Platform in Milford Haven, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Wales Coast Path: Pembroke Dock to near South Hook Point

August 25, 2013 · 11 comments

Distance walked: 11.8 miles

Date walked: 20th July 2013

Map required: OL36- South Pembrokeshire

Suggested walking guide book: Pembrokeshire Coast Path by Jim Manthorpe

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path Officer is Dave MacLachlan. His email is

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

All the photographs were taken on my new Canon G15. I chose this camera partly because it was capable of taking pictures in a RAW format. This would allow me best control over the image processing. I have only now found that my version of Photoshop will not recognize this relatively new camera so I have tweaked the camera’s own jpegs on this occasion whilst I arrange an expensive upgrade!

Sorting out my journey to Pembroke was easy enough. A taxi to Chepstow Station and then a train through, changing at Cardiff. My only problem was that I didn’t bring all the fistful of stubs that came with my tickets and I was technically travelling without the right bit but the Kind Conductor let me off.

I have a confession to make. I have cheated and have missed a bit of the path. It was a pretty warm afternoon and as I neared Pembroke around 3pm I should have got off there to get me back to the High Street where I had finished my last walk in April but Jim Manthorpe’s words about skipping this whole section because it was so boring came into my mind. I felt reluctant to tramp though Pembroke’s hot streets so I stayed on the train to Pembroke Dock thus depriving myself of walking past the Ferry Terminal.

I re-joined the path at the A4139 and followed it to a roundabout where the A477 heads over the Cleddau Toll Bridge, admiring (not) the municipal planting on the way.

Roadside planting near the Cleddau Bridge on the Wales Coast Path in Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Who decided that every municipal bedding arrangement needs a spiky plant in the middle?

The busy road bothered me not a bit. I could see for miles over Milford Haven with the refinery at Angle Bay and the nearby power station silhouetted in the haze.

View from the Cleddau Bridge in The Wales Coast path in Pembrokeshire photographed by Charles Hawes

The ferry left dock at my request just to improve the picture

The Wales Coast Path follows the road over the gorge of Westfield Pill where a small marina shelters dozens of sailing boats.

The marina in Westfield Pill photographed from the A477 on The Wales Coast path in Pembrokeshire by Charles Hawes

Popular pastime, mucking about in boats.

Coming off the main road I was already glad of the shade afforded by the little wood that runs along the far side of the pill to the unremarkable village of Neyland. From here I continued on the minor waterside road past the little church of Llanstadwell. I did pop in and popped out again in a few minutes.

Church at Llanstadwell on The Wales Coast path in Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

It’s a little dull inside.

My forecast for the next few days was as good as it gets in this country if you like it dry, so I had brought with me by way of shelter just the vintage Gore-tex bivi bag that my Uncle Nigel had kindly donated and a silk liner. If it had been wet The Ferry House Inn at Hazelbeach would have been the only Bed and Breakfast opportunity between there and Milford Haven. Though nicely situated by the water it had very little charm from the outside and I felt happy to press on. I had a few more hours of daylight left.

View across Milford Haven to Pennar Point in Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

I had walked on that side of the bay back in April

As I approached the outskirts of Milford Haven I had a fine view to Pennar Mouth on the opposite side of the sky-blue water.

Caged walkway across pipelines near Miford Haven forming part of The Wales Coast path in Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

I suppose the sides would stop you flinging any heavy rocks onto the pipeline. Or yourself.

Passing through caged tunnels over two sets of pipelines that led to a docking platform was a reminder that there was a massive refinery on my side of the Haven and then I glimpsed a couple of storage tanks beyond the rusting perimeter fence.

View of storage tanks in the refinery at Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

An unusually arty shallow focus pic.

There was a slight smell of sulphur in the air. The sound scape an ephemeral humming of engines and motors, gulls squawking, and the rustle of grasses in the wind.

A detour inland to Black Bridge was required, though looking at the map I could not see why access had not been negotiated across the swing bridge at the mouth of Castle Pill. The pretty view of the houses reflected in the high tides waters was compensation for this roadside stint.

View of castle Pill from Black Bridge, taken from The Wales Coast Path in Pembrokeshire by Charles Hawes

Angle Bay Oil Refinery tastefully reflected in the high tide

I doubt that Milford Haven has won many prizes for its townscape but I felt welcomed when I reached the broad path that overlooks the water and leads to its centre.

Flower bed in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Well it would have been very colourful if it had rained a bit more.

The begonias were not doing well in the drought afflicted circular flower bed and no one seemed to want to take advantage of the garden where a bench is carefully placed to give a view over it to Angle Bay’s refinery.

