St David's cathedral

Wales Coast Path: St David’s and Whitesands Bay to near Porth y Dwfr

September 29, 2013 · 14 comments

Date walked  31st August 2013

Distance: about 6 miles (from St David’s)

Map required:  OL 35 -North 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


It was just over a month ago that Anne whisked me off from Whitesands Bay for a dirty weekend in Tenby. We only managed a night, but that’s another story. My journey back took around 6 hours, starting at Chepstow train station and changing at Newport for Haverfordwest.  Rather than wait half an hour for the bus that would take me to St David’s I walked into town to stretch my legs. It’s a nice little place and  I had time to look at the river and buy some chocolate and a sandwich, intending them to be my supper, before my bus arrived, dead on time. The journey on the near empty bus was very pleasant and took me through several places that I had walked past or through the last time I was on the coast.  At Solva we caused a gridlock in its narrow main street until the oncoming cars accepted might before right and backed up.

At St David’s I alighted opposite a highly popular ice-cream parlour, so it was clearly fate that I should purchase a large honeycomb and vanilla cone before strolling down to the Cathedral.

St David's cathedral, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

The Cathedral was made straight by a single click in Lightroom

It may have been 35 years since I had last  visited this place and I had completely forgotten what a very beautiful and special setting the cathedral has with the ruined Bishop’s Palace next door.

The Bishop's Palace, St David's Pembrokeshire,photographed by Charles Hawes

The sun is already low; I need to get a move on!

It was the most perfect early evening and  I would have liked to have stayed longer but I needed to get a few miles along the coast path to avoid an impossibly long walk the next day to get to Pwll Deri, so I pressed on along a quiet little road that stops at Whitesands Bay.

The sandwich supper was saved for next day’s lunch in favour of a bag of chips from the still busy cafe, which was serving evening meals. After a short climb up the sandy path the dunes became firmer under foot and then briefly descended to Porthmelgan Bay before climbing up to a plateau behind St David’s Head.

Trwynhwrddyn and Whitesands Bay behind, photographed from the Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

The sticking out bit is called Trwynhwrddyn; Whitesands Bay behind.

It being such a popular spot, there were lots of paths criss-crossing the Head but having satisfied myself that I had gone as far as I could it was easy enough to find the official path by keeping the sea as close as I could on my left.

View over Whitesands Bay from the Pembrokeshire Coast Path at St David's Head, photographed by Charles Hawes

Fab light, eh?


It really was the most beautiful evening and the heather covered heath was lit up by the low warm sunlight.

View to Ramsey Island, photographed from the Wales Coast Path on St David's Head by Charles Hawes

View to Ramsey Island; still not a peek of a dolphin.


The path takes a sharp turn south above a cove called Gesail-fawr. Ahead to my right the hill called Carn Perfedd and further on Carn Penberry.

View to Carn Perfedd and Carn Penberry photographed  from The Wales Coast Path (Pembrokeshire Coast Path) by Charles Hawes

This was a magic time of day to be there!

At this point I began to try and work out where I might get to before the sun would set; I wanted to stop in time to sit and watch it, too. Somewhere between the two hills was my assessment. The next mile turned out to be a game of hide and seek with the sun as I passed little coves and headlands.  Then, above the bay called Porth Y Dwfr I found the perfect spot to bivvy the night. Just to the right of the path was a low bank and behind it a flat dip of soft lush grass. It would put me out of sight, protect me from the wind and still allow me to be serenaded by the sea.

I’m not sure why this is so grainy but I rather like the effect.

As I unpacked the sun began its now seemingly accelerated descent.

Sunset over The Irish Sea photographed  from the Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes



Sunset over The Irish Sea photographed  from the Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes




Sunset over The Irish Sea photographed  from the Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes



As the sun disappeared so did the warmth so my second supper of a large bar of chocolate and two small one-glass bottles of wine were enjoyed from the warmth of my Voyager 600 sleeping bag, protected from the elements by the Gore-tex bivvy bag that my Uncle Nigel had so kindly donated.


Bivvy camp on The Wales Coast Path near Porth y Dwfr, photographed by Charles Hawes

My somewhat untidy camp.

In what seemed like no time at all the stars began to populate the sky and if I lifted my head up from the makeshift pillow I could see  the regular flash of the lighthouse at Strumble Head some 10 miles away as the gull flies. The gulls were quiet now but the sea continued its lullaby until sleep overtook me.


 Some 43 years earlier, Nigel, writing for the Sunday Telegraph, gave  his own account of walking this part of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in the year it was officially opened. His night was spent  above Porth Egr, some three miles away,  in a 4lb tent. His choice of drink a far superior Islay malt and his supper a Mountain House shrimps and rice cooked on a stove.  You can read his account here.



{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Wareham September 29, 2013 at 9:22 am

The evening light was/is beautiful. As is the photography. And I love the link – in every sense – to Nigel’s account of the same walk backwards.


Charles September 29, 2013 at 9:24 am

Thank you!


John September 29, 2013 at 11:03 am

It was thanks to one of your earlier posts that my diversionary researches led to the knowledge that for the last 3 minutes or so of a sunset, the sun is already gone and we are seeing an illusion caused by the bending of the sun’s rays in the atmosphere.

The shadows cast by the evening light really add to the atmosphere of the photos. And thank you for the absence of “peeking over the edge of a cliff” shots in this post. I can’t revisit your last one without a touch of queasiness at that one photo!

If Uncle Nigel stayed at the Hostel at Pwll Deri, then the walk from there to near where you spent the night seems to have taken him a couple of sentences so you should have a nice easy day “tomorrow” 🙂


Charles September 29, 2013 at 3:08 pm

I didn’t know that about the sun. Though of course by the time we see the sun it will always be somewhere else.
I don’t think Nigel stayed at Pwll Deri. Was it there then?


John September 29, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Re the YHS, I know not. Hence why I said “if”. Though Pwll Deri would seem a reasonable location, sentences aside, for a day’s walk.

BTW, what is “staright”?

And on the subject of photos, was the shot of Trwynhwrddyn taken out of sequence? The lighting looks different.

I hear that the “off piste” sign for the coast path in Bridgend (the bit that goes along the bottom of the garden about a mile inland) will be renewed soon. Fancy a celebratory noggin in the local pub?


Charles September 29, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Doh, I thought I had caught that correction, thanks. No I don’t think it was out of sequence. but the light may have changed. I’m not sure which bit you mean near Bridgend. Which post did that come up in? I always liked Noggin the Nog.


Charles September 29, 2013 at 3:10 pm

PS. Thanks for the comment on the pics. I can’t guarantee that there won’t be lots more peering over cliff edges to come!


Paul Steer September 29, 2013 at 11:38 am

Simply fabulous.


Charles September 29, 2013 at 3:02 pm

The coast? The blog? The photography? Life?


Paul Steer September 29, 2013 at 3:38 pm

The photography, the coast and the blog. Not sure about life yet.


Charles September 29, 2013 at 3:40 pm

😉 think I need to take you out for a walk and a drink sometime soon!


Paul Steer September 29, 2013 at 4:05 pm


Neil September 30, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Looks lovely. The sunset must have been delightful. The accommodation looked a bit rough, though….

And smiles… Perfect, apart from not enough smiles

:). :). :). :).


Charles September 30, 2013 at 10:33 pm

It was fab. I was very cosy. And it was very good value. We’ll have a smile or two next week.


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