. His email is DaveMac@pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk

The Pembrokeshire Coast is also a National Park who are responsible for planning decisions.

The National Trust are having a competition to invite people to share what they love about some of the areas of the Welsh Coast that they manage. The prize is a Coasteering or Kayaking experience under instruction for you and up to 4 others. You need to have a Facebook account and to have visited the place within the last 6 months of your entry and make your comment by October 30th 2013. Follow this link then choose the place that you’d like to comment on.   Freshwater West is one of places on this walk that they manage. 

Paul had declared himself to be a snorer but I slept soundly enough and our tents were pitched sufficiently apart that it wasn’t until around 6 that I was conscious of some activity from his direction.

“Morning”.

“Morning”.

It was time to make a cup of tea. Paul had been unable to work out a sensible return route to his car at Manorbier by public transport and so had resolved to re-trace his steps today whilst I walked on towards Milford Haven. 

Shag perching at the edge of Bosherston Lily Pond, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

This Shag (?) on the Bosherston Lily Pond seemed a bit sleepy

By 7 we were saying our goodbyes at the southern end of the Bosherston Lily pond and 10 minutes later waving goodbyes as we lost sight of each other.  I had enjoyed our time together and was pleased that Paul was going to join me in June for part of The Dales Way.

Just half a mile from Broad Haven the path enters the very extensive (5880 acres according to the author of my guide to the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path) Castlemartin MOD Artillery range.  I had checked beforehand (telephone 01646 662367 – a recorded message gives up to date information) that no exercises were due on this Sunday, so the sentry box was empty and I was able to continue to keep to the coastal route (on firing days the detour inland at this point is significant – 3 miles on “monotonous” roads). 

Sentry Box at the start of the Castlemartin Army Training Area on the Wales Coast Path, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Castlemartin is said to be one of NATO’s most important training areas in Europe.

But not before making the very short detour to see the little St Govan’s chapel built into the side of the cliff  just a couple of hundred metres away. Perhaps it was too early in the morning for me but I found no resonance of spirituality or atmosphere within its walls. It just seemed empty.

St Govan's Chapel on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path near Bosherston, photographed by Charles Hawes

A strange place but not one that charmed me.

My spirits were raised, though, by the song of the skylarks, even more so by spotting one of them as I searched the sky for the source of this musical greeting. It was easy walking for the next couple of miles along pretty level ground. The path presented one stunning, scary drop to the sea after another. 

One of the many deep inlets along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path near Bosherston, photographed by Charles Hawes

These were amongst the most dramatic of all the inlets I have come across on the whole path so far.

The sea has eked out sharp deep inlets and massive bays, Bullslaughter Bay being the most impressive. I kept close to its edge for the better view.

Bullslaughter Bay, on the wales Coast Path in Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Bullslaughter Bay. You must go and see it for yourself – pics can’t do this justice.

A little later I spotted the only evidence I saw on the range of shelling. A hard plastic baton about 3” in length with a blue end.

Bosherston_to_Angle_09

There was other evidence of the military use of the land, though. A couple of discarded vehicles that might, I guessed, be used as targets, a gun emplacement of sandbags very close to a cliff top and  several bricked up shelters. But somehow this place still felt secluded and very peaceful.

By around 9 I had reached Stack Rocks where, firing or not, the coast is out of bounds.  At this point  are two of its most striking natural formations, the Elegug Stacks (anotyher name for Stack Rocks) and just a couple of hundred yards further The Green Bridge.

Stack Rocks also known as Elegug Stacks, on the Wales Coast Path in Pembrokeshire, Photographed by Charles Hawes

Not a bad snap though I say it myself.

I gave both these monuments to geomorphology some time.

The Green Bridge of Wales on the Wales Coast Path, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

The Green Bridge of Wales: this one’s even better.

I had texted Paul a couple of times as I walked so I knew he was making good progress and I had complained to him that I had no idea where my breakfast was going to come from. Then I found a perfectly good banana sitting on top of an explanatory board!

The road that I was required to take inland for the next mile or so was not unpleasant but it was quite busy despite it ending at the car park serving the tourists (and perhaps climbers).