View across Miford Haven to Angle Bay photographed from Milford Haven on The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

A seat AND a balcony! Someone really rated this view.

A Tesco’s was conveniently situated by Milford’s own marina and knowing that I had no further opportunity to find supper for the night I called in and was glad of a few minutes in its air-conditioned hanger. I came away with a large tub of hummus, a small artisan loaf and a couple of 175ml bottles of an Australian Red. And two pastries for breakfast.

Milford Haven photographed from The Wales Coast Path in Pembrokeshire by Charles Hawes

I love a distressed paint finish

Passing a beautifully distressed container of God Knows What, the road out of Milford gave me a good view of the marina.

The Marina in Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Who’d have thought that so many people would want to moor their boats in Milford Haven. Where there’s muck there’s brass?

The suburb of Hakin didn’t delay me and at Gelliswick Bay the road gives way once more to grass underfoot. In the low sun a man finishing under a massive jetty was oblivious to me, concentrating on his probably futile recreation.

Fisherman under pipleines at Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Perhaps the fishes like the shade?

I was tiring now and had begun to scan around for a place to stop. It was a perfect evening and the views over the pipelines in the Haven and the jetties with their docked tankers were sufficient to make me want to sit and gaze.

Oil piplelines and jetties in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The wales Coiast path by Charles Hawes

Pipelines in the evening light. What could be nicer?

But there were passing ships, too and clouds to contemplate. To my right a low fence protected a complicated concrete clad building which I thought worthy of investigation.

Butting hard up against a perimeter fence of the refinery it was a fascinating piece of work with steps leading underground. But it also afforded some level ground that would be out of sight from the path and it was an easy decision to decide that this would be my camp.

Wild Camp near South Hook Point in Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

My first wild camp in donkey’s years.

I set up my bivvi and hung a ground sheet across my resting place (just in case) and brought my supper to the very warm and comfortable wall next to the path. I found that I had a good 3G signal on my phone so emails were sent and received and I had a little chat with some friends on Twitter, taking and sending pictures as the sky darkened and the sun dropped.

Pembrokeshire sunset photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

As I munched in the twilight a couple passed by and I greeted them cheerily with “ I wasn’t expecting to see anyone else here by this time”. “I could say the same” was the reply. I was in my bag by the time they passed back.

wild camping on The Wales Coast Path near South Hook Point, photographed by Charles Hawes

Snug as a bug in a rug


{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Ian Thorpe August 25, 2013 at 7:53 am

Once again, Charles, this is very impressive. Not just the walking and the bivvying, but the capturing of colour and atmosphere in the images. I particularly like the distressed paint finish and the near-focus rusty fence.


Charles August 25, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Thanks Ian. I’ll keep my eyes out for more distressed paintwork.


Anne Wareham August 25, 2013 at 8:46 am

You need a proof reader. But some of your mad errors are funny….


Charles August 25, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Doh! I’ve made some corrections but I bet John will find some more!


John August 25, 2013 at 3:06 pm

I cannot find corrections (because I don’t know where the original errors were – pedantic, that’s me). Given that Paul has pointed out the spurious plural, I will merely suggest that you look for the surplus full stop in the intro and research the difference between that lovely black compost-like stuff and the stuff that you put in your mouth.

As you’re getting to the end of the National Park area now (and the coverage of Jim Manthorpe’s book) have you given any thought to your descriptive style and the scope of information you will include in the future? Must confess that, not having that book to begin with, reading Peter Watson backwards is a bit tedious 🙂


Charles August 25, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Yelp! Ok am eating chick peas now. Can’t be arsed about a full stop. Yes, I think after Cardigan there will have to be toilet talk again. Must look up Peter Watson, thanks.


Paul Steer August 25, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Makes me want to wild camp but not sure what donkies are.


Charles August 25, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Honestly, you are a picky lot today. Donkies is a plural of Donkey of course! Alright. I’ll change it!


Anne Wareham August 25, 2013 at 2:04 pm

At least he didn’t introduce an apostrophe….


bernhard feistel August 26, 2013 at 1:23 pm

If there are too many 175ml bottles I hope there is no danger of you, too, “finishing under a jetty”?

(For me one 0,7 bottle is often in danger of being emptied too quickly, with four 175ml bottles it could be a different story.)
I particularly liked the rusty perimeter fence.


Charles August 26, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Hello! Nice of you to drop in. I will try to restrict myself to two small bottles in my pack. Though I was thinking next week of a small additional hip flask for Whiskey. Very small.


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