Pearls of Pembrokeshire
Looking for inspiration of beautiful places to visit in Pembrokeshire, Wales?
Take a trip with Valery as she explores the pearls of Pembrokeshire focusing on Newport, St Davids, Ramsey Island and Tenby.
I began my visit to Pembrokeshire in the pretty town of Newport on the estuary of the Nevern River (Afon Nyfer) as it merges with the Irish Sea in Newport Bay.
A section of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path offers a very easy walk through a wood and emerging alongside this estuary with stunning views of Parrog beach.
Occupying a prime position here is the Newport Boat Club where members (and non-members in the summer) enjoy a vista that encompasses Parrog Beach and Newport Sands beyond it.
The latter is fringed with dunes and can be reached by wading across the river by the boat club, an old warehouse from when Parrog was a thriving port. It was hard to believe that this peaceful place had ever been a hub of commercial activities.
Turning away from the sea I followed the road into the town centre where I found a real treasure, Ty Twt a Dolls’ Houses and Toy Collection. It’s a private collection of dolls houses representing every decade since 1840.
Each one is furnished in the style of the period it represents. I was enraptured – no wonder it attracts visitors from all over the world.
Next door to this little museum is a very popular café Blas at Fronlas where I was lucky enough to find a table in its back garden. Above me I could see some of the ruins of Newport Castle. All that remains of the original Norman Castle is the gatehouse but in 1859 it was partly demolished and converted into a private house so it’s not open to the public.
Visiting St David’s
My next stop was the city of St David’s, the smallest city in the United Kingdom and home to a grand cathedral of the same name. The cathedral was built below the town in a valley and it was not visible until I had passed through the Porth y Twr or Tower Gatehouse.
It’s now the home of a small exhibition dedicated to the history of the cathedral and honours the patron saint of Wales, Saint David. Next to the cathedral are the imposing ruins of the Bishop’s Palace where today, the only inhabitants are a colony of bats.
A protected haven for wildlife
Ramsey Island is famous for its wildlife and in particular the birds that inhabit its imposing cliff faces. In order to protect its wildlife it is a reserve controlled by the RSPB.
Although the best way to see the island itself is to follow the trail that goes all the way around it (3.5 miles), I decided to concentrate on the wildlife and booked an early evening boat trip with Falcon Boats. It was a great experience as Ffion, our skipper and Nia and Mick, her crew, were both knowledgeable and passionate about the island.
We had good sightings of seals basking on the rocks, guillemots and razor bills perching on the cliffs and puffins bobbing in the sea. As we headed back to shore we stopped to watch the shearwaters coming home to roost – a splendid and memorable sight.
A traditional seaside town
Tenby offers a complete contrast to Newport and St David’s with its delightful mixture of huge, sandy beaches and historical buildings. Walking towards the town centre I skirted the medieval town walls before entering the town through its medieval gate with five arches.
In the centre I visited the fascinating Tudor Merchant’s House the home of a wealthy merchant during the sixteenth century.
In those days the business was conducted on the ground floor and the family lived on the first and second floors accessed by an external staircase.
Room guides explained the uses of different implements on show and the significance of the brightly coloured symbolic decorations.
After my visit, I strolled along the path that encircles Castle Hill although it is not obvious there was ever a castle here as only a few blocks of stone remain. Built into the walls that once surrounded Tenby castle is the Tenby Museum and Art Gallery. The museum has a room dedicated to the history of the town and the works on display in the art gallery include some by Gwen John and Augustus John who spent their childhood in Tenby.
Close to Tenby are two islands, both open to the public. Caldey Island can only be reached by boat but visitors can walk across the beach to St Catherine’s Island at low tide. I visited both islands.
Going around Caldey island by boat I saw a variety of birds including puffins and some seals basking on the shore. I walked across the sand to St Catherine’s Island and climbed several flights of steps to the fort on top of its cliff.
During my visit I listened to an interesting presentation about the history of this fort. It is not as old as it looks as it was built just in case Napoleon III, emperor of France from 1852 to 1870 decided to invade England. In fact, it was France that was invaded and Napoleon III actually fled to England and the fort was obsolete before any of its cannons were fired!
Pembrokeshire has a lot to offer its visitors and I only had time to scratch its surface – I will most definitely be back. I would like to visit the Bug Farm and try some of the food made with insects in their café; explore the handicraft shops in the village of Solva and land on Ramsey Island to do the walk all the way around it.