Post image for Wales Coast Path: Manorbier to Bosherston

Wales Coast Path: Manorbier to Bosherston

June 2, 2013 · 14 comments

Date Walked:  27th April 2013

Approximate Distance: 11 miles (a very gentle pace!)

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

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.   Stackpole is one of places on this walk that they manage. 

As I left the Castle Inn in Manorbier I overheard “It’s going to be a cold one tonight”. “Good” I thought, as I wanted to test my new Voyager 600 sleeping bag.  The path back in the dark was a little spooky. The main window of St James Church was lit, which was beautiful but in the churchyard opposite one of the graves was also lit. I didn’t think we did that in this country.


The stained glass in St James Church, Manorbier, Pembrokeshire, on the Wales Coast Path, photographed by Charles Hawes

OK its a very fuzzy image but it was taken at night without flash. You should have seen it before I worked on it.


Negotiating getting sorted in the dark in my little tent was a bit of a hassle. I’m a warm sleeper but in view of the local forecast I donned  long Johns and a base layer before zipping myself into the bag. Cosy! And I was still cosy when I was woken by the brittle splatter of rain.  The splatter turned into an auditory assault and I lay there trying to come up with words for this unique experience of being rained on in a tent.  Peeing in the night was a pain trying to sort out all the zips and then keep my knees dry. I think I might try one of those comfort bottles for the incontinent next time.

Packed rucksack on the Wales Coast Path in Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

All packed and ready to go.


I woke finally at 7 and managed (awkwardly) to make a cup of tea before emerging at 8. The foot of the tent had created a bird bath, but the fact that it was holding the pool was testament to the tents’ waterproofness. I was due to meet my friend Paul at the café in Manorbier but when I got there at 9 I found it wasn’t open until 10. Which was a bit of a boo-hoo as I really fancied a full fry up. Paul rang from the car park and walked up to meet me. The excellent village shop was open and had fresh pastries and hot coffee. Joy! We wiped off the seats outside and took stock.

I realised how much anxiety I had been carrying about how I would manage the walking/camping thing and was feeling much relieved. Paul was stressed out from working his socks off all week dealing with the measles crisis in his patch near Swansea and was feeling (understandably) angry about how all his extra hard work jabbing people goes straight into the pockets of the GPs in the practice. Paul usually gets angry about something on our walks (and always apologizes for doing so).

He carried on his rant whilst we strolled down to the car park by the beach where he kitted up and I brushed my teeth in the toilets (very refreshing).  We did not have a fixed destination in mind as Paul was joining me to wild camp that night. Our only requirement was a pub within a short walk.

The beach at Manorbier on the Wales Coast Path in Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

by the end of the day we’ll have walked as far as you can see and further!

It was a fine day and it wasn’t long before we were “ooing” and “arring” over the views from the cliff tops to the inlets and bays. Both of us take as much pleasure in the aesthetic pleasure of rock formations as we do the attempt to understand the processes that lead to such wonderful geology.

View from East Moor Cliff looking to West Moor Cliff across Swanlake Bay on the Wales Coast Path, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Nice view eh! I think this is looking across the mouth of Swanlake Bay

Freshwater Bay’s long sweep of sand was sparsely populated, despite it being a fine Saturday.

View of the bay at Freshwater East on the Wales Coast Path in Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Local inhabitants clearly preferring a lie-in than to get down to the beach on a saturday morning.

After here the coast wiggles up and down and from side to side, which made for much huffing and puffing on my part but which Paul tackled more easily. We made a mistake at one point of following a track which turned out to be more suited to suicidal sheep and after due democratic process we decided to cut our losses and wade up through the thick gorse to re-find our path above. Paul, (Short in stature, Big of Heart, Flight of Foot), does not wade easily in gorse.

Dramatic rock strata in Red Sandstone of Trewent Point in Pembrokeshire on the wales Coast path, photographed by Charles Hawes

Amazing rock strata in red sandstone – Trewent Point, I think.

These inlets and small bays also led to much pausing for photographs. Paul always seems to take far more care over his composition than I do.  Well he is an artist, so he should.  An orchid (the only one we saw all day) excited us both and we attempted a close up (I failed) of this (in this context) rarity. Paul  did better than me (with a little tweaking from me!). Paul is painting orchids for an exhibition that will form part of an orchid festival  at the National Botanic Garden of Wales in September 2013 ( I can vouch for his beautiful butterflies!).

