We were in awe of how beautiful St Davids cathedral was. We had just spent the morning wandering around it, learning its history, soaking in its atmosphere. There has been a church on the grounds where St Davids sits since the 6th century, so it seems to have an incredible serenity about it.
We had spent time in the gardens, lazily people watching, strolling around admiring the architecture. We’d had time in amongst the ruins currently being restored at the far end, and given ourselves crooked necks looking up at the beautiful ceilings the interior of St Davids treats you to. Feeling the peace that always seems to surround a place of faith, whatever that faith may be.
The interior of St David’s is a beautiful dream! The most aesthetic cathedral, and an absolute must see in this area of Pembrokeshire. Lots of beautiful, detailed ceilings. Stained glass windows telling their stories. Its just gorgeous in there. Leaving St Davids, we set out to cross off the next places to see in Pembrokeshire that we had on our list.
Turning the corner of the leafy lane that runs beside the cathedral, we were each reflecting on how stunning St Davids was. The bright July sunshine was beating off the roads tarmac, creating that summer haze that hot sunny days bring. It was altering our vision slightly of the road ahead…. or so we thought. Slowing the car to crawling pace, we thought we were having a divine moment. Strolling in the dappled shade of the trees at the side of the lane, a man and a woman walking with purpose, a huge 15 foot wooden crucifix between them. The man, as casually as if he were carrying a news paper, had the top of the crucifix on his shoulder, the base attached to a wheel on the ground. They were focused in their task. We were staring in disbelief…….
It turns out that the man is a little famous around this part of Wales. He is an ex convict apparently, that found religion while in prison, so makes his self imposed pilgrimage around Wales, carrying his wooden cross. It just so happened that we saw him with the gorgeous backdrop of St Davids framing the area behind him. Perfect timing I would say, but left us a little bewildered at the time….
Places to see in Pembrokeshire
I didn’t want this post to be just an itinerary of where we went in Pembrokeshire, you would be here all day and most likely, keel over with boredom. Instead, I thought I would give you ideas for some places to see in Pembrokeshire, some of which are perhaps a little less known, to weave into your own itinerary should you visit. Sound good? Then read on my beauties, read on…
So, St Davids is a must visit. The actual City of St Davids is the smallest city in the UK, (that’s official, not just my observation). It has a collection of both independent and large chain shops, as well as a bountiful selection of food places. We ate in a pub called The Bishops, where its pew style seating and cosy corners with names like “The Bitches” gave it a wealth of character. A great place to re-fuel before moving on.
Strumble Head Lighthouse
I have a thing for lighthouses. I think it stems from a school trip to one when I was young. I remember feeling like the entire world was stretched out before me looking out of the lighthouse. Well Strumble Head, on the North West tip of Pembrokeshire, is a beauty. Built in the early 1900’s, it sits on a tiny island, just off the coast. The lighthouse is now fully automated so although it can be accessed via a small suspension bridge, you can’t go onto the island.
Standing in the shadow of the lighthouse was enough though. As you would imagine, that bit of coastline is very rugged and dramatic, and the views are spectacular. Nature lovers will be happy as its on the path of migrating birds, and dolphin spotting is popular here.
The Blue Lagoon
Pembrokeshire has a long and involved history in the slate industry. The Blue Lagoon, situated at Abereiddy beach, is an old slate quarry, that was mined right up until the early 1900’s. It was then abandoned, but the channel that separated the quarry from the sea was blasted, allowing the sea water to flood in.
The rural and quiet beach of Abereiddy has a dark sand, made so from the dark slate surrounding the area. This deep blue slate also gives the water in the lagoon its blue colour. It is a strangely beautiful place, and the ruins of the old miners cottages dotting the headland hint at its past. The Blue Lagoon has also paid host to world diving competitions, due to its 25 plus meter depth. We loved the couple of hours we spent here.
Like Jersey which surprised us with its beaches, (you can read about them here, Things to do in Jersey) the Welsh coastline has some stunning beaches. Mwnt, (pronounced at “mont”) is a gorgeous sandy beach and owned by The National Trust (so take your card for free parking if you are a member) . Mwnt is a hidden cove, just off the Ceredigon Coast. It is also a likely place for spotting bottlenose dolphins, as they are often seen playing and feeding, just off shore in the bay. You can even do dolphin watching boat trips as the population of dolphins here is huge!
The beach is accessed via some steep steps, (so unsuitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs) and the view before going down onto the beach is beautiful.
There is also a tiny, 13th century white chapel near the carpark. The Church of the Holy Cross sits all alone on land that has had a church since around 400 AD. It has a rich history, being a resting place for pilgrims heading to St Davids. it is worth popping across the road to look at before heading down onto the beach.
We saw and went through many pretty and noteworthy villages in Pembrokeshire, but Nevern needs its own paragraph. We came across it by accident. Out exploring in the car, we spotted The Trewern Arms pub (gorgeous food) so decided to stop for lunch. The village, with just a handful of houses in it, is traditional and charming. With its meandering river running through it, beautiful old stone bridges, it is such a pretty place. It has a full history though, as it was an important hub of Pembrokeshire in medieval times! Once a Welsh stronghold, it had its own castle and earthern ramparts, the remains of which can still be seen today.
Nevern is also home to St Brynach church, which dates back to the 6th century. The church has the oldest (12th Century) intact Celtic cross within its grounds, as well as an avenue of 700 year old yew trees. One of these trees is known as The Bleeding Yew. This tree has a wound at the back of it, that permanently oozes a reddish, blood like sap out of it. Legend has it that the yew tree bleeds for the monk that was wrongly hung from its branches many years before….
Ramsey Island and Skomer Island
If you fancy testing out your sea legs, then a boat trip to one of the islands is a must. Ramsey Island is 640 acres, owned by the RSPB and home to rare birds such as Peregrine that nest and breed here. Skomer island is famous for its Puffins, and has 6000 pairs, making it the biggest puffin colony in Southern Britain. As well as the sea birds, your boat trip holds the promise of seeing seals, dolphins and sometimes even wales. There are a few trips available, and Voyages of Discovery run lots to choose from.
In truth, there are a gazillion other places that I could tell you about in Pembrokeshire. Nik and I wanted a fairly chilled break in Wales, so all of these places I have shared with you were well within an hours drive from where we were staying. I told you all about our beautiful cottage in this post, Our Tranquil Escape to Pembrokeshire, and that was based at the foot of the Preseli Hills which is beautiful for tranquil walks.
There are many beaches that are beautiful around the Pembrokeshire coast, including Tenby, Barafundle Bay and South Beach. There are historical castles, Cardigan Castle and Carew Castle being popular, and of course, you have the ferry from Fishguard taking you over to Ireland if you fancy a day trip. I think we would have to return to Pembrokeshire for a month to see all of the things we wanted to see. Its a beautiful part of the world, and if you havent been, I urge you too!
Have you explored much of Wales? I would love to hear if you have visited any of these places I have shared with you. I am keen to go back and explore more of Wales so if you have any suggestions, fire away!