Flimston Chapel near Merrion, Pembrokeshire on the Wales Coast path, photographed by Charles Hawes

Flimston Chapel- the only building that the MOD have left a roof on.

My guide book was warning me that there was going to be no refreshments available between nearby Merrion and Angle. This did not prove to be true but I thought that perhaps if I stocked up at Merrion I might wild camp somewhere around the mouth of Milford Haven. I read in the guide that the owner of The Old Smithy in Merrion, who runs a bed and breakfast, also allows campers and will sometimes offer a cooked breakfast to them. I thought I would push my luck and phoned her to see if I could have the breakfast sans tent.  “That’s a first” she said but was happy to oblige and by the time I got there 20 minutes later she was clearing away the table and was quite happy to also provide a packed cold supper.  “You can have a shower if you like”. I didn’t look this gift horse in the mouth either and after a smashing fry up and fruit salad I had a hot shower. Bliss. Stuffing a round of cheese sandwiches, a pork pie and some chocolate biscuits and another banana in my bag I felt well set up for the rest of the day. That was £15 well spent.

From Merrion I carried on along the road that climbs gently through Warren and passes a remarkably ugly building where visitors can come and view the firing range in action. What larks!

MOD tower at Castlemartin, Pembrokeshire on the Wales Coast Path. Photographed by Charles Hawes

Not one of the MODs architectual masterpieces

A cafe was open at Castlemartin, a mile further on but I didn’t stop.  Still on the road, I caught my first glimpse of industrialisation across the fields (a refinery on Angle bay, I think).

The Old Rectory, near castlemartin, on the Wales Coast Path in Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

This is a massive grange in the middle of nowhere. How come?

The path now provides views towards the mouth of Milford Haven and drops down to a car park at Gupton Burrows.

View of Freswater West from the Wales Coast Path in Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Freshwater West. Another walk across the sands in the offing! I seem to be lucky with the tides.

Here, a van was offering bacon sandwiches to the hardy kite-surfers who were struggling in the stiff breeze to get their boards and kites to the beach without getting launched into the dunes before they had even touched water. Shunning the “Porta cafe” I did make use of the toilet bock and then headed for the beach myself. The tide was out and the beach near deserted and it was a good trek being blown along the firm sands of Freshwater West. At the end of the beach I fancied that I could find a way up through the low cliffs to the path but a couple I passed doubted the wisdom of this so I changed tack and clambered up an easier route just by Gravel Bay.

View over Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, taken from the Wales Coast Path from above Gravel Bay. Photograph by Charles Hawes

It was pretty windy up here!

The path becomes challenging again for the next few miles with steep sided little valleys running down to the many small rocky bays. 

Steep valley on the Wales Coast Path, Pembrokeshire, near Angle, photographed by Charles Hawes

My strategy was to look at this view and say to myself “In 10 minutes time I’ll be at the top on the other side”

Although it was only mid afternoon, I had walked about 12 miles and was tiring so I stopped for a while to dry out the tent from the morning dew. On my map a blue glass of beer at Angle and a blue tent and caravan were enough to weaken my resolve to wild camping favour of  the easier option of a campsite and a hot meal in a pub. I phoned to check that the campsite was open (amazing isn’t it that I could get a signal in sparsely populated Pembrokeshire but I get none where we live just a few miles from Chepstow).

Dramatic cliffs on the Wales Coast path, Pembrokeshire, near Angle, photographed by Charles Hawes

We’re still very much in Dramatic Cliffs country

The thought of beer and chips added strength to my weary limbs as I tackled a wide loop opposite Sheep Island (we like sheep –in joke for Anne) and turned the corner of the peninsular near Rat Island (no rats seen).

Sheep Island off the Wales Coast Path, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

The sheep appear to have abandoned their Island

By the time I was approaching  West Angle Bay I  felt I was beginning to almost stagger but a grumpy man who was doing up a very ugly building asked me not to take the short cut up his drive to the village, but he only added half a mile to my journey.

Property on the Wales Coast path near Angle, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes.

I’d probably be grumpy if I had bought a property as ugly as this.

