Pembrokeshire in West Wales is well known for its panoramic coastal scenery and Britain’s only coastal National Park. However, there are many other reasons why Pembrokeshire is such a fantastic holiday location enjoyed by over a million people every year, ranging from the beaches and islands to its impressive historical attractions.
Pembrokeshire beaches and islands
When you’re visiting Pembrokeshire make sure you set at least one day aside to go to one of over 50 beaches that the area has to offer. Many of the glorious beaches have been given awards for their outstanding cleanliness and safety for swimming, with some even receiving the honour of being granted the prestigious Green Coast Award. Whether you would prefer a rural, resort, sandy or pebbled beach, Pembrokeshire has them all!
As you’re sat on the beach and gazing out to the islands just off the Pembrokeshire coast, why not take one of the regular boat trips out to see them in all their glory? Caldey Island is one of the Holy Islands of Britain. Cistercian Monks live on the island and continue a tradition from over 1,500 years ago of prayer and quiet living. With only the monks and the 40 permanent residents living there, Caldey Island is perfect for peace and tranquillity. Browse the few shops and buy a gift for your friends and family at home that have been made by the Monks of Caldey, like chocolate and even perfume! Follow this by a trip to Abbey Church to watch, or take part in, one of the two monastic services that take place daily.
Walking in Pembrokeshire
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path was the first National Trail in Wales and runs for 186 miles. Along your walk, you will experience some of the most breath-taking coastal scenery in Britain. To make it easier for people wanting to complete their trail, there are 15 suggested stages, with each stage taking a day to finish. A Coastal Bus Service has been set up to help people who want to take on this challenge. The buses can be hailed down at any point along the coast road, so jump on, and when you think you’ve gone far enough, you can then walk back to where you started! There is plenty of room on board for pets and pushchairs, so it’s ideal for families and people with pets.
In 2012, the Wales Coast Path incorporated the Pembrokeshire Coast Path as a part of its trail. Whether you complete the whole walk, or just one of the stages, you can then tell your friends and family that you have completed a section of both paths! Finish the entire Pembrokeshire trail and brag even further, as this would mean that you have climbed the equivalent of Mount Everest, as the ascents and descents equal 35,000 feet!
Outdoor Activities in Pembrokeshire
For the ultimate adrenaline rush, try an activity that was pioneered in Pembrokeshire, and has now taken Britain by storm – coasteering which involves scrambling along rocks located on cliffs with the sea swirling underneath you, jumping from a cliff-face or rock-edge, and adventure swimming. A few companies in Pembrokeshire that run these events can also cater the activity for non-swimmers and children, ensuring that no part of the family is left out.
Surfing is also extremely popular in the area, as the county is considered as having the very best surf beaches in Wales, and suitable for beginners and professionals alike. If you’ve surfed before, and want to try something different, have a go at the new craze of stand-up paddle boarding which you can try out on the sea, in rivers and on lakes – Pembrokeshire has plenty of all 3 of these!
Some history about Pembrokeshire
The rolling range of the Preseli Hills was included within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park as this area can be considered as one of the most important pre-historic and historic sites in the UK. The hills are the location of Pentre Ifan, the largest and best preserved pre-historic burial chamber in Wales. The huge bluestones of Carn Menyn, one of the rocky outcrops of the range, were deemed necessary to form the inner circle of Stonehenge, and as this entailed an arduous journey of over 200 miles it demonstrates the high regard this area was held in more than 4500 years ago. Tracks of a similar date follow the ridges where you can tread in the footsteps of travellers seeking safe passage between settlements, safe above the predators of the valley below.
Castell Henllys is an iron age hill fort occupied first about 2400 years ago. These days this scheduled monument, deep within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, is home to fantastic replicas of Iron Age roundhouses and between Easter and September you can explore the site and even experience a little bit of daily life as an iron age Celt!
Two of the most impressive castles in Pembrokeshire both began life as Norman building projects around the turn of the C12th. Much of both Carew and Pembroke Castles survive and provide great settings for a family day out. Take part in medieval fun days, get up close and personal with birds of prey or just enjoy a picnic in these historic surroundings.
The last invasion of Britain took place in February 1797 when French forces landed at Fishguard harbour and then took up defensive positions a couple of miles inland. The campaign was not successful and the invasion force subjected to unconditional surrender just 2 days later. A magnificent 30 metre Last Invasion Tapestry was commission in 1997 to commemorate the event and can still be viewed at Fishguard Town Hall.