Orchid on The Wales Coast Path in Pembrokeshire, photographed by Paul Steer

This is Paul’s pic


At one such bay with a stony beach and a good line of flotsam (or was it jetsam) we stopped for a bit. While I unpacked the wet tent and shook it out to dry in the brisk wind, its several layers of gossamer thin material billowing out like an enormous fancy kite, Paul got out his sketch pad.   I gave my feet and socks an airing, too: several have suggested to me that this is a good way to avoid blisters.  (It wasn’t successful as I developed one later and Paul came to my rescue with a clever plaster that behaves like skin.)

Limestone beach near Stackpole Quay on the Wales Coast Path in Pembrokeshire, photgraphed by Charles Hawes

Here’s Paul! He always complains when I get him in a picture. I think we may have moved onto limestone geology.

One of these bays had a sandy beach that appeared to have no route to it for those travelling by road  (my Guide confirms it doesn’t). I’m pretty sure that this is Barafundle Bay. On its beach a couple were arranging sticks and taking photographs.

Barafundle Bay on the Wales Coast Path in Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Do you like the monochromatic look of this shot? I cropped very heavily.

Paul’s eyes lit up as he recognized fellow artists at work.  He joined in.

Barafundle Bay on the Wales Coast Path in Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

I can’t imagine what difference a little crouch makes on a beach as big as this but these artists……

Inspired, I took one of my tree pics immediately afterwards in the little wood that climbs back up the cliff.

Wodland near barafundle Bay on the Wales Coast Path in Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Nearly May and the leaves had hardly broken out on these trees. So much for Global Warming

Stackpole Quay is just after Barafundle and most certainly deserved a picture, its impressive harbour wall is nearly as impressive as the excellent tea room which adjoins it but I failed in this regard.   I think I was hungry.

After Stackpole the path begins to keep to a more even altitude and red-painted markers began to appear near the cliff edge.

View to near vertical limestone cliff near Stackpole nature Reserve, Pembrokeshire on the wales Coast path, photographed by Charles Hawes

Maybe I’m just being a bit oversensitive here but there are lots of these. I suppose they are better than notices. What do you think?

We speculated on their purpose (measuring cliff erosion?) but I discovered later that they are to warn rock climbers not to descend at these points in the nesting season. I have to admit to a slight irritation about their presence despite the laudable intention – they just seemed out-of-place.

Limestone cliffs near Stackpole, Pembrokeshire viewed from The Wales Coast path, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Well they are impressive cliffs even if you can’t really make out what I am talking about.

Just off the shore from  Stackpole Head a  magnificent pinnacle of rock, standing away from the shore, took our fancy. I began conjuring up thoughts of Tolkien, which seems facile now. Paul wisely kept his counsel.  My picture does no justice to how splendid it was. I have no excuses to offer- I must have had a better vantage point than this.

Limestone cliffs near Stackpole, Pembrokeshire viewed from The Wales Coast path, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

This pic isn’t much better, is it?


Feature off the Pembrokeshire Coast near Stackpole, taken from the Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I reckon this is the best of the bunch and I took it on my iPhone. How embarrassing is that?

Several more superb bays followed before the cliffs provide a view over the sandy inlet of Broad Haven  and the Stackpole Nature Reserve.

View to the Bosherston Lily Ponds from above Broad Haven, Pembrokeshire on The Wales Coast Path, photographed by Charles Hawes

Paul heading for The Bosherston Lily ponds (NB No lilies seen but we saw a swan)

It must have been after 6 by now and Bosherston was  less than a mile inland (and shown as having a pub).  A group of tents were pitched on the far side of the bay and though this would have been a lovely spot I was feeling pretty tired and wanted to be closer to the village so we took the narrow path around the lake.

Bosherston Lily Ponds near Bosherston, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

It is a very nice lake even without lilies.

It’s a super spot and clearly popular as we were passed by several people out for a stroll. But the lake side rises steeply through a wood and I couldn’t see any potential spot for a camp.  I was getting anxious that we might have to walk through Bosherston and out the other side before finding a suitable spot but then a turn in the path occurred where a little valley joined it. There was a sort-of track punctuated with bramble that seemed worth exploring. At the end, about 100 yards off the path was a locked metal gate and beyond the most perfect little wood that had been colonised by wood garlic.

wooded valley near Bosherston, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Paul, preparing to fend off rampaging cows and irate landowners.

Over we went and found a perfect spot to pitch our tents.  It was only when we had done so that Paul saw someone above us.  Fearing that we might be about to be turfed off we sat and waited. The man and his dog re-appeared on the other side of the valleys edge and had clearly seen us but walked on as I waved him a greeting.

