Photograph by Spila Riccardo, SIME
Name: Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Date Established: 1952
Size: 240 square miles (620 square kilometers)
Did You Know?
• Coastal Gem Other British national parks include seaside areas but Pembrokeshire Coast is the only truly coastal park in the system—a realm of seacoast and sky stretching along the southwestern shoreline of Wales.
• Uninhabited Islands Pembrokeshire Coast also includes a scattering of offshore islands many of which, like Skomer and Skokholm Islands, were named by the Vikings who cruised this coast between the eighth and tenth centuries. Though people lived on most of these islands since prehistoric times and farmed them into the 20th century only Caldey Island is inhabited today.
• Stonehenge Source While the park’s heart is along the coast it does feature some inland areas including the Preseli Mountains. These mountains are perhaps most famed as the source of bluestones used in the construction of Stonehenge. The effort involved in moving the massive stones 250 miles (400 kilometers) may evidence a rather advanced prehistoric society.
• Secret Waterway The Daugleddau Estuary, known to locals as the “secret waterway,” has its upper reaches within the park itself. The estuary’s banks are lined with ruined Norman castles and ancient coal mines.
• Walkers' Wonderland While water dominates the park landscape Pembrokeshire Coast is also a spectacular place for walkers to stretch their legs along dozens of Wales’ best beaches, headlands, bays, cliffs, and scenic seaside towns. The park has 621 miles (1,000 kilometers) of trails, including one-hour strolls and 186 miles (299 kilometers) of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Trail. Year-round Coastal Bus Services, designed for walkers, cover the entire route so that strollers can set their own itineraries.
• Human Legacy This appealing coastline has been home to humans since far before the dawn of recorded history. Today visitors can explore a legacy including Iron Age hillforts and burial mounds, the castles and churches of later eras, and even old airfields that testify to the coast’s strategic importance during World War II. St. Davids, set on a rugged peninsula, is the reported birthplace of its namesake saint and a former pilgrimage center of the Middle Ages.
How to Get There
Trains run to the communities of Fishguard, Haverfordwest, and Pembroke Dock and busses run six days a week to connect every community in the county. With a bit of advance planning it’s even possible to arrive at the park by ferry.
When to Visit
Summer is the busiest season on the coast, when fair weather is best for beaches and boating and the frequency of everything from festivities to transport options is a bit greater. But each season offers its own rewards and something is on in the area year-round.
How to Visit
Explore the park’s offshore islands by taking a boat bus. Park your car at St. Davids and ride to the beautiful port of St. Justinian where you can board boats for island excursions. Seabirds, seals, dolphins, and even whales may be seen in these waters.
Where to Stay in Wales
A comfortable stay awaits in Ynshire Hall and nine other Welsh hotels on our list.
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.