Attractions & Beaches

Glan Y Mor


St Davids Peninsula


On the tip of West Wales and surrounded by the sea on three sides is the St Davids peninsula. The peninsula is part of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the only coastal National Park in Britain and is an area of great natural beauty and cultural heritage. Throughout the peninsula there are reminders of both the deep religious importance of the place combined with evidence of other ways of life from fishing to mining to smuggling. Being a National Park the area is protected from development with stringent planning regulations and as a result the natural beauty of the area is maintained.

Central to the peninsula lies the attractive city of St Davids, the smallest city in the UK and the ecclesiastical capital of Wales. From St Davids the pretty fishing villages of Solva and Porthgain can be accessed by road and all along the coast lies beautiful beaches, stunning cliff top views and an abundance of small bays and inlets. The landscape throughout is dominated by the volcanic outcrops of Carnliddi and Penberi, two hills overseeing the day to day life of the peninsula. Offshore, Ramsey Island lies only half a mile out from St Justinians with many other islands scattered around. The main beach Whitesands, famous for it’s surfing, heads the peninsula, but there are many smaller beaches like Caerfai, Porthseli, Porth Melgan and Abereiddy. At its widest the peninsula is six miles wide and you are never further than than 3 miles from the sea.


Solva


This is an attractive and picturesque little village with a small sheltered harbour. A variety of small shops and galleries line the main street along with plenty of quality pubs and restaurants.

Solva stands in a deep valley gouged out by water melting from glaciers and its position made it ideal as a base for trading ships in the 18th century. It is also reputed to have been a major landing place for smuggled goods.

When the tide is in, the valley fills slowly with water but when the tide goes out, the boats are left high and dry – ideal in the past for unloading cargoes. Today, apart from a few local fishermen, the harbour is used only by pleasure craft.

Solva lies 3 miles to the East of St Davids on the main Haverfordwest road the A487. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path also passes through the village and is a very good stopping place for thirsty walkers.

Solva

St Nons


Situated on the coast path overlooking St Nons Bay, and one mile South West of St Davids, St Nons well and Chapel must be one of the most idyllically situated monuments in Pembrokeshire. St. Non’s well is one of the finest examples of a Celtic healing well. The whole location is in essence Celtic, and for the modern-day pilgrim is a wonderful place to visit. The well has been used for healing purposes at least since the time of St. Non, who was born in the early 6th century, and probably for a considerable time before that. In 1811 it was written that ‘the fame this consecrated spring has obtained is incredible and it is still resorted to for many complaints’. It was thought to cure illnesses of the eyes, and sick children were submerged into its waters. It was restored in 1951 by the Catholic Church, who have a retreat here, and in the same year they also built the shrine to ‘Our Blessed Lady’ adjacent to the well, using stones taken from ancient buildings all around. The present barrel vaulting covering the well replaced the ruins of a more extensive medieval structure in the 18th century.

St. Non was the mother of St. David, the Patron Saint of Wales. Her house was on the site of the ruined Chapel near to the well which is where St David was born. Folklore says that the spring feeding the well was said to have appeared the moment St David was born.

Standing in the grounds of the St Nons retreat lies the Chapel of Our Lady and St Non, built in 1934 from the stones of ruined pre-reformation chapels in the area.

By road St Nons can be accessed via the road to Porthclais from St Davids. The coast path passes by the retreat and the well.

St Nons

Porthclais


Porthclais is a small sheltered inlet port two miles south west of St Davids,

Porthclais harbour was built in the 12th century and supplied  St Davids with imported coal and timber. It is still used as a small port by both local fishermen and recreational sailors. The old harbour wall, built by the Romans according to some legends, is largely intact. The harbour dries out at low tide and is a good launching spot for small boats, dive craft and kayaks who are setting out to explore St Brides Bay.
There is a car park on the site of what used to be the now defunct St. Davids gasworks, which in turn was built on the site of a spring where it is said St. David himself was baptised.
Porthclais is also purported to be the landing place of Twrch Trwyth, the legendary magical boar which swam from Ireland to confront King Arthur.
Around the harbour is evidence of lime kilns.

There is a small café sited on the old gas works which is open in season.
Porthclais is accessed by road South west of St Davids and also the coast path passes through – not literelly- the harbour.


Porthgain


The village of Porthgain is almost a living museum of it’s time as a prosperous industrial harbour in the early 1900s. Large brick hoppers dominate the harbour. These hoppers were used to store crushed granite before shipment and are now a scheduled ancient monument. In 1987 Porthgain was designated as a conservation area.

The harbour, still home to local fishermen, can get very busy in the summer with recreational boaters. Attractions include the Pembrokeshire Coast Path up both sides of the harbour and The Sloop, a pub which used to be called the “Step In” when boats were able to dock beside the pub and the crews could step in. Porthgain also has the Shed, a small bistro situated by the Quay and the Harbour Lights Gallery, which is located in the manager’s office of the old works.

