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About Pembrokeshire

What can we say about Pembrokeshire? Well, quite a lot actually…

waves

First and foremost, the county is home to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. It’s the only national park in the UK to devote itself to a coastline. Which is pretty special in its own right. It was set up in 1952 and is one of three in Wales – the others being the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia.

Running through this national park is the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. This path is a whopping 186 miles long and runs across cliff tops, beaches, fields and almost everything in between. The park covers around one third of the county, so you can be sure there’s plenty to explore. It offers spectacular views of this stunning part of the country and is often the only access point for the county’s many beaches.

Beaches

Let’s talk about the beaches! The county is rightly renowned for its beaches and there are plenty of them – over 50! There’s something for everyone with every beach type imaginable.

Not only that, but the Pembrokshire beaches trophy cabinet is groaning with an array of impressive awards. Often voted as having the best beaches in the UK and one of the best coastlines in the world, there is no shortage of award winning, picture perfect, headline grabbing beaches.

From the breath-taking Barafundle, the multi award winning Tenby or the atmospheric Marloes Sands – there are beaches for all. Rocks, cliffs, rock pools, massive stretched of sand, crystal clear waters, secluded coves – you name it – Pembrokeshire has it all.

Quiet Coves

Safe, sandy beaches

Rocky, craggy areas waiting to be explored

history

Although there isn’t much evidence of Roman occupation in Pembrokeshire, there have been a smattering of artefacts unearthed that suggest the Romans certainly passed through Pembrokshire. Local legend has it that the Roman Emperor Magnus Maximus founded the county town of Haverfordwest.

Before the Norman’s set up their stall across the county, the Vikings made several raids on the county with trading places such as Haverfordwest and Fishguard. The Normans tried to set up in Pembrokeshire but didn’t have the greatest success as local armies often repelled them. In 1093, however, Pembroke Castle was built. Although not the stone giant we know today, it was of timber structure – but sturdy enough to see off initial attacks by the Welsh wanting to kick the Normans out of their town.

It wasn’t until 1189 that the castle started to take shape. Given as a gift from Richard I to the first Earl of Pembroke, William Marshal, the castle was rebuilt using stone. It is, by and large, the castle you see today. The castle switched owners many times, ending back with the Crown. As a result, King Henry VII was born in this very castle. Thankfully, a rather warmer welcome awaits today, as the castle is open to visitors.

Pembrokeshire is also home to the UK’s smallest city – St David’s. Previously called Mynyw, it took the name of The Patron Saint of Wales, St David, who is buried in the city. The cathedral stands proud within this small city. Started in 1181, it was remodelled and rebuilt in the years that followed due to collapses, earthquakes and general change. It had its most significant changes in the 14th Century when Bishop Henry Gower remodelled and extended the structure.

Caldey Island off the coast near Tenby is itself a rather intriguing and magical place with a rich history. Henry I used Royal Charter to give the island to Robert fitz Martin. This means that even today, this is a truly independent place! By the 12th Century Benedictine monks had arrived and began to worship there. They continued to practice here until Henry VIII closed the monasteries across England and Wales in 1536. The building that the monks used still remains on the island.

It wasn’t until 1906 that the island was bought by Anglican Benedictines. The Abbey that stands proudly on the island today is the fruit of their labour. However, the island changed hands once more, this time to the stricter Catholic Cistercian Order, who remain on the island to this day. Tourism and the manufacture of perfume and chocolate help financially sustain the order.

Given the extensive coastal heritage of this area, fishing and smuggling were thriving industries here. Although hard to believe now, Haverfordwest was a major port in Elizabethan times. It was, at the time, the second largest port in Wales. Many of the quiet coves today boast a harbour or port that denotes a rich heritage. Milford Haven has been used as a port or place of shelter for many centuries. The Vikings sheltered fleets here, Henry II assembled his attack fleets here and in 1793 whaling fleets from north America were invited to relocate here – which they did. Milford then became a whaling town operated by the Nantucket Quaker whalers. They made good money from this, selling their products far and wide to help, amongst other things, light the lamps across London.

The jagged headland is something we can enjoy and marvel at today, but it is also where many ships came to ruin. The coastline around the county is littered with shipwrecks of many ages and times. Some preserved and others stored in the depths of the sea. Diving excursions are available for those who wish to see these aquatic pieces of history up close and personal.

Whatever tickles your fancy, Pembrokeshire is a county with abundant attractions and a rich heritage – just waiting for you to explore, discover and enjoy.

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Pembrokeshire Geography

waves

The County of Pembrokeshire isn’t huge. It is the fourth least populated county by sq. km in Wales; yet, it knows how to pack a punch! To the south you have the pristine, gloriously picture-perfect beaches. The north takes on a more rugged and remote field. The Preseli Hills (known locally as mountains) offer an experience similar to that of moorland, with vast open expanses of rocks, gorse, rolling fields and dramatic peaks. A trip across the county can feel as if you leave the sea only to arrive in the clouds (1,759 feet at its highest point) and back down into the sea again. Estuaries, hills, beaches and winding rivers – whatever natural wonder you are looking for you will find it here. Nowhere in the county is more than 10 miles away from tidal water.

Pembrokeshire is famed for its farming heritage. Today it is estimated 86% of land is given over to farming. Local produce and by-products such as dairy can be enjoyed locally, with many places making their own ice cream. Equally, the Pembrokeshire New Potato is quite simply a miracle of nature – producing, arguably, the best potato you will ever sample!

The landscape was home to a thin and deep coalfield, which was mined from the 1700s onwards. The county is also known for its stone. The Bluestone of the area is thought to be that which formed the inner circle at Stonehenge. The stone here has been quarried for many years, creating economic opportunities for export. The south is geologically ‘softer’ than the rugged west and north of the county. Whereas the south is a firm favourite with families looking for bucket and spade experiences, the north is the land of legend and exploration. Once again proving that there is something for everyone here.

By train

There are several services into Pembrokeshire on the national rail network. There are ten stations dotted across the county with the main calling points being Haverfordwest, Pembroke, Pembroke Dock, Milford Haven, Fishguard, Tenby and Narberth. There are direct services into the county from other places in Wales and also from beyond into England. The main direct rail route to Wales from England is the fast and frequent service from London Paddington, Reading, Bath and Bristol to Newport and Cardiff, where you can then catch a connecting train to Pembrokeshire.

By Ferry

Ferries arrive into the county at Fishguard and Pembroke Dock. Irish Ferries operate services between Ireland and Pembrokeshire through Pembroke Dock, whilst Stena Line operates services out of Fishguard into Rosslare in Ireland.

Timetable and tickets

By Coach

The county is well served by coach and bus services. There are many local and nation-wide operators that travel into the county from beyond. There are pick-up and drop off locations across the county.

Timetable and tickets

By Car

Getting to Pembrokeshire by car is probably the most popular method of travel. The A40 is the principle road through the county, forming and L shape down to Haverfordwest and up again to Fishguard

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