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

St David’s, village or city?

  15 votes
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Q - What do you mean? I suppose it’s a town? A – Certainly not – it’s not big enough. Q – Is it really a village, then? A – Yes. Q - So why a city? A - It’s got a cathedral. Q – Is it a city or not? A – It is. Q – So it’s both A – BINGO

In addition to this unusual combination, St David’s enjoys a wonderful situation in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park area. The coast that extends south-west right from Aberystwyth turns south at St David’s Head and after a short distance turns back to the east, giving the northernmost of the peninsulas of the Park stretching to the west. Hence in any direction from the village [as I shall call it] except due east you soon reach the sea, with idyllic beaches of different colour and character. This makes it an arbitrary decision where on the coast to begin and end. South of the village Caerfai Bay seems the obvious point but there’s no such obvious point the other way. The first place I want to identify specifically in that direction is Abereiddy and that feels out of the immediate environment of St David’s. Even so I shall include it here rather than in any of the other reports I plan to do on Pembrokeshire. As in some other reports I commend www.ordnancesurvey.c-o.u k/oswebsite/getamap/ to get a better idea and for visiting the area. So we start at Whitesands Bay to the west. This is a large sandy beach with excellent views of some small islands – and the larger one of Ramsay. Then just to your north is the peninsula to St David’s Head with a cromlech on the way and the mound of Carn Llidi is to your north-east with fine views over the generally low lying country and more burial chambers. If you prefer to, you can wind round the shore towards St David’s Head and come to the smaller but otherwise equally good and less crowded beaches of Porth Lleuog and Porthmelgan. Going south from Whitesands round the next headland [on foot] or by returning to St D and out again by car, you reach Porthstinian, where a lifeboat station can be seen, built in 1869. There are ferries to Ramsey in summer only.

Favourite spots:
Meet Abereiddy. Judging by the time we spent at different places, when we spent eight weeks over three years in the area when the children were young, this must certainly qualify as a favourite. The road goes right down to a seaside carpark near the beach. This used to provide an exciting starting point as there was a good chance of finding graptolite fossils near your car. Then you might be put off by the sight of black sand. Be reassured, it’s not mud; it really is black sand and hard enough for a good game of beach cricket at that. A short walk right near the sea to your north will provide more excitement for the children and pleasure for yourself. Slate mining remains will be found but in particular the hidden ‘blue lagoon’. It’s a flooded quarry but can be turned into a secret harbour for a good story. On your way round, you will have passed a semi-island with a big ball-like object on a pole. Again there is scope for some children’s scrambling and masses of imagination.

What's really great:
High time to look at the village itself – and it’s well worth it. Since cathedrals and villages may not seem natural bedfellows, let’s start there. it’s a beautiful building, whose magnificence certainly doesn’t depend on height. Visibilityfrom the sea would have been a fair sign of lunacy, either in the 7th century, when the patron Saint of Wales started his monastic foundation or in the 12th, when the present building replaced it. It’s a long time since I was there but the oak ceilings and the choir stick out most firmly in my memory. The ruins of the Bishop’s palace almost adjacent to the cathedral are pretty spectacular. The Bishops of St. David’s were among the wealthiest people in Wales and had an abode to befit that status but in the 16th century they upped and moved to Carmarthen, taking even the roof lead with them! Click for the cathedral site, then for Guided Tours and then to see more of the interior. Be sure to click on the Choir.

Now for a look south of the village. Start with Caerfai Bay due south. There is no beach as such at high tide but as it goes out there’s plenty of sand, going redder as you near the sea. If the tide is rising, be a bit careful about cave exploration or the like.
Walk a bit west to see the ruined St Non’s chapel and the nearby St Non’s Well [she was St David’s mother].
It’s not far now to Porthclais harbour with its delightful limekilns, beautifully portrayed on al%20history/welsh%20limek ilns/pembrokeshire/porthcla is2.htm
Now you can take a delightful part of the coastal path, probably in relative peace, to the delectable cove of Porthlysgi [all spellings as per OS map] There are huge sea stacks along here owned by the National Trust and you should have your binoculars with you. I was lucky enough to see a peregrine[ back when they were really rare] and you have a chance of a [Cornish?] chough.

Sadly the farm where we stayed three years in a run no longer makes provision.

Other recommendations:
Ramsey is probably less interesting than Skomer, further south, but it is a breeding place for the so-called Cornish chough [they are easier to spot in Wales!] There’s also the chance in season of seeing seal pups.

I can’t finish without a mention of the flowers of Pembrokeshire, where the cliffs really do look like gardens [in May/June particularly.

Lastly a really fine website for information on the National Park generally is Having clicked ‘welcome’ [unless you want welsh] click on ‘out and about at the top. Then click on ‘places to visit’ at the side and a feast of information can be accessed.

Published on Thursday March 10th, 2005

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Sun, Mar 20 2005 - 02:07 PM rating by mtlorensen

Wonderful report David!

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