South Beach, Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Wales Coast Path: Saundersfoot to Manorbier

May 24, 2013 · 19 comments

Date Walked:  26th April 2013

Approximate Distance: 14 miles

OS Map required: OL36- South Pembrokeshire

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

I had planned to return to the Wales Coast Path in March but the weather was so rubbish that I didn’t fancy spoiling what I believed to be one of the best sections of the path by spending the days testing my waterproofs, so I had cried off. My starting point now being 120 miles from home by road it has now become impracticable to do day walks, so I am now intending to do at least three days in a row. In fact on this occasion I walked for 4 days.

Preparing to camp

Over the winter I had read several books about travelling by foot. The accounts of derring-do in Robert Macfarlane’s  “The Wild Places” had led me to two conclusions. Firstly that he appears to have, if not a death wish, then an extreme disregard for his own safety.  Someone really needs to talk to his wife.  Secondly, that whilst it does not appeal to me to test my endurance against the elements in such extremes of inhospitable places that he seems drawn to, I did feel mildly confronted that perhaps I was being a bit of a wimp by giving myself a bed and breakfast each night on these continuous walks and having a bag transferred from bed to bed containing all the creature comforts that a 15Kg weight limit can provide.

I have, periodically, quite enjoyed camping, and have two tents, so I thought that I would test out how walking and camping still suited me. However even my smaller tent -rated as a two person jobbie  -weighs far more than I was prepared to carry over several days. Likewise my old feather-filled sleeping bag.  April still felt a bit dodgy as far as planning to sleep under the stars, even in a bivi bag, so I decided to re-equip myself with a one-person camping setup.

I spent hours browsing the internet for tents and sleeping bags, taking careful note of exactly how many grammes each weighed. These researchers will have to form a post in my equipment section sometime. For now I’ll just provide a summary of the basic kit that I was pulling onto my back after I had parked the car in a quiet Saundersfoot backstreet: a Highlander 40 litre rucksack containing a Terra Nova Laser Competition 1 tent and a Voyager 600 sleeping bag. Camping just isn’t camping unless you can make a cup of tea in the morning, so I had also bought a neat little Coleman F1 light stove. And a new sleeping mat.  Insulation underneath you is essential if you are lying on the ground.

All told, with all the other essential bits and bobs (e.g. two large bars of chocolate and a small hip flask) I was setting off with a load weighing around 8kg (around 17lbs in old money). My niece’s husband, Simon, who’s big on all matter outdoors, reckoned that was “a bit heavy”, even though he approved of the chocolate.  As I wound up the quite steep road that heads south out of Saundersfoot I was sure that there was nothing that I could have left out. (Note to self. On my return I re-evaluated the bags contents and I reckon I could have left out my compact binoculars and one pair of socks).

The Walk

 

View over Saundersfoot from the Wales Coast Path, photograph by Charles Hawes

The path soon leaves the road and passes through Rhode Wood, its trees twisted and moss covered.

Wood at the end of South Beach, Tenby, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

The slopes at Monkstone Point were covered in gorse though the late spring meant that there were few trees that had broken into leaf.  Ahead was the first view of Tenby. I had not set off until around 12.00 so I earmarked Tenby for lunch.  I felt that I had earned a break by the time I got there I had already made two or three quite steep descents and climbs up steep little valleys, one of which had been all but clear felled.

Clear felled wood on the Wales Coast Path near Tenby, Pembrokeshire. Image by Charles Hawes.

Jessie Allen’s view appears to getting a bit lost through the rising tree line

Plaque commemorating Jessie Allen on the Wales Coast Path near Tnby, Pembrokeshire. Image by Charles Hawes.

but she might be grateful for that as this monstrosity is just below her favoured vantage point.

Ugly modern house on the Wales Coast Path near Tenby, Pembrokeshire. Image by Charles Hawes

Shortly after passing this the pretty town of Tenby appears. Set off perfectly by the wide, sandy North beach (here at low tide – at high tide it would be nice, too, with the boats filling the rather elegant harbour.) Over on the left of this view are what appear to be two lifeboat slipways.

View over the North Beach, Tenby, Pembrokeshire taken from the Wales Coast Path. Image by Charles Hawes

The far one is, in fact, now converted into a residence (as featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs). Tenby’s a smashing town but I only had time for a quick tuna mayonnaise sandwich from a little place by South Beach and a check on my phone to see how my EBay items were doing (three items selling within the next hour).

