On the way you pass the lifeboat station at St Justinian, the departure point for trips to Ramsey Island on your right, an RSPB reserve.
In September when we visited there were many seals and their pups in secluded bays and swimming offshore and porpoises were also spotted.
St Justinian with Ramsey Island in the background
Before you reach St Non’s you pass the picturesque harbour at Porthclais, which originally served St David’s. The old harbour wall dates to Roman times and it is alleged St David was baptised at a nearby spring.
The old harbour wall, built by the Romans is largely intact. It is a popular spot for adventure sports, particularly sea kayaks.
Porthclais harbour has some of the best preserved remains of stone Lime kilns in Pembrokeshire.
You can cut a mile off the walk by taking the Celtic Coaster from St David’s to the campsite but it is probably quicker to walk and in any case you will be refreshed after taking afternoon tea in St David’s..
In theory you can do the trip in the opposite direction by taking the bus to St David’s and then requesting to go onto St Non’s, which is a request stop but you would need to check this out.
You either walk into St David’s or take the Celtic Coaster and then you pick up the Strumble Shuttle to Abereiddi. The coastal walk is about 7 miles and about a mile extra to the campsite.
It was on this walk that we saw our first pair of choughs, a rare corbid, restricted to the western part of the UK, It is easily identified by its red legs and beak.
On the same walk, we came across this whitethroat , pictured right, possibly getting ready for the long migration south.
It did not have the luxury of the caravan club site and there was no MHS point and with only 2 showers could struggle in peak periods but it was a pleasant site and has the added advantage that it is directly on the Strumble Shuttle route.
This was our type of walk, a gentle stroll down to Abereiidi and then a walk along the coastal path to Porthgain, passing the old quarry workings and then down to the harbour and lunch at the Sloop Inn, which though charging South East prices, produced excellent quality food. It is a shame that they did not provide a local ale, the closest was from the Felinfoel brewery at Lllanelli, nevertheless a fine ale.
An alternative eatery is the Shed, in the past used for brick making, which now provides fish and chips and has received good reviews.
Before you leave The Sloop, ask for a leaflet regarding the history of the village which in the past was a major quarrying and brick making centre. This will make sense of the industrial buildings in the village and on the cliff top.
Nowadays though the village is still used for fishing, tourism is undoubtedly the main industry now.
On returning to Abereiddi we discovered the ‘Blue Lagoon’, we missed this first time. It is effectively man made as it was once the site of a quarry and it is now popular for coasteering, particularly for children.
This walk utilises the full potential of the Strumble Shuttle as we took the 9.20 bus, (immediately outside the site) to Strumble Head and returned via Goodwick, just outside of Fishguard, more about that later.
The original plan was to catch the bus from our next base, the Caravan Club certified site at Longhouse, as this would have saved a slightly longer bus journey and avoided the two journeys to and from the two harbours of Abereiddi and Porthgain but in reality on a fine day this is hardly a hardship.
As well as stupendous sea views, awesome rock foundations with stacks and arches and hidden inlets, as experienced all along this coast, you also pass the site of the ‘last invasion of Britain’ at Carragwastad Point. There is a memorial stone on the cliff top.
A return to Goodwick to pick up supplies at the Tesco Express before catching the last bus back. At the bus stop we met local ‘Tommy’ who said he lived at Stop and Call. Initially I thought he was having a laugh but there is a village with this name, just outside of Goodwick.
This was the start of an eventful journey. We came across ‘Michelle’ the driver who we first met in St David’s with the greeting from her of ‘you are at the wrong bleeding stop’ when I asked her if this was the correct stop for Abereiddi. Apparently the stop was in New Street not Non Street but what difference does a vowel make between friends. I said that I had been practicing my Welsh with the pronunciation and was met with the response ’that you still got it wrong’ Indignantly I told her that I had been coached by a Welshman from Llanelli, who incidentally I had met in the square, enjoying the sunshine, whilst waiting for the bus. This drew the riposte ‘never trust a Welshman’ This set the scene for continuing banter every time we came across her. What was most impressive was the caring nature that she showed her local travellers and not to mention that she appeared to know everyone on the route, even with pseudonyms, such as ‘dangerous Dave’, who we negotiated passing in Trefin,
The locals were genuinely friendly and retired ‘Rita’ even offered me a drink of her tea when I asked where were our drinks, when the locals got out their takeaway coffees when we stopped at Strumble.