Porthgain lies on the North Pembrokeshire coast between St. Davids and Fishguard, just north of the village of Llanrhian, and its sheltered harbour is tucked into a small cove, which faces north into Cardigan Bay. Porthgain has a fascinating industrial history because of the exploitation and extraction of the local slate.


The name “Porthgain” may mean “chisel port” in Welsh – porth is port, harbour, landing place or cove, and gain – a chisel. The inlet looks as though a chisel has taken a notch out of the cliffs here – and the name aptly foretold Porthgain’s busy industrial heyday. However, until the nineteenth century Porthgain was a quiet fishing village, its only industry was the ‘burning’ of limestone, used as fertiliser to sweeten the fields or to make mortar.

Porthgain

St Justinians


In a stunning setting looking out towards Ramsey Island is the Lifeboat Station built in 1869 which has been involved in many heroic rescues.

St Justinian was a friend and confessor of St David. Legend has it that while on Ramsey Island he was beheaded by his own disciples, but picked up his own head and walked across Ramsey Sound to the mainland.

Today boats depart from here for trips around Ramsey island from Easter to the end of October (weather permitting) and for landings on the Island itself.

St Justinians can be accessed by road if you take the Porthclais road and turn right on the outskirts of St Davids and drive for 3 miles. The coast path also passes through St Justinians.

St Justinians

Caerfai Beach


Pretty south facing beach. Closest beach to St Davids. No sand and very shingly at high tide but plenty of space at low tide. Parking is free on the cliff top and the beach is accessed by a steep safe path from the car park. Not suitable for boat launching and can only be surfed at low tide. No facilities on the beach but there is a shop at CaerfaI Farm selling drinks and ice cream. Get there by turning into caerfai road by the tourist information office on the outskirts of St Davids on the Haverfordwest road. Beach is 1 mile down the road.

Caerfai Beach

Whitesands Beach


Heading the peninsula Whitesands is the best beach in the area but it does get very crowded in the summer. A mile long Westerly facing sandy beach looking out towards Ramsey Island. Facilities include toilets, shop, café, surf school, surf hire and deck chair hire. Lifeguards patrol the beach in season. There is a large car park but be warned it does fill up very quickly at the height of the summer. Good access for boat launching. An excellent and safe surf beach. No dogs allowed May to September.

Whitesands Beach

Porthmelgan Beach


A very pretty beach facing South West looking out along the side of St Davids head across the Bay towards Ramsey Island. A difficult beach to get to with a mile and a half walk from Whitesands. If you don’t like crowds this is a good place to go. Shingly at high tide and plenty of space at low tide. Surfing is limited to mid to low tide. Zero facilities.


Abereiddi Beach


A very interesting beach with heaps of history. The beach has black sand framed by rugged slate cliffs. Access is good with a car park right on the beach front. To the north of the beach is an area where slate was quarried around a large hole which, when the quarry had finished, the rock that lay between the sea and the disused quarry was blown up and it became a rather beautiful blue lagoon. Lining the path leading to the blue lagoon are the ruins of the old quarry workers houses. Surf can be good at low tide. There are toilets and in season an ice cream van.

Abereiddi Beach

Porthseli Beach


Small North Westerly facing beach looking across Whitesands towards St Davids Head. There is sand at high tide but it is quite rocky at low. There is private parking through Pencarnon Campsite but make sure you ask at the reception before parking as spaces are limited. Not suitable for boat launching and surfing is quite limited. Get there by taking the St Justinians road from St Davids, after two miles take the right hand turn to Pencarnon Campsite. A rough track for half a mile with a public footpath to the beach before the campsite entrance.


Coast Path


The Pembrokeshire Coast Path is one of Britain’s National Trails. There are 15 in England and Wales and they represent the 15 best walking trails. There are three national trails in Wales, The Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Offas Dyke and Glyndwrs Way.

What makes the Pembrokeshire Coast Path so interesting is the variety of landscapes you pass through on your way along it, ranging from steep limestone cliffs, undulating red sandstone bays, volcanic headlands and flooded glacial valleys.

There are also some remarkably quaint towns and villages to explore, rest, refresh and recuperate in: essential for getting your breath back after experiencing some of those views!

Coast Path

Ramsey Island


This dramatic offshore island has cliffs up to 120 m high, the perfect place for breeding seabirds in spring and early summer. Walk along the coastal heathland and enjoy the spectacular views.

Ramsey Island

Oriel Y Parc


Dedicated to the exploration of landscape, this stunning new gallery, visitor and education centre in St Davids is set within a truly inspirational example – the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.


Bishops Palace


Next to the Cathedral lies the 14th century Bishops Palace which, now a ruin, is in the care of Cadw and is open to visitors.

Bishops Palace

Cathedral


The city is based around the Cathedral, which was built on the site of Davids monastery in the 12th century. It became a popular place of pilgrimage in the middle ages after Pope Calixtus 11 decreed that two pilgrimages to St Davids was equal to one to Rome. As a result a vast income was raised by visiting pilgrims.

Cathedral