At the car park at West Angle Bay I did leave the path, though, and headed straight up the road past The Hibernia Inn through the village to the Castle Farm caravan and camping ground that sits right by Angle Bay.  There were no other tents and not too many caravans. I pitched my tent and scrambled inside for a well earned doze.

Castle farm camp Site off the Wales Coast Path at Angle, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Not a bad spot but they have coin metres for hot water and it did feel pretty basic. I must send them some money.

The chips at the Hibernia Inn were a greasy floppy disappointment and though the beer was good, I  hate sitting in a bar with a TV on (this vile intrusion seems to be getting more and more common) so I thought I would have a wander.

It was still light when I reached the track that lead to the campsite. What was muddy before I went out was now under water and the boats in anchorage had been lifted by the tide.

Ancjorage at Angle on the Wales Coast Path in Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

It was rather lovely light. A nice evening for a little walk.

I saw a sign that suggested that there was a pub further around the track. It was a nice evening and although I had decided to skip the couple of miles along the coast by my detour through the village I thought that I would at least have a look at the pub.  On the far side of Angle Bay the lights of the Pembroke oil refinery had begun to twinkle in the dusk.

Oil refinery at dusk on Angle Bay, Pembrokeshire, photographed from the Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

The Oil refinery on Angle Bay. The graininess is what is called “noise” from the camera adjusting to very low light levels.

The tide had actually covered the track as it reached the Old Point House but I was able to get in through their garden.  The cosy little front room with its open fire was so welcoming that I sat myself in the corner and ordered a double malt. I don’t understand why Manthorpe described the pub as “eccentric” in his Guide. Maybe he has led a sheltered life.  

photo (9)

A few locals were having a chat and there was talk of a band coming. My heart sank at this as music in pubs is for me, live or not, usually an unwelcome noise.  The band – a fiddle, banjo, acoustic guitar and accordion (folk music is probably my most favoured genre) only turned up at 10 – they had forgotten about the flooded road. No one else came and from the outset I enjoyed the bluesy relaxed music, the landlord joining in occasionally on his harmonica. So here’s a treat for you: “Let it rain” by The Welcome Guests”

Another double malt followed a pint of the most awful Somerset draught cider (a cross between cows pee and amonia – NB to self. Follow my friend Dave’s example and ask for a taste in future). I wasn’t legless when I left at 11 but I certainly felt that I had had a good night. And I was slightly kicking myself that I had not booked to stay the night at this very special place. The sight of the refinery on the way back was wonderful.

The oil refinery at night on Angle Bay, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes.

Honestly it was a stunning sight: this grainy picture doesn’t do it justice

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Wareham June 16, 2013 at 9:50 am

Love this – “I had decided to skip the couple of miles” – and at the end of the day too!

Sad about the sheep deserting their very own island. But we’ll go on liking them….

Another great post, great pics and excellent captions…. XXXXX

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Charles June 17, 2013 at 11:39 am

Well you know how fit I am! I might have danced. Yes, of course we still, like sheep. Glad the captions are getting your approval!XX

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Simon June 16, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Another great post.

The more I read of these, the more I think we’d get along great when walking / camping – any excuse for a decent bit of grub and a hot shower!

Those cliffs and the blue sea both look equally inviting – ever tried climbing / sea kayaking? Maybe we should give one / both a try together sometime?

When I read your comment about sheep, I instantly had this vision of it being said in a typical farmer-like west country accent – is that how it should be done?

We really do need to organise a trip together soon…

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Charles June 17, 2013 at 11:44 am

Thanks Simon. I’m sure we’d have a good time. No, I’m not that fond of getting wet, but climbing sounds more fun.
No the comment about the sheep needs to be sung, with a pause between we and sheep.

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Julia June 17, 2013 at 11:06 am

24.jpg is great – windy path through the robust organic geology. The rest is very good too – great read. If it didn’t look so f . . . ing cold I might be inspired to take a stroll myself. But I guess the climate is all important to your desire and tenacity to conquer and enjoy these routes. Are you from Viking stock?

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Charles June 17, 2013 at 11:46 am

Thanks Julia. But it wasn’t very cold and I usually have enough layers to keep the cold at bay. I kinda like being really windswept! I’ll ask my Mum about Vikings in the family but she hasn’t mentioned them so far.