On the delayed journey back, we met everything from trailers stacked with hay to linesmen repairing overhead electric cables and anyone who has been to Pembrokeshire will know that these lanes are very narrow, but then the bus drops you right outside your motorhome at the campsite at Cwmdig Water.
Shortly after you reach the sheltered harbour of Abercastle, another one of those stunningly beautiful inlets, which are very much a feature of this coast. .This harbour is also famous for the first single handed Atlantic crossing from Massachusetts in 1876 by Alfred Johnson.
Passing through the bay of Aber Mawr you then continue to one of the more rugged parts of the coastal path before reaching a short section of road at the youth hostel. As I passed the hostel, talking to myself I observed that I had not seen a peregrine on this section of the coastal path. As we descended in the direction of the iron age fort, lo and behold a peregrine, which very obligingly remained perched on the cliff top for a good 20 minutes and my day was made.
Finally we made our way to Strumble and the shuttle back to Longhouse and on this occasion we were the only passengers so we had a personalised service all the way to Longhouse.
It had been a number of years since we had walked the South Pembrokeshire coast and we were so impressed that we promised that we would return and complete the walk.
Since that first trip we were now members of the Caravan Club that we joined in 2015 as we needed to use the excellent Slinfold site on the Downs Link,in order to support our son who was tackling the non stop London to Brighton 100km walk in aid of the British Heart Foundation.
Details of this site can be found on the Downs Link section on this website.
We had no intentions to emulate this feat and had planned much more manageable walks and this coastal walk has to be savoured and definitely not rushed, not only enjoying the scenery but additionally the wildlife and of course the numerable people that you meet on the route.
Before you set off, download the timetables for the excellent coastal buses which are invaluable for the linear walks along the coast.
There are basically 3 for this part of the coast, ‘The Celtic Coaster’ which is the more frequent service and runs between St David’s and Whitesands; the ‘Strumble Shuttle’ for the section from St David’s to Fishguard and the ‘Poppit Rocket’ which runs from Fishguard to Cardigan.
Tip You can flag these buses down anywhere along their routes, as long as it is safe to do so.
Tip Generally a good idea if you are nervous is to catch the bus to your ultimate destination and then walk back, this takes away any worries of missing your return bus and ending up with a long walk back.
Tip Sadly English bus passes for OAP’s are not accepted in Wales so you will have to cough up the fare but it is well worth it after a long walk and you will not come across a more scenic bus route anywhere and you may even have the chance to meet the locals.
Map You could conceivably do the coastal walk without a map as it is impossible to get lost. I, however, love maps as it provides me with an indication of the topography, distances involved, what to expect on route and it could be useful to mark out progress, which is particularly relevant if you are aiming to catch a bus.
OL35 North Pembrokeshire Explorer Series
Tip: There are no places for refreshments until you reach St David’s but a picnic lunch is no hardship with this scenery.
We based ourselves at the Caravan Club site at Lleithyr Meadow, an inland site in a very attractive setting, with excellent facilities, including a MHS point and less than a mile from Whitesands so you can virtually smell the sea.
It is also just about a mile, a half hour walk, mostly on the level, along a quiet road to the Bishop’s Palace, together with the cathedral is a must see in St David’s. Alternatively you can take the Celtic Coaster bus in.
An alternative and avoiding the non member’s fee at the caravan club is the site literally next door.
Both these sites will take caravans and motorhomes .