You might have thought North Beach was impressive, but South Beach is a real “Wow”! The sand was firm, too, which makes beach walking a pleasure as opposed to an energy sapping drudge.

South Beach and view to Tenby, Pembrokeshire on the Wales Coast Path. Image by Charles Hawes

At the end of the beach the path turns up through a little wood which someone has rather incongruously planted with some out-of-place looking daffodils.

Wood at the end of South Beach, Tenby, Pembrokeshire on the Wales Coast Path. Image by Charles Hawes

Seeing a little memorial plaque that had been cut into a tree less than 6 years previously I was struck by how quickly the tree was attempting to close up its wound, the bark already creeping over the plate’s screws.

Plaque on tree to Richard Smith in wood at the end of South Beach, Tenby, Pembrokeshire, taken on the Wales Coast Path. Image by Charles Hawes.

I had a great view back to Tenby as I reached the brow of the hill and from near there an even better one looking past Giltar point to Caldey Island.

View to Caldey Island from near Giltar Point on the Wales Coast Path, Pembrokeshire. Image by Charles Hawes

Here I paused again to watch the final few minutes of bidding on EBay. I was selling two tents belonging to my uncle Nigel  – a veteran traveller and travel writer with whom I am working to clear his house of redundant clutter.  Both tents shot up to nearly £60 in the last few minutes which I am embarrassed to say made me very excited.  (I should point out that Nigel insisted that I take a cut for my trouble in this enterprise).

View to Lydstep Bay from the Wales Coast Path near Penally, Pembrokeshire. Image by Charles Hawes

This part of the coast is easy walking on flat ground the grass of which, being constantly grazed by sheep, would not shame a golf course fairway. It is also subject to periodic military activity as a firing range extends over it.  But today no red flags were flying and the only real danger I was in was self- created, the cliffs offering me compelling views down to the sea.

Cliff top view to sea on the Wales Coast Path, Pembrokeshire, near Lydstep. Image by Charles Hawes

My happiness was rather cut across by the sight of Lydstep Bay which has been filled with wall to wall static caravans. The only thought that slightly comforted me as I walked through the site was to see that their inhabitants did not have the pleasure of a sandy beach.

View of the Caravan Park at Lydstep Bay Pembrokeshire from the Wales Coast Path. Image by Charles Hawes.

Which makes me a git, I know.  I did have a joy before leaving Lydstep, though, as I came across my first carpet of Wood Garlic of the year.  This is one of nature’s plating masterpieces and even though the flowers were only just coming out the scent was strong.

Wood Garlic at Lydstep Bay on the Wales Coast Path, Pembrokeshire. Image by Charles Hawes

From here the path becomes challenging though to Manorbier the steep cliffs jut out into the sea,  forming fingers of solid rock and caves and arches.

Natural arch and bay on the Wales Coast Path near Manorbier, Pembrokeshire. Image by Charles Hawes

The path is diverted inland for a half a mile to avoid the fenced off Manorbier camp  (tastefully set off in my photograph by the bright yellow gorse).

Manorbier Camp (MOD) on the Wales Coast , Pembroekshire. Image by Charles Hawes

After the camp the steep red cliffs’ rock strata was near vertical  and as I approached Priests Nose  just before Manorbier Bay.

Vertical rock strata in Cliffs near Manorbier , The Wales Coast Path, Pembrokeshire. Image by Charles Hawes

I began to look out for a spot that I might discreetly pitch my tent and which would afford me an easy stroll into the village. I didn’t see one until I was almost at Manorbier and had begun to encounter local dogs taking their owners for a walk. Just off to the path to the left I took a little track into the woods and within a few yards I was out of sight and found a relatively flat ivy covered piece of ground.

Wild Camping off the Wales Coast Path near Manorbier, Pembrokeshire. Image by Charles Hawes

My tiny titanium pegs struggled to make purchase in this undergrowth and I was glad that I had supplemented the kit by some more substantial if much heavier aluminium pegs and overall I was very happy with my first wild pitch. Even carrying very little it took a while to arrange my sleeping bag, lamp and other stuff to my satisfaction but I still had some light as I left the tent and placed a stick to mark where I would need to turn off the path when I returned after dark.

View of Manorbier Castle from the Wales Coast path, Pembrokeshire. Image by Charles Hawes.

Manorbier castle (previously unknown to me) was a delight in the evening light and in the little village I found the excellent Castle Inn.  It was excellent in all respects. Cosy and nicely lit, the beer was good, I enjoyed an excellent steak and chips and it had free Wi-Fi.  After sending some emails and having a chat with some Twitter friends a woman sporting a tattoo on her upper breast came and sat with me and we had a very friendly chat.  They are nice, the people of Manorbier (though she lived in nearby St Florence).

