Ramsey Sound, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Wales Coast Path: St Non’s chapel to Whitesands Bay

September 22, 2013 · 8 comments

Date walked  24th  July 2013

Distance: about 5 miles

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 DaveMac@pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk

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

It did rain on and off in the night and although my Gore-Tex bivvy bag kept me dry, I did find that the slightly sloping ground in my camp at St Non’s chapel slid me into a more exposed position a couple of times in the night.  Note to self: make sure the ground is level in future.

My wife, Anne, was driving from home to meet me today and from wherever she picked me up  we were heading to Tenby for a short break. I had walked further in the last four days than I had expected and looking at the map the only place that she would be able to rendezvous with a car was Whitesands Bay. As this was no more than 5 miles away this was not going to be a problem!

There is no fun having a lie-in when one is camping illicitly in middle of a CADW controlled site. For all I knew, the occupants of the nearby retreat might make a pilgrimage to the chapel at some ungodly hour, so I  packed up quickly after waking at 6 and was back on the path by about 6.45am.

Wales Coast path near Portclais, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

My “friend” Paul threatened me with a haunting from St Non if I did not stay there.

Just around the headland I passed a small campsite above the pretty inlet and harbour of Porthclais.

The harbour at Portclais, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

A very peaceful sight on a very nice morning

Above the harbour was a charming simple cottage. The path rounds the head of the inlet and passes this cottage.

Cottage above Porhclais, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

A textbook Pembrokeshire cottage?

There were toilets near the harbour where I re-filled my water bag but I was far too early to benefit from the contents of the adjacent kiosk.  There are some lime kilns by the harbour: they are simple structures and there isn’t really a lot to see.

Porthlysgi Bay was a pretty spot and fairly isolated.

Porthlysgi Bay, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

You might ask why anyone would bother coming here unless they wanted a quiet sit on a pebble beach.

A half a mile further on I passed at National Trust sign announcing Lower Treginnis. From browsing the internet I was not sure if the sign refers to their nearby farm.  I glimpsed a little cottage and there is a pond above the path.

Pond by Lower Treginnis, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

It won’t be a natural pond, I bet.

As I walked this relatively flat heathland I saw several spots that I thought would make ideal sites for someone to camp the night. But when would I be back?  The  path then hugs the craggy cliffs once more, revealing the first sight of the small outlying islands off Ramsey Island.

View towards Ynys-Bery off Ramsey Island, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

The water really did look this blue!

As I rounded the headland of Pen Pedol I had my first view of Ramsey Sound. Even from a distance I could see that there was something most unusual about the water. I followed the path shown in this photograph and sat on the rocks above the Sound.

Ramsey Sound and Ramsey Island, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

First view of Ramsey Sound and Ramsey Island

 The island is about half a mile off the mainland. Between the island and where I was sitting it looked as if the water was rushing left to right, not in a steady stream but as a swirling, churning  cauldron. It was, without doubt, the most exciting  natural phenomenon that I had seen in the last 350 odd miles of walking the coast path. I really should have tried taking a video as still photographs cannot do it justice.

Ramsey Sound and Ramsey Island, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I’m sure you can’t imagine what I am talking about from this composite picture I took on my iphone. Good! Go see it yourself.

Eventually I carried on the path which keeps closely to the Sound. A small military boat passed through, its engine spluttering as if ticking over but it was moving at a fair old lick.

Ramsey Sound looking to Ramsey Island, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Maybe you can see something of the turbulence here.

The lifeboat station at St Justinian’s  was the next sign of civilisation.

View to St Justinian's Pembrokeshire photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Lifeboat Stations really ought to do teas.

I had no reason to hope for any refreshment there and had decided to brew myself a cup of tea nearby but a roadside kiosk was opening up as I arrived; tea was not yet available but a packet of crisps and an ice-cream made an acceptable breakfast. I had just missed a boat which was taking a group over to Ramsey Island or I might have been tempted to hitch a  lift. It was a sunny day, though and I had begun to contemplate a nice long sit on the beach at Whitesands Bay.