For a more basic experience but on a relatively level site and suitable for all units and tents is Towyn, on the road to Whitesands.
Alternatively if you are a campervan, tent or small motorhome then the beach site at Whitesands offers a picturesque alternative, though EHU’s are limited and the sanitary facilities are a bit more basic.
The walk starts at Whitesands and you follow the coast to St Non’s chapel which is a good land mark, before you take the footpath to St David’s, which you pick up from the coastal path, just after the chapel and if you haven’t been before then a detour is in order.
For this section we based ourselves at the Camping and Caravan Club Site at Cwmdig Water near Berea .
This is a relatively small site which has been extended by taking the field above the original site and we were lucky in that we had the first pitch with uninterrupted views to the coast.
No surprise that it was the French who in 1797 attempted this ill fated mission.
Without getting into too much technical or military detail, the plan was to seize Bristol and land in Cardigan Bay for an assault on Liverpool., Whilst simultaneously the main force would land in Ireland to mount a full scale invasion.
Well as everyone knows it did not go to plan, otherwise we would all be speaking French now. The Irish part of the adventure ended in disarray, though they landed, ill discipline provided a hasty withdrawal back to France. Bristol never happened nor did Liverpool but they did land in Wales. The mission was again plagued by ill discipline as many of the invaders were more interested in looting than any grand cause.
The remaining invasion force was met by a hastily assembled force of local militia who had previously narrowly avoided a French ambush and as the saying goes the rest is history. The French were forced into unconditional surrender.
The myth that surrounds the invasion, with a considerable degree of evidence was
that the French were deceived by the appearance in the neighbourhood of large numbers of local women, who were wearing the traditional dress of red shawls and black hats. The French assumed this was a military force, mistaking the traditional dress for military, which at a distance resembled infantry uniforms.
The other legend related to local cobbler Jemima Nicholas, who allegedly captured a dozen demoralised French soldiers, armed only with a pitchfork and secured them in St. Mary's Church. A memorial to this formidable lady can be found near the church entrance.
As you descend towards Fishguard you firstly see the harbour at Goodwick and with its twin of Fishguard were originally small fishing ports centred on the herring trade. With the arrival of the railway at the end of the 19th century the harbour was built in an attempt to attract the lucrative cross Atlantic trade. Unfortunately it was simply not large enough to accommodate the ever increasing size of the liners and it turned out to be a white elephant though now it is used for ferries to Ireland .
Passing through Goodwick, take the path to Lower Fishguard, this is undoubtedly the most picturesque part, it is an idyllic setting and was used for the 1970’s film ‘Under Milk Wood’ with Richard Burton.
Additionally they were perfectly happy for us to arrive early and park up which allowed us to start our walk to Strumble with plenty of time to get the last bus back. They even allowed us to use an EHU before we went onto the official site.
A short walk from the farm takes you to the coastal path but not before passing the superb Neolithic burial chamber of Careg Sampson, over 5000 years old.
Tip Just outside of Strumble Head there is a Caravan Club certificated site at Tresinwen Farm with absolutely outstanding coastal views but if you are a caravan, it will be a good test of your towing skills, as the lane up to Strumble is very narrow. For motor homes, it is easier to access and to give you comfort the bus regularly plies this route.
What proved to be our final walk culminated again in lunch at the Sloop Inn. On this route you pass the harbour at Trefin, the village centre is slightly inland and easily visible from the coastal path. In the harbour. As you walk through the harbour you pass through the ruins of an old corn mill. These water powered corn mills were common throughout the area but by the turn of the 20th century the vast majority were redundant as more industrialised milling was used. It is, however, indicative of much busier times when this harbour would also have been used for quarrying ,as well as fishing.
By now the weather had changed, though we were fortunate that all the heavy rain had come overnight but with an adverse weather forecast predicted, it was now time to make a tactical retreat. This still leaves the final section from Fishguard to Poppit Sands, so that is for another day but you have to have an excuse to return.