The Pembrokeshire coast is the only National Park in the UK that includes a coastline, and was given special protection in 1952. With 239 square miles of unspoiled, strictly protected wildlife habitats, the area is a melting pot of beauty. The peninsula of St.Davids reaches round to the South-Western tip of Wales, providing the St George Channel Crossing to Ireland and within it, St Bridges Bay, home to the stunning Broad Haven beach, a Blue Flag status beach. Ideal for families due its safer bathing and watersports facilities, this is one of Pembrokeshire’s more well-loved destinations in the summer months.
Where the coastline isn’t stunning beach, the dramatic cliffs, rugged inlets and fast tides make up the shores that are home to an abundance of marine life and rare birds. The temperate water is subject to changing forecasts, however, its proximity to the Gulf Stream means that this part of the Irish Sea has warmer temperatures compared to the rest of the UK’s waters. Such temperate conditions provide an unlikely home that attracts marine life usually rare in the UK, with a huge population of dolphin, (including residential bottlenose dolphin), porpoise, rare whales – and even thirty species of shark.
With such an exquisite range of landscapes and wildlife, most of it untypical to the UK at large, it is worth experiencing the area via other modes of transport and subsequent vantage points.
Boats, Vans, Planes and Plans!
Dolphin and Whale Watching – St David’s
Perhaps rightly coined by the BBC’s ‘Monty Hall’s Great Escapes’, as one of the ‘UK’s best boat trips’, the three-hour voyage to Ramsey Island is a stunning way to take in the sights of the Pembrokeshire coast from the Irish Sea itself. The trip costs £60 per adult and £30 per child, and between the months of May and September it is quite usual for the boat party to encounter a huge amount of marine species, birds and mammals, including seals, Common Dolphin, Minke Whale, Sei Whale, Fin Whale, Bottlenose Dolphin, Orca, Rissos Dolphin and Basking Shark. Rarer sightings of Blue sharks and the infamous Great White have been reported, and the team have many years experience, demonstrated daily via their high levels of knowledge and safety.
Flying Lessons – Haverfordwest
With Pembrokeshire’s dramatic coastline and incredible landscapes, the flying school in Haverfordwest offers seasonal flying lessons for those who might like to try something a little different. Probably the best way to take in this breathtaking area of the UK, the Cessna fleet at the Fly Wales Flight Training School can offer small groups and solo flights around the county of Pembrokeshire. Lessons are taken with expertly qualified instructor pilots that will brief the prospective co-pilot and brave passengers on safety procedures and simple flight controls, before embarking on a trip around the jaw droppingly beautiful coastlines. Costs start at around £115 for half an hour, and apart from packing a sense of adventure, be sure to call on the day of your booking to check the weather is fine to reach for the skies.
Hills, Beaches and Valleys
The many beaches are prominent mainstays throughout the coastal paths between St Bride’s to St. Davids, while full of campsites for various visitor requirements, many offering their services out of high season for quieter tourist months.
The National Park of Pembrokeshire stretches from the Preseli Hills and Gwaun Valley around the inlets and peninsula that make up this special county. The habitats are unique, offering perfect environments for rare species. Whether an outdoorsy thrill-seeker, nature lover, or a more relaxed beach and/or camp-fire dweller, Pembrokeshire is an altogether fantastic destination for all.
The ancient settlement of St David’s is now officially the UK’s smallest city. The present cathedral was first built by the Normans, but evidence to suggest the area was of geographical, historical and spiritual interest stretches back to Roman times. The cathedral was the key in the small but significant community regaining its city status, reinstated by our current monarch, Queen Elizabeth, in 1994. The stunning area around St David’s can be explored by car or campervan, with many visitors to Pembrokeshire opting to take a road trip around the stunning coastal paths and campsites in a retro Brazilian Kampers campervan.