Pembrokeshire not only houses the UK’s only national park but is home to unique wildlife, rolling coastlines, and beautiful beaches. Located in the southwest of Wales, The Adventure to Me and I spent a long weekend exploring the Welsh coast.
Pembrokeshire is a fine opportunity to visit more of Wales and the UK without costing a fortune. It’s no surprise it’s been used in popular media such as Harry Potter and His Dark Materials. We were completely surprised by the low cost of parking in public car parks, and that many of the places to visit were free of charge. Knowing we were looking to visit a few places, we travelled around Pembrokeshire by car for added flexibility. We visited over a weekend in August, Friday to Sunday in 2021.
Where We Stayed
We opted for somewhere fairly central, that would allow us to easily access other areas of Pembrokeshire and settled on Neyland. We stayed in an Airbnb apartment that was exactly what we needed for just two adults with easy on-street parking. It was a short walk to the harbor and a couple of nice eateries.
Our Planned Route
This was our approximate route, starting in Newport and making our way around to Tenby over the three days.
Pembrokeshire Day One
Our first stop in Pembrokeshire was Newport. No, not Newport near Cardiff but Newport in Pembrokeshire – there are two Newports in Wales!
Breakfast at Cat Rock Cafe
After a few hours of driving, our first port of call was breakfast, or more like brunch by the time we arrived late morning. The Cat Rock Cafe forms part of the Newport Links Golf Club, but as an independent cafe, it offers panoramic views of Newport beach and across Cardigan Bay and the Preseli Hills. It was the views that drew us here, but it was our first taste of just how reasonably priced our visit would be. Stomach’s full, we were ready to truly start our Pembrokeshire adventure!
Hike to Mynydd Carningli (Mountain)
With our sights set on the summit of Mount Carningli, we parked at Long Street Car Park which was just 50p an hour or £5 for the day. Mynydd Carningli is a mountain in the Preseli hills that is peppered with prehistoric and historic remains. Standing at 1135ft, Carningli is dubbed the ‘Mount of Angels’ owing to the many legends surrounding it. We followed a circular route found online that took us just shy of four hours, including a little detour as we walked a little too far before descending.
It was extremely windy at the summit, so appropriate footwear and clothing are advised.
Back on flatter ground, we made a beeline for some Welsh cheeses to fuel us for another day and of course celebrated our safe return with local ice cream from N-Ice Cream.
Exerted from the day’s driving and hike to the mountain summit we retreated to our AirB&B in Neyland where we opted to dine at a restaurant nearby. A quick search on Google revealed we were within walking distance of a small harbour and yacht club, where we ate at The Alumchine Restaurant. It was a no bells and whistles pub, a little bit ramshackle if you will, but the staff was welcoming and friendly, the food portions were generous and they had an extensive Gin menu! With two starters, two gins, and 2 10″ pizzas, our bill only came to £40.
Bellies full, we paced it back to our AirB&B for some beauty sleep ready for the next day’s adventures.
Pembrokeshire Day Two
What was once a working quarry is now a magical blue oasis in Abereiddy. We arrived at around 9:30 am for which there was plenty of space, there is a chargeable car park that was £4 for the day which, at the time, was cash only. The parking is on the pebble beach so it wasn’t the most pleasant to drive on.
While we only opted to visit the Blue Lagoon which was easily accessible on foot with a little uphill walking. It was a grey and miserable day when we visited, so the water wasn’t quite sparkling or azure but we still witnessed cliff jumpers and other activities on offer such as Coasteering, kayaking, and swimming led by two adventure companies, Muuk Adventures and Celtic Quest Coasteering.
It is protected by the National Trust, so please check the advice online if you intend to swim as the water is deep and extremely cold.
Knowing we were exploring St Davids for a while, we parked at Oriel y Parc car park which charges £1 an hour or £5 for over three hours. It wasn’t the closest car park, but it was within walking distance of the small town centre and other attractions. We moved the car closer to the St Justinian’s Lifeboat station before our boat tour with Islands Voyage.