Deep inlet near St Justinian's Pembrokeshire with view to Ramsey Island, photographed from The wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I passed this deep inlet approaching St Justinian’s

It was just another mile or so to round  Point St  John and to reach the little family sized beach near the family sized campsite at Porthselau. On the beach a group of  young boys appeared to be very excitedly picking up lumps of sand and then hurling them back into the sea. An activity more pointless might be hard to imagine but no doubt it carried great significance for them.

Beach at Porthselau, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

There they are, still throwing sand into the sea, 10 minutes later!

 Whitesands Bay was  doing a good trade and as I approached its large cafe I could see why. The surf was family friendly and its car park is situated right on the edge of the beach. There were toilets and showers and a surf shop and the cafe was selling everything that you could want for a nice day at the beach.

Whatesands Bay, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Whitesands Bay:all you could want from a beach

 I purchased a sandwich and a drink and would have telephoned Anne to say that I had arrived but for once in several days there was no signal. I found one half way up the hill on the far side of the beach. Anne was still two hours away. Perfect.  There’s nothing nicer than people-watching on a beach in summer.

Girl surf-boarding at Whitesands Bay, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

And having a paddle. And an ice-cream. And then another ice-cream. And then have your wife come and pick you up!

annes photo

Anne – on another beach!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Neil September 22, 2013 at 8:03 am

Hence the new ‘curvaceous’ look…
Ramsey sound looks fascinating. Will definitely plan a visit.
Could do with more smiles in your pics, however 🙂



Charles September 22, 2013 at 11:45 am

“Hence”? Not sure that I get that. Yes, there will be smiles when you start fetauring in the walk after next!


Anne Wareham September 22, 2013 at 8:49 am

Happy memories!

Wonder what Neil would like to have smiling in your pics…a cow, perhaps?

Yes. A smiling cow would be good. Xx


Charles September 22, 2013 at 11:44 am

Yes. You were quite right to tell me off for not having a pic of you so I will add one. Yes, anything that smiles would be approved of by Neil. Seals, perhaps. Dolphins definitely smile but we didn’t see any yet.


Paul Steer September 22, 2013 at 11:09 am

I have a passion for that section of the coast, as you rightly say, the sea in Ramsey Sound almost boils like in a cauldron. It is a difficult thing to capture…. I have tried with drawings and a painting, but it is something you have to experience.


Charles September 22, 2013 at 11:41 am

Yes, it is really special, isn’t it. I liked seeing your painting. Hopefully others might see it by this link:(they might need to paste it into a browser)



rob grover September 25, 2013 at 8:39 pm

What fantastic scenery – you can feel your spirit rising.
Our spirits weren’t particularly raised by our most recent walk from Llansteffan back to Carmarthen.
It was dry and it’s not that river estuaries seem generally grey rather than blue and green; indeed the train ride from Carmarthan back round through Ferryside and Kidwelly is spectacular.
It’s just that with this section you don’t see very much of interest at all – mainly hedgerows and very rarely a glimpse of the river. The sculptures on the Carmarthen roundabout are giant fish; I think you knew that really.
The signage was not so good, and what should have been a 9 mile walk ended up more like 12 and being made to walk round 3 sides of a playing field felt like some Council employee having a laugh.
And finally what do you think about these narrow paths (strips of field) just the other side of the hedegrow from the road?
I must have another look at your latest photos.


Charles September 26, 2013 at 8:34 am

Hi Rob
Thanks for this comment. I’ve now walked about 350 miles along the WCP from Chepstow and on reflection the section through Carmarthenshire was the most problematic so far. I found signing poor at times and as you say, it simply does not keep to the coast a lot of the time. Do write to them with your feedback and I’d be glad if you would post this comment on the entry where I covered the same ground as you.


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