Post image for Wales Coast Path: The Druidstone Hotel to St Non’s chapel

Wales Coast Path: The Druidstone Hotel to St Non’s chapel

September 15, 2013 · 16 comments

Distance walked: 14.1 miles

Date walked  23rd  July 2013

Map required: OL36- South Pembrokeshire and 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

I had no particular destination in mind for the day and I wanted to sleep out again, so there was no pressure to walk any set distance. After a leisurely breakfast (served slow) at The Druidstone Hotel, where I had stayed last night, it was not until around 10 that I was retracing my steps down to the beach at Druidstone Haven. There was a good view of the hotel from the top of the next cliff and I hoped that I would be back there sometime.

View of The Druidstone Hotel from The wales Coast path in Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Treat yourself sometime to a stay!

At Nolton Haven the tide was out, revealing a little sandy beach but despite it being a fine day there were few visitors and none of them in the water.

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

Has going to the beach gone out of fashion?

It was quite a steep climb from there on a good gritty surface to the promontory of Rickets Head and from there I had a fine but hazy view in front of me of the nearly two mile length of Newgale Sands.

View of Newgale sands in Pembrokeshire photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

That’s a beach and a half. Nearly deserted.

The path drops to quite near the beach, giving a good view of the rock platform below and passes a brick chimney from an old mine.

Chimney  of disused mine near Newgale sands, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Can’t tell you what they were mining though.

Normally a final steep descent takes you to the beach but a sign warned that the path was closed due to a rock fall. The alternative would have been to have to climb back up to the road, so I took my chances on the old path. It was a bit of a scramble at the end but my reward was to be able to walk the entire length of the sparsely populated beach on firm sand.

Newgale Sands, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

One of the finest beaches in Pembrokeshire on a sunny, warm day in July. What’s going on?

This is marching at its best as far as I am concerned.

Footsteps on the beach at Newgale sands, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

You can tell quite a lot about how you walk by looking at your footprints!

I stopped for an ice-cream and a cold drink from the large shop/cafe which is at the far side of the beach hidden by the steep bank of shingle and then climbed back up to the cliff top.

View onto Newgale Sands, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Fab view, eh.

Just over the brow of the hill, Cwm Mawr immediately required another climb down and up again and several of these quite taxing descents and climbs followed in succession.

View of Cwm Mawr, Pembrokeshire,  photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Oh good, another hill to climb

On the landward side of the path the gently sloping fields were obviously fertile enough to grow crops as this lush stand of barley  testifies.

Field of Barley near Cwm Mawr photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

If it look a bit blurry it’s because it was quite breezy.

There have been many parts of the Pembrokeshire coast where the scenery could easily be described as “magnificent” but this stretch passing by the rocky outcrops of Dinas Fach and then Dinas Fawr was truly so.

Dinas Fach Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Dinas Fach, I think. or is it Dinas Fawr?

It was hard work, too, in the warm sun.

Dinas Fawr Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

The village of Solva is just a mile or so from Dinas Fawr; its upper part sits on the top of the hills but the more attractive lower village is hidden in an inlet that houses a little harbour.  But before Solva is another descent to a small beach called Gwadn .

The beach of Gwadn near Solva, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Maybe there was a rugby match nearby or a sing along

A steep climb up the hill above a striking flat-bottomed valley said to have been caused by glacial melt waters provides a good view over the village.

Valley caused by glacial meltwaters near Solva, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

It looks very particular don’t you think?

View over Solva in Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Solva: a tourist honeypot.

Solva is a pleasant village and obviously popular with tourists as it seemed to comprise mostly cafe’s and gift shops. I had tea and cake in a very nice cafe with an outside garden though it was hardly a peaceful rest; the traffic was heavy and someone was using an angle grinder on a nearby house. Still, the cafe provided me with my supper – a sandwich and a couple of one-glass bottles of wine. It’s always reassuring to know that one has food in the bag, even though I still had little idea of where I would stop that night. As I walked back down the other side of the harbour I decided  that one sandwich was not enough after a long days walk so I bought another from the last cafe before the path climbs back up to the cliffs.

View over Solva in Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Cast Path by Charles Hawes

The cafe of the second sandwich is the last but one building on the far side of the harbour.

After a final look back over Solva’s harbour the path passes by several more rocky headlands. The sun, now getting quite low in the sky was making the sea’s surface shimmer beautifully.

Rocky outcrop off the Pembrokeshire Coast photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

After a couple of miles a massive campsite began to appear, servicing the visitors to the extremely popular city of St David’s just half a mile inland.

Campsite above Caerfai Bay, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

No! I do not want to stay here.

The acres and acres of caravans and tents just firmed up my resolve to keep going for a bit longer.

Victoran chapel at St Non's retreat, Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

It was only built in 1934!

Just past Caerfai Bay a large house appeared near the path with a small stone chapel stood beside it.  This is a religious retreat. I saw one woman outside who promptly retreated as I went through the open gate to have a look in the chapel. A little path leads from the chapel to a covered pool that is said to have miraculous healing properties but I didn’t risk it’s not very crystal clear water.

The Holy Healing Well at st non's Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

I didn’t even make an offering which was a bit mean of me.