Paul remained a bit anxious about us being trampled in the night by cattle, me by having our camp destroyed whilst we were away in the pub but we both agreed that wild camping necessarily entails a little anxiety and that it was best dealt with by alcohol.

Wild camping in Pembrokeshire near the Wales Coast Path, photographed by Charles Hawes

OK as wild camping goes, this isn’t very wild, but you have to start somewhere.


We had time to have a little look around the church.

St Michael and all Angels church, Bosherston, Pembrokeshire, Photographed by Charles Hawes

St Michael and All Angels. It’s Norman. I thought the tower looked wonky but it looks OK here.

I started with a stained glass window so here I will finish with one.

Stained glass in St Michael and All Angels Church, Bosherston, Pembrokeshire, photgraphed by Charles Hawes

Can’t get enough stained glass.

The St Govans Inn was PACKED and had just one person serving at the bar which was mad but we found a table and I joined the queue and had a friendly chat with a pretty rock climber from Oxford.  I’d stayed here years ago with Neil. He comes for walks occasionally.

The food was good when it eventually arrived, the beer excellent and I shared my worldly wisdom with Paul about relationships. He’s a lucky fellow.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Ian Thorpe June 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Another very entertaining and instructive account – thanks!


Charles June 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Thanks Ian. Happy to entertain! Am still thinking I may try and live blog on The Dales Way. That should be fun.


sipritch June 2, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Another good one! Looking forward to your kit writeup!


Charles June 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Thanks Simon. God knows when I am going to get to the kit!


Anne Wareham June 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Love the captions!!! Hurray. And very entertaining. Good stuff. XXXXXX


Charles Hawes June 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Thanks. And I have just re-edited for spelling mistakes and typos!


Paul Steer June 2, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Great, short and angry…yes that about sums me up ! Charles this was very entertaining. My favourite photograph (being one of those strange arty types) is the wobbly stained glass window. It was a beautiful day.


Martin June 4, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Excellent post! And what scenery, I’m envious indeed.

“wild camping necessarily entails a little anxiety and that it was best dealt with by alcohol”, I couldn’t have said it better myself, I always carry a miniature bottle of scotch to sip on after making my wild camp pitch, does the job nicely.


Charles June 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Thanks Martin. We’re in good company with the hipflask. See my latest post about Hay. My uncle would carry bottles of wine for his lunch.


Sylvia Mawby June 8, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Another great post. We love this area which is within a comfortable day trip of Swansea and Gower. Barafundle Bay used to have much more sand, but my son ate most of it during his first visit at 6 months old! My favourite photo is up through the wiggly bare trees. Enjoy it whilst you can, if global warming shifts the Gulf Stream it’ll be back under half a mile of ice before you know it!


Charles Hawes June 8, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Thanks Sylvia. Laughed about your baby eating all that sand! Am pleased that I got there before the ice-cap, though obviously I should be thinking of getting cross-country skis by the time I get to Anglesey.


Sylvia Mawby June 8, 2013 at 5:33 pm

I didn’t realise quite how much he had eaten until it all came out the other end poor dab! Happy days, he’s revising for his A-levels as we speak so less prone to sand eating now.


rob grover June 11, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Very relieved by your recent burst of blogging; feared that you might have been struck down by a Tata truck, golf ball or caravan owner.
A retired friend and I have been following in your footsteps, the right way round the coastal path, since June 2012 and we were alerted to your blog by the Monmouthshire Coastal Officer ( not his real title).
Our progress has been slow ( we have only reached Llanridian on Gower), partly because we only walk every 2 to 3 weeks, but also because we have always, so far, used our free bus passes and senior railcards to get to the start of the walk and get home to Barry at the end of the day. It does mean that we’re often out all day for a 2 to 3 hour walk, but the transport system has a whole set of interesting vagaries and co passengers, which add to the overall experience.
Your blog is always good value, as it has evolved from walk details and tips, into a lessons in photography and the meaning of life. I was glad to see a fine picture taken with your mobile as I always carry my Nokia, which has a 6 megapixel camera and acts as my visual diary more often that as my phone.
We had ambitions to catch you up or even overtake you, but will continue to look at the pleasures in store.
Best wishes


Charles June 12, 2013 at 6:15 am

HaHA. What a great comment. Not struck down or struck dumb, but just otherwise engaged. But am back on the Path now and have reached Pembroke. Two more posts flying your way in due course. Love the idea of you following on behind. It would be great if you catch up, but meanwhile keep in touch and keep the comments coming. My Dales Way post was done on my mobile but it’s a right old business blogging on the hoof, so that post may be the one and only this week!


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