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Paul Steer June 17, 2013 at 7:24 pm

The cliffs along that part of the coast look stunning. I really enjoyed reading this. You probably couldn’t hear my snoring because yours cancelled mine out !

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Charles June 25, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Just realised that I hadn’t replied. Sorry. They are amazing. Add it to your walking list. I couldn’t hear you snoring cos I was asleep, silly!

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rob grover June 20, 2013 at 6:39 pm

It’s amazing how much you can pack into a day if you hit the road (path) at 7am and I’m trying to detect how your blog varies depending on whether you have a walking companion or not.
Your link to Bullslaughter Bay says it’s intriguingly named, but not as intriguing as the Bull’s Laughter labels on Google earth!
David and I are warm/not hot on your heels having just walked from Llanridian to Gowerton, and, playing I-Spy for walkers, spotted the trailer of cockle shells and Ambassadors Cars.The contrasts on the walk are fantastic – salt marshes, sand dunes, massive cliffs and main roads.
Amazingly the Pembroke to Manchester train was stop on request at Gowerton, so we did our best railway children impressions.

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charles June 21, 2013 at 7:42 am

It is, isn’t it? And its amazing how tired you can be at the end of the day by getting on the path early. Love the idea of the I-Spy for walkers (ooops, was that my idea I am just loving?). Let me know when you are passing me and we’ll have a drink. Basically the role of the companions is for me to make friendly digs at them and to embarass them if at all possible. People are very distracting. I keep suggesting to Paul that we have a silent walk but he will ramble on. But today was very undistracted apart from my thoughts about beer and chips.

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Pam Mallpress June 24, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Hello Charles! Really feel as though you are our walking pal! We are only up to Swansea having started in April – fundraising for Velindre Cancer centre. Your blog has been invaluable, thank you! We don’t always follow in your footsteps exactly but like you sometimes feel a little (or a lot…) frustrated that the path has quite a few glitches! We couldn’t do the Tennant canal for instance last weekend so the tramp on the A48 in inclement conditions wasn’t the best! Still overall it is a great experience – very recommendable. Not sure how long it will take us…hope we don’t overtake you, your blog goes with us along with a map! Hope you’re sleeping nights…..if you don’t mind mentioning my blog it may get us a few more donations to a worthy cause!
Thanks again and happy wandering!

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Charles June 25, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Hello!!!I’m really pleased that the blog has been useful. Shame about the Tennant Canal as that was a really pleasant peaceful stretch. What was the problem there? But the Gower is next for you and that is just fab! I guess if you are only at Swansea I shall keep in the lead. I hope to return next month for three days or so. And they’ll be a new post out on June 30th that will take me to Pembroke.
Will try and work in a mention of your blog next time. PamelaMallpress.blogspot.com

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Pam June 27, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Hello Charles. The Tennant canal has a “temporary” diversion (ie along the A48!) because the Baglan Bay energy company are doing something or other. We did laugh at your adventure on the building site! And what a shame that Tata didn’t reply! Maybe that section will open later this year…..look forward to your next section then and thank you for mentioning my blog!

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Charles June 27, 2013 at 6:49 pm

That’s horrid about having to do even more by the A48. Next post is out on Sunday, but then I must get back to the path. Am toying with the idea of bivvying(sp?), but I bet the summer will drive me back to B&Bs.

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Ben Hannigan October 30, 2015 at 7:51 am

Charles, as always we’ve made use of your excellent blog during our own walk around the Wales Coast Path. This week, during which we’ve been walking this southern stretch of the Pembrokeshire coastline, we had to take the detour at Castlemartin to avoid the firing. What we discovered was a permissive path which, whilst missing out Bullslaughter Bay and the other delightful inlets you reference, at least keeps you off the road. We ended up making two trips to The Old Point House: on Wednesday it was open, but on Thursday (at half past four, having made a special detour to re-visit it) it was sadly closed. Pick your days wisely!

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Charles October 31, 2015 at 4:07 pm

Great, Ben, that you are using the blog. And it’s super to get these comments which tests and jogs my memory of the places that I passed through. And thanks for giving other readers the advice. Keep the comments coming!

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