Just past here, fenced off on the side of a field were the ruins of a much older chapel. I don’t know if it is legend or historical fact but St Non was said to be St David’s Mother and this is said to be her birthplace.

St Non's chapel, Pembrokeshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

It was such a beautiful evening; you can see how low the sun is.

Whatever the truth of it, this field was in a beautiful spot, and provided me with a stunning view over St Brides Bay. It was empty, and in the uppermost corner, level and I thought that this was the perfect spot to spend the night.

Cattle in field near St Non's Pembrokeshire, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Well is WAS empty until they arrived.

I was half way through my supper and had had my first glass of wine when a small herd of heifers ran into the field and excitedly made for the spring that flows out of the well.  Having quenched their thirst they began to explore the field and one of them found me.

IMG_2332_1

Then they all came to have a look at this interloper and I began to realise that their inquisitiveness would give me no peace.

Druidstone to St Nons_58_1

Anything that I had unpacked was quickly re-packed and I led the herd, their damp noses at my back, to the fenced off enclosure of the chapel.  It must have looked comical to the couple who were watching from the little car park above.

Druidstone to St Nons_59_1

Once I had claimed my sanctuary the cattle soon lost interest and I was  able to think about my bivvy spot. The ground was sloping slightly but soft. A drizzle began to fall so I rigged up my small tarpaulin using the fence to anchor two of its corners, the other two by short tent posts that I had been carrying. I was rather pleased with my camp. Pleased, too that I was able to take my boots off and even more pleased that I had a good shelter in which to enjoy my second sandwich and glass of wine in the fading light.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Wareham September 15, 2013 at 8:50 am

Your pictures are great. Your captions need serious checking before publication! Love the variety of it all, – surprising seeing all you’re doing is a boring old country walk. Xx

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Charles September 15, 2013 at 9:16 am

Humph. Maybe John will find some mistakes in the text, too.

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John September 15, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Don’t know what Anne’s on about. Just a titchy little mistake in the final caption. Why not check out the errors in her last blog post! Or is she moaning because some photos speak for themselves and don’t need captions?

But the big question is “Would you have moved if the cattle had been Aubracs?”

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Anne Wareham September 15, 2013 at 4:13 pm

You arrived after the corrections, John! Xx

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John September 15, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Haha. Well your proof reading missed two captions and a bit of text that was also compromised. So you only score 5/10.

But the stunning views are stunningly captured in the photographs so why worry about a few oddities probably introduced by a spell checker?

Charles September 15, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Thank you. Very kind. Ah, what would I do in the midst of Aubracs? Swoon?

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Anne Wareham September 15, 2013 at 9:34 am

Captions…….

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Paul Steer September 15, 2013 at 7:45 pm

That’s the thing with spelling, once the doubt creeps in everything looks wrong. Beautiful pictures and my favourite part of the coastal path.

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Charles September 16, 2013 at 11:18 am

I know. I just checked that I had barley correct! I am an insecure speller at the best of times.

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Kev the Yank December 16, 2016 at 8:54 pm

Don’t know if you will even realize I am posting a comment since this walk was so long ago… Gracie directed me back to this part of your walk so we could compare our walk on this section of the PCP and clarify a couple things for ourselves, so mission accomplished there. However, we never encountered ANY bovines on our walk, so I am forced to wonder just how BIG a glass of wine you drank before you started seeing cows???? Any pink elephants??? Any Yankee Doodle Dandies???

😀

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Charles December 17, 2016 at 6:19 pm

Oh yes, you can post a comment on any of my posts and I’ll be notified. Did I not take a photograph of the cattle? If not you should definitely not take my word for it. If I did can you not believe your own eyes? What is a Yankee Doodle Dandy in any case? happy Christmas to you both.

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Kev the YDD December 17, 2016 at 7:32 pm

Oh, drats….so when I make disparaging comments about all your old postings (thinking myself ever so clever) you know? And realize how clever I am Not??! 😮 First, as the great American Country song asks…”Who are you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes” (or photos in this case). Next – A Yankee Doodle Dandy (YDD) is a dismissive reference by the British towards American colonists. Furthermore – A doodle was a simpleton and the phrase “stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni” implied the backwoods bumpkins could put a feather in their coonskin hats and think they were as elegant as a European in the latest Italian style — the “macaroni.” AND – Happy Christmas to you and Anne, dear friends!!!

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John December 18, 2016 at 10:42 am

And, thanks to Wordpress, I get told too (and so could you)! Which is nice in a way. The occasional comment on an old post sends me back in time for a surprise re-read. I like surprises!

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Kev December 18, 2016 at 1:30 pm

It is a magical world we live in, no? 🙂
Happy Christmas John!!

Kev December 18, 2016 at 1:36 pm

In a sorta Dr. Who Timey-Wimey way, it is all kinda magical, because when I posted my reply to your reply, it was 7:30 am (or so) here in my world, and yet the time stamp on your comment is 10:42 am, so you won’t make your reply for yet another 3 hours or so and yet I am already replying to your yet to be made reply, or something like that…. egads!

Charles September 15, 2013 at 5:43 pm

5/10 is a crap score. *must do better*. Glad the pics pass muster (if that is how you spell it?)

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Copyright Charles Hawes (2012)