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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is marching at its best as far as I am concerned.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It was hard work, too, in the warm sun.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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.
The acres and acres of caravans and tents just firmed up my resolve to keep going for a bit longer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Then they all came to have a look at this interloper and I began to realise that their inquisitiveness would give me no peace.
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.
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.