St Davids Cathedral
St Davids Cathedral is a sixth-century monastery built by St David, the patron saint of Wales. It’s open to visitors from 10 am to 4 pm Monday to Saturday and 1 pm to 3.30 pm on Sundays.
Limited on time, we booked the 13:00 Island Voyage with Voyages of Discovery, which would allow us to see as much as possible within a two-hour tour. We were quite taken with the idea of seeing wildlife, and this tour included sea caves, rock gorges, seabirds, seals, and porpoises. If you have you have more time, I recommend checking their other tours, particularly to Ramsey Island. We were instructed to arrive at St Justinian’s Lifeboat station thirty minutes before for a safety briefing and to be fitted with our life jackets for the two-hour trip. Wear warm, waterproof clothing because you will have some spray and it will be quite chilly when the boat picks up speed!
Pointz Castle Ice Cream
As we were passing by, it was rude not to stop in for a visit at Pointz Castle Ice Cream which is well known for its luxury gelato made on its farm on the Pembrokeshire Coast. We parked for free on-site since the parlour is located on the farm.
We had hoped to stop by Mamgu’s Welshcakes in Haverford West which was said to be one of the best places in Wales for welsh cakes but we were sadly too late, so settled for our third ice cream of the day at Lochmeyler Farm.
Also nearby is Nolton Drive In, a Hollywood-style car drive-in that offers breathtaking views of St Brides Bay. Had we had more time, we would have tried to find a showing but only we noticed it by driving passed.
Pembrokeshire Day Three
We spent the morning at the medieval Pembroke Castle, the birthplace of Henry 7th who not only started the Tudor dynasty but fathered the infamous Henry 8th. We visited when COVID was still posing some restrictions so advance tickets were required purchased online. We parked at The Parade Car Park which was £2 all day, and a short minor uphill walk to reach the castle entrance.
We had hoped to paddle around the castle in a row boat with Paddle West, but the rain was just too heavy to make it an enjoyable activity so we cut our losses and headed to our next location.
As a Harry Potter fan, I certainly wasn’t going to miss the shrine to the death of the beloved character Dobby! We parked at Freshwater West Car Park around mid-morning, it was free to park and the car park was pebbly and it was then a short walk across the pebbled beach to reach the fictional grave.
The weather was a little harsh with fine rain as well as sea spray, so we braved a seaweed ketchup bacon butty from Cafe Môr, the world’s first solar-powered-mobile-seaweed-kitchen.
We arrived at Stack Rocks Car Park eventually, after the Sat Nav took a little detour. The car park was free, however, there is a military presence surrounding these sites so you’ll need to check ahead. Located next to one another are four dramatic and natural rock arches and pillars the Green Bridge of Wales which is likened to Durdle Door, Elegug Stacks, and The Cauldron.
Although the Pembrokeshire Coast Path runs through here, we drove along to Govans Car Park. St Govan’s Chapel which was used in the latest series of His Dark Materials. It’s fitting that the place Mrs. Coulter hides Lyra came into being when St. Govan hid from pirates in the 5th and 6th centuries! St Govan’s Chapel is a limestone chapel built into the cliffside rock with interesting folklore, it’s free to visit for those who brave the 52-step scramble down to the chapel, but legend has it that if you count the steps down and up again, it’s never the same.
For our final stop, we parked in Tenby Multistorey which was no more than £5 for 24 hours and walked over to the harbour. We booked an Island Ranger at 4pm that lasted around 1.5 hours to visit the offshore islands of Caldey & St. Margarets. Back on dry land, we headed to The Stowaway for a little pick-me-up, a nice stroll around the beaches and harbour before settling with some fish and chips before our journey home.
If you have more time in Tenby, it’s recommended to try and visit St Catherine Island and Fort, a private Napoleonic fortress that costs around £5 to visit.