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica A. Hawes May 24, 2013 at 11:49 am

Enjoyed your walk. That tent doesn’t look big enough for a grown man. Joe has just been camping in a MUCH bigger one (But then he was operating from his car) I still get a funny feeling remembering you on the cliffs at Lulworth Cove. What were you doing looking at the woman’s breast. Tut. Ma

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Charles May 25, 2013 at 9:36 am

Yes, I remember your terror. Sorry about that. Still doing it. It was exposed. It was meant to be looked at.

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Anne Wareham May 24, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I do wish you would put your captions as captions instead of thinking people will stroke your pictures to see them. I never remember to when I’m reading and then have to go back. irritating. ‘I don’t like captions’ is not a good enough reason for that.
Glad the camping went ok. And looking at breasts is ok if it stops there!
XXXX

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Charles May 26, 2013 at 5:55 am

I just found you in my Spam! Am captioning the next post 🙂

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elizabethm May 24, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Why have I never been to Tenby? It looks perfect in these photos. I do agree about wild garlic. Ian (an ebay seller and buyer extraordinaire) was delighted and amused to read about the ebay sales. He is glad he is not alone.

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Charles May 25, 2013 at 9:35 am

I’ll take that as a rhetorical question. Isn’t it perfect. I can’t speak for the Town Centre but its got to be worth a weekend at least. I didn’t have Ian down as an EBayer. Its becoming compulsive. I’ve just made a light blue star!

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Simon Pritchard May 24, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Yay! Honourable mention!! Joe has two options – the “minivan” (read people carrier), and a hooped bivi bag. Suffice to say, the former more than the latter has had more use! Lovely part of the world – have walked the path from Monkstone across. Great campsite there, been a few years now – every time we’ve been down to the beach, we’ve had it to ourselves. Although rather worryingly, they did find an unexploded sea mine there recently. LOVELY memories – thanks for the reminder!

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Charles May 25, 2013 at 9:32 am

Yes, camping is good from time to time but am looking forward to 6 nights Bed and Breakfast on the Dales Way next month. Might try a “live” blog as I did on The Way of St James. Glad to have prompted nice memories.

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Anne Wareham May 24, 2013 at 10:47 pm

I wish you would add captions as captions instead of hiding them, I keep missing them and think other people must too – not many people stroke pictures!

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Charles May 25, 2013 at 9:30 am

Hmm. *thinks about it. Maybe I’ll do it on the next one and see how it looks.

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Anne Wareham May 25, 2013 at 10:40 pm

🙂

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Mark Abbott-Compton May 25, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Really enjoyed this spent my childhood at our caravan at Manobier and had small boat in Tenby so all so familiar even through i havnt been in 35 years evoked so many memories
Thanks

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Charles May 25, 2013 at 11:06 pm

That’s great Mark. Am pleased you found the blog. I hope you find more posts of interest.

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Paul Steer May 26, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Great pics Charles, even the one with your shadow. I have never walked the southern part of the Pembrokeshire coastal path, apart from the bit to come. I would like to walk it now I’ve seen it here. Maybe visit the pub in Manorbier and see the lady with the tattoo .

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Charles May 27, 2013 at 6:30 am

Thanks. Perhaps she was a figment of my imagination. Hope you can make some of the next bit.

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Neil May 27, 2013 at 9:21 pm

A good read, thanks. And lovely pics… (only one thing puzzled me. What did the friendly pub woman have on her lower breast?) (happy to have that tale told in person if that helps) 🙂

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Charles May 28, 2013 at 10:17 am

Thanks! My lips are sealed. When are you going to get your finger out and join me again?

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rob grover February 5, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Despite all the recent storms, I can report that all caravans at Lydstep remained static.
We had a short, but exciting walk from Tenby to Lydstep the other day. leaning into winds gusting up to 60mph; luckily they were inshore winds. The Lydstep Tavern is closed until 1st March, so we had to wait for hot coffee and local fish and chips until the bus got us back to Tenby
PS Have you ever had your camera blown out of your hands?

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Charles Hawes February 5, 2014 at 3:22 pm

I guess they were tied down. Pity. Thanks for the pub update. I do hope people read your comments. There is a pleasure in being exposed to such wild weather isn’t there. Not yet. It tends to be on a strap round my neck so should be ok unless head is blown off.

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