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davidx Solva - A travel report by David
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Solva,  United Kingdom - flag United Kingdom
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davidx's travel reports

Solva and parts of ‘Big’ North Pembrokeshire.

  11 votes
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What to call this was a problem. North Pembrokeshire would include St. David’s [separate report] and wouldn’t include anywhere south of Haverfordwest. Hence the concept of ‘Big’ North Pembrokeshire, which only excludes the far south.


I’ve nothing against the popular resorts of Tenby and Saundersfoot, St Govan’s or Caldey Island. I just don’t know them. I should stay north of Milford Haven but I didn’t want to admit the castle at Pembroke itself, a real delight for children and interesting to adults. It was of great historical importance at the end of the Wars of the Roses as the place where the Tudor dynasty emerged – yet the publicity it deserves seems to be kept for castles further north in Wales. http://www.pembrokec-ast le.co.uk Now let’s get straight to beaches.. Go first to www.visitpembrokeshi-re.com/b eaches.asp where you will find what amenities the different beaches have. Personally I don’t want commercialised beaches and so the absence of symbols is a plus point. I was so relieved to find Druidstone haven still so bereft of amenities. It’s a big natural bay with black sand, [not mud!] and cliffs, caves and pools. It’s no good with a pram unless you can get there early enough to get one of the few parking places by the road but it’s not hard for most to walk from Nolton Haven. The point is that only those who particularly want this type of beach will do so – thus ensuring it stays like it. Another favourite of mine is St Bride’s Haven with relatively little sand but a long stretch of rocks with pools. This is one of the two places where I’ve found the cliff flowers absolutely magic in May and June – they’re pretty good everywhere in the area. If you like a bit more of amenity provision, Broadhaven used to have most, including donkeys and Little Haven ran it close. Nolton Haven came somewhere in between in terms of facilities. Further south, Marloes beach and Musselwick bay, on opposite sides of the Dale peninsula are both very scenic, the stacks at Marloes being particularly appealing. They are not the easiest either with children or for older people. Last in this section, the largest town of Haverfordwest has a good museum and an excellent castle - www.castlewales.com/-haver.html

Favourite spots:
I’m not so much for beaches as headlands or coastal viewpoints. Pembrokeshire has no shortage but three places come straight to mind as having provided particular delight. The first of these is Strumble Head. It is a short distance NW of Fishguard and has a lighthouse, now operated automatically from a distance, on a small island just off the coast, reached by a bridge. I have never been there without hearing seals and have often seen them. I haven’t been in the main nesting season but that is said to be a real treat. The views from the top of the headland are outstanding. The second site is very near, Pwll Deri. There’s a Youth Hostel at the ciff top and a tiny beach far below. This is the place that equals St Bride’s for the flowers, a carpet of pink, yellow, blue and white. The third is much further south, beyond the Marloes beaches and is perhaps best of the lot. This is Wooltack Point, where the view embraces the nature-teeming islands of Skomer and Skokholm.

What's really great:
The National Park is well known for its remains of Neolithic and Bronze Age cromlechs. The exceptional example must be Pentre Ifan [single f pronounced like English V], near Nevern. The huge capstone, estimated at some 40 tons weight, is still in place, resting on three uprights sufficiently high for all but very tall men to stand beneath them. Another fine one is the Samson Longhouse near Mathry. Good photos of both can be found very simply by using Google. One strange record is held by Carregwastad, between Strumble head and Goodwick. It was the site of the last foreign invasion of the British mainland. In 1797 four french ships were outside and a small army landed and apparently proceeded to behave in a less than militarily impressive way, only to surrender pretty quickly to a less than impressive Welsh ‘army’.

Sights:
Time for the north-west coast. Start at Porthgain, distinct from any other seaside villages in the National Park by virtue of its industrial remains. Walking towards it in the setting sun you will probably find the building remains from the days of transportation of slate and granite by boat take on a vaguely spooky appearance.
Not much farther north-west Trefin provides a beach with a natural arch and some cave openings as well as good sand.
A longer jump past places already covered and we are at Dinas.. So-called Dinas Island isn’t one but it’s a fine headland peninsula where you can look out from the shore to the large stack of needle Rock, used for nesting by a number of seabirds.
To the south now are the Precelly Hills, from which [almost incredibly] the rocks used at the famous English site of Stonehenge were taken. This is an area for splendid views and beyond it lies the Gwaun Valley, steep and deeply wooded with an air of having always been the same.

Hangouts:
The Ship Inn, Solva, was the only one we visited much. It was welcoming and snug.
This provides the spot in my report to say a bit about the little town, after which it’s named.
The coastal feature for which Pembrokeshire is not particularly noted is wooded inlets or estuaries. If these are your favourites, I think in general you would be better off in south Devon or south Cornwall. However, there are two exceptions. The biggest and best known is Milford Haven, naturally appealing but where oil tankers pose a constant threat to a special marine environment.
The second is Solva. A centre of maritime trade in the 18th century, it is now almost entirely pleasure boats that fill the lovely wooded estuary – and they do! This is one of the bits you should try to include if you are doing some sections –but not all – of the Coastal Path.

Other recommendations:
Just outside Pembrokeshire, in Carmarthenshire is Cenarth, a beautiful spot on the River Teifi, where children could once have coracle rides and where annual coracle races are held. Coracles are small boats, often round, which are made like baskets and used to be widespread.

Lastly a bit more on the islands, sketchily mentioned above.
www.pembrokeshirecoa st.org.uk/index-e.htm has good information if you click ‘out and about’ [top] , ‘places to visit’ [side], islands [in list]. Skomer is best, ferries [weather permitting] in summer from St Martin’s Haven below Wooltack Point.
It’s terrific for birds [choughs, puffins and shearwaters included], seals and flowers as well as prehistory [iron age predominant.] Skokholm [probably as good] and Grassholme [site of Britain’s largest gannetry] can only be seen from boats. Ask about trips. If you can’t see Grassholme, don’t worry. It’s said to presage bad weather if you do!

Published on Monday March 14th, 2005


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Tue, Mar 15 2005 - 01:57 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

wonderful description indeed
dav why dont u add pic in ur report,sso that that can get max rating,else u can write incomplete report in ur heading .

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